10. The Apprentice
Whether you like Donald Trump or you hate him, this was a pretty original idea for a reality show. Once B-list celebrities got involved though, the show lost most of its luster. Nonetheless, the first few seasons were TV gold.
9. Road Rules
On the heels of “The Real World,” MTV created “Road Rules,” which introduced reality TV to physical challenges and more crazy hi jinx. The show truly was a lot of fun to watch and the challenges kept the genre fresh, but we just never got the poignant drama of “The Real World.”
8. Iron Chef
Cooking shows have always been a part of TV since its inception. Shows like “Iron Chef” took it to a new level, as world class chefs pushed each other to the absolute limit. What resulted was avant garde culinary perfection. There have been many that have imitated, but non that have truly replicated this amazing show.
Most look at “Cops” as merely trashy TV today, but there was a time when it was something much different. The show still stands apart from other reality shows and offers a brief glimpse into the world of law enforcement professionals. Nowadays though, “Cops” has replaced a CB radio.
6. American Idol
Today, there are definitely better singing shows, but Idol revolutionized the genre. Its ability to make stars has always been questionable, but the grandeur and decadence of “American Idol” has solidly replaced “Star Search” before it. As good as the talent is, the lasting legacy of this show may be the audition rounds.
5. Top Chef
It’s not easy being a world-renowned chef. That was the moral of this show, as talented cooks were pushed to their breaking point in order to land a lucrative future in the culinary industry. Sometimes the best part of this one were the moments outside of the kitchen.
4. Deadliest Catch
There have been few shows as captivating as Discovery Channel’s chronicle of Alaskan fisherman. The show was unrelenting and gave viewers insight into a job that still gets far too little respect and admiration. Reality TV became exactly that when the ship’s captain, Phil Harris, collapsed and later died in one string episode.
3. The Amazing Race
This one was a lot like “Road Rules,” but ramped up with much greater intensity. Plus, you got the incredible visuals of many of the world’s greatest wonders. Thus, watching a season of “The Amazing Race” was as close as many of us will ever be to actually seeing the world.
Aside from “The Real World,” there is no other reality show as revolutionary and influential as “Survivor.” The first season, in particular, was about as enthralling and fascinating as modern TV can be. The numerous twists, turns, and double-crosses were dizzying. The ending is still one of the most talked about in TV history.
1. The Real World
Imagine a world without reality television. Can’t? Well, prior to “The Real World,” such a world did indeed exist. The series showed us all that our own lives could be just as entertaining as our favorite fictional characters. The show covered a lot of ground and touched on some seriously controversial issues during its run. Towards the end, the series was a parody of its former self, but a groundbreaking show, nonetheless.