A look back at the strangest phases in reality TV

Reality TV is one of the most popular entertainment genres along with superhero movies and eSports leagues. Not many people these days feel that reality TV depicts actual reality – instead, it’s all about creating the perfect premise and finding the ideal characters to cast in an extraordinary setting.

Although many TV fans now tune into their favorite reality shows week in and week out, this is not a new phenomenon. As a matter of fact, Hidden Camera is considered the very first reality TV show. It aired in the US as early as 1948 and showed how interested people are in watching others navigate reality from a safe distance.

The early 2000s changed reality

Aside from its mid-20th-century origins, the real reality TV boom came in the early 2000s. At the time, US networks like MTV and VH1 were competing for primetime shows, while others like ABC and CBS were busy completing projects such as Lost and 24

As the new millennium dawned, almost any content could see airtime. For example, in 2003, Travel Channel had success broadcasting a live World Series of Poker event. The series was a hit, leading to ESPN broadcasting the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event. This helped catapult online poker onto the global stage.

Today, online poker is a huge industry worldwide. Real money gaming is the domain of top platforms that offer different options to players in countries around the world. Some sites even got their start during those early days of ESPN and Travel Channel Poker.

The obsession with poker in the early 2000s may come as a surprise to some. However, compared to other titles from the early days of reality TV, playing a deck of cards on live television is incredibly mundane.

Celebrities do…everything

The public has always been obsessed with celebrities — particularly uncovering the “truth” behind their personal lives. This focus peaked in the early 2000s, when celebrities signed up for reality TV shows of all stripes. cribz (2000), for example, literally took audiences into the homes of their favorite stars.

There were other shows too, like Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica (2003), which brought viewers into the homes of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey — and also witnessed their early marital challenges first-hand. Then there was The simple life (2003), which transplanted America’s wealthiest, chicest starlets, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, to barns and hayfields across America…anything to entertain the masses.

The list goes on and on. The Osbournes (2002) shed light on the daily struggles of the Osbourne clan during Hogan knows best (2005) brought fans right into a WWE household. Regardless of how mundane or boring, when it came to celebrities, viewers enjoyed it.

Photo credit: Sam McGhee on Unsplash


Today, survival shows remain a popular genre for many networks. Still, the modern roster of survival shows doesn’t deliver the randomness, depravity, or sheer shock value of early projects. Some might even consider it fear factor (2001), a show in which contestants were asked to eat raw sheep’s eyes and be trapped underwater, a kind of survival show.

Thrilling challenges aside, other survival shows have really thrown contestants into the wild. survivor, for example, launched in 2000 and helped steer the genre. Then came survivalist (2005) and Man versus Wilderness with Bear Grylls (2006), which offered audiences an expert look at braving outdoors.

It all culminated in one of the greatest survival shows of all time, which is still running today: Naked & Fear(2013). In the show, two naked contestants are stranded in the wild and must survive for three weeks. True to the title, they’re naked, they’re scared, and they’re covered in bug bites.

Special mention: dating shows

Aside from shameless celebrity romp and all sorts of survival challenges, reality TV also turned into dating territory. In the early 2000s, some of the most notorious ongoing series took off, such as The bachelor (2002). However, not many shows met a recipe for success, resulting in more than a few highly interesting duds.

some like taste of love, brought the unluckiest candidates and let them run wild. Later projects, like the one from 2014 I want to marry ‘Harry’brought together women who thought they were fighting for a chance to become a duchess.

(Disclaimer: Devdiscourse journalists were not involved in the preparation of this article. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse accepts no responsibility for them.)


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