Top 20 Dumbest Reality TV Show Ideas

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Top 20 Dumbest Reality TV Show Ideas

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: William Regot
We've seen some dumb ideas for Reality TV shows in our time, but these are on another level. For this list, we'll be looking at the worst concepts behind supposedly unscripted series. However, we're excluding game shows, because that's a different list entirely. Our countdown includes "Date My Mom" (2004-06), "Girlfriend Intervention" (2014), "Farmer Wants A Wife" (2008), and more!
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We've seen some dumb ideas for Reality TV shows in our time, but these are on another level. For this list, we’ll be looking at the worst concepts behind supposedly unscripted series. However, we’re excluding game shows, because that’s a different list entirely. Our countdown includes "Date My Mom" (2004-06), "Girlfriend Intervention" (2014), "Farmer Wants A Wife" (2008), and more! Which reality TV show idea made you facepalm? Let us know in the comments.

#20: “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé” (2004)


In the early 2000s, the Fox network was quite the innovator when it came to crappy ideas for reality shows. In this one, Arizona schoolteacher Randi Coy had to successfully convince her family that she was engaged. If she did, she would receive a prize of $500,000 dollars to split with them. However, unbeknownst to Randi, the man who was pretending to be her fiancé wasn’t on her side. His job was to be as outrageous as possible and offend her family to make everyone uncomfortable for the show’s run. So basically, the audience is asked to watch a guy be annoying. That’s just great.

#19: “Whisker Wars” (2011-12)


Airing on the IFC, “Whisker Wars” followed a bunch of men who were obsessed with beard growing competitions. Their ultimate goal was to test their facial hair in an international competition set in Norway, where their main rivals were the Germans. As if we needed one more thing that glorifies hipsters. These men took themselves so seriously, we don’t know if it was sad or just silly. We understand that beards are cool, but it’s important to remember that you can’t define yourself by something as trivial as having a lot of facial hair.

#18: “Flockstars” (2015)


This British reality competition series proved that producers across the pond can come up with some dumb ideas too. “Flockstars” took a group of eight celebrities and had them engage in sheepherding. The stars, which included actresses, a rapper, and a Paralympic athlete, were mentored by sheepherding experts. And they later participated in challenges, with one of them getting eliminated each week. Many critics and viewers felt the show was more desperate than anything else. Some agreed that its one saving grace was how attractive the shepherds who mentored the celebrities were. That’s fun, but doesn’t make this concept any good!

#17: “Date My Mom” (2004-06)


In this dating show, a guy or girl had to pick one person to go on a date with. But to make their choice, this contestant first had to go on dates with those peoples’ mothers. During each tete-a-tete, the pair got to know each other, and the contestant got a feel for their potential future date. Keep in mind, this was their only window into the men or women they were maybe going to get romantically involved with. Then, they had to decide which mother’s child they wanted to date. The horrible premise pretty much speaks for itself, so we’ll just say that this MTV show’s approach to dating just feels plain wrong.

#16: “The Pickup Artist” (2007-08)


Sadly, Mystery has made a name for himself through his method of picking up women. And in this VH1 reality competition, he advised a group of young men who had no luck with the ladies on how to score with them. The men then took the “skills” they got from Mystery and participated in various challenges. The show basically encouraged guys to be pestering creeps, and Mystery’s loud choice of fashion made him look outright ridiculous. He came off as such a womanizing tool! There was even a “Saturday Night Live” sketch where Darrell Hammond’s Bill Clinton dressed up like him for Halloween.

#15: “Temptation Island” (2001-03; 2019-)


Multiple couples go on an island and test their fidelity by splitting off and spending time with attractive members of the opposite sex. As you can imagine, this show generated a lot of controversy when it first came on the air for promoting infidelity. However, after the initial shock went away, there wasn’t much left, and the ratings reflected that. Thus, “Temptation Island” ended two years after it premiered. But just when we thought we were free of this atrocity, the show was brought back by the USA network in 2019. And Mark L. Walberg even returned as the host. Who says television is running out of ideas?

#14: “Farmer Wants a Wife” (2008)


This has often been called “The Bachelor” set on a farm, so brace yourself. Matt Neustadt, who’s been a farmer his whole life, had to choose a wife among ten women who live in big cities. During their stay at his farm, the prospective spouses participated in a bunch of nature-related activities that were essentially designed to make them look stupid. So basically, a bunch of women from cities like Dallas and Los Angeles competed to see who got to live in rural Missouri. We’re sure it’s a nice place to live, but it kind of seems like the top prize in this show was basically a life of boredom.

#13: “Born in the Wild” (2015)


Lifetime aired this show about women who decided to give birth in the great outdoors for a more “natural” labor. Each episode documented a different woman’s experience, and showed the unique challenges she and those who assisted her faced in their unconventional setting. Places that were chosen for giving birth included the woods and the Alaskan wilderness. The show was accused of encouraging expectant mothers to endanger both their lives and the ones of their unborn children. “Born in the Wild” only has six episodes, which is really the only highlight here.

#12: “Splash” (2013)


This reality competition show had celebrities compete against each other doing Olympic style dives. The stars included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Drake Bell, and Louie Anderson. Plus, Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis acted as a coach, helping them with their routines. Unfortunately, the diving techniques the contestants were asked to perform were pretty high level and complicated. This led to many of them getting injured, while some even had to withdraw from the show. In hindsight, however, this sounds like an obvious drawback. It’s safe to say the risks far outweighed the benefits with this series.

#11: “Sex Box” (2015)


How do you get couples who need professional help to improve their relationships to be as prepared to accept advice as possible? Well, if you ask this show, the answer is putting a love-making session smack dab in the middle of a so-called therapy session. Don’t worry though, they do that part in the privacy of the title box. The thinking was that the couples would be more emotionally receptive to counseling after making love. Does that sound like a bad idea? That’s because it was. The show got a lot of attention around the time it aired for its unorthodox form of therapy, but it also received a lot of criticism for being, well, stupid.

#10: “I Want a Famous Face” (2004-05)


This MTV reality show found people who wanted plastic surgery to look like a certain celebrity and documented their journey through the process. Some of the stars people wanted to emulate included Jennifer Aniston, Pamela Anderson, and Brad Pitt. It’s definitely a time capsule of which celebrities were “in” at the time. But it was sad watching people give up their unique identity because they idolized a famous person or were insecure about their own appearance. Also, it seems short-sighted to want to look like a celebrity just because they’re popular at the moment. What happens if their star fades in Hollywood, or a scandal makes them a black sheep?

#9: “Girlfriend Intervention” (2014)


This is yet another poor reality television offering from Lifetime. A group of four Black women help a white woman find a more acceptable sense of style. And they do this all while making catty remarks putting her down. It was often seen as another version of “Queer Eye,” but with outspoken Black women. Except the show missed the mark completely, and was called out by critics for playing on racial stereotypes. Thankfully, “Girlfriend Intervention” only lasted for one season, with an eight episode run that was painful to sit through.

#8: “Are You Hot?: The Search for America’s Sexiest People” (2003)


This ABC show was a nationwide competition that was only concerned with judging contestants by their looks, instead of rewarding a well rounded personality or unique talent. Contestants stood scantily clad in front of a panel of three judges, who gave their frank if not creepy opinions on the person’s look, pointing out the tiniest flaws. As if that didn’t sound bad enough, judge Lorenzo Lamas would aim a laser pointer at contestants to highlight areas he wanted to focus on. The show was considered shallow, even by reality tv standards.

#7: “Playing It Straight” (2004)


This show was a high stakes test of gaydar. One woman was given the task of dating 14 men on a ranch to suss out which ones were gay. If she could pick one that was straight, then the two would win a million dollar prize, but if she picked someone that was gay, she would lose out on the prize, and the gay guy got to keep the money. So the gay men tried to pass off as straight so they could trick the woman and take the jackpot for themselves. Way to portray members of the LGBT as devious frauds. Given how shameless reality shows can be, of course this was a premise for a show in the mid-2000s.

#6: “Who’s Your Daddy?” (2005)


How controversial was this show? It was pulled after one episode. A woman was reunited with her biological father after having been given up for adoption, but not before having to identify him out of a group of strangers. If she can pick her real father out of eight men in three rounds, then she gets 100,000 dollars. But if she guesses wrong, then the man she incorrectly identified walks away with the money, which gives each man the incentive to convince the woman that he’s the real father. This show needlessly opens up emotional wounds.

#5: “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (2007-21)


For 14 long years, the Kardashians and Jenners plagued the airwaves with a reality show about the drama that came out of their lives. Rather than read a book or learn a new skill, we sat and watched Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, and the rest of the family. We didn’t do it because it was particularly stimulating, but rather because it was a guilty pleasure. Sure, it was a ratings hit for E! and a pop culture phenomenon that built up the profile of everyone involved. But it also came at the cost of millions of our collective brain cells. And now there’s the family’s new Hulu show, so the worst is likely yet to come.

#4: “Bridalplasty” (2010-11)


In this “E!” reality show which resembles “The Swan”, 12 women, who are about to get married, live together in a house separated from their fiances and compete against each other in challenges where the prize is a plastic surgery they have requested. Each week, the women vote each other out of the house, and whoever wins the show, gets the wedding of their dreams, and a whole bunch of plastic surgery to make them look good for their big day. While the show got a lot of attention for its controversial premise, it didn’t do well in the ratings, showing that there are some things even reality show viewers won’t stand for.

#3: “I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’” (2014)


Based on a Danish reality show, six strangers at a time are arranged into three couples by a group of professionals based on who they believe will be compatible with one another. After a matter of weeks spending time as husband and wife, each couple then has to decide whether or not they want to continue their marriage. Astonishingly, this show has lasted for at least nine seasons and has managed to not run out of people who are willing to ruin their lives for cheap reality programming.

#2: “Kid Nation” (2007)


This controversial show from CBS had an insane premise from the get-go. Forty kids, whose ages ranged from 8 to 15, were put in a town in the middle of nowhere. And they got to run things without any grown-ups telling them what to do. The children made all of the rules, from setting up their own businesses to forming their own local government. They also did their own chores. This reality show idea sounds like child endangerment. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the kids reportedly drank an unattended container full of bleach. Maybe there’s a reason kids have parents and guardians?

#1: “Married at First Sight” (2014-)


Based on a Danish reality show, six strangers at a time are arranged into three couples by a group of professionals based on who they believe will be compatible with one another. After a matter of weeks spending time as husband and wife, each couple then has to decide whether or not they want to continue their marriage. Astonishingly, this show has gone on and on, and is somehow still finding people who are willing to ruin their lives for cheap reality programming. When will the madness end?
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