History of Reality TV

Reality television is a television programming genre that showcases generally unscripted melodramatic or "humorous" situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded. I have created this timeline to showcase the history of this genre.

Allan Funt's "Candid Camera"

Alan Funt's "Candid Camera" debuts. It is a hidden camera/ practical joke show where ordinary citizens are shown reacting to put on situations in funny ways. They were let on to the prank by the line, "Smile, You're on Candid Camera!"

Miss America Pageant Debuts

First time it is broadcast on national television and the crowned winner becomes a national celebrity

Seven up! Documentary starts

The British documentary called Seven Up! starts showcasing British school children at the age of seven and interviews them. Each of them are from varied backgrounds and every seven years they are re-interviewed. Now these original children are in their 50s.

Game Shows

Dating Game, Newlywed Game and the Gong Show are the most popular. These all showcase people acting out or revealing secrets about relationships


Bad Bad Boys Bad Bad Boys whatcha gonna do? The first show to glorify people behaving badly or perhaps even people that were not the most intelligent or in control.

MTV debuts the first season of the REAL WORLD

Seven strangers picked to live in a house And have their lives taped See what happens when people stop being polite And start getting real The Real World (fill in the location) The first time stars were created by showcasing 20 somethings fighting and getting drunk and trashing a mansion.

2000s the explosion of Reality TV

The Mole The Amazing Race America's Next Top Model Dancing With the Stars The Apprentice Fear Factor Laguna Beach Project Runway The Real Housewives The Simple Life


The first contestant ever gets their torched snuffed out by Jeff Probst. We are introduced to the first villain-aire Richard Hatch


Julie Chen hosts this show where contestants compete and are isolated from the outside world. They are voted off by each other after being put on the block by a Head of Household.


Kelly Clarkson had America weeping and voting when she sang her finale song "A Moment Like This." It even made a celebrity out of the judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.

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