Skip to Content
reality TV reviews, news, and analysis since 2000

The best reality TV of 2022

The best reality TV of 2022
Images from some of the best reality TV shows of 2022 include Tournament of Champions, Drink Masters, Legendary, Claim to Fame, The Amazing Race, and Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrrls

This year began with one of the worst shows I’d seen in a long time, and ended with a wonderful special episode that gave me hope for a show that’ll be coming our way in the new year.

In between were a reboot of one of the all-time-great reality TV shows, seasons of Survivor that were both joyful and frustrating, and so many new and returning shows.

I’m now very comfortable with the fact that I cannot watch every show or new season; just look at how much premiered this year! Also, I watch a lot that I don’t write about, and sometimes I watch something only to write about it.

Still, as the year comes to a close, I find myself with some regret about not watching and/or writing about a handful of shows, including:

  • We Need to Talk About Cosby, hosted by W. Kamau Bell, whose cultural criticism and investigative
  • The Real World Homecoming: New Orleans, a reunion of the cast that was probably the last season of Real World I was enraptured by
  • The Rehearsal and How to With John Wilson, which I have thoughts about but they aren’t yet coherent enough to put together

Some days, maybe my anxiety was spiking, so I’d rather put on The Golden Girls than dive into a new show, or other days I’d just watch Hotel Inspector while feeling guilty about all of the new TV I was not watching instead.

But one thing I’ve noticed the most since COVID times began is that I really need TV to match my mood—or at least, I know when I need something light and fun, or when I’m ready to watch something new or challenging or different. Many shows fit into that latter category this year, and others I hope to watch soon!

One final disclaimer/explanation: I judge reality TV on its entertainment value, sure, but also on its technical quality, its casting, its producing, and the messages it sends into the world. My best-of list includes shows that hit all of those marks, and really were the best of their subgenres, and the genre as a whole. And some of these were just the shows that stuck with me after they ended their seasons.

So, here’s what I loved watching in 2022. And I’d love to know what you loved, so join the discussion below!

My favorite scripted TV of 2022

Abbott Elementary star and creator Quinta Brunson in the "Egg Drop" episode of season 2
Abbott Elementary star and creator Quinta Brunson in the “Egg Drop” episode of season 2. (Photo by Gilles Mingasson/ABC)

I watch a lot of reality TV, which is my soulmate—but I also just love TV in general, so I watch scripted TV, too. Here are the shows that really stood out to me this year:

  • Abbott Elementary (ABC), basically a perfect sitcom
  • The Bear (FX/Hulu), which was so immersive it felt like a documentary
  • What We Do in the Shadows (FX), which was great all season but also seamlessly integrated an episode-long, must-watch parody of an HGTV show
  • Severance (Apple TV+)
  • Hacks (HBO Max)
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount+), the first new era Star Trek, live-action series to really recapture what I loved about Star Trek, and Star Trek: Lower Decks (Paramount+)—which I always accidentally call “Below Decks”—which has some Survivor alum on its writing staff, and perfectly combines nostalgia with great Trek storytelling

7 honorable mentions

Avori Henderson in "The Bird Cage" episode and test, when she was literally locked inside a bird cage
Avori Henderson in “The Bird Cage” episode and test, when she was literally locked inside a bird cage. (Photo by James Gourley/Netflix)

Before we get to the big list, here are seven unscripted shows that I loved watching in 2022, but that didn’t quite make my best-of list:

The best reality TV of 2022

The best reality TV of 2022

The best reality shows and documentary series 2022, including broadcast, cable, and streaming reality TV, that I watched in 2022.

All reality blurred content is independently selected, including links to products or services. However, if you buy something after clicking an affiliate link, I may earn a commission, which helps support reality blurred. Learn more.

More from reality blurred

About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

I think of writing about television as the start of a conversation, and I value your contributions to that conversation. We’ve created a community that connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

To share our perspectives and exchange ideas in a welcoming, supportive space, I’ve created these rules for commenting here. By commenting below, you confirm that you’ve read and agree to those rules.

Happy discussing!


Wednesday 28th of December 2022

Have you watched The Big Brunch? I thought it was great - tons of heart but not twee. And bonus... cocktails!


Monday 2nd of January 2023

@Andy Dehnart, That's right - I guess my memory doesn't go back that far!

Andy Dehnart

Thursday 29th of December 2022

I really enjoyed it, too—and reviewed it here!.


Wednesday 21st of December 2022

I understand why you haven't gotten to We Need to Talk About Cosby; it was deeply disturbing, at least to me.

So glad to hear you enjoy What We Do in the Shadows! I LOVE that show and it's my go-to for putting me in a good mood.

I'm sure you have tons on your watch list, but I'd like to recommend Resident Alien on SyFy. It's really funny and Alan Tudyk is fantastic.