The increase in popularity of reality TV as a genre has long passed, but the olden era left countless strange and bizarre shows, often lasting no longer than one or two episodes.
From eating chocolate shoes to helping Vanilla Sky build Amish furniture, here are 8 of the strangest reality shows in the world!
1 Sokkuri Sweets
The word “sokkuri” can be translated as “similar to,” which is a nice and short explanation for the show’s premise: the participants have to guess whether a particular item is a dessert. For example, you are shown a door handle, and it can be made of chocolate or metal; or there’s a bowl of noodle soup, which turns out to be a cake! If they guess wrong, then you will have to taste something completely inedible. Imagine guessing if something like a spicy pepper or pizza with pineapples!
2 Extreme Cheapskates
While competing to see who will save more, this show’s participants pee in a jar to save on water, look for food and medicine in garbage cans, and refurbish their homes with sample materials, making it look horrendous in the process. The more you watch the clips from it, the more confused you get about where such people come from.
3 Kid Nation
The Kid Nation show aired in 2007 and lasted for exactly one season. The idea was to see what happens to 40 kids, ages 8-15, if you place them in an old-timey city without running water, electricity, or even toilets for several weeks. They had to cook food, clean, earn money, and do other household chores. But the show’s management received quite a few angry letters, some of which contained threats after several children got burns and accidentally drank bleach. Needless to say, the production was canceled.
4 Vanilla Ice Goes Amish
Vanilla Ice became a star of a reality show so bizarre only an insane person could come up with this idea. Right from the first seconds, you are greeted with a rendition of “Ice Ice Baby” played on the banjo, and we get the premise: Vanilla Ice, who moves in with the Amish community, will have to learn their art of woodworking and carpentry. Who would watch this?
5 My Strange Addiction
There are already three whole seasons of the show about the strangest human addictions. Some of the featured guests chew rocks; others cannot imagine their life without eating sand, and some sniff gasoline and paint. This gem is for those of you who love cringe content.
6 Mustache Wars
Can you make an entire TV show about beard-growing competitions? It turns out you can but probably shouldn’t. US captain Phil Johnson assembles a team of perfectly bearded men to win awards in international competitions. Astonishingly, the show manages to deliver a small amount of drama, but don’t hold your breath for anything more than that.
7 Man vs. Beast
The premise is very simple: people and animals perform the same tasks, and the audience gets to see who’s better. If the task is not about who has two opposable thumbs, then animals would almost always win. This show has been accused of animal cruelty, aside from being downright stupid and incredibly dangerous. What kind of contests did we get? An elephant vs. 40 dwarfs, pulling a plane; a sumo wrestler playing tug-of-war with an orangutan; a man boxing with a kangaroo, and a speed eating competition between a human and a brown bear.
Lastly, we have a wholesome Japanese show. Just kidding, it’s really messed up! The participants have to solve a variety of puzzles, and if they fail, they fall into the dark abyss. We never see them come out, so they may as well have been sacrificed to some ancient Japanese diety. Obviously, this kind of content would never be allowed to air in the West, but maybe that’s for the better.