Reality TV Milestones

Timeline created by DaniVillalobos
  • Candid Camera

    Candid Camera
    Candid Camera's websiteStemming from its predecessor Candid Microphone, this reality-based show is one of the first and longest programs of this genre. Host Allen Funt used practices from his audio experimentation with a wire recorder to inspire Candid Camera’s successful formula: creating various scenarios that expose everyday human weaknesses in real-life, comedic settings. It would later spur on TV series such as, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Totally Hidden Video, and Punk'd.
  • COPS

    COPS websiteThe theme song “Bad Boys” has become a classic go-to anthem for all things crime. From the shooting technique to the unforgettable arrests, COPS was one of the first reality shows of its kind. The law enforcement officers’ unscripted dialogue and actual on-duty experiences helped earn this program the title of being the longest-running series in the United States, and on the Fox network. It is currently on its 24th season.
  • The Real World

    The Real World
    Catch up on the most recent seasonThis MTV program is attributed as launching the documentary-style reality formatting as we now know it. With the now familiar formula of “seven strangers, picked to live in a house and have their lives taped,” The Real World gave audiences an unscripted look into a diverse group of 17-25 year olds dealing with contemporary issues. The 1992 model has been replicated and spun into a culture of its own, but The Real World remains to be popular with thousands still flocking to casting auditions.
  • The Crocodile Hunter

    The Crocodile Hunter
    Feeling nostalgic? Check out the Croc Hunter's website.Crikey! The catchphrase coined by wildlife park manager Steve Irwin was originally heard through his Discovery channel series The Crocodile Hunter. The Australian TV star was fearless when it came to wrestling crocodiles and dealing with wild animals, and after his the success of his 1992 documentary, the reality-based program was born. Steve and the rest of the Irwin family entertained audiences until 2004 when The Crocodile Hunter ended, but spinoff shows later followed.
  • Survivor

    Survivor websiteThough it premiered eight years after The Real World, the CBS reality game show is also considered one of the forerunners of reality TV because of its high-ratings that showed just how popular the genre was with audiences. Survivor places a group of strangers in an isolated environment where they not only compete within various competitions to survive elimination and win the million dollar prize, but are also responsible for their living conditions in the desolate setting.
  • Trading Spaces

    Trading Spaces
    Trading Spaces website.Re-painting bedrooms, updating appliances and all things Fung shui was first brought to the reality TV clan through TLC’s Trading Spaces. The 60-minute program had two teams with two designers swap homes for 48 hours to revamp one room with a $1,000 budget. While cancelled in 2008, it helped pave the way for other makeover shows such as What Not to Wear, Clean House and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
  • The Amazing Race

    The Amazing Race
    Host Phil Keoghan explains the premise of the showThis Emmy Award-winning reality game show has teams racing around the world to win a grand prize of $1,000,000. With its 19th season currently airing, and a confirmed renewal for another, CBS’s The Amazing race has traveled to more than 70 different countries and has continued to bring in a generally stable viewer-base over its long run.
  • The Osbournes

    The Osbournes
    Highlights from The OsbournesMeet Ozzy, Sharon, Jack and Kelly—a portrait of a foul-mouthed, unpolished version of the traditional family. This rock-n-roll household hit the little screen with a bang, and helped kindle the influx of celebrity reality shows that continue to be produced. For the four seasons it was on the air, The Osbournes’ wacky antics helped earn its place as one of MTV’s most viewed programs.
  • The Bachelor

    The Bachelor
    With one eligible man and 25 women vying for his proposal, The Bachelor wasn’t the first of its kind but was one of the most successful in the dating reality-based categories. For 15 seasons, ABC has been creating the same rundown: one bachelor goes on multiple dates with the contenders, and with every rose given at the elimination ceremony, the contestants are one step closer to winning his affections. The show’s popularity is shown through its various spinoffs.
  • American Idol

    American Idol
    A taste of the 2009 auditionsThe singing competition that transformed the modern talent show, American Idol has sky-rocketed into its own category of reality television. With its comedic audition rounds and eclectic panel, Fox’s hit show has been captivating audiences for more than nine years. American Idol holds auditions in major cities, and sends hopeful contestants through various rounds until the live taping.
  • The Biggest Loser

    The Biggest Loser
    Current season of "The Biggest Loser" promoAs the official site states, this is the first reality program “where everybody ‘loses.’” Unlike other former makeover series, The Biggest Loser encourages more of a lifestyle change by having overweight contestants face workout, diet and weigh-in challenges to claim the title of “the biggest loser” and the $250,000 grand prize. The reality-based game show has inspired 25 adaptions of the show in other countries, with NBC further marketing its success through the sale of weight-loss products.
  • Hell's Kitchen

    Hell's Kitchen
    What's going on in the latest season?Markers like Julia Child and Emeril already helped gain prominence for reality cooking shows, but Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen took more of the modern reality TV format by incorporating a competition-style premise that is based on the United Kingdom’s Hell’s Kitchen before it. Chef Gordon Ramsay oversees two teams of amateur chefs that are put through his intense criticism; timed-preparation and appearance challenges; and actual dinner services to become the head chef of a top-notch restaurant.
  • The Real Housewives of Orange County

    The Real Housewives of Orange County
    Bravo’s reality TV series The Real Housewives of Orange County was inspired by ABC’s drama Desperate Housewives, and featured affluent housewives and professional women living in major cities. The dramatic and engrossing relationships formed between these ladies created a phenomenon, encouraging the production of similar series in New York City, Atlanta, New Jersey, Beverly Hills and Miami. Along with these reproductions, Bravo also gave The Real Housewive Bethenny Frankel two spinoff shows.
  • Keeping up with the Kardashians

    Keeping up with the Kardashians
    Haven't been keeping up? Promo for new season of Kourtney and Kim take New York<a href='' Following the documentary-styled formatting, E!’s Keeping up with the Kardashians follows the lives of the Chris Kardashian-Bruce Jenner family in Calabasas, California. Practically unknowns at its premiere, the family’s popularity and rising Nielsen ratings have launched the clan into reality celebritydom. The show has also spawned three spinoffs and episode specials.
  • Jersey Shore

    Jersey Shore
    A parody of all you need to know about the Jersey ShoreGTL, DTF and MVP. Not sure what these mean? Well, just ask any Jersey Shore fanatic and they will most assuredly know. Instead of seven strangers, MTV grouped eight self-proclaimed “guidos” into a New Jersey home for a summer and catchphrases, nicknames and chaos ensued. The series’ success has led to four seasons in different locations, including Miami and Italy.