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Early 2000’s Reality Television Shows We Miss!

Often when times are tough our minds will wander back to peaceful and comforting memories. Maybe it’s remembering Nana’s crocheted blanket, maybe it’s recalling loving family vacations. For some of us, it’s revisiting the Dawn of Reality Television, aka, early America’s Next Top Model. WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU, HOW DARE YOU! Studies (my personal studies) have shown binge-watching old favorites is serotonin at this point, occupying our minds for brief moments and providing a buffer for the unpleasantness we may be experiencing. So let’s get busy.

Currently Bravo has cornered the market on reality television because Real Housewives blossomed into a whole thing. But Bravo definitely did not start out with a client list of criminals, alcoholics, and people you wouldn’t want watching your kids. Per Wikipedia, “the channel originally focused on programming related to fine arts and film”. I think we can all agree it has drifted far, far away from the original concept.

If you want to talk “early” reality television, you have to look beyond Bravo and back to the old days. Like MTV old days – it used to be a music channel! MTV always had a stake in the game thanks to The Real World series, but in 2002 everything changed when Ozzy Osbourne and his family signed on for a show. The Osbournes (2002-2005) was a glorious display of an incredibly famous legend and his family who walked around sans glam, fully committed to the F-word, and provided an actual insight into what their lives were like. Sharon Osbourne throwing a ham into someone’s yard lives rent-free in my brain forever.

MTV also introduced Gen X and Elder Millennials to Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica. From 2003 to 2005, we watched these two crazy kids navigate marriage and the brutal world of having Joe Simpson as a father the music industry. While Jessica Simpson’s career soared, poor Nick Lachey was often left doing handywork around their Calabasas home or singing back-up on one of Jessica’s albums. Priceless stuff, highly recommend.

Bravo woke up around 2003 and blessed us with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. A group of stunning gay men using their industry powers and turning straight, feral guys into people you would go out in public with. While Carson Kressley might be the most famous spawn of the original show, it gave Extreme Makeover: Home Edition but with people, compassion, and actual results.

If you legitimately need to block out the world, find The Anna Nicole Show. It originally aired on E! and was… a journey. From 2002 to 2004, viewers were held captive by Anna and her incredibly bizarre antics. I dare say television has not been the same since this show was created. Go ahead and piggyback Being Bobby Brown, which appeared in 2005 on Bravo. BOBBBBAAAAY! Bobby Brown and Queen Whitney Houston should have NEVER EVER agreed to do this show. There are lessons to be learned in the content of this program, IYKYK.

The A&E channel, which is supposed to be Arts and Entertainment, was less about art when it introduced Growing Up Gotti. In 2004 we learned Victoria Gotti liked wearing white and super-long hair extensions. Speaking in a monotone was preferred and the downfall of society could be seen in the faces of her three boys. Ah, we were so innocent back then.

Obviously we can’t cover ALL of the early 2000’s in one article, but this is a good start. At least we have options to watch old favorites whilst hiding under a blanket.


[Photo Credit: Charles Sykes/Bravo]