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Best TV of the '00s: Trashy Reality

by Michael Pascua, posted Jan 1st 2010 2:02PM
The season five cast of The Surreal LifeMore of our best of the decade coverage, which started on Tuesday. You can read the other posts at the link above. Here, we talk about the cheesiest in reality from the decade. And there was a lot of cheesy going around.

The turn of the millennium was the point when television networks were watching the rise of Survivor, The Amazing Race, and American Idol and thought, "I can do that!" What they didn't realize was that to maintain a high quality level, they still needed a big budget.

Instead of monetary prizes, networks turned to things like love, the experience, and the belief of fifteen minutes of fame to entice people to participate. Slowly with the help of networks like Fox, E!, and VH1, reality shows got more classless and turned trashy. Like a car accident, viewers can't stop watching. The decade has provided a countless number of trashy reality shows and here is TV Squad's favorites of the decade.

The Surreal Life


Kona says: This is the show that gave us the term, "Celebreality." It was like the real world, but with only a two-week filming time and C through Z-list celebrities desperate for a check and/or another chance at the spotlight. Where else could you see Vanilla Ice lose his shit, Mini Me himself, Verne Troyer, pee on a wall while on a motorized scooter, Brigitte Nielsen and Flavor Flav fall for each other, and an ex- Top Model (Adrienne Curry) end up snagging a Brady (Christopher Knight)? "Surreal" doesn't begin to cover the antics that went on in that house.

Rock of Love

John says: The whole point of trashy reality TV is allowing astoundingly dimwitted people the opportunity to pretend they're intelligent and insightful. No show provided more thick people more chances to offer more stupid, self-indulgent and fascistic observations than Rock of Love. The ingredients were simple: Assemble a bunch of peroxide-capped high school almost-graduates on their collective break from the stripper pole. Add one hair rock lead singer who mistakes himself for an artiste. Put up microphones and roll camera. You are guaranteed an hour of TV in which nothing of significance to anyone takes place. Enjoy.

The original girls next door with Heff.The Girls Next Door

Jason says:
Forget the new Girls, there was something fun about watching Brigitte, Holly and Kendra live the pampered life at the Playboy mansion. Somehow, despite the show being filled with plenty of raunchy talk, nudity and canoodling with a very dirty, very old man, there was a sweetness about all three of his girlfriends that really came through. It was fun seeing all the cool things they got to do with his money, and at the same time it was fun watching them grow up and realize it was time to go on and live real lives. It says something that while the new Girls are slipping in the ratings, we're watching with even bigger numbers the further adventures of the original girls in their own various shows.


Cheaters

Annie says:
Cheating is a filthy business. Plenty of trashy TV has fed off infidelity, from soap operas to Jerry Springer, but Cheaters was the only show that dared to make its sole purpose to take wronged people and surprise-confront their unfaithful lovers. And what happens when a show does something like that? The host gets stabbed, that's what. Stabbed! By an annoyed boyfriend that got caught in the act and didn't think the host had any business in meddling (he really didn't). Sometimes, in the wee hours, when the remote's too far away and my eyelids are too heavy, Cheaters will pop up on-screen and I will stare silently out of morbid curiosity. I regret watching every time.

Tina and Kenny on Fresh Meat.Real World / Road Rules Challenge

Michael P. says: When I was a kid, I loved Road Rules. Whenever they would crossover to The Real World, I would squeal in delight. The first few challenges were good (I loved Battle of the Seasons), but after Dave Mirra started hosting, the show went downhill quickly. Everyone knew everyone and the screaming, drinking, scheming, alliances, and sex became the main factor instead of interesting challenges. Shame on you MTV for ruining such a cool concept. VH1 does such a better job with I Love Money, because they at least know when to laugh at themselves.

The Octomom Special

Danny says:
When Fox won the highest bid to film the life of Nadya Suleman for a two-hour primetime special that peaked with footage of the woman's octuple birth back in August, I actually volunteered to let my TV shoot me in the eyes with its awesome, inevitable badness. I figured that forcing myself to sit through the entire two hours would inspire some great humor and provide the kind of inspiration that feeds the inner demon inside me to tee off on something bound to be truly horrible. To this day, that inner demon and I are no longer speaking.

To call it depressing on an epic scale would not do justice for the universe. It attempted to rise above all of the tabloid malarkey and show the honest struggles of her daily life without realizing that a big part of those struggles come from letting a network stick cameras in her kids' faces every chance they get. She rails against Kate Gosselin for having eight kids and sticking their face on reality TV and the press every chance she gets without acknowledging the fact that she is doing the same thing on her own two hour primetime special.

Then the show peaks with very combative footage of cameras trying to capture the octuplets' birth as doctors and nurse struggle to keep them from interfering. What should have been a hilarious two hour tabloid suck-fest turned into a sticky placenta of depressing shame and regret.

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RobynM

For trashy but watchable, I'm gonna have to go with RuPaul's Drag Race and Celebrity Fit Club.

January 02 2010 at 1:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kermit

Temptation Island...

January 01 2010 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
g andolina

Fox WON the highest bid????

Are you kidding, who else ever wanted to guarantee two hours of viewers sticking their fingers down their throats and grabbing for the remote.
At least it set to rest the possibility of any more of this skeevy psychopath.

It is curious to think that some fauxlebrity who deliberately drags motherhood into the gutter for facetime and mall-money turns out to be the one step too far. She's made herself celebrity-proof.

You can't be a celebrity if there is no-one (except a couple of dozen old ladies tsk-tsking on one single locked and private website) who wants to know anything about Cruella DePuppymille other than when those 14 poor kids will be able to find some loving adoptive parents instead of being indentured while in diapers.

She's over and done, done done. You can't unwring this wrung-out belle.

January 01 2010 at 7:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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