Photo: NBC/Access Hollywood
Controversy has erupted over Oxygen’s new in-development reality series All My Babies’ Mamas, which stars rapper Shawty Lo, who has fathered 11 children by 10 different mothers.The Parents Television Council calls it “grotesquely crass and exploitative ” and writer Sabrina Lamb has started a petition against All My Babies’ Mamas that has already earned more than 20,000 signatures.
But as bad as All My Babies’ Mamas might be, can it really compete with the very worst that reality television has to offer?
Here, 10 of the dumbest, grossest, most offensive reality TV shows ever aired.
MTV's latest reality series, which nakedly aims to ape the formula that made Jersey Shore a ratings success, follows an utterly unsympathetic group of teenagers as they shoot, punch, and drink their way through life in rural West Virginia.
Buckwild probably wouldn't exist without TLC's hit proto-redneck reality series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo -- itself a spin-off of the similarly odious Toddlers & Tiaras. Child pageant contestant Alana Thompson, better known as the eponymous Honey Boo Boo, goes through life under the care of parents 'Mama' and 'Sugar Bear.'
Discovery Channel's latest foray into trashy reality TV follows four young Amish men who serve as self-appointed 'fixers' in their religious community, which seems mostly to entail harassing people and committing petty crimes. According to The New York Times, the show admits to featuring an unspecified number of 'select re-enactments,' making the title 'reality show' an even bigger stretch than usual.
E!'s all-time grossest reality show combined two popular tropes -- the wedding show and the surgery show -- into one queasy combination. Insecure women were invited to compete for free plastic surgery in the months leading up to their wedding, with the winner revealing her new look for her husband for the first time at their actual nuptials. Yuck.
Less gross than stupid, ABC's short-lived Dating in the Dark invited three men and three women to go on 'the blindest of dates': Chatting awkwardly in a pitch-black room. A needlessly convoluted process pares down the couples before the big reveal, when the lights finally come on and we see… two totally normal people.
More plastic surgery! MTV's reality series highlights young adults who spend thousands of dollars to resemble the celebrities who they idolize way, way too much. The series aired nearly a decade ago, rendering choices like Pamela Anderson and Ricky Martin a little short-sighted in retrospect.
There's nothing inherently wrong with the idea of a dating reality show about little people -- but Fox's insistence on infantalizing the contestants at every turn indicated that their motives were, shockingly, less than pure. But the real kicker came in the middle of the show's run when 'there was a twist. An average-sized twist that changes everything.' Yes, The Littlest Groom introduced three non-little people into the mix halfway through the show, and yes, it was handled in the most crass and offensive way possible.
Like The Littlest Groom, the idea of a Bachelor knockoff built around a gay man could have been genuinely groundbreaking for TV. But Bravo loused up the concept with a nasty twist: Some of the show's contestants were heterosexual men who were only pretending to be gay, with a separate cash prize if they managed to fool the gay man at the show's centre into choosing one of them. (Fortunately, he didn't.)
Host Monica Lewinsky was the icing on the rotting cake that was Fox's Mr. Personality, a dating series that attempted to make a woman choose a man for reasons other than looks by forcing each of her suitors to wear an incredibly creepy grey face mask. The show lasted just five episodes.
'I'll be your friend, your lover, and your partner throughout whatever life has to offer us,' promised chosen bride Darva Conger to an unknown 'multi-millionaire' in Fox's legendarily bad one-off special, which ended with her actual on-stage wedding to Rick Rockwell. Conger annulled the marriage less than a month after the special aired over a sudden bout of 'moral concerns,' before posing for Playboy and mercifully disappearing from headlines forever.
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