Retro reality shows we need reboots of ASAP
Reality TV has gotten waaaaay out of control. No longer is it just a place for contests and competitions, or a window-into-the-lives-of [insert your favorite fading star here]; it’s a place for famous people, rich people, poor people, pregnant people, and fascinatingly average people. It’s a place for people who want to lose weight, learn a trade, de-ghost their house, get a new job, buy a wedding dress, sue a neighbor, and do just about anything else under the moon and stars. At this point it seems like we’ll pretty much watch anyone do anything, as long as they’re doing it on Bravo.
To look back in the history books, reality TV really took off in the early 2000s. And one of the shows that pushed the reality TV roller coaster into hyperdrive is coming back — make room on your TiVo for The Osbournes because they are returning. A lot has changed for the Osbourne family since they left their reality TV throne 10 years ago, and it will be interesting to see what the reboot brings now that both ladies of the house are pretty much every day presences in most living room (thanks to The Talk and Fashion Police). While we wait for their return, there are a few more forgotten reality series that we wouldn’t be loathe to see gear up again. Here are our retro reboot picks. Maybe the television gods will hear our cry.
1. Joe Schmo
Premise: A fake reality show starring actors as contestants. Everything is staged and everyone is in on the joke — except for one real person.
Joe Schmo broke the mold of all reality shows that had come before. It was great for SO many reasons: it was unexpected, it was endearing, and it featured Kristen Wiig before she was Kristen Wiig (or Natasha Leggero). Matt Gould was perfectly cast as the unsuspecting Joe Schmo and eventually delivered the now-famous quote, “What is going on?!” when the big reveal happened. It was brought back for a second season, then a third in 2013. I imagine the average Joe of today would be more naturally skeptical than the original contestants, because reality TV is everywhere, but let’s give it a go.
2. The Simple Life
Premise: Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie have never worked a day in their lives. Watch as they attempt to perform everyday, minimum wage jobs.
The best part of this show was Paris and Nicole’s reactions to, well, everything. They struggled to do things like work on a farm, perform household chores, and not wear ridiculous outfits. I don’t know if they learned anything from it all, but I wouldn’t mind watching them try again.
3. Singled Out, Dismissed and Next
Premise: Get matched up with multiple dates, narrow it down to one person, and see if things work out.
Singled Out is THE original dating show (well aside from all those contest shows like The Dating Game that were on back when our parents were watching the boob tube), and it was a cesspool of horny single people. Each show had contestants narrow it down to one person, and then MTV would have you believe they rode off into the sunset together and are still soulmates to this day. If there are any MTV dating show success stories, please reach out to me directly and share your story. I’m dying to hear it.
4. Trading Spaces
Premise: Two sets of neighbors worked with interior decorators to completely re-do one room in each others’ house in just 48 hours.
An interior decorating show is an odd thing for an 11-year-old to be hooked on, but so it goes. It was the year 2000 and all I wanted in life was for Genevieve or Vern (anyone but Hildi, really) to redo our family room. Paige was BFF-material and Ty was the hottest guy on TV. But you guys, the drama! At the time, the fake cries of “We’ll have to work all night!” and “I don’t know if we’ll get it all done in time!” were the realest, and every episode was a nail biter until the end. Oh, to be that young and gullible.
5. Laguna Beach
Premise: Follow the real lives of real teenagers living in Laguna Beach and watch their real drama unfold.
It’s still hard to believe that Laguna Beach is off the air, let alone six seasons of its spin-off The Hills, because it feels like it all happened yesterday. LC, Kristin and Lo (Lo!) were our heroines, our Carrie Bradshaw-esque sharers of wisdom like: “Every girl wants to be the one girl that can change that guy,” and “I have no sympathy for you because you let it happen to yourself.” LC and co. were pioneers of making us question the “reality” of reality TV (and calling people named Stephen “STE-PHAAN!”). Remember the nail polish incident on The Hills? Never forget.
Premise: Celebrities create video diaries that give us a peek into their daily lives.
“You think you know, but you have no idea. This is the diary of ____.” REMEMBER THAT? Everyone who was anyone made an episode of MTV’s Diary. The most important episodes, though, were the three B’s of the era: Britney, Beyoncé and the Backstreet Boys. “He’s/she’s/they’re just like ME!” we screamed gleefully while watching. “I could SO be their BFF!”
7. Flavor of Love
Premise: Women compete to win Flavor Flav’s heart.
Flavor of Love is one of those shows everybody watched, secretly. Well, I’m here to say I savored every moment of it. Flavor of Love was the original installment of Flavor Flav’s reality TV empire that went on to include I Love New York, I Love Money, and Charm School. I can still picture awkward cut-to-commercial cliffhangers with the sound of a shaky “Flavor Flaaayv!” voiceover. This show was incredible because it gave me hope I could one day have a ridiculous nickname like Hoopz, Bootz or Toasteee (three e’s).
8. Kid Nation
Premise: Children create and govern their own town without the help of adults.
What do you get when you ask 40 10-year-olds to establish rules and create a society in a ghost town? A little reality show called Kid Nation. They had to cook, clean, and set up shop all on their own. It was all very Lord of the Flies and very controversial at the time, so obviously we should bring it back.
9. Britney and Kevin: Chaotic
Premise: Get a look inside the lives of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline.
This is the story about a girl named Lucky. Just kidding. This is the story, though, of Britney and K-Fed’s romance, as told through home videos. This was the precursor to vlogging, the original selfie, the first of many future Snapchat Stories. This was Chaotic.
I wonder what Aimee Osbourne thinks of all of this.