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The Best Trashy Reality Shows to Watch on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and More

There's no shame in these guilty pleasures

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TV Guide Editors
Chloe Veitch, The Circle

Chloe Veitch, The Circle


Prestige TV dramas are great and beloved comedies can even keep you laughing for hours, but sometimes there's truly nothing like a low-brow reality show. Hookups, catfights, projectile beverages... it's all waiting for you in the genre of television whose stars fast-tracked stardom by giving up their privacy and revealing their lack of decency just so you can have something addictive to watch while lounging in your pajamas.

The reality television we're highlighting here -- the kind you feel guilty for watching but also can't wait to talk to everyone you know about -- is a mix of the latest brainchildren Netflix has eagerly provided us with, as well as the classics that inspired them, and everything in between. Crack open a big box of wine, hit the Do Not Disturb button on your phone, and get ready to journey into a world of questionable morality.

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Looking for more recommendations of what to watch next? We have a ton of them! And if you're looking for more hand-picked recommendations based on shows you love, we have those too.

Too Hot to Handle

Reality-ness: It's Netflix's answer to Bachelor in Paradise | Where to Watch: Netflix

Too Hot to Handle

Too Hot to Handle

Tom Dymond

In this reality competition, a gaggle of hot and horny singles from all over the world have to live together in a villa, but they're forbidden from sexual activity of any kind. No snogging, no wanking, and certainly none of the ol' in-out, in-out. And these young folks have a really, really hard time with it. They have to look within and find a spiritual solution for the emptiness they feel. Not all holes can be filled physically. A YouTube commenter on the trailer described this as "basically Love Island but Amazon's Alexa is controlling everything," which is incredibly on point. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

The Circle

Reality-ness: Big Brother over social media | Where to Watch: Netflix



Social media is a cesspool of lies and insecurities, and this Netflix Original pounces on that idea and takes it to the next level. Contestants all live in a single apartment complex but never come face-to-face with each other, communicating only through a proprietary social media platform that connects them all. As they build their profiles and chat with each other they must decide how they want to be portrayed in order to avoid getting voted out, Big Brother-style. But that means some go all out with catfishing and pretend to be people they aren't, while others feel authenticity is the best. It turns out that no one can ever really be sure that the person they're getting friendly with is who they say they are. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

90 Day Fiancé / Before the 90 Days

Reality-ness: Do you? Yes. Do you? Yes. Bam! You're married! | Where to Watch: Hulu

90 Day Fiance


One of the darkest reality show franchises out there (which is saying a lot), 90 Day Fiancéand its six (!!) spin-offs are perfect to watch when you need to feel better about your own life. Because no matter what you're dealing with right now, at least you aren't one of these people. This isn't to say that the 90 Day Fiancé is a gloomy binge. It's filled with juicy drama, some real screwball comedy, and occasionally genuinely moving moments as the couples try to figure out how to make their relationships work. When it comes to where to jump in, we recommend you start with the flagship -- which follows an American and their foreign fiancé throughout the 90 days they have to get married before the foreigner's K-1 visa expires -- and its spin-off Before the 90 Days -- which follows an American traveling abroad to meet their online significant other for the very first time, usually in the hopes of getting engaged. Both of these premises are obvious recipes for disaster, but that's precisely the point. -Sadie Gennis [Trailer]

Love Island (U.K.)

Reality-ness: The British sensation | Where to watch: Hulu

Love Island


Even though there is technically prize money awarded to a winner at the end, this U.K. sensation isn't concerned with the competition aspect at all. Instead, Love Islandfocuses on the ups and downs of a revolving group of hot singles living as couples in a gorgeous villa. As new sexy singles come in, the couples will find themselves tested and perhaps splitting for good during one of the show's intense recoupling ceremonies. Adding to all this are ruthless twists, goofy games, and the madly brilliant Casa Amour, where the boys and girls are separated for a week and must live with a new batch of singles before deciding whether to stay in their original couple or not. With nearly 50 episodes in a standard season and six seasons already streaming, watching Love Island seems like an overwhelming project. But once you start, you'll find yourself grateful for the bountiful episode count and probably even wishing there were more. -Sadie Gennis [Trailer]

Back With the Ex

Reality-ness: Dating... again | Where to Watch: Netflix

Back with the Ex

Back with the Ex


The problem with dating shows is that most start with strangers kicking off relationships based on instant, new attraction, and then falling into the predictable formula of small talk, make-out sessions, and eventually, boredom with each other. Australia's Back With the Ex creates a ton of new drama by following groups of former flames who want another shot at being together, skipping the triviality of getting to know each other in favor of wondering if their ex has changed at all. (They haven't.) The history between the two, both good and bad, becomes the defining characteristic of their attempts to reignite the flame, whether they've been broken up for a year or decades, like one older couple that somehow exudes the most sexual energy of the bunch. It's a blast to see these couples fall into the same traps that ended their relationship before or promise that they'll change even though everyone knows they won't -- like the gym rat who cooks at home but still doesn't own plates somehow. You'll be shouting, "GIRL, that's why you broke up with him in the first place!" over and over. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

Are You the One?

Reality-ness: The really horny world | Where to Watch: Hulu

Are You the One?


Dating shows like The Bachelor cheat themselves by incentivizing contestants to morph into the most appealing versions of themselves, which often limits drama to infighting between contestants instead of issues that naturally come up in a more unfiltered romance. The premise for Are You The One? encourages contestants to be their full selves, since they are guaranteed to have a perfect match in the house thanks to a pre-show matchmaking system: the challenge comes in determining who that person is. This unbridled "If you can't handle me at my worst you don't deserve me at my best" mindset makes for a cornucopia of regrettable hookups, drunken epiphanies, and all the messiness we crave when looking for a trashy show to binge. -Lauren Zupkus [Trailer]

Bachelor in Paradise

Reality-ness: The prize is other contestants! | Where to Watch: HBO Max, Hulu

Ashely Iaconetti and Jared Haibon, Bachelor in Paradise

Ashely Iaconetti and Jared Haibon, Bachelor in Paradise

Paul Hebert, ABC

One of the greatest examples of recycling comes in this Bachelor and Bachelorette spin-off, in which rejected losers from those franchises fly to a resort in Mexico where they give love via reality TV another shot. The game is actually a sinister social experiment on the part of the producers, because they know the contestants' biggest crushes and use that info to bring in fresh meat just when people begin to couple up, causing instant jealousy and second thoughts. It's brilliant, really. Any member of Bachelor Nation who knows what they're talking about will tell you this is the best series in the franchise by far. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

Love Is Blind

Reality-ness: It's what's on the inside | Watch it on: Netflix

Love Is Blind

Love Is Blind


If you somehow missed Netflix's wild romantic reality series, well, now's as good a time as any to find out what everyone has been obsessing about on social media -- actually, now's an even better time to watch it because the formatting is more relevant than ever in the wake of social distancing. The series features singles going on dates in isolation "pods" wherein they can't see or touch their suitors, but instead talk to them through a big blue wall. (Yes, the coronavirus jokes have already been written about this one.) Those who decide to get engaged without ever laying eyes on one another eventually get some face-to-face time, but then they've got the added pressure of a rapidly-approaching wedding date ahead. You might be surprised by how well this unique formula actually works for some of the couples on the show, and, more importantly, Love Is Blind makes for a highly entertaining 10-hour escape from the malaise of the moment. -Amanda Bell [Trailer]

Married at First Sight

Reality-ness: Love Is Blind... to the max! | Where to Watch: Hulu

Married at First Sight


If you enjoyed Love Is Blind, may we introduce you to Married at First Sight? The FYI/Lifetime series, which premiered in 2014, goes one step further than the Netflix hit, having a team of relationship experts pair up three couples who meet for the first time at the altar before exchanging any words or personal information (other than their ring sizes, of course). The series then chronicles the couples as they go on their honeymoons before returning home and living together for eight weeks, at the end of which time they must decide whether or not they want to stay married or get divorced. If this sounds kind of brutal, it's because it is! But despite what you may suspect, there are some real genuine relationships that come from this series, so the schadenfreude you feel is balanced out by some actual earnest investment in certain romances. -Sadie Gennis [Trailer]

Real Housewives of New York City / Atlanta

Reality-ness: Where memes are born | Where to Watch: Hulu

The Real Housewives of New York City

Heidi Gutman/Bravo

Be warned: Real Housewives is the type of reality show franchise that can easily consume your life. With 10 American series alone, plus multiple international editions, there are enough installments of this Bravo staple to last you a lifetime. (And that's not to mention all the time spent keeping up with the women's real-life drama playing out in the tabloids and on social media, which is a whole job of its own.) While we recommend every reality TV fan give Real Housewives a go, not every city is created equal. That's why we recommend newbies start with either Real Housewives of New York or Atlanta, two of the franchise's longest running and most consistently entertaining series. We should probably also mention that Housewives tends to get very dark. So if you're looking for purely a lighthearted escape, this world isn't for you. But if you want to have a nice balance of silly shenanigans, Shakespearean feuds, and some truly chilling looks into the human condition, there's nothing better on TV and we doubt there ever will be. -Sadie Gennis [Trailer]

Vanderpump Rules

Reality-ness: Every hip L.A. restaurant ever | Where to Watch: Hulu

Vanderpump Rules

NBCU/Getty Images

With Vanderpump Rules, it feels like the producers truly captured something rare: a group of young people with low morals, a high alcohol tolerance, and a storied history before the cameras ever started rolling. Following the waitstaff at Lisa Vanderpump's restaurants in LA, this Real Housewives of Beverly Hills spin-off chronicles the hookups, breakups, and truly shocking betrayals of a group of people that are practically mascots for the phrase, "with friends like these, who needs enemies?" And while the show begins to meander as the cast grows up and grows out of their worst habits, the first five seasons deliver some of the best drama the genre has to offer. -Sadie Gennis [Trailer]

America's Next Top Model

Reality-ness: Flesh parade | Where to Watch: Amazon, Hulu

America's Next Top Model

Massimo Campana/Trever Swearingen/Pottle Productions Inc

Even if you watched America's Next Top Model when it was on, that doesn't mean it's not worth revisiting. One of the best parts of this series is its rewatchability, which is why we used to lose our weekends to TV marathons of this reality show staple. And if you never dipped a toe into Tyra Banks' competition series -- which becomes slowly more outrageous as the seasons go on -- trust us when we say this is the perfect thing to just have on for 12 hours a day as you vacillate between mindlessly scrolling through your phone and passionately judging the absurd photo shoots and taking sides in fights between contestants (and sometimes even the judges). This is definitely a series that you could happily start from the very beginning, but if you wanna test out the goods first, you gotta start with Season 3, which features future Real Housewife Eva Marcille and future Chicago Med star Yaya Dacosta. -Sadie Gennis [Trailer]


Reality-ness: The bad kind of role-playing | Where to Watch: Hulu

Max Joseph and Nev Schulman, Catfish


Yes, there was a time when assuming someone's identity and pretending to be them on the internet for nefarious purposes didn't have a catchy name. But then, in 2010, came a surprisingly dark documentary in which the filmmaker fell in love with a young woman online only to discover -- after a cross-country drive to meet her -- that's a she's a much older married woman with several kids. The filmmaker, Nev Schulman, then partnered with MTV to take a surreal early social media phenomenon and turn it into one of the most batsh-- and comical reality shows of our time. Catfish helps people who fall in love on the internet but can't seem to transition their relationships into real life find the mystery person they've been talking to. And the reveals are always astounding. Catfishes range from strangers to exes to family members taking revenge on national television ("You shoulda never called me fat ass Kelly Price!") and have pretended to be everyone from Lil Bow Wow to Katy Perry. Part Maury drama, part true-crime mystery, Catfish is an addictive binge that's anchored by the borderline romantic chemistry of its hosts Nev and Max Joseph. And every once in a while Catfish will surprise you with a happy ending; after all, finding love online isn't so far-fetched anymore. -Krutika Mallikarjuna [Trailer]

Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Reality-ness: You know this one | Where to Watch: Hulu

Keeping Up with the Kardashians

E! Entertainment/Brian Bowen Smith/E! Entertainment

Usually, we turn on Keeping Up with the Kardashians after enduring a particularly soul-scarring episode of Dateline, but these days, two minutes of news is enough to make us crave some Kompanionship. There's something oddly calming about watching a group of Kardashian-Jenner siblings gathered around a kitchen island, eating salads and talking in curiously monotone affects about the latest person in their circle to betray them. While the famous family has enough real-life scandal and drama to make for a gripping show, their tendency to air everything out on social media months before it's captured by E!'s cameras curtails any tension, so the episodes end up unfolding like a comforting bedtime story: you already know how it ends. -Lauren Zupkus [Klip]

Jersey Shore

Reality-ness: Real World slathered in hemorrhoid cream | Where to Watch: Hulu

Jersey Shore

Troy Rizzo/Getty Images/MTV

Even people who knew and loved Jersey Shore during its original run will find it fascinating to revisit Jersey Shore in its early seasons, before the cast or crew had any idea how big of a cultural phenomenon it would become. It's also nuts to see how MTV adapts to milk the newfound cash cow on their hands, choosing to ship the cast to Miami for Season 2 so they don't have to wait for summertime to return to Seaside Heights. I'm sure we'd all like to think we're more stable than people who refer to themselves as "JWoww" and "The Situation," but being stuck with the same group of people for more time than you originally bargained for with nothing but an abundance of cameras and alcohol is enough to make anyone go a little crazy. And it makes for great TV! -Lauren Zupkus [Trailer]

Love & Hip Hop

Reality-ness: 99 problems and love is definitely one | Where to Watch: Amazon (for purchase)

Love and Hip Hop


Fans of ratchet hip hop and reality shows have long found near nirvana in the Love & Hip Hop New Yorkand Love & Hip Hop Atlanta spectacles, airing for 10 and nine seasons respectively. Executive producer Mona Scott-Young has made a mint off the franchise by assembling some of the most dramatic, over-the-top, and messy music makers in the business, under the guise of watching them navigate relationships. Mostly though, we're just here for the cussin' and fightin'. In the New York installment, a who's who of respected rappers, rappers' chicks, and one-hit wonders -- Joe Budden, Juelz Santana, Lil Mo, and on and on -- found new life and love in the series, including Remy Ma and Papoose, whose relationship is, crazy as it sounds, the only sure thing in this effed-up world. New York is also notable for turning a scrappy exotic dancer from the Bronx named Cardi B into an A-lister. But if New York is messy, then Atlanta is like a piece of postmodern performance art. Down in the A, icons-in-their-mind like Joseline Hernandez, K. Michelle, Yung Joc, and Lil Scrappy wear the guise of middle-class civility for as long as they can -- until somebody throws a drink or insults somebody's baby momma and the rumbles begin. -Malcolm Venable [Trailer]

RuPaul's Drag Race

Reality-ness: Claws out beauty pageantry | Where to Watch: Paramount+

Ru Paul Drag Race


The concept of RuPaul's Drag Race is pretty simple: RuPaul puts a cast of drag queens through various challenges like sewing, acting, and dancing in an effort to see which of them is fit to become "America's next drag superstar." The show has become known for its lip syncs and looks, but the best moments rarely come from the competition itself. Drag Race is at its most addictive when the queens, who spend most of their time letting arguments fester while stuck together in the "Werk Room," inevitably clash, their spats leading to some of the show's funniest soundbites. It's a world of high drama, where telling someone they belong in a Party City can lead to a season-long blood war, and it's impossible to look away from. -Allison Picurro [Trailer]

Instant Hotel

Reality-ness: Nightmare on AirBnB street | Where to Watch: Netflix

Instant Hotel


Australia came out of nowhere to become a goldmine for reality television, and this is the king of them all. What should be an HGTV-friendly show about short-term rentals becomes an endless stream of condescension and cattiness as contestants spend time in each other's vacation properties and absolutely tear each other down, with the winner getting to stay at Leonardo DiCaprio's Australian getaway. The best part of the series comes as the most stuck-up characters finally have a chance to show off their houses, and they're absolute godd--- interior designer nightmares. Whoever cast this show deserves a promotion. -Tim Surette [Trailer]

The Hills

Reality-ness: The classic | Where to Watch: Hulu

The Hils

John Sciulli/Getty/MTV

This slightly more mature spin-off of Laguna Beach follows Lauren "L.C." Conrad as she moves to Los Angeles to pursue college and a career in fashion. Lauren was always the relatable voice of reason on Laguna, and that continues in The Hills even as she finds herself in more and more dramatic situations, further fueled by her growing fame and expanding social circle. But as titillating as it is to watch Lauren choose reuniting with her ex instead of taking an internship in Paris in the first season, it's in Season 2 -- when Lauren's roommate Heidi Montag begins dating the now iconic reality TV villain Spencer Pratt -- that The Hills graduates to must-see. The series loses steam in the fifth season as the storylines become less chaotic (and believable), but don't let that put you off this MTV jewel, which proves just how little it matters whether a reality show is or isn't scripted as long as it's this good. -Sadie Gennis [Trailer]

Big Brother

Reality-ness: Chore wheel of death | Where to Watch: HuluParamount+


Monty Brinton, CBS

If you haven't watched Big Brother before, you probably think it's just a boring reality competition where people stuck in a house turn against each other in order to win the grand prize. And while that is partially correct, what this ignores is just how goofy Big Brother actually is. Each week, the house guests participate in two challenges, but these aren't your run-of-the-mill competitions; there's always a theme, it's usually weird as hell, and there are very often silly costumes that go along with it. So while you get all the thrills of watching the interpersonal drama and game strategies play out, you also get the pure joys of people doing very silly things with dead seriousness. This show even has a robot that comes in once a season to ruthlessly roast the contestants! How do you not want to see that? There over 20 seasons of Big Brother in the can, but you can either skip Season 1 entirely and jump in with Season 2 or even skip ahead to some of the best-ever installments, such as Seasons 6, 7, and 17. -Sadie Gennis [Trailer]

Flavor of Love / Rock of Love / Charm School

Reality-ness: Groupie fight | Where to Watch: Hulu

Flavor of Love


In the mid-'00s, VH1 landed on the genius idea of plagiarizing the format of The Bachelor, but casting unappealing weirdos (Public Enemy hypeman Flavor Flav, Poison frontman Bret Michaels) in the lead and having desperate castoffs fight over them. These people seemed like they were cast based on their inability to pass a background check. The result was glorious nihilism and anarchy. The success of flagship program Flavor of Love spawned a small galaxy of low-budget, self-replenishing shows, including standouts Rock of Love and Charm School. -Liam Mathews [Trailer]

I Love New York

Reality-ness: The star so bright she got her own show | Where to Watch: Hulu

I Love New York


While we could have easily grouped I Love New York in with the rest of VH1's Flavorverse, Tiffany "New York" Pollard deserves to be so much more than a footnote; she's the main attraction and then some! Pollard shot to stardom on Flavor of Love before getting her own series in which 20 misfit men competed for her affection. While it's the norm to see heightened versions of people on TV, no one has ever been quite as successful as Pollard when it comes to embracing an authentic, unapologetic extra-ness. It's why she's still one of the most popular sources for reaction GIFs, why there was a New York museum dedicated solely to her, and why you should watch her just being her on I Love New York, a truly important cultural touchstone. So go ahead and educate yourself on the magic of Tiffany Pollard. -Sadie Gennis [Trailer]