By Lindsay Der
As Netflix continues to pump out thousands of hours of original content per year, the highlights of their releases, shockingly, include a lot of their original reality TV shows. Never an avid reality TV consumer myself, I haven’t watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians or Love Island, however in the past few months, I have become obsessed with the reality TV options on Netflix. While Netflix offers many other reality television programs, their original content, I believe, takes the cake. Bringing me to my first recommendation: Nailed It!
Nailed It!(5 seasons)
The first show I came across, Nailed It! provides an adaptation of your typical cutthroat bake-off competition but instead of seasoned professionals competing for a cash prize, it’s you! Not really you, but likely someone with around the same amount of experience and skill as you. Amateur bakers compete head to head, following elaborate recipes which have been thoroughly broken down for audiences by one of the professional chef judges. Original and lighthearted, Nailed It! gives audiences a break from their own struggles and the opportunity to laugh at other people’s struggles instead. Still, no matter how badly contestants fudge up a recipe, the judges greet the messy baked goods with a smile, though perhaps with a bit of apprehension. Thanks to the kindness of the judges and other contestants, the amateur bakers feel at ease as they brutally butcher a recipe.
The Circle (2 seasons)
My most recent find, The Circle combines all the aspects of social media into “real” interactions: catfishing, direct messaging, etc. All contestants communicate with one another only through carefully cultivated profiles, which may be their true identities or may not. The audiences enjoy watching the contestants, those real and catfish, compete in silly games or engage in deep conversations that, in many cases, lead to the formation of real friendships. Throughout the series, players rank one another and those lucky enough to get to the top of the list are considered influencers. In true social media fashion, influencers hold great power in The Circle, with the ability to choose another player to block or disqualify. Though the show can sometimes leave you questioning whether or not the contestants have ever interacted with another human on a social media platform, #whysomanyhashtags, it offers that amazing blend of drama, awkwardness and emotion only a reality television show can have.
Queer Eye (5 seasons)
Though certainly more emotionally charged, Queer Eye still offers many moments for laughter. Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queer Eye features the same premise, just slightly expanded: five gay men perform a lifestyle makeover for a straight man. In the reboot, the Fab Five, as the crew dubbed themselves, also makeover those from all across the spectrum of gender and sexual identity. Each of the five is in charge of improving one aspect of the makeover-ee’s life, from food and wine to interior design to fashion. Due to the nature of the show and strategic choices by producers to select those with the most heartbreaking stories to be featured on Queer Eye, the show tends to bring a tear to even the casual viewer’s eye. Though stylist Jonathan van Ness tends to take the spotlight with his luscious hair and vivacious personality, my personal favorite of the Fab Five has to be Bobby Berk, the interior designer. In many of the episodes, Bobby has the least screen time of the five, instead, working behind the scenes through the entirety of the week to, oftentimes, completely transform the design of the home to an unrecognizable state. Queer Eye will restore your faith in humanity and the life lessons and little tips and tricks offered by the Fab Five can help improve your life too. I absolutely love these reality TV shows and the many more created by Netflix and cannot recommend them enough- if you have the time, pick one that interests you and dive into the deep end with me. For now, I’ll wait for what I’m sure will be the crowning jewel of Netflix’s reality television: The Hype House.