19 Reality TV Shows You Forgot Existed
From Gallery Girls to Harry Loves Lisa, these forgotten reality shows might deserve another look.
While there are countless reality shows that have earned well-deserved acclaim or at least guilty pleasure status—long-running favorites like Big Brother and more low-brow offerings like The Hills—there are just as many that seem to come and go overnight. From dating show duds to celebrity-led flops, these are the reality TV shows you forgot existed.
Taking a page from shows like The Hills and The City, Gallery Girls followed the lives of young women working in various galleries throughout New York City. Despite the similarities to hit reality series, the Bravo show never found much of an audience, with its most-watched episodes drawing in just over 600,000 viewers.
If you're wondering why the show was only given an eight-episode run, it may have had something to do with the fact that the series only tangentially linked linked its storylines to its premise, never delivering the run-ins with Frank Stella or Julian Schnabel that might have made it more compelling. As The New Yorker's Emma Allen noted, "There's mild nudity, there's cattiness, there are really expensive shoes. There is practically no mention of art."
Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp
Bristol Palin may have gotten plenty of time in the spotlight thanks to mom Sarah Palin's political career, but not even the Palin family notoriety could make her a reality TV star. In 2012, Palin had a 12-episode run as the star of Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp, a show that followed the single mom and her young son after they relocated to California.
With scathing reviews—The A.V. Club's Marcus Gilmer said the show "makes Teen Mom look like the most riveting moments of The Wire"—and ratings that maxed out at 726,000 viewers, it's no wonder this one has been lost to time.
10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty
With $10 million at stake and the promise of finding one of the world's most infamous cryptids, 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty had some serious potential. The only problem—and we're very sorry to any true believers out there—is that Bigfoot doesn't exist. Consequently, nobody found him, the team that "won" the series walked away with only $100,000, and the show was canceled after just eight episodes.
Best Funeral Ever
There are plenty of shows about the planning that goes into major life events—My Super Sweet 16, Say Yes to the Dress—but Best Funeral Ever was a tougher sell. The series, which focused on the over-the-top funerals carried out at the Dallas, Texas-based Golden Gate Funeral Home, had an eight-episode run from 2013 to 2014 before being canceled.
Born in the Wild
While the natural birth movement has been gaining traction for years now, that didn't translate to small-screen success for Born in the Wild. The show, which followed pregnant women intent on giving birth in nature, was met with concern from medical professionals and audiences alike. It aired just six episodes before Lifetime pulled the plug.
Dating in the Dark
Dating shows are inherently weird, but Dating in the Dark took that to another level when it forced participants to get to know one another in complete darkness. The ABC show, based on the Dutch series of the same name, aired 12 episodes from 2009 to 2010.
Dating in the Dark's audience dipped from 6.3 million viewers at the beginning of Season 1 to just 3.76 million by the second episode of Season 2, at which point ABC decided to cancel it.
The '90s were great—the clothing was Day-Glo, the music was angsty, and we all wished we could work at Empire Records. But despite the nostalgia many '90s kids still feel, MTV couldn't find an audience for 90's House. Essentially Big Brother with a retro twist, the 2017 show had 12 contestants living together in a '90s-themed house, completing era-appropriate tasks like figuring out how to work a tape deck, with one or two members of the house voted out each week.
Neither the appeal of the decade nor the show's celebrity hosts, Christina Milian and Lance Bass, could save 90's House. Dubbed "the worst of today's MTV" by Reality Blurred, it had an eight-episode run before being canceled by the network.
Chasing Maria Menounos
Millions have watched Maria Menounos tackle everything from interviewing celebs on the red carpet to knocking out opponents in the ring as a WWE wrestler. What people didn't tune in for, however, was her reality show, Chasing Maria Menounos. The 2014 series, which followed Menounos as she juggled her careers, her relationship, and pressures from her family, ran for just 10 episodes before being canceled by Oxygen.
There's no question that American audiences love a good crime reality show, whether they're tuning in for The First 48 or catching a marathon of Cops. But Cajun Justice, a 2012 reality show that aired on A&E, had just one season. And it wasn't low ratings that took it off the air.
While the show's executive producer told NOLA.com that "A&E is very happy with the numbers," the Terrebonne Parrish Sheriff's Office—which the show had been following throughout the season—was less than thrilled with its onscreen representation.
Yet another show about well-to-do women living in New York City, Downtown Girls ran for one season on MTV before being canceled. The series followed Shallon Lester, a writer for Glamour.com, and four of her friends as they tackled the usual reality show fare: relationships, work, and the occasional party where it seems like someone might throw a drink at someone else.
Called "a highly self-indulgent venture by women who have been practicing their best Sex and the City impressions" by Entertainment Weekly's Emily Exton, the girls' story was through just six episodes in.
Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual
Surprisingly enough, fans weren't clamoring to find out what "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" singer Cyndi Lauper was up to in her personal life—at least, not enough to watch her reality show. Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual never found enough of an audience, and after 12 episodes on WE tv, it was not renewed for a second season.
More to Love
You would think that a dating show about people with average bodies would capture an audience, but perhaps More to Love was ahead of its time. The 2009 show, which followed a plus-sized man and 20 plus-sized female love interests competing for his affection, aired just one season on Fox, with the critics who bothered to watch being offensively dismissive.
"There's no pleasure in watching any show where the leading emotion is sadness," wrote The New York Daily News' David Hinckley, who described the show as "weighed down" by the contestants' sad backstories, which frequently included tales of lifelong rejection due to their weight. Ironically, a decade later, this is the type of inclusive representation many viewers are eager to see.
The Littlest Groom
While there have been numerous successful shows about individuals with dwarfism—like Little People, Big World and Little Women: LA—The Littlest Groom didn't fare as well.
In fact, there was so much backlash against the show, said to have "[lowered] the standard of reality to the level of bedrock" by Ray Richmond of The Hollywood Reporter, that it aired for just two episodes before being pulled from the schedule.
Farmer Wants a Wife
The 2000s were full of niche dating shows. Case in point: Farmer Wants a Wife, which ran for eight episodes. The show followed 10 women vying for the love of Missouri-based farmer Matt Neustadt, learning about the ins and outs of farm life while trying to prove they were the one for him. Viewership hovered around the 2-million-per-episode mark, which wasn't enough to earn it a second-season renewal.
Jillian Michaels on The Biggest Loser: a massive hit. Jillian Michaels on her own reality show: not so much. The fitness coach's solo effort, Just Jillian, aired for just eight episodes on E! before being canceled.
My Five Wives
When you think of reality shows about polygamy, Sister Wives is probably the first that comes to mind. But TLC wasn't content having just a single show about a polygamist family on their network. My Five Wives documented the lives of Brady Frederick Williams; his wives, Paulie, Robyn, Rosemary, Nonie, and Rhoda; and their 25 children. TLC aired 21 episodes of the largely-forgotten My Five Wives from 2013 to 2014.
Mrs. Eastwood & Company
A question few people have asked in their lives: "What's Clint Eastwood's wife up to?" And yet, that was the premise behind Mrs. Eastwood & Company, which aired for a single season on E! The show followed its titular protagonist, Dina Eastwood, her 16-year-old daughter, 20-year-old stepdaughter, and the South African a cappella boy band Mrs. Eastwood managed. Clint Eastwood did occasionally walk through shots, but his star power wasn't enough to make the show last more than 10 episodes.
Harry Loves Lisa
Before Lisa Rinna found reality TV stardom on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, she made a less successful attempt with Harry Loves Lisa, a show about her marriage to actor Harry Hamlin. The series couldn't find an audience, with Variety's Brian Lowry panning the six-episode run: "It's hard to imagine anyone being particularly wild about Harry."
When you think of beloved crafting reality shows with celebrity hosts, you think of Making It. You probably don't think of Craft Wars, which had same idea but was quickly forgotten. The Tori Spelling-hosted TLC series, where contestants faced off in crafting challenges in the hopes of winning a $10,000 prize, got a 10-episode run in 2012 before TLC pulled the plug.