Dec 11, 2019

The Best International Reality Shows to Binge Today

If you’re a reality TV addict, chances are you’ve already experienced the best that the United States has to offer. You caught all the antics on Jersey Shore, you experienced all the drink-throwing drama on all the various Real Housewife franchises, and you rooted for your favorite suitor on in The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Now, it’s time to expand your horizons beyond what’s produced at home and start experiencing the wealth of interesting reality TV being produced overseas.


  • Although it just appeared on Netflix, Terrace House was originally a Japanese series produced by Fuji Television. Starting in 2012, the show follows six men and women who live in a house together.

    The first eight seasons that were produced solely in Japan took place in a house in the Shōnan area. However, after Netflix picked it up, they moved the house to an undisclosed location in Tokyo, then to Hawaii.

    Essentially, the show follows the ordinary lives of the six roommates as they live together and go about their daily lives. It’s quite meditative and slow as there’s not much drama. But, the drama that exists is dealt with immediately, so it doesn’t cause rifts between roommates.

    Interspersed within the episodes are commentary scenes, where media personalities comment on the action.

  • Although it’s only been running for two seasons so far, The Rap of China is credited with helping rap and hip-hop music move into the mainstream in China. Its first episode had over 100 million viewers and within a month more than 1.3 billion people were watching the show.

    Even though the initial season was so successful, the second season was produced using a whole new format, designed to incorporate more Chinese influences. They also added a female judge named G.E.M, who is a pop singer and writer.

  • Although American reality TV definitely brings the drama, one of the hallmarks of British-produced reality TV is that sometimes reality TV shows just showcase… reality.

    Having filmed 10 seasons already, The Great British Bake Off is a showcase of the best amateur bakers in the United Kingdom. The show is slower-paced than the average reality TV show. Plus, it’s heartwarming to watch contestants pitch in and help each other out when they’ve finished their own work.

    In the end, the contestant who triumphs is awarded the title of the “Best Amateur Baker in Britain”. There’s no cash prize; all they win is the honor of the title.

  • You may be wondering what separates The Bachelor ­from The Bachelor Canada. Well, it’s not much, but for ardent fans, the difference is there.

    The Bachelor Canada was originally produced by City Television, then was picked up by the W Network. Since the only similarities to the American version are the name and format, the Canadian producers have been able to put their own spin on the franchise.

    There have been three seasons so far. What most American audiences notice is that the contestants are just nice. Playing hockey, watching the CFL, and building furniture are common pastimes of the three bachelors so far.

    Unfortunately, it’s unknown whether the series will continue after season three.

  • As technology advances, it’s interesting to see people who intentionally give up their devices and live in the ways of our great-grandparents.

    The British reality series The 1900 House was the first TV show to take advantage of this fascination. The premise of the show was that an ordinary British family would be brought to live in a heritage house that was renovated to remove all modern conveniences and forced to adapt to their new lifestyle — on camera.

    The show spawned multiple series’ in both the UK and abroad, all focused on people living in houses from before 1940 and adapting to the cultural differences of that time.

  • Infinite Challenge is one of the most popular TV shows in Korea. Although it’s technically only been on the air for four seasons, it has released more than 560 episodes since it began in 2005.

    The show itself was a cross between a variety show and a reality TV show. As such, various recurring segments were mixed and matched every week. Although there were hosts, actors, and singers that appeared regularly, a good amount of the segments involved regular people.

    Infinite Challenge also occasionally hosted special events. One such event was the 2008 Host-in-Chief Elections, where the entire country tuned in to watch staff from the show vote a new actor in as the host-in-chief.

  • Although technically Drag Race Thailand is based on the American reality TV series RuPaul’s Drag Race, the two shows have actually diverged quite significantly since the premier. Although both are contests that challenge drag queens to perform, sing, act, and design, Drag Race Thailand is considered much more serious competition. Plus, it features several cultural differences not at play in the original competition.

    Contestants are given real feedback by judges and are expected to improve each episode. In the end, the winner is crowned “Thailand’s Next Drag Superstar”.

  • Although many Brits are ashamed to admit it, Geordie Shore is a secret pleasure for many. The first season premiered in 2011. Since then, producers have kept the cast busy — sometimes filming as many as three seasons a year. Now on their 21st season, the cast has destroyed houses in places like Cancun, Magaluf, Prague, and Amsterdam.

    Whether its watching Gaz and Charlotte kiss and make up after their thousandth fight, or Vicky and Sophie tear each other’s weaves out, there’s something about Geordie Shore that’s mysteriously compelling and definitely encourages binging.

  • This extremely popular show managed to reach a viewership of 330 million viewers in its first two episodes alone.

    The Chinese reality TV show The Birth of Actors pairs young actors with experienced acting coaches. Celebrity judges Song Dandan, Liu Ye, and Zhang Ziyi then mark them as they recreate a famous scene from a well-known TV show or film. The winner of the show gets to perform with one of the celebrity judges.

    Although the show is wildly popular in China, it’s been criticized for potentially being rigged by producers to ensure the success of more television-worthy contestants.

  • Another extremely charming reality TV show is Eat Well for Less?, which has been airing on the BBC since 2015.

    The show features a different family every week who agree to submit their grocery bills and the contents of their fridge to hosts Chris Bavin and Greg Wallace for inspection. The goal is for Greg and Chris to help the family eat healthier, less processed food and learn to cook together, all while saving money on their weekly food bill.

    The show is almost heartbreakingly funny because of the sheer ineptitude of some of the would-be home cooks. In one memorable scene, a father confidently tells his son that the avocado he’s holding is actually a rotten pear. However, Greg and Chris never let the show get bogged down for long.

    There are six seasons in the archives, with a seventh season currently in the works.

  • If you’ve ever wondered what your spring break or post-graduate backpacking trip would be like with your grandfather along, wonder no more.

    The Korean reality TV show Grandpas Over Flowers takes five veteran actors in their 70s and sends them off on an all-expenses-paid backpacking trip to Europe. Along with their guide Lee Seo Jin, who organizes most of the trip accommodations and activities, the “grandpas” reminisce about their careers and joke with each other as they explore new cities.

    The show was a breakout hit. Although producers were expecting it to be popular with older audiences, the show quickly became a hit with viewers 18 to 35, too.

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