Unscripted Apocalypse: The Twenty Worst Reality Shows of Summer

Photo: Courtesy of ABC, NBC, G4, TLC

The three-month writers' strike of 2007–2008 may have cost the American economy $2.5 billion, and Lost fans two hours of inscrutable entertainment, but that's nothing compared to the fallout still on the way. Next week, we'll see the first wave of awful reality-TV shows green-lit when network scribes were still picketing. Competitive vomiting! Baby borrowing! Joey Fatone! You are now entering the unscripted apocalypse. After the jump, Vulture's list of the Twenty Worst Reality Shows of Summer.

20. Greatest American Dog (CBS)


Premieres: July 7

The Pitch: Because their cuteness is often rivaled only by their stupidity, it can be hard to stay objective about puppies. Still, GAD's judges will try to pick a Best in Show from an adorable batch of disobedient poo factories. Our money's on the bulldog who can ride a skateboard. And yeah, we're honestly pretty excited for this one.

19. High School Musical: Get in the Picture (ABC)


Premieres: July 20

The Pitch: In a few short months, Zac Efron will be 21 years old and far too haggard-looking to carry Disney's fresh-faced teen-pop superfranchise. So, HSM producers are conducting a nationwide talent search that will be exactly like American Idol but with fewer comb-overs.

18. Family Foreman (TV Land)


Premieres: July 15

The Pitch: George Foreman pays the frozen-hamburger bills with a reality show about his very large family. This is your opportunity to find out how he manages five sons who all have the same name. Now if only they'd vote off a different George every week.

17. Baby Borrowers (NBC)


Premieres: June 25

The Pitch: NBC does its part to prevent the next real-life Juno by lending crying infants to horny adolescent couples. Over the course of three weeks, teams will care for newborns, toddlers, teenagers, and senior citizens, ensuring that, once the show's over, they'll forgo procreating and start saving up to put their parents in a home.

16. Wanna Bet (ABC)


Premieres: July 21

The Pitch: "Celebrity" judges like Corbin Bernsen and Alan Thicke bet on whether people can perform the stunts they claim they can. Call us crazy, but we actually want to know if a whole marching band can really cram themselves into a van and play "When the Saints Go Marching In."

Photo: Getty Images


15. Brooke Hogan Knows Best (VH1)

Premieres: July 13

The Pitch: With her brother in prison and her parents in the midst of a too-painful-for-TV divorce, failed singer Brooke is the only family member left to carry the mantle for the inexplicably not-canceled Hogan Knows series. We think this will just be kind of sad.



14. Pam: Girl on the Loose


Premieres: August 3

The Pitch: Surely, there's nothing left to say about Pamela Anderson, but that's not stopping E! from trying. Check out the trailer for all the orgasmic moaning and pouty-lipped close-ups you'd probably expect.

13. From G's to Gents (MTV)


Premieres: July 15

The Pitch: Fonzworth Bentley, man about town and former Diddy-ite, tries to get fourteen guys to pull up their pants. Can self-proclaimed "G's" learn to identify Merlot and make their mothers proud?

12. I Survived a Japanese Game Show (ABC)


Premieres: July 1

The Pitch: Xenophobic Americans are whisked away to Japan, where they're even less likely to be able to read their liability waivers before they sign them. Contestants partake in inexplicable Double Dare–ish challenges, all involving chicken costumes, apparently.

11. Wipeout (ABC)


Premieres: June 24

The Pitch: Average Joes and Janes, too out-of-shape for American Gladiators, brave dangerous foam-padded obstacle courses in the hope of winning a chintzy $50,000 by not being punched in the groin by a spring-loaded boxing glove.

10. Celebrity Family Feud (NBC)


Premieres: June 24

The Pitch: Previous incarnations of Feud have featured boring, witless non-famous families competing for cash; this Al Roker–hosted edition will star boring, witless semi-famous ones playing for charity (yawn!). Still, we'll admit, we've always wondered what Larry the Cable Guy's mom looked like.

9. Dance Machine (ABC)


Premieres: June 27

The Pitch: If you've ever, from your couch, watched the hard bodies on So You Think You Can Dance and said, "I can do that!," then threw your back out while trying to stand up, this is the dance-competition show for you — flabby amateurs only.

Photo: Getty Images


8. Glam God With Vivica A. Fox (VH1)

Premieres: August

The Pitch: Fox is hosting this search for a celebrity stylist, and she definitely gets an extra point for shoehorning her name into the title. It's hard to actually care about the outcome of any show on this list, but caring about which person wins the right to pick out clothes for a beautiful celebrity might just be downright impossible.

7. My Super Sweet 16 Presents: Exiled


Premieres: August 15

The Pitch: The brilliance of My Super Sweet 16 is its "Fuck you, Cinderella; where's MY pumpkin coach?" attitude, where you can both adore the show's pretty stuff and hate the kids on whom it's wasted. Exiled sends some former party girls off for "reality checks" in various remote villages where there's no Internet and they have to wash things. Unfortunately, when they get home, their parents will throw them $150,000 welcome-home parties featuring Jay-Z.

6. Jingles (CBS)


Premieres: July 27

The Pitch: Reality bigwig Mark Burnett brings his mixed record (Survivor! The Apprentice! On the Lot! Pirate Master!) to a new show where amateurs compete to write songs about products. Because, you see, the problem with the product placement in The Apprentice has always been its crippling subtlety.

5. The Gong Show (Comedy Central)


Premieres: July 18

The Pitch: If you find the yodelers and hula hoopers on America's Got Talent a little too talented, a new Gong Show — hosted by Dave Attell (whose name is hilariously misspelled in the low-rent trailer) — might be just the thing. At last, a shot at redemption for those who weren't talented enough to be cast as disastrous American Idol auditionees.

4. Date My Ex (Bravo)


Premieres: July 21

The Pitch: The Real Housewives of Orange County is the Patient Zero of the new epidemic of stupid reality television currently flooding Bravo. This dating show, in which a sleazy toad tries to find a date for his onetime paramour, is the latest outbreak. Zaltrex is recommended.

3. I Love Money (VH1)


Premieres: July 7

The Pitch: Rebuffed runners-up that were stupid to outwit the other contestants on VH1 dating shows like I Love New York and Rock of Love with Bret Michaels go head-to-head in a series of challenges designed to test their agility and willingness to call each other profanities.

2. Hurl (G4)

Premieres: July 15

The Pitch: Amateur competitive eaters force as much sushi or Easy Mac into their stomachs as they possibly can, then, immediately thereafter, partake in extreme sports whilst trying not to vomit. Hilariously, the prize for winning is only $10,000.

1. The Singing Office (TLC)


Premieres: June 28

The Pitch: Dubiously qualified singing instructors Joey Fatone and Mel B (Scary Spice) invade the corporate offices of paid sponsors in search of each company's five best vocalists. Teams square off in an American Idol–style live showdown while losing productivity and vacation days. It's like competitive non-vomiting for viewers! God, this looks awful.