I Want My MTV

I talked a little bit in my first post about how MTV more or less started the reality television revolution in the early 90s. While many other networks adopted their own reality tv shows, MTV has also been churning them out for nearly a quarter of a decade.

laurenIn the early 20s, MTV turned to reality to fill many of their programming spots. They focused on young college kids to ‘star’ in these shows, much like those who were making up their demographic. Singled Out and the Real World spin-off, Road Rules, hit the airwaves during this time.

In the mid-20s we were kind of obsessed with watching what went on in other people’s lives. Shows like the Newlyweds, Laguna Beach, and My Super Sweet 16 helped us with that quest. I personally was obsessed with the Hills, and still am a huge Lauren Conrad fan to this day.

One of the biggest shows to ever hit MTV was Jersey Shore. It followed around 8 interesting folks during their summer at the Jersey Shore. It launched these people into immediate stardom. Some parleyed that into spin-off shows and Dancing With the Stars appearances, others into a few scandals.

At the end of it all, we have MTV to thank for many of our favourite shows, pop culture references, and ‘wait, how are they famous’ celebrities.

The Learning Channel

Paige Davis and Douglas Wilson of Trading Spaces

Paige Davis and Douglas Wilson of Trading Spaces

Better known as TLC, this channel has always had a special place in my heart. Even though now I can only bare to tune in on Friday nights (what up Friday Bride Day!), TLC is to thank for my deep love affair with reality television.

The Learning Channel, as it used to be affectionately known as, came around in the early 70s. It wasn’t until the 80s did it start to evolve into the channel we know today. It was purchased by the Discovery channel in 1991, and the program came to resemble more what was seen on the parent network.

Buddy the Cake Boss

Buddy the Cake Boss

In 1999, shows like Trading Spaces (one of my favourites!), Junkyard Wars, and a Wedding Story were introduced with great success. These successes inspired TLC to take a more lifestyle-driven approach to their programming endeavours. The mid-2000s saw the introduction of popular shows like Jon & Kate Plus 8, Little People Big World, Cake Boss, and What Not to Wear.

Then TLC started to lose some credibility with it’s programming, and became somewhat of a joke among pop culture outlets. Shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, and Gypsy Sisters were a far leap from what the network once was. We definitely weren’t learning much anymore.

I won’t lie to you, I still tune into TLC on occasion whenever there is a 48 Hours: Hard Evidence or Four Weddings marathon going on, but it is no longer the staple of my reality TV viewing.

Will You Accept This Rose?

Farrah Fawcett on a Celebrity edition of The Dating Game

Farrah Fawcett on a Celeb edition of The Dating Game

This has been the most requested post since my classmates had heard about my blog topic. It is widely known that my love for reality dating shows far outlasts most of the relationships that have been formed on these shows.

The genre started in the mid-60s with The Dating Game. This show gave single men and women the opportunity to meet their match. One person would ask a handful of suitors that they can’t see a bunch of questions to then select someone for a date. The show was a huge success, lasted into the 80s, and spawned a number of reality dating shows.

Chris Soules and Jimmy Kimmel on the Bachelor

This season’s Bachelor, showering with not one of his bachelorettes

In the late 90s and early 2000s, this genre really boomed, with the introduction of Temptation Island, the Fifth Wheel, and of course anyone who follows me on twitter knows my favourite, The Bachelor.

The Bachelor first aired in 2002, with Alex Michel acting as the inaugural, titular Bachelor. The season didn’t end in a proposal, like we’ve come to be accustomed to, but a star was born. I mean like, the show, I don’t know if we’ve heard from Al since. The Bachelor spurred a number its own spin-off shows such as The Bachelorette,  Bachelor in Paradise, and Bachelor Pad.

a still from I wanna Marry Harry

Not Harry

This genre of television is known as the trashiest of the trashy, mostly thanks due to wonderful shows like Mr. Personality, A Double Shot at Love, and one of my favourites as of late, the cancelled-way-too-early I Wanna Marry Harry.

Regardless of what you think about reality dating shows, and the validity of the relationships they create, it’s an incredibly fun genre that will definitely make you feel better about your own life choices.

Who’s Hungry?

working your dream job since '06

working your dream job since ’06

As we talked about last week, I love me a good cooking show. What really has my heart in this genre is the competition show. The cooking competition shows combine my love of food and reality game shows.

A friend told me to watch Chopped, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Hey, a competition show is the reason why we have Guy Fieri in our lives – he won the second season of the Next Food Network Star. I find these shows just so deeply compelling. The creativity that comes out of the chefs of all different levels (Worst Cooks in America, anyone?) always astounds me, and I find myself thinking about what I would do if I was given one of the infamous Chopped mystery baskets.

The original Iron Chef

The original Iron Chef

The first of these shows hit North American televisions in 1999 when the Food Network decided to adapt a Japanese show for their network. Ironchef was born. This show completely blew away the ratings for the most popular show on the network at this time, Emeril Live. This spawned a whole bunch of other cooking competition shows that we know and love.

The cooking competition shows that I can’t get enough of these days are Masterchef Junior (which I wrote more about here) and Cutthroat Kitchen. I could watch Alton Brown dole out sabotages for hours and hours on end. And I often do.

I love you, Alton Brown

I love you, Alton Brown

Soup’s On

As anyone who knows me personally can tell you, two of my favourite things in life are television and snacks. So why it took me so long to get into watching the Food Network? Who knows, but once I started watching, I was in love. Now there are two types of Food shows – cooking/restaurant and competition. I’ll leave the latter for a later date.

juliaPBS gave life to the cooking show phenomenon back in the early 1960s when famed chef, Julia Child, brought her style of French cooking into the homes of Americans. Since then, the popularity of cooking shows has steadily grown. In 1986, the Queen of DIY herself, Martha Stewart, made her debut on PBS, and shortly became a household name (and eventual convict). In 1995, we finally saw professional chefs and at-home cooks come together on Ready, Set, Cook!. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that we saw the boom of professional-chefs-turned-tv-hosts with Emeril Lagasse, Jamie Oliver, Rachel Ray, and Nigella Lawson.

A meal at 'Saus' in Boston, a restaurant once featured on DDD

A meal at ‘Saus’ in Boston, a restaurant once featured on DDD

Cooking shows then again evolved with Anthony Bourdain‘s A Cook’s Tour, where for the first time we went with professional chefs into restaurants and saw them eat food that others had prepared. Later came shows like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Bizarre Foods, World’s Weirdest Restaurants, and You Gotta Eat Here.

The restaurant shows are the cooking shows that I really enjoy. I love seeing all the different types of dishes from restaurants all over the world, and making a mental list of places I need to visit, and dishes that I need to try. These shows never really inspired me to cook, but they sure have inspired me to eat more good food.

The Tribe Has Spoken

Survivor brought together two unlikely friends, and millions of viewers during its first season

Survivor brought together two unlikely friends, and millions of viewers during its first season

In the summer of 2000, a new show hit the airwaves. Many said it would never work, it just didn’t make sense. I mean, who would watch a bunch of strangers hang out on a beach for nearly 6 weeks? Apparently a lot of people, because the finale of Survivor: Borneo received 51.7 million viewers.

Survivor was the first corner stone in the pantheon that is now CBS Reality Game Programming that now also features Big Brother and The Amazing Race. All three of these shows are still going strong (for the most part). Survivor is entering it’s 30th season in February to the surprise of most people. I know this by the amount of times people ask me ‘is that really still on’ when I tell them I love Survivor.

Big Brother winner and Amazing Race contestant, Rachel Reilly, has not been the only CBS reality star to make the show crossover

Big Brother winner and Amazing Race contestant, Rachel Reilly, has not been the only CBS reality star to make the show crossover

As Survivor inspired the reality television renaissance, it also inspired my own. I vividly remember watching it when I was younger, but fell out of it sometime after Survivor: All-Stars. I came back into it right near the end of Survivor: Niacaragua when my brother more or less forced me into watching the finale with him. That started a 5-month long spiral where I watched all the seasons. All 22 at that point.


Survivor: Amazon’s Rob Cesternino and myself!

Survivor brought me back into a number of other reality shows including Big Brother, The Bachelor, and all those fringe shows that only lasted one season. These shows go a level deeper than most other reality shows, there is an element of strategy and the social game is often most important.

That’s why I love these kinds of shows, I love seeing how people from all walks of life interact when completely taken out of their comfort zone, and fight their way to a large sum of money (that will then be cut in half due to taxes. learn from Hatch, pay for taxes). Even after so many seasons, a hundred different twists, dozens of countries, and over 300 survivors, that aspect never changes, and that’s what keeps me tuning in after all these years.

The Real-ity World

haleyA number of world-changing events happened in the early 90s. Yugoslavia was no more, a woman became the Prime Minister of Canada, Michael Jordan dominated the NBA, and, more importantly,  I was born. Another important event occurred May 21, 1992 – The Real World graced our beloved televisions for the very first time.

This show featuring 7 strangers from all walks of life from around the USA came together to live in a house where they stopped being polite….and started getting real was the first of its genre. It was the pioneer of reality television. people were enthralled by the show, and captivated by the characters. This formula worked so well, that this show is still running to this day, and is currently on its 30th season. The Real World spurred a slew of new reality television shows that networks loved because they were so cheap to produce.

the real worldI have been obsessed with reality television as long as I can remember. Game shows, cooking shows, wedding shows, I’ve seen and loved them all. I’ve even tuned in for a few seasons of the Real World, obviously long after the show’s initial premiere.  I’ve always been fascinated by being able to look into the lives of others’, some obviously a little more ‘real’ than others. This fascination has followed me into adulthood, even thought the show landscape has evolved.

These days, we are bombarded by millions of different reality shows to appeal to all demographics. It can be hard to decipher what is real and what is not. Even The Real World has these moments, but it will always be  credited for the genre of television we know and love today.