Remember how people used to feel ashamed about watching reality television? Nowadays, the genre is responsible for everything from America’s version of royalty (the Kardashians) to the election of the current president of the United States. As a result, in 2017, we feel more free than ever to binge-watch bad TV (though we should probably also feel more ashamed than ever, too). Here, eight forgotten series that will mostly make you dumber—but in a good way—including the first-ever reality show in which sh*t actually got real.
OD on terrible TV
An American Family
This groundbreaking PBS documentary series was filmed from May to December in 1971, and it was far from scripted (though the Loud clan at its center did eventually protest the editing for favoring the negative aspects of their lives). The Louds, an upper-middle-class family from Santa Barbara, California, allowed filmmakers into their home to record every mundane, and not so mundane, moment of their lives—the first time this had ever been done. As the cameras rolled, the couple at the head of the family separated and one of their sons came out as gay. Both events were, at the time, shocking for audiences to witness. An American Family has been listed as one of TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. You can learn more about the program here and buy it on DVD here.
The characters on this 2010 show, which ran for one season on E!, make the Kardashians look like the Kennedys. Pretty Wild chronicles the lives of three Valley-dwelling teenagers as they try to immesh themselves in Hollywood under the tutelage of their ex-lingerie-model mother. The girls are homeschooled using The Secret (the movie, not the book), they're given Adderall each morning to start their days and one of them becomes involved with the group of young criminals who eventually inspired the film The Bling Ring. Watching this, you'll feel simultaneously bad and good about yourself—the former because this is a train wreck from which you should be classy enough to look away and the latter because no matter how you grew up, it was better than this (we hope). You can buy episodes of Pretty Wild on iTunes.
The Simple Life
Before she was the chic boss lady we know her as today, Nicole Richie was Paris Hilton's best friend and sidekick on The Simple Life. Her signature sense of humor was still on evidence even back then, however, and if you like Candidly Nicole you will love everything that comes out of her mouth on this 2003 show. One of our favorite exchanges? Paris: "How could you do this to me?" Nicole: "How could you wear blue fur?" Speaking of which, if you are into the return of early aughts fashion (please, no!), look no further than The Simple Life for inspiration. You can buy seasons for $7.99 each on Amazon.
We're sincerely hoping that the last chapter of our lives doesn't involve being featured on a reality show, but we're awfully glad that the senior citizens of Sunset Daze were game to have their retirement days turned into TV. We can certainly get behind a woman whose go-to drink is a "double pinot grigio" and calls her girl squad (of ladies 60+) the "hoes," as does featured cast member Sandy Miracle-Jones. At best, this show is a good time. At worst, it's a cautionary tale. You can watch full episodes of Sunset Daze (while drinking double pinot grigios) on YouTube.
Victoria Beckham: Coming To America
This spoof was initially intended to be a full series, but its humor was apparently lost on most Americans so it was truncated into a one-hour special, which aired on NBC in 2007. The show centered around Posh's move to the US in the wake of her husband's transfer to the LA Galaxy soccer team. You can watch it on YouTube.
While we can't actually seem to find this one online anywhere, we couldn't help but include it on the list anyway because if it does suddenly become available to stream, we will be binge-watching it like the rubberneckers we are. Think of Mr. Personality as The Bachelorette, except every male contestant is wearing a scary serial-killer-esque mask, and instead of Chris Harrison as host, it's Monica Lewinsky. Why her, you may ask? We may never know, but we're hoping Netflix unearths this gem ASAP so we can do our best to figure it out.
MTV's Rich Girls followed Tommy Hilfiger's daughter Ally and her best friend as they navigate life as the 1%. One of our favorite quotes from the show is from the designer himself: "I couldn't see Ralph Lauren helping his daughter clean out her closet. You'd better appreciate this." You can watch all episodes here.
Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica
Including this show on the list just sent us down a "What happened to Jessica Simpson?" rabbit hole on Google. It's this, we guess, and we can't get those 30 minutes of our lives back, which is why we might as well say screw it all and spend ever-more hours watching these two famous people share every inane moment of their lives long before everyone on the planet was doing the same. (2003, in fact.) Do the same here.