Since Survivor launched in 2000, reality TV has exploded around the globe. Although it wasn’t the first, it was the first to captivate a mass audience. Over 51 million watched the finale which also gave us one of the first viral reality TV moments when Sue Hawk gave her speech and accused her former alliance members of being snakes and rats.
The same year that Survivor began, Big Brother USA and Big Brother UK also started and that ignited a whole new type of reality show and we have not looked back. You name it, and there is a reality TV show for it. There are basically three categories of Reality TV: 1) reality competition shows; 2) reality dating shows; and, 3) reality “documentaries.” Today’s list of 40 of the best reality TV competition shows to binge mainly focuses on competition-type reality TV shows. We previously featured a list that contained the best reality dating and documentary-style shows.
How many times have you critiqued a design challenge? Or believed that you could outlast, outwit, or outplay contestants? Reality competition shows, allow us to learn new skills and open us up to new ideas (good and bad). You might even learn a new cooking or baking technique or learned a new cuisine or recipe. When looking for the next series to delve into, let our list of 40 of the best reality TV competition shows to binge be your guide.
40 of the Best Reality TV Competition Shows
Listed in alphabetical order and not in any ranking. Summaries courtesy of IMDb plus we added our 2 cents where we felt necessary 😀
Ten survival “experts” attempt to survive alone. The winner receives $500,000. It basically comes down to who can safely last the longest.
Battle of the Blades is a Canadian celebrity ice skating competition, which pairs professional ice hockey players with prominent figure skaters to perform ice dancing routines. All competitors win donations to their nominated charities, depending on their placement in the competition. Oh so deliciously Canadian.
The format for Big Brother in Canada remains largely unchanged from the U.S. edition, making them the only two version of the series thus far to follow this format. HouseGuests are sequestered in the Big Brother House without contact with the outside world. Each week, the HouseGuests take part in several compulsory challenges that determine who will win food, luxuries, and opportunities to become the Head of Household (HoH) or win the Power of Veto (PoV). The winner of the weekly HoH competition is immune from nominations and nominates two fellow HouseGuests for eviction.
12 drag queens compete to become Canada’s Next Drag Superstar through challenges demonstrating their charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent.
Contestants are stranded on remote islands and are forced to survive and find other survivors with only the scattered resources available on the beach and island.
A version of the hit show Big Brother, in which a group of celebrities spend time in the famous house.
Celebrities compete in the classic game of Big Brother.
U.S. reality show based on the British series “Strictly Come Dancing,” where celebrities partner up with professional dancers and compete against each other in weekly elimination rounds to determine a winner.
A food network contest to find a well-rounded great chef with a unique point of view and hosting type of personality to host their own show!
This is the Ultimate Job Interview. Guy Fieri is putting seven chefs to the test to see who has what it takes to fry up success and take over one of his Chicken Guy franchises.
11. Hell’s Kitchen
World-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay puts aspiring young chefs through rigorous cooking challenges and dinner services at his restaurant in Hollywood, “Hell’s Kitchen”.
Eight bakers compete in making delicious and innovative holiday treats for a chance to be named the Holiday Baking Champion and win $50,000.
Celebrities are dropped off in the jungle and have to complete a series of challenges to earn meals for the group. Chris and Julia are 2 of the best hosts around.
British reality series presented by Ant and Dec in which 12 celebrities are abandoned in the Australian jungle or in an old, adandones Welsh castle. In order to earn food, they must perform Bushtucker Trials which challenge them physically and mentally. Ant and Dec are amazing hosts – so entertaining.
15. Making the Cut
Fashion competition series hosted by Heidi Klum & Tim Gunn featuring 10 talented entrepreneurs and designers from around the world, who are ready to take their emerging brands to the next level and become the newest global phenomenon.
A few dozen home chefs battle it out in the Masterchef Kitchen to earn the best chef title, judged by top Australian chefs. The level of cooking is head and shoulders above other Masterchef series.
MasterChef Australia All-Stars is an Australian cooking reality show which originally screened on 26 July 2012. It featured a number of returning contestants from previous seasons of MasterChef Australia, revisiting past challenges in order to raise money for charity.
18. Project Runway
Aspiring fashion designers compete for a chance to break into the industry in this reality competition. Each week, a designer is eliminated from the competition after exhibiting their work in front of a judges’ panel.
Features drag queen contestants from 10 different countries, singing for the crown.
5 pairs of travellers race from London to the Far East without taking a single flight, a budget and with no smartphone in sight.
UK version of RuPaul’s hit reality competition show where RuPaul searches for the country’s next drag superstar.
RuPaul searches for America’s next drag superstar. We are loud and proud Drag Race fans and we regularly write about RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Contestants compete in various dance styles to secure their place in the “So You Think You Can Dance” studio and to become America’s best dancer.
A reality show where a group of twenty-four Australians are stranded in a remote location with little more than the clothes on their back. The winner takes home $500,000 and the title of Sole Survivor.
25. Survivor, USA
A reality show where a group of contestants are stranded in a remote location with little more than the clothes on their back. The lone survivor of this contest takes home a million dollars.
The Australian version of the reality/travel series where teams of people compete in a race around the world for the A$250,000 first prize. Beau Ryan is an excellent host.
The Amazing Race Canada is a reality television competition between ten teams of two in a race around the world for $250,000 to ‘amazing’ locations. Jon Montgomery is the perfect host.
Multiple teams race around the globe for $1,000,000 to ‘amazing’ locations.
29. The Bridge
12 strangers come together, on the banks of a picturesque lake in the British countryside and are challenged to work together to build a bridge to an island where the prize money is located – then decide who gets the cash.
30. The Circle
Players start off isolated in an apartment, and with their online interactions as their only means of any communication. The players use a social media platform called “The Circle”.
31. The Challenge
Past challenge cast members of “The Real World,” “Road Rules,” “Are You the One? and other reality TV shows, and first-time cast members compete against each other for the chance to win a cash prize.
The iconic reality TV franchise kicked off in 1998 and featured cast members from The Real World and Road Rules competing against one another and now, some of the most iconic and fiercest stars to ever appear are back in action.
Ten home baking enthusiasts will be put through a series of gruelling elimination challenges, baking a mouth-watering selection of cakes, pies, tarts, pastries, bread, biscuits and desserts, all in the hope of being crowned Australia’s Best Home Baker.
Bakers attempt three challenges each week trying to impress the judges enough to go through to the next round and eventually are crowned Britain’s best amateur baker.
A group of amateur Canadian bakers are convened for a baking competition. There is a theme to each week’s competition, generally in the vein of the type of goods the competitors are to bake.
A number of food trucks in a competition to see who earns the most money, with the lowest earning truck kicked off at the end of each episode.
37. The Island
Fourteen American men are marooned on an uninhabited Pacific island with only a handful of tools and their wits. Will these 21st century men rediscover their primal instincts and band together to survive?
38. Top Chef Canada
Canadian chefs compete in head-to-head competitions.
39. Top Chef USA
A reality competition show in which chefs compete against one another in culinary challenges and are a judged by a panel of food and wine experts, with one or more contestants eliminated each episode.
40. The Voice
Four famous musicians search for the best voices in America and will mentor these singers to become artists. America will decide which singer will be worthy of the grand prize.
I realize you could argue that all reality TV shows are competition, but some require a degree of talent or skill to enter or require the contestants to withstand extreme/difficult living conditions and/or competitions/challenges. Not that is what makes them better in any way, just different. I tend to prefer watching reality TV competition shows.
What are your favourite reality tv shows? Are your favourite reality TV competition shows on this list? If not, what other ones do you like watching? Do you prefer dating, documentary-style reality TV shows? Please let us know your feedback in the comments.