This is not my most relatable article topic, but my reputation is niche and I am simply living up to that. Every summer, my parents and I have to fill three months of nights up with television, and when we inevitably run through every good show we can all agree on, we resign ourselves to watching a wide variety of B-list reality and game shows. Well, my dad and I resign ourselves to these shows, my mom just reads and ignores whatever we watch. So if you are partial to slightly weirder or less mainstream reality shows, please read on.
Honorable Mention: The Henry Rollins episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”
Henry Rollins (lead singer of the classic punk band Black Flag) and RuPaul are literally the perfect combination and it makes me endlessly happy that they are friends.
An absolute classic in terms of unproblematic shows you can watch with the whole family. I like how it allows me to pretend I know literally anything about business when in actuality I don’t even understand how they calculate a company’s valuation. It is also incredible television whenever people are bad at pitching and get demolished by the sharks’ line of questioning. It does lose points as a result of my being a brainwashed, liberal arts, leftist who does not like seeing glorifications of capitalism. I give it a 7/10.
“Actually a pretty well-rounded primer in business (it would be higher but too many contestants lack the humor to enjoy the experience or humility to learn).” My dad gives it a 7/10.
The snake series, “Snake City” and “Swamp People: Serpent Invasion”
I do not know why my dad and I enjoy snake shows as much as we do. We don’t watch any other animal shows, we despise the default “Swamp People” show about capturing gators, we don’t even like snakes that much. But these shows are thrilling. Shoeless hicks with the thickest Louisiana accents you have ever heard fighting the Florida python epidemic is just good content and the heavily tattooed couple on “Snake City” coaxing black mambas out of families’ homes in suburban South Africa is something I could watch forever. I give them a 9/10.
“All snake-catching shows, whether set in the suburbs of South Africa or the Everglades are good and they never get old.” My dad gives them a 10/10.
“Nathan For You”
I discussed my love of “Nathan For You” slightly in my review of “The Rehearsal,” but it simply cannot be overstated how incredible this show is. Many shows are described as unique or unlike anything else, but “Nathan For You” is actually one of a kind. When watching the show I consistently cry laughing. Episodes like “Dumb Starbucks” and “Claw of Shame” will stick in your head forever. All people need to watch this show. I give it a 10/10.
“I hate to admit that this show had genius but, like, it can be unbearably cringey.” My dad gives it a 9/10.
This is the first and only cooking show on this list. There are about a million episodes and every single one is exactly the same. It may actually be the most vanilla of all baking shows. But that does not negate how thoroughly entertaining the show is and how talented the bakers are. I give it a 6.5/10.
“Has everything: talent, competition, emotion and humor.” My dad gives it an 8/10.
I have never met another person who has watched this show, but my dad and I watched it constantly when I lived at home. Every episode is its own fascinating and unique story of a family overcoming seemingly impossible problems in order to live off the grid—with the help of the very charismatic family that hosts the show. It is a genuinely fantastic educational TV show that gives the audience a glimpse into a world we don’t often see. I give it a 9/10.
My dad gives it a 9/10 for entertainment, “but it’s undercut by the feeling that grizzlies should have somewhere to live without hapless wannabe pioneers.”
This is my go-to show for sick days or when I’m feeling sad. It is not only endlessly silly, like I cannot watch it in public because I will laugh out loud, but on top of that the friendship of the jokers is so wholesome and sweet and I could just watch it forever. I give it a 9/10.
“Too cringey if you are old enough to feel empathy for literally everyone trying to get through a day without being assaulted by morons.” My dad gives it a 1/10.
“Forged in Fire”
There is not much to say about this show other than that it is the best baking competition. Forging is entertaining to watch, it is ridiculous how skilled so many contestants are at this weird and very-high-barrier-to-enter hobby and after the swords are made one judge determines whether the swords “will kill,” which is a scoring mechanic more reality shows should start using.
“Basically a baking show but way cooler.” My dad gives it a 10/10.