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The best reality TV shows

Each of the reality shows on this list—which is curated by reality blurred editor and TV critic Andy Dehnart—represents the genre of reality TV at its finest: artfully crafted entertainment that focuses on real-life drama among real people, whether they’re living their lives or playing a game in an artificial context.

The reality TV shows here are the best of the best.

Links will guide you to full reviews of each series and reality blurred’s coverage of the show, and most importantly, point you to where you can watch, binge-watch, and/or buy the series. (Some of those may be affiliate links that will send a few cents back to reality blurred to support its mission to cover the best of reality TV.)

The best reality shows ever

The Mole

The Mole soundtrack cover

Anderson Cooper hosts a game of immersive puzzles and deceitful relationships filmed in epic European locations.

buy the DVD | buy the soundtrack

The Mole review | stories about The Mole

The Chair

Starz The Chair

Two filmmakers create movies using the same script. A beautifully shot and dramatic look at the creative process.

watch on Amazon | buy the DVD

The Chair review | stories about The Chair

The Great British Bake-Off

Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, GBBO

A charming, supportive competition with an abundance of puns and warmth but none of the annoyances of most cooking competitions. Absolutely flawless.

watch on Netflix | watch on Amazon |

buy on DVD

The Great British Baking Show review | stories about GBBO

Survivor Borneo

Jeff Probst, Survivor Game Changers

The first season of this social and physical game of survival changed U.S. broadcast television, establishing the template for character-driven, cinematic competition.

watch on Amazon | buy the DVD

Survivor Borneo reflection | stories about Survivor

Making a Murderer

Making a Murderer Steven Avery Calumet County Jail

A detailed and riveting investigation into the conviction of a man convicted of—or was he framed for?—murder.

watch on Netflix

Making a Murderer review | stories about Making a Murderer

Manor House

Manor House, Olliff-Cooper family

A real-life Downton Abbey, with ordinary people living as if they were in Edwardian England.

watch on Amazon | buy the DVD

Manor House review | stories about living history reality TV

Whale Wars

Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd, Whale Wars

A high-tension thriller in which activists fight against whalers and their own inexperience.

buy on DVD | buy on iTunes | watch on Amazon | watch with a cable login

Whale Wars review | stories about Whale Wars

The Quest

Real people enter an immersive fictional fantasy world to compete—not for prizes, but for themselves. It flawlessly combined fictional elements with a reality competition.

buy on Amazon | buy on iTunes

The Quest review | stories about The Quest

The Real World

Eric Nies, Real World New York, season one

The first modern reality series put seven strangers in a house together and edited their lives into a soap opera. The first three seasons—New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco—are must-watch, while anything through season 9 is classic Real World. (Only season one is currently watchable, alas.)

buy the season one DVD

25 seasons of The Real World | stories about Real World

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