As a pop-culture enthusiast, you’ll gather that if you do a quick search of my name. As you go along this article, you will realise that perhaps I shouldn’t be allowed to walk about wearing the crown of ‘curator of all things cool’. Sure, I’m always on the hunt for new shows and films and I do enjoy quality content. But once in a while (it’s rare, I do not lie *laughs nervously*), I just want to sit back and engage in reality shows. Before you judge me, let me declare that I do find myself cringing every time I watch it. The lure though, the need to go back is irresistible. I can watch “Pooja, what is this behaviour?” or even Kim cry over her diamond earring falling in the ocean–it’s alarming and should frankly make you question my taste.
The thing about reality shows is that they are deeply polarising. Not in a moral or ethical way, nope none of that. Reality shows will either have you wanting to pull your hair out because of the damage it does to your brain cells or make you ugly laugh-cry because of just how ridiculous they are.
We may be protecting our image by talking about intellectual shows at a party but it is when we are with our best friends that you reveal just how much you enjoy the nonsense on reality shows. You end up hate-watching most of them in the privacy of your own room. You’ll find yourself judging the people on the show but somewhere down the line, you end up relating to them too. Love it or hate it, we all watch it for the drama–I’m admitting it, so can you! And of course, I love to engage in the plethora of memes that inevitably follow. From dating shows to the star-studded lives of Bollywood celebrity wives, here are 5 reality shows that are super cringe. I must warn you though, you might need some brain tonic after watching them ‘cause they do lower your IQ.
1. Love Is Blind
The popular reality show released its first season during the 2020 lockdown and shot to fame. For no other reason that we were starved for entertainment, I think. For those who prefer hanging on to their sanity, here’s what the series is about. This is an experiment, (voluntarily, why even?) in which single men and women enter in the hope of finding love. The men and women date each other for 10 days in a speed-dating format in different “pods” separated by a wall. So they can talk to each other but not see each other. It’s love purely based on emotional connection as opposed to physical appearances. Whenever they decide, the men are able to propose to the woman they want to marry and thereafter, their relationship is put to test for a month until the day of their marriage where they can choose to seal their fate with yes or no at the altar.
It worked out for two couples in the first season (who are still married till today), thus proving that this social experiment might work. I’m currently watching Season 2 of Love Is Blind and I have to say–the show dialled up the drama right from the first two episodes. But it has also amped up the cringe levels. Consider this. Shaina is a contestant who feelings for a guy named Shaine but ends up saying yes to Kyle in the pods–um, why is that even okay? I do feel like the first season was more fun, it had a good balance of comedy and drama. This season only has the latter and makes me cringe more than laugh.
2. Sexy Beasts
Similar to the concept of Love Is Blind, Sexy Beasts takes the cringe factor a notch higher (you thought that was not possible?) Instead of finding love in the pods, you go on dates with people dressed as monsters (hence the name). The point of it? To put your chemistry with an individual to test and see whether looks matter more or not for a relationship to be successful. NGL tho, towards the end, it did get a little monotonous. The only thing that kept me going was the curiosity of who was underneath all those costumes, which would be revealed at the end of every episode. But here’s a pro tip: watching this show with your besties after a few drinks down will amp up the entertainment factor for sure.
3. Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives
TBH, the cast of this show was enough to make me cringe. But I went ahead and watched it anyway. In a nutshell, the show is about what the title says–it takes you through the personal lives of Neelam Kothari, Maheep Kapoor, Bhavna Pandey and Seema Khan, wives of Bollywood actors Samir Soni, Sanjay Kapoor, Chunky Pandey and Sohail Khan respectively–which is everything but fabulous. My question is, why did I even bother investing my time in them even after it made me bang my head on the wall? Yes, judge me. I thought this series was supposed to offer us a sneak peek into the lives of these women instead I ended up worried for Neelam’s accent teacher and Maheep Kapoor’s neighbours. While something like a job interview would make me nervous, Maheep’s first-world problem includes stressing about how her husband might end up embarrassing her daughter at the Le Ball in Paris. SMH.
4. Indian Matchmaking
This was another show that gained massive popularity during the lockdown. Matchmaker Sima Taparia guides clients in the United States and India through the arranged marriage process, offering an inside look at this unique arrangement in today’s world. And honestly, it had me face-palming so hard, pretty sure I had a bump on my forehead by the end of it. Although we live in a time where love marriages are aplenty, many Indian families still opt for arranged marriages. The show faced a lot of backlash for the in-your-face misogyny, casteism and colourism. However, it held a mirror to Indian society and not everyone loved what they saw. The show made me cringe at so many levels. Whether it was Sima’s comments on independent women, especially when she referred to Aparna as high maintenance just because she refused to settle down with a man, or when Pradhyuman thought he could become Heston in a day by giving a gastronomical twist to makhanas, it made me worry about my sanity.
5. Too Hot To Handle
The show features super good-looking single men and women who can mingle with each other on an island but with a twist. If any contestant is caught engaging in any physical activity, the prize money drops from $100,000. The show aims to test the contestants’ ability to refrain from crossing any dubious, made-up lines. Like any other reality show, it comes with drama and cringe moments in heavy doses. The lust-thirsty participants will do anything for love, from flirting and getting frisky, but this only ends up in breaking the rule. In fact, every season has had one couple who ends up engaging in physical contact. It happens so often that it makes me question whether they are even trying to win. If I had to name the most cringe part of the show, it would be when Patrick serenaded George with a terrible song. It went like this–“You look so stunning in that dress too, you trying to make my balls blue? You’ve got to stop it, c’mon girl. And there you are, looking so beautiful like you always do. So I wish I had, you cuddling me… And I love you.” RIP to George’s ears.