As TV in General Gets Better, so Does the World of 'Unscripted' Reality TV

These are the Best Reality TV Show Airing Today

click to enlarge Colton, the star of the 23rd season of "The Bachelor," with all of the contestants hoping to find love. - Courtesy of ABC // Craig Sjodin
Courtesy of ABC // Craig Sjodin
Colton, the star of the 23rd season of "The Bachelor," with all of the contestants hoping to find love.
It’s been said for years now that we’re living in a prime era for prestige TV. Critically acclaimed shows are popping up on nearly every network. The line between film and television continues to blur as A-listers sign on to more and more series. Add to that streaming platforms that are constantly churning out new content, and there’s more quality options than ever before. Television just keeps getting better, and it turns out that applies to the lowbrow world of reality TV, too. Some of the best so-called “unscripted” series are all airing now.

 The Bachelor (8 p.m. Mondays, ABC): Thirty women live in a mansion as they compete for the heart of a stranger they just met, whom they all expect to propose in a matter of weeks. Ah, a tale as old as time! But seriously, this is its 23rd season. So how are producers keeping it fresh after 17 years? By casting a hunky former football player with a soft spot for charities… and keeping his virginity intact. A castoff from the last season of The Bachelorette, Colton’s sexual experience (or lack thereof) is questioned and joked about ad nauseam as if it’s some mythical condition. But, I mean…is this guy going to lose his V-card on TV? And more importantly, why is he seen in a preview jumping a gate and escaping the mansion? I just can’t look away, shameful stereotypes be damned.

 Vanderpump Rules (9 p.m. Mondays, Bravo): What started as a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills spin-off following the sexy staff of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurant SUR has evolved into a reality juggernaut that has accumulated cult status, celebrity fans (like Rihanna and Chrissy Teigen), several dedicated podcasts (Sexy Unique Podcast is my fave) and high-profile features (most notably in Vogue). Now in its sixth season, the show feels a bit more produced, and its stars have become something of celebs in their own right (few if any actually still work at SUR). But fear not — birthday meltdowns and cheating scandals still abound, six years later. Pro tip: Watch the drama unfold IRL on the cast’s social media.

 Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club (8 p.m. Tuesdays, MTV): We haven’t seen much of Lindsay on screen since her eponymous 2014 trainwreck docuseries with Oprah. What has she been up to? Apparently, building a nightclub empire across the pond, including a boozy yet “family-friendly” beach house in Mykonos, Greece. MTV is definitely positioning this as its answer to Vanderpump Rules, promising interpersonal drama amid a group of hot service industry folks imported from the States. Living and working together, these “V.I.P. ambassadors” are tasked with representing the Lohan Brand — the details of which are never explained or elaborated on — while navigating the murky waters of pleasing “boss bitch” Lindsay and her sassy, made-for-TV business partner Panos. I’d go easy on the Pump Rules comparisons, but I can definitely see this mess getting picked up for additional seasons.

 The Masked Singer (9 p.m. Wednesdays, Fox): Most performance competition shows aim to catapult a talented everyman into star status, but this breakout hit takes celebrities and conceals their identities as they belt out hits, leaving audiences to guess who’s behind the fabulous, elaborate costumes. It might sound like a dumb premise until you’re 40 minutes into an episode and in a hot debate over who’s behind the raven garb. (It’s gotta be Ricki Lake, right?) Every episode features hints and clues for each masked singer and ends with one revealing their true identity. Obsessive theorizing isn’t just for Game of Thrones anymore! So far we’ve seen Terry Bradshaw, Tommy Chong and the Steelers’ Antonio Brown get unmasked, and I predict Donny Osmond, Tori Spelling, T-Pain and Gladys Knight are among the stars still in the game.

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars (8 p.m. Fridays, VH1): You know a competition program is good when they roll out an “all stars” spinoff with former contestants…and launch a new season of it every single year. Sure, in a couple years every Drag Race alum will have been dubbed an all star, but I’m not complaining. For Drag Race fans, it’s exciting to see how your favorite queens have evolved since their last appearance — and that’s not a plastic surgery joke. For non-Drag Race fans, well, what’s wrong with you guys? Have you just not seen it yet?

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