Although the summer is mostly about vacation, sunshine, the beach, and being outside, there are still going to be plenty of chances to plop on the couch and binge a few episodes (or seasons) of a favorite show.
When it comes to addictive television, very little beats out reality TV. We all know it’s not actually real, at least not usually. But these shows find a way to walk the line between fake and real just perfectly so that we can’t possibly look away.
Whether you’re new to this world or have been hooked for ages, you should know that there are reality shows and then there are reality shows. There’s a lot of junk out there, but there’s also plenty of gold.
Here’s a list of the top reality shows to binge this summer:
Some of these shows are old classics that are still running, some are no longer on the air, and some are new this year. No matter which one you choose, you’re in for a fun, wild ride of television binging.
This list is in no particular order.
Given the craze this show causes every time a new season hits the air, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best, and more binge-worthy reality shows out there.
For those who don’t know, The Bachelor features one man looking for love and a group of women all trying to win his affections. They go through a series of dates and experiences together, with the Bachelor himself removing women from the game until he chooses his special someone. The Bachelorette is the exact same concept except a woman is the lead.
There’s plenty of drama and scandals, but also some heartwarming moments. You’ll likely spend a lot of time scoffing and rolling your eyes, but isn’t that what good reality shows are all about?
Entering its 42 season in 2022, Survivor is one of the oldest running and most successful reality shows of all time. The premise? A group of strangers goes to a remote location to try and “survive.” But they’re not just fighting against the elements. Each show, a tribal council takes place in which one member is voted off, losing out on the chance to win $1 million.
Alliances and friendships are key in this game, making the show an interesting look into how humans form connections with others, and also how they get what they want.
Plus, with 42 seasons, there’s plenty of material to keep you entertained and there are lots of locations to explore.
For those who love to travel (and maybe haven’t been able to thanks to the situation in the world) binge the longtime classic The Amazing Race and you’ll find it’s a pretty good substitute for actual travel (though it’s never quite the same).
In the show, eight teams of two compete in a race around the world. In each episode, they travel to a new location (which they do not know in advance). Along the way, they must complete a series of tasks. The last one to arrive at the next checkpoint may be eliminated.
It’s fast-paced, competitive, and interesting to watch (they go to the far reaches of the Earth) and it doesn’t feature quite as much of the drama and nonsense you might find in other reality shows.
If you’re a fan of cooking shows but wished they had a bit more energy, you’re probably going to love TopChef.
In this competition, chefs from all over the world with different backgrounds are put through a series of challenges to find out who is the “Top Chef.” They are often asked to make difficult items, come up with specialty dishes based on a set of ingredients, or work in the kitchen with strangers.
At the end of each episode, expert judges review their work and someone is eliminated. The last chef standing wins $250,000, presumably to start their own restaurant.
This is an easy one to get sucked into, but it’s also lighthearted and educational. You’re going to be exposed to all sorts of ingredients and all different kinds of cooking styles. And with countless spin-offs, there’s plenty to watch this summer.
Love is a constant theme in reality shows. It plays such an important role in our lives, that it makes sense we would dramatize it on TV.
In Love Off the Grid, a new reality dating show in 2022, two contestants put their relationship to the test by moving to a remote location completely removed from the rest of society. This obviously has its own challenges, but then they must also navigate themselves and determine if their relationship is as strong as they think.
Since it’s a new show, there aren’t that many episodes to “binge.” But after one or two we’re pretty sure you’ll be hooked and will be ready for more.
Another reality dating show, Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer is actually a reboot of a show that was popular during the 1990s and 2000s.
This updated version features two main people, one rich and one poor. A group of women then compete for their love. But in the meantime, they must also work out which one is the rich guy and which one is poor, and also determine how this impacts their perspective.
It’s a fairly simple format, but it’s interesting to see how people react when this information is hidden. If you like the updated version, check out the original as well.
Although reality shows aren’t always 100 percent “real,” they are usually based on or made to depict real-life situations. And that’s one of their great benefits: they can expose us to other ways of living.
In Below Deck, you will get to follow the lives of several “yachties,” the individuals who make their livings working and crewing on luxury yachts.
The actual drama in the show is the same old, same old. But the setting in which it takes place makes it that much more interesting. Have you ever been inside a mega-yacht? No? Well, now’s your chance.
For a rip-roaring good time in addition to the usual reality TV drama and excitement, look no further than RuPaul’s Drag Race. The show follows its creator, RuPaul, as he travels around the country in search of and mentoring candidates for “America’s next drag superstar.”
In addition to RuPaul himself, there are several other judges, all of who play a role in determining who gets eliminated after each episode.
The show has been on for 14 seasons, and there have been several spin-offs, all of which means there is plenty of binge material if you want to get sunk in for a while.
One of the more classic reality shows, American Idol is the reality version of practically every little kid’s dream: to get noticed and become a music sensation.
The show starts by taking auditions from people all over the country, narrowing the group down to a select few finalists. From there, each receives coaching and guidance from the judges, and they compete against each other in a series of performances.
Ultimately, the fans play a big part in deciding who wins (something you won’t be able to participate in if you watch past seasons), so this is a great show to watch if you’re after some engagement.
If nothing else, this is a great chance to listen to some awesome music performed by people around the country all chasing their dreams.
Technically the first-ever reality show, Big Brother is still worth binging if you haven’t already. Using a title that is borrowed from George Orwell’s novel 1984, the show puts seven people in a house, asks them to live together, and records them constantly.
Throughout the season, members of the house are slowly voted off until there is just one winner.
It’s a super simple format, but also a fascinating look into the human psyche and a chance to see how people react when they know for certain they are being recorded.
If you’re looking for a reality show that has lots of drama packed into each 30-minute episode but that doesn’t require you to get invested in a specific group of characters, and if you also like food shows, Bar Rescue is going to become your new favorite.
In each episode, host John Taffer travels to a struggling bar to give them the guidance they need to turn things around to avoid closing. However, the places Taffer goes to are (intentionally) in need of a lot of help. Taffer whips them into shape, doing his fair share of yelling along the way.
Not only is there a lot of drama and high energy in this show, but there is also a lot to learn about the bar and restaurant business that can often be quite interesting.
Would you marry someone you’ve never laid eyes on? What if you had the chance to get to know them intimately before seeing them? Love is supposed to be blind, right?
These are the exact questions this new Netflix series, Love is Blind, brings up. It brings together a group of people and gives them the chance to get to know one another without seeing what the other looks like. They then have the opportunity to get married, and we get to see what happens once they finally agree to make eye contact.
It’s an interesting premise that makes you wonder and, of course, comes back for more and more.
We live in a world of algorithms. They dominate so much of our lives, even dating. Is this a good thing or bad? Can algorithms really tell us that much about ourselves?
The MTV show Are you the one? is based on this exact concept. It subjects ten women to a comprehensive matchmaking process to identify ten men who are supposed to be their perfect match. They are then put together to try and see if they can find each other.
If those who actually matched turn out to be right in real person, they split a million-dollar prize.
It’s an interesting look into the role technology plays in our modern lives, and it also includes all the fun, can’t look away drama that you get from any other reality dating show.
As you can see, there are a lot of reality shows out there worth binging. But there are plenty that are not. Don’t waste your time and stick to this list of the best this summer. You won’t be disappointed. That’s our guarantee.