The Big Picture
America’s Next Top Model
faced backlash for its host Tyra Banks’ emotionally abusive behavior and racist photoshoots, tarnishing its once-revolutionary reputation.
lost its wholesome appeal due to scandals surrounding dance instructor Abby Lee Miller, who was accused of treating cast members differently based on race, causing disappointment for fans.
Toddlers & Tiaras
promoted unhealthy beauty standards for young girls, glamorizing toxic child beauty pageants and potentially harming contestants’ self-esteem and mental health.
Our art and media are always shaped by our social environment. This also applies to reality TV series. Many shows that felt revolutionary during their times can later turn sour. Even the ones we all unanimously agreed paved the way for the genre. Let’s find out what reality TV shows did not stand the test of time.
6 ‘America’s Next Top Model’ Wrecked Self-Esteem of the Participants
America’s Next Top Model was well-loved for a very long time. It started off as a show that took in small-town young girls aspiring to be models and showed them what it took to be part of the industry. At that time the modeling profession was booming, people had their fantasies and wanted to know what went on behind the scenes. Which is why the show definitely solidified its place as a household name, however, everything about it aged like milk.
The host and senior model of the show, Tyra Banks, has found herself the center of many controversies over the years. She has been accused of fostering an emotionally abusive environment by several contestants on the show by putting them down for their appearance. In one of the infamous incidents, Tyra told a contestant how she could never be a model because of a gap in her teeth which she must fix by dental procedures. ATNM was also called out by viewers for making models compete in racist photo shoots, disrespecting cultures by using them as costumes, and normalizing blackface.
5 ‘Dance Moms’ is Not the Same After Abby Lee Miller’s Scandal
Dance Moms used to be a wholesome show that promoted love of dancing beyond age groups and gave us several talents including, Jojo Siwa and Maddie Ziegler. However, for the avid fans the nostalgia is now tainted with a bitter feeling.
In recent years, the show found itself surrounded by several problematic scandals. The most notable one was to do with Abby Lee Miller, the dance instructor and central infamous figure of Dance Moms. Abby presented herself on-screen as someone who was warm, non-judgmental, and with the best intentions for the kids. During the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement, several cast moms came forward sharing their stories and unmasking Abby’s real face. Abby was accused of treating the daughters of the cast members differently depending on their races. During the same time, Abby had posted a ‘black square’ on her Instagram to show support for the movement. People called her out for hypocrisy.
4 ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ Preached Unhealthy Beauty Standards for Young Girls
Toddlers & Tiaras was aired on the network TLC. The network is known for its notable but sometimes questionable reality TV shows. Toddlers & Tiaras happens to be one of those shows. Actually, among all the notorious reality TV shows, Toddlers and Tiaras perhaps has the worst rep.
The show glamorized toxic environment for child beauty pageants and promoted unhealthy beauty standards for teen girls. The worst thing was that they didn’t just glamorize the unhealthy standards but went as far as to encourage young girls to adopt them. These standards included wearing loads of makeup for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately the show aired for 7 seasons, until people woke up to its problematic aspects. We can only imagine the amount of harm the show must have caused to the young contestant’s self-esteem and mental health.
3 ‘Deep Fake Love’ Was Emotionally Abusive
Whose idea was this really? Deep Fake Love feeds on our every fear of A.I, and makes us question the dangers of unregulated use of new technology. This Spanish dating show started off with supposed intentions of using A.I technology to test love and trust between different couples. The couples are separated into different houses and then are shown photos and clips of their partners being unfaithful. But it’s on them to guess if the graphics they’re seeing are real or altered by A.I.
No matter who watches the show, the unsettling undertones of it are very obvious. After its release, the show was called out for putting its contestants through unnecessary emotional pain and cruel social experiments for the sake of entertainment. The show-runners were called out for making a show that thrived purely on shock value and for not doing anything to ensure the mental health of the contestants. Deep Fake Love ended up traumatizing everyone involved including the viewers.
2 ‘Physical: 100’ Went From Wholesome to Questionably Sexist Real Quick
Netflix’s Physical: 100 was promoted as a safe and wholesome alternative to Squid Game. The show put its contestants through various physical challenges to find the last one standing. The show received international success right after airing and turned several of its contestants including Jang Eun-sil, Choo Sung-hoon, and Yung Sung-bin into major names in the entertainment industry.
However, within all the love the show also received tons of criticism. The show claimed to experimentally find the ‘epitome of human physicality and strength’. But it became the center of several controversies ranging from allegations of manipulated outcomes to sexism and actual crime.The sexism allegations were high, as men and women were made to compete with each other in physical challenges. And instead of being fun, it ended up sending a horrifying message to its female viewers.
1 Indian Matchmaking was Dysfunctional In So Many Ways
Indian Matchmaking is a Netflix dating show targeting the brown community, especially Indians, around the globe. It is based around the matchmaker Sima Taparia, who uses her experience with her tradition and culture to try and set up matches for arramged mirrages within the ‘Desi’ community. For the first few seasons, the show was filmed within India. But the future seasons focus on overseas Indians as they wanted to keep targeting an international audience.
The show was highly criticized for its orthodox and dysfunctional view of marriages by local and international audiences combined. Sima can be seen causally throwing around sexist comments to the women on the show, asking them to lower their standards and expectations as they will never find the ‘ideal’ in their head. In season 4, Sima can be seen having an argument with her own daughter’s marriage choices. Sima proceeds to disrespect her daughter’s boundaries and pressure her to get married by 25. While trying to be wholesome, Indian Matchmaking ended up highlighting the dysfunction within the well-loved arranged marriage tradition in Desi culture.