As much as we’d like to deny it, reality TV has become the defining feature of contemporary TV entertainment in North America. Gone are the days of clever sitcoms, informative shows, and actually educational programming. Instead, we have shows that focus on ‘shock and awe’ and human stupidity and drama, as opposed to, well, anything else.
The reality TV show bug has infected virtually every high-profile channel over the years. MTV has gone from being about music videos to showcasing pregnant teenagers. TLC, which used to feature programming that you could actually learn things from (hence the name The LEARNING Channel), has switched its focus to child beauty pageants. Both the Discovery Channel and the History Channel, once channels where you could actually learn things about the world, have switched to outlandish pseudo-science, aliens and alternative history.
Indeed, reality-based programming is a scourge that has completely taken over modern TV.
And yet, as all-encompassing as reality TV has become in recent years, not even it is immune to terrible mistakes and questionable decisions. There have been many occasions where some TV executive has said something along the lines of, “we need to make THIS into a reality show,” sometimes to disappointing results. There are many current reality shows and some that are being planned that are doomed to fail for one reason or another. This article will find out why that is.
The epitome of the modern-day reality show, WAGS follows the lives of various wives and girlfriends of high-profile sportspersons. It’s about as ‘real’ as you can expect from such a show: immediate staged drama between women, fabricated insecurities and drama between the couples on the show, and a heavy focus on partying and exuberant behaviour all around. The reason this show won’t make it is because it has entered into a highly-saturated reality TV market.
There are and already have been so many shows that follow a similar or identical premise, and so this show doesn’t really offer anything new to the audience. That issue has already shown up in the series’ first season, as none of the show’s eight episodes reached one million views in a country that absolutely loved its television and celebrity gossip. If that’s not a death knell for a show’s future, I don’t know what is.
14. Lip Sync Battle
Imagine a music-based reality competition without the music. That’s what you get with Lip Sync Battle, a show where people compete to see who’s better at lip-syncing, a skill that has very little use outside of this particular niche. However, unlike many other entries on this list, Lip Sync Battle has actually earned both praise and good ratings during its first few seasons.
Its problem is that it’s on Spike, a channel that has been experiencing some major branding problems in recent months. For the better part of four years, Spike has been stuck in a rut that has prevented it from increasing viewership. It mostly plays the show, Cops, and a few specific films, with other shows (including this one) played on rare occasions and with little promotion. It’s that problem that’s preventing Lip Sync Battle from becoming a more popular program, and may bring more issues to the show in the future.
13. WWE Tough Enough
WWE’s attempt to cash-in on the reality TV industry has yielded mix results. While Total Divas has some promise because of its relatively unique premise, WWE’s other major reality program has failed hard in recent years. Tough Enough, a show about creating the next pro wrestler, did once have some promise, as WWE actually had greater control on who’d win because they were looking for someone who could actually wrestle. Sadly, those days are long gone, as the most recent edition of T.E. has been abysmal in its execution.
The show fell victim to the typical features of reality TV: scripted conflict, overproduction and scripting, and inherent cheesiness. Even worse, this show became a glorified popularity contest, as the two characters that could actually wrestle were eliminated in favor of ‘characters’. Because of this, any future attempt to re-do Tough Enough is doomed to fail. Not only is the WWE fanbase far smarter than ever before vis-à-vis backstage decision-making, but the direction that WWE has gone in with this reality show has tainted fan perceptions so much that any future attempts will be met with rejection by the WWE Universe.
12. Dash Dolls
To further capitalize on the spreading Kardashian name, the E! Network has created another spin-off that focuses on a group of women who work in one of the family’s Dash stores. As you can probably imagine, a reality TV spin-off of one of the most high-profile reality shows in recent memory isn’t likely to offer anything new, and is going to fail sooner or later.
It has already been widely panned (even for a reality TV show) for being too similar to other shows; an overemphasis on staged conflict, and for an over-reliance on product placement that’s designed to sell the Kardashian brand even further. If that’s the goal, you might as well create an extended commercial for it; at least that way you’ll get the same message across while saving a lot more money.
11. Police Women Of [Insert City Name Here]
Law enforcement shows have always drawn some large audiences over the years. Programs like Cops, World’s Wildest Police Videos, and Jail, have always drawn interest from viewers who enjoy ‘raw’ confrontations between police and civilians. It’s unfortunate, then, that TLC would dig its own grave by creating a police reality show that focuses solely on one half of the police force.
What takes away from this show and any subsequent incarnations is that it bears far too many similarities with Cops, which highlights both male and female police officers in their duties. It’s also a more limited show because it focuses on individuals in single counties, which takes away from the entertainment factor in the show. So while it might have been a good idea on paper, in execution, it’s a limited show that has no hope of matching the popular appeal of Cops.
10. Guinness World Records Primetime & Unleashed
If at any time TV execs decide to revive the old shows that focused on breaking world records, they should avoid making the same mistakes that were made with these two shows. Tended to be half educational and half shock programming, Guinness World Records Primetime and Unleashed showcased both real world records and people attempting to break very unconventional records. These included such bizarre and ludicrous records as: sitting in a bathtub full of snakes, balancing glasses on one’s chin, and squirting milk from one’s eye.
While it’s always interesting to showcase some of the extremes and unique features that some people possess, it doesn’t make for good TV if the Guinness World Records organization doesn’t even recognize these stunts as worthy of actual record recognition. Given the foul taste these earlier shows put in people’s mouths, it’s likely that a future re-launch of such a show would be doomed to fail, especially since most people can find such shocking stuff on YouTube anyway.
9. Pitch Slapped
Music-centric reality TV shows are a dime a dozen, and they go hand-in-hand with the modern pop music industry in the United States. Few shows centered on music showcase anything truly unique anymore, so they’ve started to branch out into smaller sub-sects of musical endeavor. Pitch Slapped is all about a group of Capella singing teams trying to reach the big time.
This show’s doomed future is based on the same principle that makes it hard for other new reality shows to succeed: over-saturation. Even though the concept of competing Capella singing groups might have some novelty to it, there’s a greater interest in the bigger singing reality shows like American Idol, The Voice, and The X-Factor. This show’s simply a small fish in a deep ocean surrounded by predators.
8. My Diet Is Better Than Yours
Continuing on the theme of recycled ideas, here we venture into the world of reality TV weight loss challenges. Following in the footsteps of such shows as Extreme Weight Loss and The Biggest Loser, My Diet Is Better Than Yours has five competitors pick a trainer and weight loss program type that they must stick to, with the contestants who lose the least weight being eliminated one by one.
This show won’t make it because it adds nothing new to the already ballooning interest in weight-related shows. People have already seen as much as they could in The Biggest Loser, which is only continuing because it’s an established name and brand. Worse, shows like this one that show ‘tension’ between contestants is no longer believable, as most people are now fully aware that it’s as scripted as can be.
7. Ex-Wives Of Rock
Another show about the personal lives of celebrities, Ex-Wives of Rock is all about women who were once married to rock stars. In other words, it’s a show about women who didn’t really do anything themselves to become famous, and have cameras following them around long after their major relationships had ended. As you can imagine, a show like this would follow the same reality TV formula in the hopes of catching people’s attention: bitter people talking smack about their former lovers, scripted confrontations and cheesy dialogue.
This show already has a hard time competing with other reality shows. Given the strength of other shows versus this one, as well as a greater shift away from cable television, it’s very likely that this one will bite the dust very soon.
6. The Real World: Go Big Or Go Home
The Real World is one of the earliest and most famous reality TV shows ever recorded. It was the show that made raucous behavior acceptable long before The Jersey Shore was ever a thing, and how they’re adding a new element to it with this new entry. The contestants absolutely must perform challenges and other crazy things on the show or they will be eliminated, no questions asked.
At this point, this is a desperate ratings ploy, given the show’s long track record and weakening opinions of it as the seasons wore on. The reality TV show, like many other reality shows, has become overproduced and overly-scripted; two symptoms of TV execs sticking to a simple formula in the hopes of cashing in on the ‘people will watch anything we put on the network’ mentality. Unfortunately for those with that attitude, shows like this one aren’t likely to keep viewers interested for long, especially as the ‘reality’ part of ‘reality TV’ loses its truth.
5. Finding Bigfoot
Yes, in this day and age, there are still people who believe in the existence of Big Foot. Some of these believers, in fact, are so ardent in truth of said myth that they created a reality show documenting their attempts to capture the creature’s existence on camera. You can imagine the kind of reality programming this would yield. Most of the show is centered on reconstructing previous Bigfoot sightings, and the show has an overbearing sense of outlandishness to it.
This show will eventually fail because it simply will not have a proper conclusion. Bigfoot has been widely considered nothing more than a myth or legend, with widespread mockery aimed at those who believed it to be real. This show, much like many ‘ghost-centric’ shows, will never be a true ratings draw because of the speculative nature of the evidence presented to the audience. It will forever be one of those shows that ‘dumbs the audience down’, never becoming a reality TV phenomena like other shows before it have managed to do.
4. Outrageous Acts of Science
This reality show’s questionable future is based entirely on other shows of the same genre, namely Mythbusters. Also known as ‘You Have Been Warned’, Outrageous Acts of Science is all about performing high-risk stunts and creating/destroying things in the name of science.
If this sounds eerily similar to the premise of Mythbusters, that’s because it is. The main difference is that in the latter, the hosts go into great length to explain the scientific and educational aspects of what they’re doing, while the former appears to be nothing more than gratuitous danger and destruction ‘in the name of science’. Given that image, this show is doomed to be constantly compared to the superior Mythbusters program, and will never escape that show’s shadow.
3. “Food Porn”
This is what happens when you take an Instagram obsession, present it to a desperate TV executive, and turn it into a TV show. No seriously, this is the hook for the show according to tvseriesfinale.com. It’s a show about a guy who travels the United States in search of those foods that are promoted the most on social media.
Such a show will never succeed in today’s reality TV world. When most people think of food-based reality shows, there are a few big names and topics that float to the surface: Gordon Ramsay from Hell’s Kitchen, Anthony Bourdain’s food travelling experiences, and the various cooking and recipe-based shows that permeate food channels. Adding yet another show about food isn’t going to shock the world, especially one that’s about the food people post on social media. After all, those people who do enjoy that sort of thing tend to post recipes as well for others to make it, completely destroying the very purpose of this reality TV show.
2. Rehab Addict
No, this isn’t a show about people constantly checking into rehab centers. It’s about ‘rehabbing’ old homes with the goal of preventing them from being demolished by developers. It airs on the DIY Network, and caters mainly to those who love watching about real estate, interior design, and home ownership.
What makes this show difficult to salvage is that it goes against the ‘makeover’ trend that’s popular in shows of this nature. Instead of taking an old house and turning it into something new and spectacular, Rehab Addict is all about ‘restoring houses to their former glory’, a premise that isn’t likely to attract many viewers, especially those who watch TV to see unique and unconventional things. Taking a dilapidated house and restoring it to how it once was doesn’t make for compelling TV; it’s something that more and more people are capable of doing on their own without the need of a camera.
1. Paranormal Lockdown
Any time you see any reality show involving the words ‘paranormal’, ‘supernatural’, or ‘ghost’, you might as well roll your eyes and change the channel. For years, television executives have tried to cash-in on humanity’s morbid curiosity with the supernatural and the afterlife, and the results have been dreadful. Shaky cameras, over-sensationalized ‘encounters’, and a lack of genuinely scary moments have all but ruined the genre for many people.
Paranormal Lockdown is but the next in line of a series of reality shows centered on spooky locations. The basic premise is that two people will stay in a haunted house for 72 hours and will try and record their encounters with the supernatural. While the idea might sound fresh and interesting (after all, who hasn’t wanted to explore a creepy abandoned lunatic asylum?), this is something that’s more fun doing in person, as opposed to seeing someone do it on TV. After all, these are TV personalities, and they’re not going to film themselves getting into any real danger. To that end, expect a lot of fake sights and moments that will make this show look more like a C-level horror movie than a really scary reality show.