15 of the best reality shows on Hulu for when you need an escape
Reality TV has come a long way since MTV plopped a bunch of twentysomethings in an artsy loft, trained cameras on them, and left them to their own devices for a few months way back in 1992. Now our reality TV choices are seemingly limitless — from ruthless restaurateurs to fabulous, multitalented drag fantasies; from rich and ruthless housewives to hardcore survivalists living by their wits.
If any of that sounds like fun, you’re in good company! Hulu has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to reality TV. We’ve sifted through the digital dross to find you the best.
1. Bachelor Nation
The Bachelor began way back in 2002 with a simple premise: Take one dude (Alex Michel) and a bevy of single ladies competing for his attentions — as signified by red roses doled out at the end of almost every episode — with the aforementioned dude eliminating women until he was left with the one he wanted to marry. Along the way, the ladies participated in challenging adventures, group dates, and sometimes embarrassing activities — all in the name of love (and social media infamy). The original show was spun off into The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise, among others, along with an entire media ecosystem devoted to scrutinizing Who’s Here for the Right Reasons. There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes drama, too. — Jenni Miller, Contributing Writer
How to watch: The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise are all available to stream on Hulu.
Back in 2010, the Sundance documentary Catfish took viewers by storm as they watched a lovelorn suitor named Nev Schulman fall for a young woman he meets on Facebook only to have it all unravel when he discovers the truth about his virtual girlfriend. Even now, the movie is a stunner that leaves audiences wondering who was catfishing whom. Schulman took his newfound notoriety and put it to work under the auspices of helping others tricked by Internet paramours in this hypnotizing TV show. Watch for shocking truths about the people we think we know best, online or off. — J.M.
How to watch: Catfish is available to stream on Hulu.
3. Kitchen Nightmares
Credit: Granada / Optomen TV / A Smith Co. / Kobal / Shutterstock
Do you want to find out what all of those Gordon Ramsay memes are about? Of course you do! On Kitchen Nightmares, the famous chef uses his culinary expertise to help restaurateurs with struggling businesses — but sometimes these places are beyond help. Whether it’s the staff’s cooking techniques (or lack thereof), dated or downright dirty décor, interpersonal problems, financial mismanagement, or something else altogether going wrong at these restaurants, we can trust Ramsay’s vivid vocabulary to never fail us. — J.M.
If you enjoy his whole deal, there’s also Hotel Hell, MasterChef, and MasterChef Junior to keep you occupied!
How to watch: Kitchen Nightmares is available to stream on Hulu.
4. Love Island (UK)
The Love Island franchise originated in the UK and has spawned little amorous archipelagoes in Denmark, France, Finland, and Australia, among other countries, where bikini-clad singletons mix and mingle in sexy climes. Unlike The Bachelor franchise, the emphasis is on “coupling up” and enjoying “a good craic,” hopefully with someone who is “fit” and tan with good teeth who is ideally “a bit of me” rather than rushing to the altar, which makes for a more laidback and somewhat less frenzied vibe. Plus, whoever the audience chooses as the best couple brings home a bushel of cold, hard cash on top of those sweet vacation tans. — J.M.
How to watch: Love Island (UK) is available to stream on Hulu.
5. Hot Ones
It’s become inordinately difficult to get a fresh angle on the celebrity interview, but Sean Evans cracked the code with Hot Ones. To be fair, there aren’t that many famous folks who are game to try eating increasingly spicy chicken wings on camera while being interviewed… but the ones who are give good interview indeed. Hulu has the first four seasons of this insanely popular YouTube show, which includes everyone from Billie Eilish and the Jackass guys to none other than Guy Fieri getting into it. — J.M.
How to watch: Hot Ones is available to stream on Hulu.
6. The Masked Singer
This wildly popular singing competition show, which is based on the popular South Korean show King of Mask Singer, features a dizzying array of celebrities dressed up in costumes and belting out hits while judges Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg, Nicole Scherzinger, and Robin Thicke vote on the best performers and try to suss out which random celeb is dressed up as, like, a glittery beach ball or something. (We really cannot stress how surreal this show is.) Once the judges and audience members vote, the least-popular singer must reveal their identity. This goes on until the last episode, where the last celeb standing is presented with The Golden Mask. While the judges and audience members are given clues about who’s behind the mask, the behind-the-scenes security measures make the Oscars look low-key. — J.M.
How to watch: The Masked Singer is available to stream on Hulu.
7. Jersey Shore
Jersey Shore is a pop culture phenomenon, and if you haven’t acquainted yourself with this piece of modern history, it’s time to add it to your list. MTV’s hit show follows the ins and outs of eight friends vacationing in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Things get crazy. Insults are thrown. Fights erupt. And you’re left with reality TV at its absolute finest, from the people that arguably made it what it is. There are one too many quotable lines from Jersey Shore, so buckle up for the wildest, tequila-infused ride imaginable. It’s trash TV, and it’s incredible. — Yasmeen Hamadeh, Entertainment Writer
How to watch: Jersey Shore is available to stream on Hulu.
8. RuPaul’s Drag Race
Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
It’s hard to remember a world before RuPaul brought drag into America’s living room with this effervescent show that melds creative competitions with performances and behind-the-scenes revelations, in addition to a fabulous stable of judges and guest stars. It made RuPaul a media mogul and turned its winning drag queens into household names, along with inspiring international spin-offs and Drag Race All-Stars. While there has been some controversy around Drag Race and its creator over the years, not to mention some of its contestants, it’s impossible to deny its imprint on the cultural landscape. — J.M.
How to watch: RuPaul’s Drag Race is available to stream on Hulu.
To some extent, reality TV is all about watching other people do things we’d rather not and then criticizing how they conduct themselves, and Survivor is the greatest example of that impulse. This extraordinarily popular long-running series drops competitors off in a remote location somewhere in the world where they’re left to team up and scramble for food, shelter, and other everyday necessities, as well as compete in challenges that may require anything from eating bugs to holding onto a buoy for almost 12 hours. The winner gets one million dollars, eternal bragging rights, and countless bug bites and tummy aches. There are 34 seasons of Survivor currently available on Hulu! — J.M.
How to watch: Survivor is available to stream on Hulu.
This is a reality show from the History channel, which gives it a whiff of authenticity. (Plus, it seems to be less salacious than, say, Naked or Afraid, which invites titillation just by the title. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Competitors chronicle their day-to-day life as they try to survive by themselves in extreme environments like Patagonia, Mongolia, and the Arctic, with a minimum of supplies or interference from the outside world. Naturally, they can tap out at any time, but the winner could pocket anywhere from $500k to a cool one million smackeroos in the seventh season. In addition to cash and considerable bragging rights, the winner of the eighth season also came home with a cool hat he made himself from a deer he killed — after he ate its heart, of course. — J.M.
How to watch: Alone is available to stream on Hulu.
11. The Kardashians
Is The Kardashians as scandalous as Keeping Up With the Kardashians? Not really. But does the show still deliver favorable Kardashian moments we all hate to admit we love? Yes it does. Whether you’ve missed watching Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe shake their salad bowls or Kris Jenner rallying up the girls for a family meeting to discuss a PR crisis, The Kardashians is an elevated new look into America’s royal family at their absolute best — and worst. Come for all the drama and stay for the iconic nasal fry. — Y.H.
How to watch: The Kardashians is available to stream on Hulu.
12. Forged in Fire
This delightfully baroque competition series pits amateur bladesmiths with oft-extraordinary facial hair and tattoos against one another as they forge a variety of knives, swords, and other cutting implements, based on the various stipulations of each challenge. Not only is this a wildly dangerous hobby that requires lots of equipment and supplies, it also requires a ton of historical knowledge, artistry, and general steeliness of spirit. The most satisfying part of the show is when the judges test the implements against a variety of objects (including animal carcasses, which are then typically donated). When Doug Marcaida says, “It will cut!” it’s better than a handshake from Paul Hollywood. — J.M.
How to watch: Forged in Fire is available to stream on Hulu.
13. Shark Tank
There’s no greater adrenaline rush than watching a deal being made on Shark Tank. The back and forth. The never ending ping-pong battle. The final decision that renders someone a millionaire or just some guy with a failed dream. It’s ruthless. It’s brutal. It’s callous capitalism. In Shark Tank, entrepreneurs get to pitch their ideas to a bunch of business tycoons who opt in or out. If the venture capitalism of it all seems off-putting, worry not, because Shark Tank is equal parts hilarious drama and financial fluff — a 10/10 binge experience on all ends. — Y.H.
How to watch: Shark Tank is available to stream on Hulu.
Like its name suggests, Hoarders looks into the lives of people who are unable to let go of certain possessions and eventually accumulate a house full of junk. Each episode follows an intervention process for at least two participants — and things get weird. You’ll be shocked by people’s homes. You’ll be shocked by what they’re hoarding. But you won’t be able to look away. — Y.H.
How to watch: Hoarders is available to stream on Hulu.
15. Married at First Sight
You get what you signed up for with Married at First Sight, which reverses the standard dating order and has couples tying up the knot first, leaving the whole getting to know each other bit second. Watch as two complete strangers get paired up and then finally meet each other — on their wedding day. With the most awkward honeymoons ever under its belt, Married at First Sight is weirdly wild and is an easy binge for any evening. — Y.H.
How to watch: Married at First Sight is available to stream on Hulu.
UPDATE: Mar. 27, 2023, 1:00 p.m. EDT This post has been updated to reflect current streaming options.