As reality television has become more of a prominent entity in entertainment, countless series have come and gone. There are some staples that hang around for a while like Keeping Up With the Kardashians or Survivor but few last that long. That’s especially true when it comes to reality dating shows.
The obvious one that comes to mind is The Bachelor and its spin-offs, which has been a franchise since 2002. There have been many other attempts at reality dating shows during that time and while a few were memorable even in short stints, some have been forgotten to time.
10 Frank The Entertainer In A Basement Affair
Some of the concepts for reality dating shows were way out there and this was one of them. Frank “The Entertainer” Maresca first came to prominence as a contestant on I Love New York where he stood out for a particular scene involving toes and because he still lived with his mom.
After losing there, he got his own show in 2010 where ladies competed to win his affection. To do so, they lived with him in his basement with his parent right upstairs. In fact, Frank’s mom played a big part in the decision-making process. Kerry Schwartz won but split with Frank just days after the finale.
9 Boy Meets Boy
There are some reality shows that are forgotten for a good reason. That’s the case with Boy Meets Boy, which ran for only one season back in 2003 on Bravo. The idea of the show was that a gay man would have 15 possible male suitors live with him and compete for his heart. On paper, it sounded like a gay version of The Bachelor.
However, the problem lies in the show’s twist. Half of the suitors were actually straight men pretending to be gay and the show’s star was unaware of this. If he would’ve picked a straight man, he’d win nothing and they would get a cash prize instead of him. The terrible twist was met with widespread controversy.
8 Average Joe
A lot of dating shows focus on the idea of an “ideal couple.” Two people who can be put together and look glamorous on magazine covers and wherever they go in public. Average Joe, which lasted four seasons between 2003 and 2005, went a different route.
The concept here was that “average” looking people would try to win the affection of someone extremely attractive. Midway through the show, other good-looking participants would join in. In all but one season, an attractive contestant was picked over someone deemed “average.”
7 I Wanna Marry “Harry”
One of the more remembered reality dating shows is Joe Millionaire, where women went at it to win the love of a “millionaire.” The twist was that the guy was actually not rich. A similar twist in that same vein was in I Wanna Marry “Harry,” which played on the idea of the winner becoming royalty.
Contestants were led to believe that the man they were competing for was Prince Harry of the Royal Family, simply because he looked similar to him. Producers did everything they could to convince the ladies of that lie. The odd 2014 show was ultimately pulled after airing half of its episodes.
6 Chains Of Love
Every once in a while there’s a premise for a show that is so over the top and weird that you can’t help but take a second look. Chains of Love, a reality series that aired in 2001, was just that because the setup involved a person chained to four people of the opposite sex for four straight days.
They were only allowed to be separated for privacy situations like using the bathroom. The “picker” in the middle would eliminate three suitors over time and finally select a winner. Something so off the wall would be remembered more if it lasted longer than just six episodes.
5 Farmer Wants A Wife
As is the case with all of these, Farmer Wants a Wife attempted to put its own unique spin on the dating show tropes that fans were used to by 2008. Instead of fawning over a celebrity or someone who comes from money, this show’s focal point was a simple farmer.
Matt Neustadt was a 29-year-old who lived and worked on a farm. Each week, the ladies on the show would take part in competitions centering on the farm and seeing if they could handle his day-to-day life. That included milking goats, chasing chickens, driving a tractor, and more.
4 For The Love Of Ray J
After first being known simply as Brandy’s brother, Ray J carved out his own successful career in the music industry. That spilled over into reality television, where he got his own dating show. For The Love of Ray J saw girls fighting for the admiration of the R&B singer.
Like Flavor Flav, Ray J gave the girls nicknames instead of using their real ones and he often treated them to upscale events. After two seasons, Ray J was still ultimately unable to find a partner to last.
3 Real Chance Of Love
Along the lines of A Basement Affair, Real Chance of Love (2008-2009) put the focus on two men who had previously taken part in I Love New York. The interesting bit was that the guys, Ahmad “Real “Givens and Kamal “Chance” Givens,” were brothers and rappers known as the Stallionaires.
Initially, the show was supposed to go to Mr. Boston but he declined and it went to Real and Chance. The series followed the tropes found in similar dating shows but the brothers had to avoid crossing over their feelings for girls. Chance famously didn’t even pick a season 1 winner.
2 The 5th Wheel
So far, the majority of these shows have been a season-long adventure where a group competes against each other to be with someone. The 5h Wheel, airing from 2001 until 2004, was unique in that each episode featured different people who all went on one date.
The premise sent two men and two women on a double date. Then, a provacative fifth person would enter the date as everyone swapped partners. By the end of the night, the participants would decide if they wanted to date again, go home with the titular fifth wheel, or leave alone.
1 Room Raiders
There’s no question that Room Raiders had one of the more interesting concepts of any reality dating show. The MTV series ran from 2003 until 2009 and would see three contestants get taken from their bedrooms with no time to clean anything up or move anything around.
They would then sit together in a van and watch as a potential suitor went through their room, judging them on it. At the end of the episode, the suitor picks which person they want to date based purely on the room. The contestants also got to investigate the other person’s room together.
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