Reality television has never been known for its tact – the pleasure is in watching ordinary Joes like you or me lose their cool in front of the cameras. But while most unscripted TV programs try to maintain some level of professionalism, others decide to just skip good taste entirely and go for the gusto. In this feature, we’ll spotlight ten reality TV shows from all over the world that were out of this world offensive.
Holiday in the Protectorate
Here in the United States, the horrors of World War II are mostly a distant memory. In Europe, where many towns were bombed flat or massacred by Axis occupiers, things are a little fresher. So it’s perplexing and despicable that Czech TV station CT came up with “Holiday in the Protectorate,” a reality show where an ordinary family was made to live in conditions simulating Nazi occupation for two months. Considering that some 360,000 Czechs and Slovaks died during the Great War, this naturally didn’t go over very well, especially among Jewish advocacy groups. (Photo Credit: SMH AU)
Who’s Your Daddy?
Proponents of reality TV say that they can actually make a big difference in the lives of their contestants, but it’s hard to defend Fox’s atrocious “Who’s Your Daddy” on those merits? The gimmick for this one was simple: an adopted woman seeking her biological father was introduced to 25 potential candidates, and she had to pick the man who made her. If she chose correctly, she took home a cool $100,000, but if she fingered the wrong father the ringer would get the money instead. Needless to say, this grim capitalist parody of an emotionally traumatic moment got a lot of push back from abortion rights advocates, and the network shelved it after one airing. (Photo Credit: Funlinks Daily)
Some people go on reality TV because they want to shatter stereotypes and show the world that they’re more than a cliché. Unfortunately for National Geographic’s “American Gypsies,” the people they recruited to show the world about modern-day Roma life gave it their worst. In Europe, the Roma are heavily scorned and discriminated against, and the reality show portrayed its starring family as tacky, violent belly-dancing grifters who own a chain of fortune-telling parlors. It bought into every dismal Gypsy stereotype and broadcast them to the world. Thankfully, American Gypsies only lasted a single season. (Photo Credit: TV Blogs)
Expect plastic surgery to make more than one appearance on this list – reality TV producers are obsessed with the ability to change someone’s physical appearance, for better or for worse. One of the most all-out noxious takes on the concept was E!’s “Bridalplasty,” in which a dozen women were convinced that there was something wrong with their looks and the only way they could have a perfect wedding was through winning a ton of cosmetic surgery. This cynical take on marital bliss drew lots of criticism, with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons noting that it violates their code of ethics to give away surgery as a prize. (Photo Credit: A Bride Budget)
Boy Meets Boy
There’s absolutely nothing offensive about a reality TV show where a gay man picks a partner from a field of other men. What made “Boy Meet Boy” so absolutely gross was the twist that the show’s producers threw in. What the show’s protagonist, James Getzlaff, didn’t know was that not all of his potential suitors were actually gay, and if he picked one of the straight ones they stood to take home $25,000 for their deception. Can you imagine a show like The Bachelor running with a scam like that? Thankfully, the show’s one season ended with James pairing off with an actually gay guy, but Bravo’s never bringing this one back. (Photo Credit: Blogspot)
Originally pitched as a documentary and eventually aired as a six-episode series on Australian television, “Virgins Wanted” takes one of the most emotionally significant moments in a person’s life – when they first have sex with another person – and auctions it off to the highest bidder. A young man named Alexander Stepanov and a woman named Catarina Migliorini raised $2,600 and $780,000, respectively, for their first sexual services. A Japanese millionaire paid for Migliorini, but the pair didn’t consummate and she claims she never got paid. The show actually got creator Jason Sisely in trouble for sex trafficking. (Photo Credit: C21media)
MTV’s Road Rules assembled a group of hunks and bimbos and set them loose in the world, but the show it inspired on the network’s Indian sister, “Roadies,” is a million times worse. This unlikely hit follows the same format, but instead of a shared RV, each contestant has a motorcycle. Oh, and there’s tons of nudity and humiliation. When contestants lose challenges on Roadies, they can be stripped naked, have their genitals hit with wooden boards, have their pubic hair waxed off on camera, and required to have enemas. Bizarrely, none of this has affected its popularity in India, and many contestants have gone on to acting and music careers. (Photo Credit: Phoenix NewTimes)
Here’s another surgery-oriented show that pushed the envelope for exploitation of its contestants. Fox’s “The Swan” assembled eight women in each season and dubbed them “ugly ducklings,” promising just one the chance to become a “beautiful swan.” That transformation would come courtesy of a surgeon’s knife, a dentist’s drill and a personal trainer’s treadmill. Each week, one woman would be returned to her normal life of looking like a human being, while the remaining contestants would get more surgery and vie for Hawaiian vacations, new cars and $50,000 in cash. (Photo Credit: Lollipop)
All My Babies’ Mamas
This one was so noxious that it got pulled by the network before a single episode even aired. In 2013, Oxygen commissioned “All My Babies’ Mamas,” a reality show featuring C-list rapper Shawty Lo. It wasn’t about the MC’s one hit, “Dey Know” – rather, it was about the ten women that Lo fathered eleven children with, and his efforts to keep the peace between them. The glorification of sexual profligacy worked for the Duggars, but giving TV time to a dude who two-timed ten women was a little over the line. To his credit, Lo seems like a fairly involved father, despite how widely he’s spread his seed. (Photo Credit: MissInfo)
The Sex Factor
This one hasn’t even hit the airwaves yet, but we’re confident that whatever network decides to air “The Sex Factor” is going to find itself under a tidal wave of complaints. The competition, produced by Silicon Valley exec Buddy Ruben, assembles a group of eight men and eight women and has them battle against each other for the opportunity to enter the world of adult entertainment. All of them got their bone on for the cameras to audition, so the show doesn’t intend to hold back on the explicitness. We weren’t aware the field of taking dick for a living was so competitive, but an extra $1 million prize might be the kicker here. An A-list panel of smut biz judges are already attached, so this thing might have a future. (Photo Credit: WN)