10 of the weirdest reality TV shows ever to grace our screens
Reality television has never been your average piece of entertainment. In fact, since its very beginning, it has been known for offering viewers some of the most absurd situations in human history to date, whether we wanted to see them or not. However, while the first thing that comes into your mind may be a particularly unhinged episode of the latest season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, that's not what I'm talking about.
In the past, shows of that nature may have shocked us to our cores but we have become far more resilient as viewers, and watching Khloe Kardashian be filmed as she heads to jail or seeing Kendall's older sisters teach her about periods by dropping a tampon in a glass of water no longer surprises us. Instead, it takes programmes where people have sex in boxes in front of studio audiences, or a series where contestants stay awake for seven days, to grab our attention. Yes, that's right. These shows actually exist - or they did before most of them got cancelled. So without any further ado, here are ten reality TV shows that truly shook us to our cores - and not always in a good way.
Many call the British prudes, but this reality TV show proves they might be the most lionhearted out of all of us. Naked Attraction sees a single man or woman select one date out of six potential partners... but there's a twist in that all of the contestants are completely and utterly naked! In each cringe-worthy hour-long episode, the prospective spouses stand butt-naked in cubicles fitted out with a raising door which exposes one piece of their body at a time. With each piece of naked skin, the singleton assesses their choices, then eliminates one partner in every round before finally stripping themselves... and then going on a fully clothed date with their chosen bae. Surprise, surprise, the show has garnered a whole lot of complaints from the British public, but it's still going strong at season two.
Those Brits were getting randy once again with Sex Box, the series which welcomed couples to do the naughty in a box in the middle of a stage, afterwards emerging to sit on a sofa and talk about the sex they had, as well as their relationship, with the host and a resident sexologist. The idea was that the pair were more likely to be closer after having sex and be more open to answering questions about the experience. While the whole affair sounded rather racy, in reality the program was panned for being dull, with one million viewers tuning into the first episode but this number dropping by 200,000 after the first 15 minutes. The best piece of criticism about Sex Box? One British newspaper wrote that the box looked like "an Ikea-bought version of Doctor Who's TARDIS".
I Wanna Marry Harry
Hands up if you'd marry Prince Harry. Well, you missed your chance with this program, which offered young American women the chance to compete for the affections of His Royal Highness - expect it wasn't really Harry on the show. Fox tried to trick 12 young women into believing that environmental consultancy firm worker, Matt Hicks, was fourth in line to the throne in this bizarre 2014 reality show, which wasn't fooling anyone really. Unsurprisingly, it was pulled from the air after only four episodes.
Born in the Wild
Often in society, giving birth to a baby anywhere but in a hospital is controversial, so imagine what happened when a reality TV show that saw mothers go into labour in the wild aired. Forgoing traditions, in Born in the Wild a group of pregnant women travel miles away from the nearest medical facility to pop out their newborns in the woods. The premise centred around the idea that society has over-medicalised the natural process of pregnancy and that giving birth without a medical team is actually safer. Needless to say, a lot of people disagreed.
Named as "the most bizarre and offensive reality TV show of all time", The Swan was the program that took the American public's obsession with plastic surgery to extremes. It worked by taking a group of women judged to be "ugly" and assigning each of them a coach, therapist, trainer, cosmetic surgeon and dentist. It was then that the transformation from an "ugly duckling" to a "beautiful swan" began, with those deemed most attractive competing in a Swan pageant at the end of the series. Heavily criticised for normalising plastic surgery and encouraging women to base their self-worth on their appearance, the show only lasted two seasons.
What do you get when you challenge 10 contestants to going without sleep for seven days? An extraordinarily peculiar show, that's what. Shattered was a Channel 4 series that saw ten housemates endure daily performance testing and a variety of challenges on no sleep; competing for a £100,000 prize, if a competitor closed their eyes for over ten seconds, £1,000 was deducted from the prize fund. In a result that shocked no one, they all went a little loopy, with one participant believing himself to be the Prime Minister of Australia and another becoming angry when his housemates refused to put on Japanese armour and play with an imaginary ball.
Have you ever wanted to watch celebrities dive from extreme heights into a pool? Me neither, but that's exactly what we got with Splash, the US and UK reality TV show where celebrities learned how to dive. Labelled as a "new low for television", it was cancelled in both countries. Shame...
It's been well established throughout this article that reality TV is a little obsessed with nudity, so no one was really shocked when Dating Naked came to our screens. Described as "the most awkward show on television", the series was pretty much exactly what it said on the tin, endorsing the standard reality dating show formula, but seeing several contestants date completely butt-naked on a remote exotic island. Taken off the air after only three seasons, it told us what we all already knew - that reality TV badly needed to get itself a new gimmick.
Speaking of new gimmicks, Flockstars was a show unlike anything we had seen before. It saw celebrities "chase fame on the farm" as they learn to become sheepherders. Hosted by Gabby Logan, each famous face had to win the trust of their sheepdog in order to complete the trials in the best time. Yet, despite the show's undoubted originality, muddy fields and wellington boots didn't cut it for the audience, which quickly stopped watching.
Are You Hot?
It's no secret that we all ponder our own level of attractiveness from time to time - but we're rarely assessed on our physical attractiveness in front of the world. That's exactly what happened when Are You Hot? aired back in 2003. The show saw contestants face a celebrity panel who rated them solely on physical beauty and innate sexiness. Those who didn't make the cut were sharply eliminated, although those who were breathtaking enough to chosen fought it out to become "The Sexiest People in America". Needless to say, it was probably one of the most narcissistic series on TV.
So, would you genuinely watch any of these bizarre reality TV shows? As extraordinarily strange - and just plain wrong - as most of them sound, I have to admit that I'm a little intrigued by a few of them. Long live weird reality TV!