Show Or Sham: Which Of These Outlandish Reality TV Plots Are Legit?

Summer is in full swing — and with it comes a fresh batch of reality TV to keep you from getting that much-desired tan. But as more networks jump on the unscripted bandwagon, programming can become a little more…niche. There are a few shows out there that you just have to see to believe. And that's why we asked comedian Aaron Eisenberg to drum up a list of new series — some real, some bogus, to guide you through the season. Think you can pick the fakes out of our lineup? Have at it in the comments!
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Holy Crap
Remember the story about that Bible-thumper who found Jesus’ face on a piece of toast? Remember the chain reaction that followed, with the image of God's only son popping up on everything from old cloths to retaining walls? Well, it’s a buy-and-sell industry now, and business is booming. Holy Crap, on TLC, profiles those who spot the Lamb of God and those hoping to, well, bring a little religion into their lives. Think Pawn Stars for believers.
Queer Factor
The president may support marriage equality, but that doesn’t keep some Americans from refusing to “evolve” from their “one man, one woman” convictions. Bravo’s Queer Factor turns Wife Swap on its head, bringing in self-proclaimed homophobes to live a week with an “alternative-lifestyle” family. Will the experience be an eye-opener for contestants? We’re...curious.
Life’s A Tripp
Try as one may, it’s impossible to keep Bristol Palin off TV. Life’s A Tripp profiles Alaska’s former first daughter-cum-Dancing With The Stars contestant, as she takes on mommyhood, battles paparazzi, and, of course, receives sage advice from the former veep candidate. Did Lifetime pick this series up? You betcha!
Day In A Diaper
This show is about as “what you see is what you get” as it can be. We test how long contestants would be willing to throw on a pair of pampers for, going about their business — work or otherwise — without telling loved ones, colleagues, etc. And dollar amounts directly correlate to length of time. Like we said, what you see is what you get. The competition, premiering mid-July, could be comedy gold or, well, it could be a shit show.
Redneck Island
CMT’s Redneck Island pits 12 human punch lines against each other on a deserted island, where they’ll undergo a series of challenges in hopes of winning a whopping…$100,000? Okay, so it’s not Survivor money, but it’ll make for a few toothless smiles. Professional redneck wrestler Steve Austin hosts the show that’ll have you thinking, “You can take the people out of the swamp, but...”
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For Love Or Funny
In this twist on The Bachelor, NBC has a former swimsuit model find romance in a house full of 20 guys. The catch? Ten are brainless beefcakes, while the remaining are schlubby-yet-endearing stand-up comics. Is beauty really only skin-deep, or will funny bones lead to...actual ones?
Tot Chef
Following in the tradition of such esteemed programming as Kid Nation and Toddlers & Tiaras, Tot Chef is Food Network’s attempt to make the culinary world palatable for a younger audience — much younger. The show follows 10 cooks, ages 12 and under, as they attempt to serve up some of their favorite dishes for the likes of Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, and Sandra Lee. For some cuteness overload (and for the sake of safety!), mom and dad man the stove in each episode. Oh yeah, and we're guessing the “secret ingredient” is most likely paste.
The Choice
Rounding out Fox’s summer lineup is The Choice — like it’s estranged musical cousin, The Voice. The show places celebrities in rotating chairs — their backs to contestants whom they will have to judge blindly. The only difference: These hopefuls are looking to score dates, not record deals. For those who’ve only dreamt of being Mrs. “The Situation”, The Choice is your “anything is possible” show.
Married To Jonas
You guys might remember Kevin Jonas as the early-to-marry oldest brother of the Jonas Brothers. And now, he’s documenting married life with wife, Danielle, on E! Competing with the Kardashians on their home turf are we, Kevin? Let's hope for a sex tape that spends 20 minutes taking off a promise ring.
Subway Star
In Subway Star, ABC's fun, bizarrely moving talent competition, the contestants regularly work beats performing on various train platforms throughout NYC. Watch as break dancers go head-to-head with gospel groups and one-man-bands at Radio City, vying for a million-dollar contract and a permanent slot in Vegas. Hosting? A.C. Slater himself, Mario Lopez.
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Illustrated by Naomi Abel
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