The 10 Best Reality TV Shows of 2022

TV Lists Best of 2022
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The 10 Best Reality TV Shows of 2022

Reality TV gets a bad rap. That’s right, I said it.

Every time I have a conversation with someone about television and they realize how much reality TV I watch, the genre instantly gets dismissed. “Oh I don’t watch reality TV,” someone will say in a snooty voice, as if they were lactose intolerant and I offered them a tall glass of whole milk. Of course, this is usually from someone who thinks the Magnum P.I., reboot wasn’t a half-assed take on the original, the plot lines in Riverdale actually make sense, and Jack and Rebecca Pearson from This Is Us were really good parents.

To be fair, much like scripted TV, there is plenty of bad reality television. But the genre that practically invented guilty pleasure viewing has also changed the face of television for the better. Beginning in 1992 with the premiere of The Real World, it’s been reality TV, not scripted, at the forefront when it comes to tackling big social issues that foster genuine conversations between actual people on a wide variety of topics. It’s also a genre full of authentic displays of willpower, determination, acceptance, humor, and love. If you know where to look.

Reality TV can more than hold its own with scripted television and has been doing so for 30 years and counting. With that in mind, here are the best reality TV shows that 2022 had to offer.

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10. Me or the Menu

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Watch on Discovery+

This relationship docu-series from Food Network follows four couples from across the country all in different stages of opening their first restaurant. It also firmly demonstrates that being married or in a committed relationship to a restaurateur is a nightmare. Me or the Menu makes you feel for those who are connected to an insanely ambitious person, and also provides a fascinating insight into the restaurant business.


9. Married at First Sight

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Watch on Hulu

Viewers were gifted with two seasons of Married at First Sight in 2022, the first in Boston and the second in San Diego, and they were both deliciously insane. This year’s seasons gave fans of the series some great villains (Alyssa from Boston, Justin from San Diego), some lovable divorcees (Krysten from San Diego, Chris from Boston), and couples that surprisingly made love last. Naturally, I’ll be pumped when Married at First Sight: Denver, which is currently in casting, airs next year on Lifetime.


8. Love Is Blind

Watch on Netflix

This series is the tasty dessert you just can’t resist after a filling dinner. You really don’t need it, you will feel bad about yourself later, but you end up devouring it anyway. That’s the only true way to describe Love Is Blind, which has a silly premise (chat via pods for 10 days, propose, meet your fiancé, get married four weeks later, drink from golden goblets), but always delivers plenty of cringey and hilarious “Did he/she really just say that?” moments.


7. The Amazing Race

Watch on Paramount+

This Phil Keoghan-hosted CBS series got off to a rough start in 2022, but ended with a flourish. Season 33, which was filmed in 2020 and 2021, was a fractured mess due to a year and a half pause on production caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Season 34 proved that The Amazing Race still has legs. Featuring stunning locations, likable teams, and the elimination of non-elimination legs, this franchise now looks like it can last until Phil retires.


6. Chopped

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Watch on Discovery+

Chopped is the food version of Ridiculousness. It seems to always be on, old episodes are still fun to watch after many repeat viewings, and the guest (judge) usually manages to say at least one or two things that will grab your attention. Unusual and sometimes unintentionally funny themes and a fantastic rotating group of judges make for endlessly entertaining TV. Although I really wish Scott Conant would stop saying “mouth feel,” I never get tired of this show.


5. Family Karma

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Watch on Peacock

Horrendously underrated, Family Karma is Bravo’s hidden gem. This docu-series that focuses on a group of Indian-American friends living in Florida does much more than follow young, attractive people around as they drink and cause drama. The people on the cast have known each other for years, and because of long-standing friendships, multi-generational connections, and deep family ties, Family Karma has an authenticity most reality shows lack.


4. The Below Deck Franchise

Watch on Peacock

There are five different iterations of Below Deck, and each one of them is fantastic. Choosing a favorite is like picking your favorite child, so every version makes this list because they’re all great. No matter which captain you’re sailing with (Lee, Sandy, Glenn, Jason, or Kerry), viewers are always in for an adventure. And the real life upstairs/downstairs dynamic is a revolutionary one for reality TV.


3. Top Chef

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Watch on Peacock

One of the longest running and most consistent series on television, this year’s season of Top Chef also demonstrated how the program has evolved into a franchise that highlights diversity. Season 19’s final four consisted of Buddha Lo (Asian), Damarr Brown (African-American), Sarah Welch (White), and Evelyn Garcia (Hispanic) in what was the best Judges Table of the season, and possibly in franchise history.


2. Survivor

Watch on Paramount+

Two recent episodes highlighted the strength of Season 43 of Survivor. In Episode 11, contestants Owen and Karla managed to outlast the Last Gasp challenge, which has players swim under a steel grate and stay there for as long as possible as the tide rises. They lasted for almost three hours until the tide receded in an epic battle of willpower and perseverance. In Episode 10, Noelle (who has a prosthetic leg) came from last place to win an immunity challenge that required her to cross a balance beam. She was sweating so much her prosthetic kept sliding off her body. It was an emotional and powerful challenge that brought my wife to tears. These two moments serve as a reminder that Survivor can bring out the best in people.


1. Welcome to Wrexham

Watch on Hulu

This series shouldn’t work. There’s no reason that an American audience should have any interest in a minor league soccer team in a foreign country, right? Wrong. It turns out, America doesn’t just love Ted Lasso, they love the real-life version just as much. A series that’s frequently funny thanks to celebrity team owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, this program offers insights into the definition of the word “community” and tells a heartwarming sports story. Welcome to Wrexham is as inspirational as it is entertaining.



Terry Terrones is a Television Critics Association and Critics Choice Association member, licensed drone pilot, and aspiring hand model. When he’s not applying to be on Survivor, you can find him hiking in the mountains of Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter @terryterrones.

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