The 10 Meanest Reality Shows on Television

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Over the last 15 years, reality TV has become an increasingly popular genre.  Each week, millions of viewers tune in to watch their favorite reality shows and be caught up on the latest gossip.  However, even with their growing popularity, many believe that reality TV is nothing but a negative form of entertainment that exploits people at their worst and weakest moments.  Many shows have even capitalized on this, and have built entire series around cruelty and fights between cast members.  In fact, many reality TV stars have built entire brands around their bad behavior. Despite these critical opinions, reality TV and its viewers continue to thrive. Here are 10 of the meanest reality shows on television.

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10. Mob Wives

Since its debut in 2011, VH1’s Mob Wives has explored the lives of a group of women who have personal ties to the mafia. Although Mob Wives has quickly become a fan favorite, many have criticized the show’s cast because of their mean and sometimes violent nature which often results in fights and verbal arguments.

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"America's Got Talent" Season 8 Meet The Judges Red Carpet Event

9. America’s Got Talent

On competitive reality shows, it is not uncommon for people to have to come to terms with their lack of talent.  However, some shows have created a culture of positivity that allows for contestants to be let down easy.  Unfortunately for those looking to display their skills, America’s Got Talent is not one of those shows.  With popular shock jock Howard Stern joining the show as a judge in 2012, he has officially become the ‘mean’ judge whose comments often leave contenders (and other judges) feeling crushed and confused.

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8. Real Housewives of Atlanta

Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta has shown viewers just how real things can get when a group of women who often don’t get along are forced to work together.  Throughout the show’s run, many of its cast members have built a reputation for being mean and catty.  In fact, this behavior has often resulted in some women choosing to depart from the show.

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2013 Winter TCA Tour - Day 7

7. Shark Tank

ABC’s Shark Tank provides people with a great opportunity to share their inventions/business ideas with a panel of potential investors.  However, many people come on the show only to have their dreams chewed and spit out by the “sharks.”  While several of the sharks are kind and encouraging, others including entrepreneur/investor Kevin O’Leary (Mr. Wonderful) can be extremely ruthless in their critiques.

 (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

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6. Little Women: LA

The cast of Lifetime’s Little Women: LA may be small in size, but they certainly aren’t lacking in the personality department.  The show, which debuted in 2014, follows a group of Los Angeles based Little Women as they live their daily lives.  However, the small circle of friends and frenemies often find themselves at odds with one another when jealousy and other emotions creep in.

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5.  The Bachelor

The true spirit of competition comes to life in any situation that can only result in one winner.  However, on ABC’s The Bachelor, competition often comes second to cattiness as a group of women compete for the affection of one man.  Sadly, the show has resulted in failed friendships and failed relationships. Many have also criticized the show for its depiction of romantic interactions between men and women.

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4. Hell’s Kitchen

Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen is a cutthroat cooking competition show that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’  Ramsay’s demanding personality often leads to moments of intensity during the show.  One reviewer compared Ramsay to Barnum and Bailey Circus founder P.T. Barnum stating: “Ramsay’s personality is so unusual that many watch him rant, rave and throw things. I consider him the “enfant terrible” of reality television. … He has a fiery temper … He practices ritual humiliation, verbal abuse and even occasionally physical abuse.”

 (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

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3. Dance Moms

Dance Moms’ Abby Lee Miller has often been considered one of the biggest reality TV villains.  The show follows the now famous dance company owner as she interacts with young dancers and their mothers.  Miller has built a reputation for being painfully honest with all those involved with her dance company, and unfortunately, her behavior has resulted in more than a few tears.

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"Celebrity Apprentice" Red Carpet Event

2. The Apprentice

Since premiering in 2004, The Apprentice has gained a reputation for being one of the meanest reality TV shows on the air. Created by business tycoon, Donald Trump, the show allows people to compete for a chance to work for one of Trump’s organizations.  However, as both viewers and contestants have found, the show often results in a cut throat competition that leaves no room for friendships.

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1. Catfish

MTV’s Catfish takes viewers on a trip through the wild world of online relationships.  During each episode, the show’s host and creator, Nev Schulman, helps connect people who have previously only communicated via electronic communication.  While some of the episodes have a happy ending, most result in a person being reveled as a Catfish: “a person who creates fake personal profiles on social media sites using someone else’s pictures and false biographical information to pretend to be someone other than themself.”

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