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nomenclature

This Summer’s Terribly Wonderful Reality-Show Titles

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08:  Angela "Big Ang" Raiola attends the VH1 Big Ang Party at Trattoria Dopo Teatro on July 8, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for VH1)

Summer reality television isn't known for its superior quality or ingenuity, and each year we spend on this little blue marble it seems there are more and more ways to get one's voyeuristic jollies from watching people lead their strange lives.

Beyond the cameras, or the characters, or even the alleged plots or story lines; past the hair extensions and platform flip-flops; after the bickering and the made-up crises and people spitting "it is what it is," there's one aspect to reality TV that remains joyus and silly. It is there that imaginations can run wild and literalism can take hold. We speak, of course, of the titles. Reality-show nomenclature is about as varied as reality-show formatting, which is to say not very. Dust off your rhyming dictionaries and make a mental list of common phrases — let's explore reality-show titles, in all their punny, silly glory.

(We only looked at shows that debuted this summer, because otherwise this list would go on forever, and eventually we'd be stuck making a reality show about making this list. List in Translation, it would be called. Or maybe List Girl.)

Be Literal
The easiest way to name a show is just to use the stars' names: Snooki & JWoww, Big Ang, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Married to Jonas. But that only works when we already recognize those names. Equally uninspired are the titles that just state in as simple a way as possible what the people on the show do: Chasing UFOs, Living Abroad, Polyamory: Married and Dating. Sometimes these literal titles just list occupations (Shark Wranglers, Toy Hunters, Small Town Security); sometimes they list life stages (High School Moms, Hollywood Exes).

Or Use a Place Name
In a similarly straightforward vein, we find the place or culture names: Selling London, Beverly Hills Nannies, Great Lake Warriors, Chicagoliscious, Yukon Men, Cajun Justice. This is even more present in spinoffs or franchises, like with Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta.

Or Just sn Everyday Phrase
Then there are attempts to lay claim to ordinary phrases: In the Big House, Off the Hook, All the Right Moves, Get to Work, The Great Escape, Rat Bastards. Good luck leaving an impression with those titles! Everyone knows the way to name a reality show is with wordplay, and there are two options: Ascatchy rhyme or gently tweaked familiar title.

Tweak and Rhyme Your Way to Success
On the gentle-tweaking front, we find such gems as United Bates of America (about a Bates family), Stars Earn Stripes, Oh Sit, All You Can Meat, I'm Having Their Baby, Natural Born Sellers, and Counting Cars. The rhyme side is equally dumb and appropriate: Hotel Hell. Mama Drama. Chance to Dance. One Car Too Far. I Found the Gown. (Well, let's call that an imperfect rhyme.) Trip Flip. Top Spot.

And on and on, forever.

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images