With the 20th season of America’s Next Top Model set to premiere on August 2nd and the return of shows like Project Runway and America’s Got Talent, we’ve come to the realization that some of TV’s longest running shows are reality series. That’s right, most of these shows have lasted longer than Cheers, Friends, and M*A*S*H. But unlike those scripted programs, some of these have worn out their welcome.
1. America’s Got Talent
Number Of Seasons: 8
When It Jumped The Shark: Season 8, with the addition of Heidi Klum as judge. As much as we love Heidi, she’s not really a judge of talent (see Seal). Sharon Osbourne was the kind of spitfire the show needed, but now that she’s gone, there’s really no point.
Why We Still Watch: To find the next Susan Boyle. Everyone wants to see that unexpected, underdog performance or at least to be the first to share the YouTube video of it.
2. America’s Next Top Model
Number Of Seasons: 20 (including the the new season, Guys vs. Girls)
When It Jumped The Shark: Cycle 13, the “5′ 7″ or shorter” season that was the first to put a concept on the show other than being a regular modeling competition. Since then we’ve had British invasion, All-Stars, College Edition and, now, Guys vs. Girls.
Why We Still Watch: At the end of the day, the draw is Tyra. She knows how to create buzzworthy moments (i.e., her freakout) and honestly you never really know what she’s going to do next or what venture she’s going to promote. Here’s hoping she’s working on a sequel to Modelland.
3. American Idol
Number Of Seasons: 13 (including the upcoming season in 2014)
When It Jumped The Shark: Season 9, when Ellen DeGeneres joined as Paula Abdul’s replacement. Two things wrong with this:
- If Paula’s jumping ship, then you know it’s time to call your agent.
- As much as we love Ellen, the comedian has no place judging a singing competition.
Why We Still Watch: In hopes of finding America’s next sweetheart. When the show gets down to the top 10, the true personalities come out and everyone loves finding that special singer they connect with. It’s why we love Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert and Kris Allen.
4. The Apprentice
Number Of Seasons: 13 (including celebrity and regular versions)
When It Jumped The Shark: Season 6 (Los Angeles). The show introduced what was known as “Tent City,” which was a collection of tents contestants lived in when they failed to earn their chance to live in the mansion provided by the show. It resulted in the formation of the “haves” and “have nots” competing against each other.
Why We Still Watch: The celebrity editions have proved to be far more entertaining with our favorite reality stars and aging musicians competing. And nothing really beats the insanity of Joan Rivers. She should compete in some capacity every season.
5. The Bachelor/Bachelorette
Number Of Seasons: 17 (Bachelor), 9 (Bachelorette)
When It Jumped The Shark: Season 12 (Bachelor), Season 4 (Bachelorette). Both of the seasons kicked off an incestuous cycle of contestants appearing on one of the dating shows, getting rejected and then landing on the other one.
Why We Still Watch: For the viewing parties, duh! There’s nothing better than getting together with your girlfriends, a big jug of wine and judging all the drama on the show because, gurl, we know you’d never do what she did last episode.
6. Big Brother
Number Of Seasons: 15
When It Jumped The Shark: Season 2, when Shannon scrubbed the toilet with Hardy’s toothbrush and then put it back without telling him. Thank god producers stepped in and prevented him from using it, because that would have been disgusting. If this was how contestants were going to act on the show, then it was time to pass.
Why We Still Watch: No one really watches, CBS’ aging viewers just can’t find the clicker.
7. Dancing With The Stars
Number Of Seasons: 17 (including the upcoming fall season)
When It Jumped The Shark: Season 11, when Bristol Palin competed. Nothing against the single mother, but her casting felt like a cheap ploy to get Sarah Palin to appear on the show and thereby boost the ratings.
Why We Still Watch: The nostalgia factor. Every season includes a roster of “Where are they now?” stars, and it’s always fun to revisit those memories of when they were famous.
8. Project Runway
Number Of Seasons: 15 (including 3 all-star seasons)
When It Jumped The Shark: Season 6, when the show filmed in Los Angeles (and left Bravo for Lifetime). However, the true WTF moment came in season 11, when contestants were forced to compete in teams. Umm, no!
Why We Still Watch: For the designs! The excitement of watching what comes down the runway never goes away. Besides, after so many seasons of watching, we are all our very own versions of Michael Kors and Nina Garcia. Gurl, that dress look liked it rolled out of a hooker rat nest and made its way on to the runway.
9. The Real Housewives Of Orange County
Number Of Seasons: 8
When It Jumped The Shark: Gretchen Rossi. The “housewife” joined the show in season 4 as a trophy wife to Jeff, an aging millionaire. Not only was her original conceit for joining the show kind of disgusting but her addition to the case brought out the worst in the other housewives. It was clear the fights were as contrived as the hair extensions.
Why We Still Watch: The drama. Like its spinoffs, this show always knows how to pack as much “oh not she didn’t” moments as possible into 42 minutes of TV. Whether it’s scripted or not, these girls know how to throw shade and wine like it’s their job. (Well, it sort of is.)
10. The Real World
Number Of Seasons: 28
When It Jumped The Shark: Season 12 (Las Vegas). This is when it became all about boozing, partying, threesomes, pregnancy scares and Trishelle. Oh, Trishelle.
Why We Still Watch: For the true story of six (or seven) strangers living in a house. That and we still hold onto our cherished memories of when the show was the best (San Francisco with Pedro, Seattle with Irene and Stephen, New Orleans with hurricane Melissa, etc.). Besides, without it, we wouldn’t have contestants for all 14 seasons of The Challenge.
Number Of Seasons: 28 (including an upcoming season airing in 2014)
When It Jumped The Shark: Season 15 (China). A twist was introduced allowing teams to kidnap other plays in order to receive clues. Say what? Dueling tribes were enough, no need to add international espionage to the mix.
Why We Still Watch: You know, I am not sure. If someone can tell me, then I am all ears.
12. Top Chef
Number Of Seasons: 11 (16 if you include Top Chef Masters)
When It Jumped The Shark: Season 9, when they battled it out in Texas. Everything in the beginning was fine, focusing the show on Texas culinary styles, moving from city to city but then came the final episodes. Everything went downhill. The contestants were forced to compete in Olympic-style games including a biathlon to earn their ingredients. Since when are chefs Olympic athletes or athletic at all?
Why We Still Watch: The quick fire challenges. Those things are the perfect little (product placement-packed) nuggets of TV. The contestants always seem to run, scramble, freak out for 15 minutes just to have Padma give them the stink eye.
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