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Ten Popular U.S. Reality Television Shows

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Reality TV- just a few short years ago not very many people had even heard of it. Now, reality TV is one of the most popular and fastest growing genres in the television entertainment industry. The following is a list of ten popular reality shows.

1. Survivor: The series premiered May 31, 2000 on CBS and was hosted by television personality, Jeff Probst. The executive producer is Mark Burnett and the original creator is Charlie Parsons. Survivor is considered to be one of the pioneers of American reality television, and was the first highly-rated and profitable reality show on broadcast television in the USA.

Premise: Contestants attempt to ‘survive’ in remote areas, while trying to ‘survive’ being voted off ‘the island’ by their teammates. Two teams participate in games and challenges, for the prize of ‘immunity’ from the elimination vote that day. As the game progresses and people are voted out, the contestants ‘merge’ and become one team and the challenge prizes change from team to individual. The last nine (and sometimes ten) contestants consists of the two (sometimes three) finalist and seven ‘jury’ members, who vote for the winner.     

2. The Celebrity Apprentice: Another Mark Burnett show, The Celebrity Apprentice is a ratings hit, and a spinoff of Burnett’s other show The Apprentice. Both hosted and judged by business mogul and television personality, Donald Trump. Past winners of the Celebrity Apprentice include Piers Morgan, Joan Rivers, and Bret Michaels.

Premise: Celebrities play for various charities and compete in challenges aimed at raising money. The teams are divided into two, and each team chooses a ‘Project Manager’ to lead them in a challenge. The charity of the winning project manager receives all the money raised in the task, including the money raised by the losing team.  The project manager of the losing team must chose the two weakest players and bring them into the board room where one of them is ‘fired’ by Trump. The final celebrity left standing is crowned ‘The Celebrity Apprentice.’

3. The Amazing Race: The Amazing Race has aired in the United States since 2001, and was created by Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster. The show is hosted by Emmy-award-winning New Zealand television personality, Phil Keoghan.

Premise: Teams consisting of two people, who have some form of a preexisting personal relationship, race around the world in competition with other teams. Teams race to arrive first at ‘pit stops’ at the end of each leg of the race to win prizes and to avoid coming in last. The last team to arrive at each pit stop is usually eliminated; however, sometimes teams are given a second chance, but with some type of disadvantage. The first team to make it to the last pit stop wins the race.   

4. The Bachelor:  a reality dating show hosted by television personality Chris Harrison. The Bachelor debuted in 2002 on ABC.

Premise: Twenty-five single women vie for the ‘love’ of a single bachelor.  At the start of the series, the bachelor goes on large group dates with the women and decides who he would like to keep on the show by giving each woman he chooses a rose.  As the majority of women get eliminated during the ‘rose ceremonies,’ the dates change from group to one-on-one, but the elimination at the end of the show continues. The process continues with hometown visits to the families of the final four women, and then overnight dates at exotic locations with the final three women. The bachelor's family meets the final two women, and in the last episode, the bachelor is supposed to proposes to the final woman. Sometimes a proposal is not made, and the majority of the couples break-up after the show has ended.

5. The Biggest Loser: Debuted on NBC October 19, 2004, with original host Caroline Rhea. The current host is Alison Sweeney and the trainers are Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper.

Premise: Overweight contestants aided by professional trainers and nutrition experts, attempt to lose the most weight for a cash prize. The contestants compete in challenges geared at burning calories. The winner of a challenge has immunity from elimination, while one of two contestants with the lowest percentage of weight loss is voted off the show weekly.  

6. The Real Housewives: Created by producer Scott Dunlop for Bravo TV.  

Premise: This show follows the lavish lifestyles of housewives. The Real Housewives originated in Orange County, California and has had several spin-offs.

7. The Apprentice: A Mark Burnett show that debuted in 2004 with the opening theme song of  "For the Love of Money"( a 1973 R&B song by The O'Jays).

Premise: It is the ultimate job interview. Contestants consist of business professionals, all competing for a chance to work with business mogul Donald Trump. Just like its spin-off, The Celebrity Apprentice, contestants compete in challenges aimed at raising money. The teams are divided into two and each team chooses a ‘Project Manager’ to lead them in a challenge. The project manager of the losing team must chose the two weakest players and bring them into the board room where one of them is ‘fired’ by Trump. The final contestant wins an apprenticeship with Donald Trump.

8. Big Brother: The name of the show was derived from George Orwell's 1949 novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” in which ‘Big Brother’ can always spy on its inhabitants through their television sets, with the slogan "Big Brother is watching you."

Premise: A group of people live together in a large house, for approximately three months, isolated from the outside world but continuously watched by television cameras. Housemates try to win a cash prize by avoiding evictions from the house by the other housemates. The housemates are required to do housework and compete in challenges for prizes and the chance to become the “Head of Household” or HoH. The HoH has the power to nominate two housemates for eviction that week. A second challenge is held for the two contestants who were nominated, the HoH, and three other housemates to compete for the “Power of Veto” or PoV, which is the power to take one of the nominated housemates off the ‘chopping block.’ The winner of Big Brother is chosen after a jury of seven houseguests’ votes for one of the two remaining contestants.

9. Top Chef: A reality competition show that airs on the cable television network Bravo. The show is produced by Magical Elves Productions and has produced two spin-offs: Top Chef: Masters, featuring established, award-winning chefs, and Top Chef: Just Desserts, featuring pastry chefs.

Premise: Professional chefs compete against each other in culinary challenges and are judged by a panel of other professional chefs and notables from the food and wine industry. One contestant is eliminated at the end of each episode. In the final challenge, the two remaining chefs prepare a multiple course dinner with the help of other chefs. The winning chef is selected based on several factors including food quality, their ability to lead their selected chefs, and general performance during the show.

10. America's Next Top Model: The show was created and is hosted by talk-show host and model Tyra Banks, who also serves as head judge and executive producer of the show. The first show premiered in May 2003.

Premise: Several young women compete for the title of America's Next Top Model and a chance to start their career in the modeling industry.  The contestants compete in modeling competitions and the woman with the lowest evaluations by the judges is sent home. The final contestant is crowned America’s Next Top Model.  

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