Confession: I'm addicted to trashy reality TV. As they say, admitting is the first step, but this isn't an addiction I want to get over. Reality television always gets a bad rap, and for the most part, that's true. But there are always diamonds in the rough, even if the rough is filled with wannabes and STDs.
Not just all trash is treasure to me, though. Few reality shows can rise above the title of filth and gain a place in my heart. The following are four of the best.
It saddens me that this show never saw a second season, because the casting and concept were pure genius. What would happen if cameras followed around the staff of the United States' biggest school newspaper? (Let me tell you, if they followed around my staff... well, let's just say MTV would have a new hit on their hands.) The Paper was a show with a surprising heart, led by the superb editor-in-chief, Amanda, who truly wanted the best for the newspaper but never quite understood how to work with her staff to achieve it. Even better was the tension between Amanda and her former best friend/love interest, Alex, who was shut out of the EIC position. Their final confrontation was just as inarticulate and awkward as the best high school brawl. Whenever The Paper comes out on DVD, you can bet I'll keep a copy in The Word's offices. Just to remind my staff that things could be so much worse (*grin*).
Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School
Plus-size commedienne Mo'Nique takes the trashiest girls from Flavor of Love seasons one and two and tries to set them straight. Mayhem ensues that includes psychological torture from one girl and tantrums from many, many more. There was something heinously genius about this show, but Mo'Nique was the standout, with such witticisms as, "The whore jumped out, then jumped back in." The show's charm was diluted in recent years due to hosts Sharon Osbourne and Ricki Lake, who took the show in an unimpressive direction, but the original was trashy genius.
Somewhat of an anti-Paper, the strikingly bad NYC Prep contained a cast of completely unsympathetic characters who deep down likely believed the world really did revolve around them. So what made the show watchable? It's reminiscent of a train wreck: you simply cannot look away. The Fashion Week episode, "Guests of Guests Do Not Bring Guests," is notable for being by far the series' best episode, and Bravo knows it, as it reruns only that one episode during its regular daytime programming. From the flamboyantly evil PC to the social climbing Taylor to the clueless Sebastian to the somewhat interesting Kelli, the show ended this summer, and Bravo would be brain-dead not to renew the show for a second season. It was horrible, yes, but it knew it and embraced it. Which actually brings us to the final show on this list...
The Real Housewives of Atlanta
So many things to say about this show, yet so little time. Season One of the Atlanta branch of the Bravo Real Housewives of.... franchise was nothing to write home about; simply a retread of the earlier franchise installments, each more uninspiring and unfunny than the last. Season Two is a whole different breed of animal. The dead weight was removed (sorry, DeShawn), a new powder keg was added (Kandi, proving that the best drama takes some time to develop before harvesting), and alliances were broken and reformed (self-proclaimed HBIC NeNe mended fences with newly-divorced Sheree and the two took on the designated white woman and country singing disaster Kim). Stir in the flamboyant and hilarious Dwight (pronounced Doo-white) and you have the most genius reality show in history. It's horrible, and that's what's fantastic.
What are your favorite trashy reality shows? Is there any show you're embarrassed to admit you watch while you TiVo 24 or Lost? Post 'em in the comments!