TV’s Harshest Reality Competition Shows Are Way Harsh

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Do you get teary eyed when the underdog wins American Ninja Warrior? Or how about when someone beats the shit out of that asshole Bobby Flay on Beat Bobby Flay?

A lot of cheesy competition reality shows are intended to warm your cool heart. Those are the ones we encourage you to watch. Hey, maybe you’ll even be motivated to cook, or clean, or workout, or date.

Then there’s, of course, that terribly dark side to reality TV hell, presented in the name of competition.

A few competition shows stand out as going beyond absolutely cringeworthy to fully horrifying, and not in the oh-man-that’s-so-cheezy Dancing With the Stars kind of way. These are shows that make you want to forget about humanity forever. 

Four Weddings

Four women attend each other’s weddings and judge them (harshly) to win a shitty, tropical honeymoon to somewhere like Atlantis. The women judge decor, dress, food, overall experience, but mostly talk shit behind backs on camera and make extremely hostile smiling comments about these pretty expensive weddings. Then, they all hug and gush over one another in person, claiming they want to remain friends forever. Secretly, they say things like, “that dress was perfect—for her.” Or “I didn’t like the food because I had to wait in a fucking line.” No one ever supports the winner.

Cupcake Wars

Chefs already seem to be arrogant fucks. And they are even worse on TV. But bakers, ohmygawd, they are so much worse. They are the harshest food critics, and most of the time, they are talking about too many air bubbles in macarons or a wonky fondant eye on a cake topper. That’s why Cupcake Wars is a total nightmare to watch. Four bakers from really small mom-and-pop bakeries around the country compete to make thousands of cupcakes of a new party theme each week. While that sounds like the makings of a good show, the judges are SO mean. No matter what, someone is crying. The show treats these regular, good bakers like they are nothings. 

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team

Imagine being a woman who is not only critiqued by her skill, but by every ripple on her body. Oh, wait, of course you can imagine that! The (overweight) “coaches” are determined to relive their old cheerleading glory days by berating and cutting out-of-shape and slow women. They will critique makeup, length of shorts (the shorter the better!), camel toe, hair, and mostly, the flexibility of any woman’s legs. But beyond the seemingly very hard work it takes to become an athletic professional cheerleader, these coaches are hellbent on putting these women in their place—straight to a fiery pit.

Dance Moms

The show where a big, mean lady screams and yells at actual children and encourages them to work like slaves to become a very famous dancer. It’s sort of like a pageant-type thing, and though some of the girls are pretty talented (Sia’s muse, Mattie, was a Dance Moms alum), this dance coach/judge is determined to weed out the kids who just want to have fun. Also the kids with terrible mothers. Also the kids who eat too much. Also the kids who play other sports. Also the kids who haven’t made a career out of tap, jazz, or ballet at age 9.

The Biggest Loser

Have you heard Jillian Michaels (who was later sued and kicked off the show) yell at those fat people? She treats them like animals and screams in their faces. She pushes them to the edge, emotionally, and makes them cry. All the judges point out every weakness, fuck up, and emotional wall, but not in a good way. It’s painful to watch people who are already suffering, suffer more, and in public. It’s basically fat shaming and a lot of terrible judgment. These people need real help—not a trainer. While some of the trainers are nice, there’s still a sense of, oh my god you are so fat, from every single “coach” on the show.

America’s Next Top Model

Tyra Banks looooooves to tell practically teenage girls and boys how to live. She likes to bully them into not bullying. She likes to swoop in, like a disturbing mother figure, and save the lives of totally horrible young minds who think they want to be models. Except, the twist is, she’s actually judging these women. While she's claiming to be supportive, she’s in fact the most destructive of all reality TV judges. She’ll make or break you, until you realize she’s pretty broken herself.