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.

1940-08-01 00:00:00

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!"

1954-01-01 18:50:47

Miss America Pageant Debuts

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

1964-01-01 18:50:47

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.

1970-01-01 18:50:47

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

1989-01-01 18:50:47


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.

1992-01-01 18:50:47

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.

2000-01-01 18:50:47

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

2000-06-01 18:50:47


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

2000-06-01 18:50:47


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.

2002-03-05 18:50:47

The OSBOURNES debuts

SHARON!!! It was the perfect career jumpstart for this washed out rocker and his crazy family

2003-06-14 00:00:00

PUNK'D Debuts

Ashton Kutcher does a practical joke ala Allan Funt style hidden camera show where he pranks or "punks" his friends.

2004-06-01 18:50:47


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.

2007-11-05 18:50:47


Reality shows fill in the gap that the lack of writers leave.

2008-06-14 00:00:00


Newsmagazine shows begin to utilize hidden camera style on their television news shows

2010-06-05 18:50:47

2010s Most Popular Reality Shows

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Keeping Up With the Khardashians Duck Dynasty Jersey Shore The Bachelor The Biggest Loser The Real Housewives Pawn Stars Ice Road Truckers Dance Moms Deadliest Catch Dirty Jobs Top Chef So You Think You Can Dance Shark Tank Undercover Boss The Voice America's Got Talent 16 and Pregnant Say Yes to the Dress

2012-06-14 18:54:05


The Reality Show comes full circle with Betty White doing an Alan Funt Style version of candid camera that showcases elderly people doing unexpected things to prank everyday people.

History of Reality TV

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