Love ‘em or hate ‘em, reality television shows are here to stay. Although reality TV shows have grown to dominate the air in recent years, television execs do not have the formula to produce a hit show down to a science. Every once in awhile a show debuts that makes you scratch your head and wonder what they were thinking.
Sometimes the show revolves around a TV personality that is so polarizing that they never gain a fan following. Sometimes the shows concept was copied from a show that is popular overseas, but the concept does not resonate with American audiences. Gone are the days when perfectly bad shows are allowed to linger for a season, or two, many shows have one shot to make it and face cancellation if its debut ratings are disappointing.
From ABC to Oxygen, no network is immune from failed reality TV ventures. Here is a recap of some of the worst reality shows in history:
10. Boy Meets Boy – (2003)
‘Boy Meets Boy’ featured a gay thirty-something on a quest for a relationship. During this dating show, BRAVO cameras followed the contestant as he dated 15 guys in order to find his match. What he did not know was that the participants were a mix of homosexual and heterosexual men. Though gay rights advocates publicly supported the show, The Traditional Values Coalition protested the series, urging its member churches to organize a boycott. Even with all the controversy, BRAVO was unable to drum up enough interest to translate into viewership. The show was cancelled after airing its first 6-episode season.
9. Are You Hot?: The Search For Americas Sexiest People (2003)
The combined star power of Lorenzo Lamas and Rachel Hunter was not enough to propel the reality TV series, ‘Are You Hot?’. Contestants strutted their stuff as a panel of judges openly critiqued them on their level of physical attractiveness. Not only was this show cancelled after one season, but Howard Stern went on to sue ABC for ripping off the concept from his radio show. The network’s chairman went on to state that the show was not renewed because it was “in poor taste”.
8. The Littlest Groom (2004)
Salesman Glen Foster starred in the ‘The Littlest Groom’, which chronicled his search for love. The dating show pit 12 average-sized women against 12 women with dwarfism to compete for the affections of Foster, a 4’5” little person. Though the show got a bad rap in the media for being exploitative, FOX reportedly consulted the Little People of America advocacy group during its development. The network aired two episodes of reality series before calling it quits due to low ratings.
7. Who’s Your Daddy? (2005)
‘Who’s Your Daddy?’ placed an adopted woman in a room with 8 men. The object of the game was to reward the contestant with a prize of $100k if she could correctly identify her birth father. If the contestant guessed incorrectly, the prize money would be given to the man they chose. However, she would still be reunited with her birth father. The premise of the show touched a real nerve with adoption rights organizations, which found the show insensitive and irresponsible. One FOX affiliate even declined to air the shows pilot. Ultimately, the pilot debuted to such dismal ratings that the series was cancelled without airing any episodes on FOX.
6. Celebrity Circus (2008)
‘Celebrity Circus’ was one celebrity packed extravaganza that failed to gain the interest of mainstream viewers. Rachel Hunter, Stacey Dash, Antonio Sabato Jr. and Christopher Knight are among the stars that filmed the first season of this celebreality competition that featured stars completing daring circus acts. Joey Fatone hosted as celebrities completed stunts including tightrope walking, air trapeze and juggling knifes lit on fire. Dubbed a bad ‘Dancing with the Stars’ imitation, the series was not renewed for a second season by NBC.
5. Anchorwoman (2007)
FOX took a chance on ‘The Price Is Right’ model, WWE Diva and former Miss New York, Lauren Jones, by following her with reality TV cameras as she chased a career as a news anchor. ‘Anchorwoman’ was cancelled after its debut episodes failed to deliver decent ratings. The show reportedly received 1/3 of the viewership from the previous weeks programming. Rather than working to build a following, the network decided to air the show on Fox on Demand instead. Jones went on to star opposite Sylvester Stallone in the film ‘The Expendables’.
4. Farmer Wants a Wife (2008)
‘Farmer Wants a Wife’ followed a farmer on his search for love. The single farmer dated 10 women from the city that had to compete for dates by completing a series of tasks on the farm. Like ‘The Bachelor,” The CW show featured elimination rounds, but the dates were restricted to rural adventures. The American version of the show did not do as well as its British counterpart, as the show was cancelled after its 8-episode first season run.
3. The Hasselhoffs (2010)
While David Hasselhoff may have gained career success starring on television in ‘Knight Rider’ and ‘Baywatch’, his second foray into reality TV proved to be an epic failure. After airing only 2 episodes, A&E cancelled ‘The Hasselhoffs’ due to poor ratings. Fans were not interested in watching “The Hoff” as he tried to revive his career and helped his daughters, Taylor Ann and Hayley, pursue entertainment careers. The former ‘America’s Got Talent’ judge did not fare so well as a ‘Dancing with the Stars’ contestant earlier in 2010 – being the first star voted off that season. Hasselhoff gained bad publicity during 2007-2010 due to alcohol-related incidents and hospitalizations.
2. The Real Housewives of D.C. (2011)
Fans of the BRAVO ‘Real Housewives’ franchise were sorely disappointed with the outcome of its expansion into the nations capitol. The RHODC never gained a solid following and was cancelled after its first season. Michaele Salahi claimed the other cast members refused to return to the show if she signed on for a second season, despite the fact that the show revolved around Salahi’s famous “White House crashing” incident with former husband Tareq.
1. All My Babies’ Mamas (2013)
Atlanta Rapper Shawty Lo caused a public uproar when footage of the planned reality TV series featuring his 11 children by 10 different women cropped up online. According to TMZ, parent groups rallied, fearing the show would glamorize his “irresponsible lifestyle”.
Erring on the side of caution after online petitions circulated, the NAACP voiced its disapproval and the Parent Television Council threatened to boycott the network, Oxygen cancelled the series while it was still in development. The rapper stated he would continue to shop ‘All My Babies’ Mamas’ to other networks, claiming he is a positive portrayal of a father who is actively involved in his children’s lives.