America’s Favorite Reality Shows

Americans love reality television, but asking us to pick a favorite reality show results in significant division.

America loves reality TV. That’s not news. Reality TV series are the modern equivalent of gladiator arenas, except the warriors are replaced by pretty people with ugly insides who compete for cash and fame—and nobody dies (except reputationally).

But what reality TV shows do Americans like most? We asked 1,126 ‘Murricans and discovered clear preferences but surprisingly sparse consensus.

Favorite reality shows across America

Get this: The Top 10 shows mentioned by survey respondents account for only 35% of the results. The remaining 65% of participants voted for 111 different shows. So Americans really like reality TV, but not many agree on a favorite.

Please welcome America’s top three reality shows, which we’ll reveal in reverse order with unnecessarily long dramatic pauses and ad breaks. Or just in reverse order.

  • In 3rd Place, with 3.81% of the total votes, is Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
  • In 2nd Place, with 4.88% of the total votes, is Big Brother.

That makes Survivor our 1st Place winner, with 8.62% of the vote. Yay, yay, hugs and tears and stuff.

Favorite reality shows by region

So we know what the country/hive mind thinks. Now let’s see how the results differ regionally.

Map of favorite reality show by region, see following table for results

Survivor (seven regions)

Survivor, the long-running alpha dog of reality TV where contestants show off their survival skills to win money, was the top pick in seven of nine US regions (Pacific, Mountain, West North Central, West South Central, East South Central, South Atlantic, and New England).

How amazing is it that this much of the country agreed on something? Psych! Remember, Survivor won with only 8.62% of the votes. So it ain’t all that. (But if you wanna decide for yourself, all 42 season are streaming on Paramount Plus.)

Big Brother (East North Central)

Although the backstabby popularity contest Big Brother is just as old as Survivor, BB was the top pick only in the East North Central region (Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin).

Usually, being the only one standing in the Big Brother microcosm means you get a pile of money. Too bad this is the real world, where nobody’s gonna pay Big Brother’s producers for that (except advertisers).

Jersey Shore (Mid-Atlantic)

Only one other reality series claimed an entire region: the dumpster blaze called Jersey Shore. Aptly, the show rules the Mid-Atlantic region (Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, DC—and, of course, New Jersey). Someone alert the CDC: Snooki and the orange plague are (shudder) spreading.

Zoomer Doom

For fun, we sorted our survey results by age to see if there were any interesting generational differences. Every generation, from Boomers through Millennials, prefers Survivor—a show about using hard work and your wits to survive on a remote island.

What’s Gen Z’s favorite flavor of fake TV? We’re gonna tell you—but steel yourselves first. Ready? It’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians, a show about rich people who think they work. Here’s some reality for you, America: Humanity is so doomed. If the Boomers don’t get us, the Zoomers will.

Final take

Survivor is the winner countrywide, regionally, and generationally (to a point), with no successor in sight. Long may Survivor reign, so we never have to live under Kardashian rule.

Favorite reality shows by region

Region Most popular Second-most popular Third-most popular
Pacific Survivor (2000– ) Keeping Up with the Kardashians (2006–2021) Dancing with the Stars (2005– )
Mountain Survivor (2000– ) Big Brother (2000– ) Deadliest Catch (2005– )
West North Central Survivor (2000– ) American Idol (2002– ) Big Brother (2000– )
West South Central Survivor (2000– ) Keeping Up with the Kardashians (2006–2021) America’s Got Talent (2006– )
East North Central Big Brother (2000– ) Survivor (2000– ) 60 Days In (2016– )
East South Central Survivor (2000– ) Big Brother (2000– ) 90 Day: The Single Life (2021– )
Middle-Atlantic Jersey Shore (2009–2012) Keeping Up with the Kardashians (2006–2021) American Idol (2002– )
South Atlantic Survivor (2000– ) Big Brother (2000– ) American Idol (2002– )
New England Survivor (2000– ) Big Brother (2000– ) The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (2010– )

Top 10 reality shows across the nation

Rank Reality show % of votes
1 Survivor (2000– ) 8.62%
2 Big Brother (2000– ) 4.88%
3 Keeping Up with the Kardashians (2006–2021) 3.81%
4 American Idol (2002– ) 3.72%
5 America’s Got Talent (2006– ) 2.92%
6 Jersey Shore (2009–2012) 2.91%
7 The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (2010– ) 2.28%
8 The Voice (2011– ) 2.15%
9 Hell’s Kitchen (2005– ) 2.04%
10 The Amazing Race (2001– ) 2.02%

Methodology

We polled 1,126 Americans in June 2022 about their media preferences. We then segmented the Americans who had a favorite reality show into 9 regions.

This content was produced by CableTV.com and is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with any of the TV networks or properties mentioned.

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