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The Best Reality Competition Shows to Binge-Watch on Netflix

From Floor Is Lava to Nailed It, we're breaking it down

Keisha Hatchett

Are you a competition show addict? Do you cheer on your favorites from the couch? The appeal of these shows is obvious. Rooting for real people to show off their talents -- whether it be in the kitchen or the bedroom -- is a blast, and the reveal of authentic personalities adds social psychology to the experiment. Trashy, poignant, and impressive, reality competition shows come in all flavors.

If you're looking for a new reality competition show on Netflix to watch, we've got you covered with a carefully curated list of the best of them streaming right now on Netflix. Plus, if you're looking for recommendations on other shows and movies to watch while in quarantine, we've got you covered there, too.  

Glow Up

Now in its second season, this competition show has aspiring makeup artists navigating colorful challenges to win a career-making opportunity in the beauty industry. Extreme creativity is encouraged and contestants are judged by Val Garland of L'Oréal Paris and Dominic Skinner of MAC Cosmetics. The series is hosted by TV presenter Stacey Dooley.   

Best Leftovers Ever!

Hosted by GLOW's Jackie Tohn, contestants try to make the most creative and best possible dishes out of average leftovers. Watch as the amateur chefs attempt to make fancy food out of fast food, create meals out of game day appetizers, reinvent date night dinners into yummy breakfasts and more. The competition judges include famed foodies David So and Rosemary Shrager.   

Blown Away

In the show's second season, a new group of glass-blowing artists from around the world battle the heat, the clock, and each other in 10 challenges for the chance to win $60,000 in prizes and the title of champion. The show is hosted by pop-science YouTuber Nick Uhas, who also appeared on America's Got Talent and Big Brother. 

Floor Is Lava

What if a show was  American Gladiators, but the floor is made of metaphorical lava? That's the premise of this zany, wholesome Netflix series which adds a fun twist to a childhood classic. In this series, grown-ups in teams of three must navigate their way through a booby trap-filled obstacle course designed to look like a room in one's house. There are impressive leaps and crushing falls as contestants leap onto office desks in an attempt to reach the other side of the room. Those who fall into the giant "lava" pit are eliminated and thus never seen or heard from again. Well, not really, but the show doesn't really explain what happens after they fall end up in the pit so who knows. This chaotic yet entertaining series is an absolute gem. 

Crazy Delicious

This UK-based series is a visual feast for viewers. Home cooks are tasked with taking everyday ingredients, like oranges and mushrooms, and turning them into eye-catching dishes that deliver both on flavor and visual presentation. It's like if Top Chef and Willy Wonka had a love child. There's even an edible forest where contestants can forage for ingredients to take their dishes to the next level. The only drawback is that you can't actually taste these delectable, mouth-watering creations. If you're in the mood for a whimsical cooking show where the stakes are about as high as The Great British Bake Off, this one's for you. 

Too Hot to Handle

The trashiest show since Tiger King. On 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 -- if anything is violated, cash is taken out of the prize pool. 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. -Liam Mathews

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 interior designer nightmares. Whoever cast this show deserves a promotion. -Tim Surette

The Great British Bake Off

Who knew a reality competition show could be so...relaxing? While most others play up the personal conflict among contestants, this surprisingly pleasant series goes in the opposite direction and showcases camaraderie among the competition as contestants try their best to impress the judges. The real drama comes from wondering if someone's bread will rise in time or if their three-tier cake will fall over before reaching the judges' table. This series is a breath of fresh air and will have you reaching for the baking pans to try out these seriously delectable recipes.

The Circle

Social media will be the downfall of mankind, but it makes for a very interesting wrinkle in reality competition shows. This Netflix original pits competitors in a Big Brother-style competition, where the object is to get the most votes from your housemates and make it to the end. The twist here is these competitors never meet face-to-face; their only interactions with each other happen over a proprietary social media platform that connects all of them as they live in the same apartment building. Through group chats, private DMs, and profile building, everyone tries to curry favor with each other and present their best self... or they pretend to be someone else entirely.

The Big Family Cooking Showdown

In the same vein as the Great British Bake Off, this series features contestants of different backgrounds vying to be named the best family of home cooks. GBBO Season 6 winner Nadiya Hussain and British TV personality Zoë Ball served as hosts for Season 1, while Michelin star chef Giorgio Locatelli and cooking instructor Rosemary Shrager delivered spot-on critiques and surprisingly helpful tips as the show's credible judges. Setting itself apart from others in the genres, the series takes you directly into the homes of participants, adding a new layer of authenticity. Season 2 (with new judges and hosts) is currently in the works but you can stream the first season now on Netflix.

Zumbo's Just Desserts

If you were obsessed with those magical treats from the Harry Potter films, you'll probably enjoy this series that is all about creating show-stopping edibles. Hosted by Aussie pastry legend Adriano Zumbo -- whose nicknames include "Pâtissier of Pain" and "Lord Voldecake"-- and British cook Rachel Khoo, this series tests amateur chefs with complex challenges like defying gravity or creating desserts inspired by popular Australian cookies. The unlucky bottom two then go head-to-head in the dreaded "Zumbo Challenge," in which they must recreate some of the famed chef's most jaw-dropping confections, including a floating chocolate hat. If you're down for some culinary drama, Seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Netflix.

Interior Design Challenge

This hidden gem is essentially Project Runway for interior designers. The series pits 10 amateur designers against each other for a chance to win a commercial contract to redo the bar of one of London's swankiest hotels. Each week, contestants are tested on their ability to redesign residential and commercial spaces while also trying to meet their clients' briefs which is easier said than done given many have very specific needs. 

Ultimate Beastmaster

Netflix's answer to American Ninja Warrior, this intense competition series sets itself apart by showcasing international competitors who run localized versions of a difficult, beast-inspired obstacle course on their home turf. Past competitors for the U.S. included actor Terry Crews, NFL great Tiki Barber, and former WWE Champion CM Punk. There's even a Mexican version if you can't get enough.

Skin Wars

Rebecca Romijn hosts this thrilling competition series in which the artists are just as colorful as the bodies they paint. Contestants are pushed to the limit of their skills with creative challenges such as turning tarot cards into body art and painting their models to disappear in the background. Plus, judges RuPaul Charles, Craig Tracy, and Robin Slonina aren't afraid to speak their minds, which gives the show great authenticity. If you're looking for something weird and different, this might be right up your alley. All three seasons are currently available to stream on Netflix, and a spin-off -- Skin Wars: Fresh Paint -- is also ready to stream.

Nailed It

This super fun series isn't so much about being perfect as it is about trying your best even if your skills are severely lacking. Nicole Byer hosts this refreshing take on the genre, which features amateurs attempting to recreate culinary masterpieces with entertaining and at times, truly baffling results. While the show follows the typical format of a mini-challenge before the main round, it also offers some humorous twists, like the "Nicole Nags" option, in which a contestant can order Nicole to annoy their opponents for three minutes. Nailed It won't help you discover the next best baker, but you'll definitely have a good time watching. The series has proven so popular, international editions have begun popping up.