#10 - 'The Joe Schmo Show'
Spike TV's entry into the reality TV world was a fake reality show where everyone was an actor except for the one true houseguest. Lasting two seasons in the early 2000s (with one brief reboot in 2013), the show parodied "Big Brother" and "The Bachelor" before becoming a straight-up fake reality show about prospective bounty hunters. The joy was to watch the reactions of the unsuspecting target to all the awkward relationships and bizarre challenges. Presenting reality-show stereotypes like Randy the A-Hole, Bryce the Stalker, Allison the Overachieving Asian, and Gerald the Gotta-Be-Gay Guy, it was both borderline offensive and frequently outrageous.
#9 – 'I Survived A Japanese Game Show'
Equally outrageous was ABC's two seasons of "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" in 2008 and 2009. However, instead of recreating a Japanese-type show in America—that might be deemed highly inappropriate—the American contestants were flown to Tokyo to compete in a local game show called "Majilde" (Japanese slang for "Seriously?!"). However, this show wasn't real, as well, although it did consist of popular Japanese and American game-show tropes. Adding to the whole experience was the filming of the competitors living inside a house together and learning about Japanese culture and customs. Seriously?!
#8 – 'My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance'
Our No. 8 pick lasted just one season on FOX in 2004. It's similar to "The Joe Schmo Show" but ramped up the comedy and put the setting permanently on "cringe". The premise was that Randi and Steve had to fool their respective families into thinking they met on a reality show and fell in love. If they made it all the way to the altar in 12 days without their families objecting, they each would win half a million bucks. However, Steve was an actor who did everything he could to embarrass Randi and her family. Let's just say that the wedding ceremony ends in tears for Randi... in a good way.
#7 – 'Armed & Famous'
Hey, let's give B-list celebrities guns! What could go wrong? The series followed a group of minor stars including La Toya Jackson, Trish Stratus, and Erik Estrada (who had some police "experience" on "CHiPS," don't you know!) as they trained to become reserve police officers in Muncie, Indiana. Unfortunately, it got pulled after only four episodes on CBS in 2007 after a woman filed a lawsuit against the network for wrongful entry and an illegal house search. Plus, Estrada was caught yelling obscenities at a stabbing victim who had called him "Emilio Estevez."
#6 – 'The Week the Women Went'
The BBC spinoff was a part-documentary/part-reality series that aired on the CBC in 2008 and 2009 (with an American version airing on Lifetime in 2012). Hardisty, Alberta, and Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, were the two respective towns that signed up for this proposed "social experiment" in which the women left for a week of spa treatments while their husbands had to fend for themselves and take care of their families. If there was an objective, it was to show how the women were overworked and underappreciated. I think we have to head back to Hardisty and Tatamagouche to find out if that's still true...
#5 – 'Celebrity Wife Swap'
Okay, so maybe having "all" the wives leave is too much. How about just two of them? The regular "Wife Swap" series was another social experiment about cultural differences between families as each household dealt with new lifestyles when Mom was replaced by another mother. In the four seasons of ABC's "Celebrity Wife Swap," almost everyone was filthy rich, so the differences were more about a matter of taste. Our favourite spouse swaps were in season 2, featuring extravagant Alan Thicke vs. cheapskate Gilbert Gottfried and sweetheart Mark McGrath vs. ice cold Coolio. Spoiler alert: Not every celebrity marriage survives the show!
#4 – 'The Marriage Ref'
Of course, all spousal disputes should be moderated by our No. 4 pick, "The Marriage Ref," the two-season offering from NBC in 2010 and 2011. Produced by Jerry Seinfeld and hosted by comedian Tom Papa (a suitable name for a show about marriages), the show saw real-life marital disputes discussed and judged by a rotating group of celebrities. And because the show was produced by Jerry Seinfeld, the panel was packed with A-listers like Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, and Alec Baldwin. And yes, even Bette Midler, Madonna, and Donald Trump joined the jury.
#3 – 'Canada's Got Talent'
Why should the Brits and the Americans have all the fun (and all the talent)? Currently, Canadian acts now have to travel abroad in order to compete for the global talent show (including magician Darcy Oake in the U.K., and girl group GForce in the U.S.). And let's not forget: ET Canada's own Graeme O'Neil appeared on the show. So let's all repatriate them for our own Canadian competition. CITY-TV did it once in 2012 with presenter Dina Pugliese and a panel of judges: Martin Short, Measha Brueggergosman, and Stephan Moccio. How about a refresh? We can even repatriate Howie Mandel while we're at it.
#2 – 'Married by America'
"The Bachelor" franchise is going through a refresh by advancing the age of the Bachelorette to 39-year-old fan-favourite Clare Crawley. The basic problem? The younger contestants were too immature and indecisive. FOX had a better idea in 2003 with its solo season of "Married by America" by matching singles based on audience votes at home, just like "American Idol". Red flags? We're taking them down. Can't decide? We'll decide for you. The problem with "Married by America" is that they started with instant engagements and then worked through the problems. All we want to do is tweak the formula and end with an engagement... and not start with one.
#1 – 'The Bachelor Canada'
The only thing better than being "married by America" is being "possibly" married in Canada. Let's face it, indecisive Peter Weber (accompanied by his manipulative mother) was one of the worst Bachelors of all time. Therefore, it's time for the fickle franchise to come back to Canada. Now, Chris Leroux in 2017 wasn't exactly primetime marriage material. Perhaps he was a little "too" laid back for most of us. But at least, the final season on W Network suffered through few tears and even fewer scandals. So we're giving our final rose to the top reality show that we'd like to see rebooted: "The Bachelor Canada".