10 Saddest Reality Shows, From 'True Life' to 'Animal Hoarding'
by Elena Cox, posted Aug 24th 2010 4:00PM
Reality TV has been scoffed at by critics for being shallow, trite and causing the quality of television to plummet in the last decade or so. And while many viewers watch the genre for mindless fun, there are many reality television shows across the dial that provide intense, riveting and often-sad portraits of their subjects' lives.
Here are the 10 saddest reality shows on air right now. If you plan to watch any of them, make sure the tissues are nearby.
10. Tough Love'
Premise: A mother and son matchmaker team tries to help lovelorn contestants find love after a series of troubled relationships.
I cried when: In season 2, the already insecure Angel's family doesn't come to see her on visiting day. And then again a couple of episodes later, Taylor tells Angel her family doesn't care about her.
9. '16 & Pregnant'/'Teen Mom'
Premise: Documentation of teenage girls who become pregnant in high school.
I cried when: Maci's baby daddy chastises her for wanting to put her son in daycare so that she can go to college, but offers her no help in raising their son.
8. 'Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew'
Premise: C-list celebrities go to rehab and let VH1 document their progress (or lack thereof)
I cried when: Watching 'Grease' star Jeff Conaway talk about the debilitation he suffered from as a result of his addictions and his enabling girlfriend.
7. 'True Life'
Premise: An award-winning MTV documentary series which centers on a different topic each episode -- some controversial, some not.
I cried when: 'True Life: I Stutter' documented teenagers whose lives were affected by their speech impediment. When Tim's stutter prevented him from getting a decent job, he faced eviction from his apartment.
6. 'Sex Rehab'
Premise: A spin-off of 'Celebrity Rehab,' 'Sex Rehab' specifically focuses on sex addiction and trying to find the root of the patient's compulsive behaviors.
I cried when: The girls are taken to a special art therapy program in which they open up about sexual abuse they may have suffered, and Kari-Ann, the most volatile patient, admits to having suffered from serious sexual trauma in her past.
5. 'Extreme Makeover Home Edition'
Premise: Families who face hardships or who practice acts of kindness are rewarded with a makeover of their homes.
I cried when: The Kadzis family, who had adopted five special-needs children from China, discovered that father George had terminal brain cancer. George, a prison dentist, passed away a week after the episode aired.
Premise: Individuals who struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder are shown attempting to treat their disease.
Saddest moment: AJ, a woman who suffers from OCD, needs the help of a service dog to cope with her extreme anxiety. However, she is triggered by thoughts of animal abuse because her father had routinely abused her dog as a child.
3. 'Hoarding: Buried Alive'
Premise: Compulsive hoarders cause strain in their personal relationships and every day lives due to their habits. Therapists and organizers attempt to help these hoarders reassess their lives and get them on the path to recovery.
I cried when: Benny's hoarding has caused his children to stop visiting him and prevent his grandchildren from entering his home.
2. 'Animal Hoarding'
Premise: People who keep an excessive number of pets despite being unable to care for them.
I cried when: Janice, a cancer survivor, lives in a trailer and owns 97 dogs and 20 cats. When her estranged husband moves out threatens to cut her off financially, her daughter offers to support her mother if she gets rid of the majority of her pets.
Premise: Friends and family of addicts decide to perform an intervention after their addictions have gotten too out of control.
I cried when: Lawrence was featured during season 4 of 'Intervention.' Despite excelling in school and owning a successful tanning salon business in Las Vegas, the abuse he suffered as a child led him to alcoholism. Throughout the episode, he is seen drinking 32 oz. mugs of vodka and empty bottles are seen littered throughout his home. After his body was weakened by cancer, his drinking became worse, causing cirrosis of the liver, for which he did not seek treatment. After 30 days of rehabilitation, Lawrence was asked to leave due to his lack of focus. After three weeks of sobriety, he relapsed and died as a result of his liver damage.