Trying to rank these canceled reality shows would be too difficult because I love them all , so they appear in random order.
1. Kid Nation (as shown above)
This 2007 show had 40 kids ranging from ages 8-15 trying to turn an abandoned town into an operational commune complete with laborers, cooks, merchants, a government and an “upper class”.
My favorite part about this show was how it seemed not completely, all-the-way legal. These kids had minimal adult supervision and I think there was later a class-action lawsuit because some of the kids accidentally drank some water mixed with bleach. A couple of the youngest kids, genuinely seemed too young to be there and at least twice an episode you’d question how well the producers actually planned this show.
2. Tool Academy
The Tool Academy students (Tool Academicians?) didn’t voluntarily sign up to be on Tool Academy, they showed up for what they thought was a tryout for the title of, “Mr. Awesome”, a spokesman for a fictitious new energy drink marketed to women. The tryout was a huge party with tons of bikini-clad models promoting the drink, and the contestants basically had to impress the models during their impromptu photo shoots and act like the awesomest dude at the party in order to win the title of Mr. Awesome.
As the winner of Mr. Awesome is about to be announced, there is a small explosion on set and the sign that says, “Mr. Awesome” is knocked off the wall to reveal the sign underneath it reads “Tool Academy”. Also falling off the wall was a banner, to reveal the sound booth where all of their girlfriends had been watching it all and the Tools learn they’ve been set up and have a lot of explaining to do after inviting a lot of those bikini-wearing accomplices up to their hotel rooms on camera.
And that’s was just the first half of the first episode. As you can guess, the rest of the season was phenomenal reality TV and one of the girlfriends on the show would later go on to fame as a mistress of Tiger Woods.
3. Ed vs. Spencer
This was aired on BBC America in 2004-2005 and was based on the show that later came to Comedy Central called Kenny vs. Spenny. The two contestants (who are best friends in both editions of the show) challenge each other each episode to answer such questions as: Who can put on the most weight? Who do kids like more? Who can get make himself more famous? And one of my favorites- who can make himself the sickest?
Both Ed Leigh and Spencer Claridge were immensely likable and made some great television.
4. The Joe Schmo Show
Season 1 of The Joe Schmo Show may have been the most entertaining show I’ve ever seen. In it, nine actors trick one guy into thinking he’s on a reality show and put him through some hilariously difficult situations, that he thinks are real.
While researching this show I discovered that it is still on and is ineligible for this list. But I figured if I didn’t even know it was on, maybe I ought to keep it on the list to help raise awareness. One awareness-raising fun fact about the Joe Schmo Show is that Kristen Wiig’s first tv role was as Dr. Pat in season 1.
Here’s the season trailer for the new season which sums up this shows absurdity/glory.
5. Joe Millionaire
A bunch of women thought they were competing for a literal prince, but later found out he was a construction worker. Who wouldn’t love to watch that?
Honorable Mention: MXC and Hole in the Wall