TV & Radio
OPINION: Reality television. It's like that extra piece of pavlova you shouldn't have eaten on Christmas Day.
It can make you feel bad, euphoric or just downright disappointed in humanity.
We all have our preferences - the epic man versus nature battles on Deadliest Catch or the petty squabbling over Jimmy Choo shoes on The Real Housewives franchise.
It's not always good for you but it can make for compulsive viewing.
We present, in no particular order, our top 10 reality television shows.
Who knew watching men fishing could be so riveting? Deadliest Catch, on the Discovery Channel, premiered in 2005 and follows the lives of men working on fishing boats in the Bering Sea during the crab-fishing season.
The Aleutian Islands port of Dutch Harbour, Alaska, is the base of operations for the fleet and the show's name alludes to the highly dangerous work of fishing in the unforgiving stretch of water. The theme song for the show is, fittingly, Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi.
Getting mortal and tashing on - phrases you would understand if you were a Geordie Shore fan. Based in Newcastle upon Tyne in northern England, Geordie Shore follows the drunken antics and romantic trysts of a group of young "Geordies" living together.
The show is the British adaptation of hit American reality series Jersey Shore, which brought you such delights as GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry) and Snooki. Geordie Shore breaks more taboos than you thought possible. Bowel movements, burping, fighting and sex acts are the order of the day (and that's just the girls).
The Amazing Race
It's global orienteering gone wild. This reality-travel-show-meets-game-show is one of the stalwarts of the genre with its run dating back to 2001. Contestants compete in teams of two and ensuing travel madness occurs as they rush to be first to "pitstops" around the world.
The show is hosted by New Zealand-born Phil Keoghan. The show has bagged 13 Emmy Awards, including every award from 2003 to 2012 (apart from in 2010) for "Outstanding Reality-Competition Program".
The Only Way is Essex
Famous for its stars' use of fake tan, short skirts and false eyelashes - it's the realty TV show that keeps on giving. Known as Towie to its true fans, The Only Way is Essex follows the lives of young shop owners, nightclub promoters and other assorted young people who live in Essex, England.
The ITV2 show is filmed only a few days in advance of its screening. It can also be credited with bringing into the mainstream the art of vajazzling. Google it.
The Block Australia
The ultimate television splurge for those with a soft spot for home renovation or anyone with a voyeuristic desire for watching people bicker over interior design decisions.
Hosted by television personality and builder Scott Cam, the current season follows four couples as they each gut and decorate adjacent townhouses in Melbourne. Four teams of two compete against each other to renovate their house and, finally, sell it at auction.
Ice Road Truckers
So dangerous and so cold. Ice Road Truckers, which premiered on the History channel in 2007, follows the drivers who take trucks across the dangerous seasonal crossing of frozen lakes and rivers in remote arctic areas.
The show's creator, Thom Beers, said during the show's opening episode: "At the top of the world, there's an outpost like no other ... and a job only a few would dare. The mission: To haul critical supplies across 350 miles of frozen lakes to Canada's remote billion-dollar diamond mines. The challenge: To transport 10,000 loads in 60 days - before the road disappears." Stressful!
The godfather of the reality television cooking genre, the Masterchef franchise has spawned versions around the world.
First started in Britain in 1990, it was revised by the BBC in 2005 in a new format. It is now produced by more than 25 countries worldwide. Contestants compete over several weeks to win over the judges and the champion wins a lucrative cookbook deal.
The title may be misleading - you don't really need to be a wife to be involved in this program, but it helps if you court scandal, like charity lunches and drive a Maserati. This series follows the lives of rich women in a number of cities in the United States and Canada.
Starting with the Real Housewives of Orange County in 2006, the franchise now boasts eight other series, including The Real Housewives of New York and The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills. Holidays to St Barts and cutting catfights with threats of legal action are included.
The program that pits woman against woman as they fight for the televised love of one man. An American reality dating show, The Bachelor debuted in 2002. It is hosted by Chris Harrison.
The show's premise revolves around finding a supposedly eligible bachelor and providing him with a pool of more than 20 women from which to find a perfect match.
Perhaps the most sensational moment in the 16 seasons came when bachelor Jason Mesnick changed his mind after proposing to Melissa Rycroft on the final show. Several weeks later on the reunion episode he broke up with her and asked for a second chance with the runner up, Molly Malaney. They later married.
But it's not just for men - The Bachelorette helps one lucky lady find her perfect suitor too.
Keeping Up With the Kardashians
The reality show that created the juggernaut that is the Kardashian brand and has recently gifted us the celebrity amalgamation "Kimye", has spanned seven seasons.
Starting in 2007, the E Channel series follows the life of "momager" Kris Jenner, her husband and Olympic gold medallist Bruce Jenner and their assorted children. Pride of the litter is socialite/endorsement queen Kim Kardashian, who is accompanied by her sisters Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie, and brother Rob.
If this sounds confusing, stand by, because also appearing in the cast is boyfriends, husbands, friends, ex-lovers and even Kim's baby daddy, rapper Kanye West.
Such was the show's success that three spin-offs were created, Kourtney and Kim Take New York, Khloe & Lamar, and Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami.
- © Fairfax NZ News