"Real life" Reality Shows?
September 18, 2014 7:08 AM   Subscribe

I need help with my netflix queue! I've always been a fan of "reality shows" that highlight a profession that isn't mine. Deadliest Catch and Dirty Jobs are probably the grand-daddies of this genre. Lately I've been watching "The Incredible Dr. Pol", which follows a big and small animal vet around, but I'm almost finished with that. What other shows are out there that I might like?

I've also seen Ice Road Truckers and several shows with real estate agents. I didn't like Dog the Bounty Hunter for reasons, and shows like Storage Wars which are obviously fake annoy me, but I'm willing to take a chance on them in case there's a diamond in the rough among them -- for example, Auction Kings was decent.

Being on Netflix isn't a hard requirement, but it helps. Anything else out there I should watch?
posted by cgg to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
If you consider "child beauty pageant contestant" and/or "child beauty pageant contestant's terrifyingly devoted parent" a profession, Toddlers and Tiaras is ... I'm not going to say "good" but I definitely watched a whole lot of it.

Also I enjoyed Cake Boss, but more for the craftsmanship than the really obviously staged drama.
posted by griphus at 7:15 AM on September 18, 2014

Beaver Brothers is both hilarious and very interesting.
posted by DrGail at 7:20 AM on September 18, 2014

Tanked, about building fancy aquariums I found mindlessly entertaining

Bering sea gold you might like if you enjoyed deadliest catch

Stephen fry in america may not count, but its certainly entertaining, its just as real as most reality shows
posted by TheAdamist at 7:25 AM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Highway Through Hell

Follows a crew of heavy lifting tow trucks and rescue vehicles working treacherous Canadian highways in winter, I love it.
posted by Cosine at 7:39 AM on September 18, 2014

(I don't know if these are on Netflix)

Alpha Dogs

Backyard Zoo

Airplane Repo (some controversy that it may be fake)

Shipping Wars
posted by foxjacket at 7:47 AM on September 18, 2014

Pitbulls and Parolees is about an animal shelter for pitbulls that hires parolees as staff.

Parking Wars is a funny show that began following the Philadelphia Parking Authority but expanded to Detroit and then a couple other cities. The segments break down into Ticketing, Towing, and the Tow Yard. A&E typically has at least ten full episodes available for free streaming on their site.
posted by vegartanipla at 7:54 AM on September 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I liked the UK version of Kitchen Nightmares; the format is problem-of-the-week rather than an extended look at one group, which might not be your thing, but it does give you a decent look at the inner workings of restaurants. The US version is textbook Bad Reality TV, so don't bother.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:09 AM on September 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

You might like Treehouse Masters, but I'm not sure if it's on Netflix.
posted by gemmy at 8:12 AM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding Parking Wars, but I will warn you that all other "towing" shows I have seen are really fake and stupid. Municipal government for the win!
posted by soelo at 8:32 AM on September 18, 2014

Highlighting jobs isn't exactly the point of Undercover Boss, but it's an inescapable undercurrent to the show.
posted by gatorae at 8:38 AM on September 18, 2014

I don't know what you get on your version of Netflix; it will be different to mine. Regardless:

BBC 2's Young Vets.

24 Hours in A&E

TLC's Miami Ink/LA Ink; you may find the characters less tedious than I did.

Discovery's Fast N Loud is the most popular of a genre but I prefer Restoration Garage. My favourite is Chasing Classic Cars, which is more about the business of car restoration and the cars themselves and the business owner is a real human; the others are highly focused on dramatic personalities and countdown deadlines.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:46 AM on September 18, 2014

Circus! We've just been rewatching this, it's so good. Not on Netflix but available for free on PBS.

Dirty Jobs was on Netflix at one point, not sure if it still is.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:29 AM on September 18, 2014

posted by The corpse in the library at 10:07 AM on September 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

NY Med is pretty good.
posted by essexjan at 10:10 AM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know if these are on Netflix but my husband and I really enjoy Wicked Tuna and Filthy Riches, both on NatGeo.
posted by brilliantine at 10:15 AM on September 18, 2014

I'm not sure if this fits your criteria, but I agree with you about the two shows you mention that I've seen (I liked Dirty Jobs & found Storage Wars too fake) so just throwing it out there - Face/Off, the best named reality show, is an art show and a game show but it is also a show that gives you a look into the world of special effects production. It's really fun.
posted by mdn at 10:41 AM on September 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I liked Ace of Cakes a lot. The creativity and craftsmanship are incredible - and the challenges of delivery always put me on edge!
posted by radioamy at 10:45 AM on September 18, 2014

How about Pawn Stars? I particularly love that one. Also, Undercover Bosses is really awesome, as well as anything Gordon Ramsey related like Hotel Hell or Kitchen Nightmares.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 11:29 AM on September 18, 2014

The issue with Pawn Stars is FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE, and that kinda makes it suck, unfortunately.
posted by Cosine at 11:38 AM on September 18, 2014

As cheesy as it sounds, I really liked World's Toughest Fixes.
posted by mollymayhem at 11:41 AM on September 18, 2014

I really liked The Choir.
posted by JenMarie at 12:01 PM on September 18, 2014

2nd Wicked Tuna. It is on Netflix, and I got into it way more than I expected. You might like Moonshiners. I think some of it is fake or scripted, but it's still interesting. The first season is interspersed with archive footage of Popcorn Sutton, who was definitely the real deal. There is evidence they're not actually making moonshine on camera (which, yeah, who'd go on tv admitting to doing something illegal) but the techniques they are showing are real, and it's entertaining.
posted by catatethebird at 12:37 PM on September 18, 2014

Swamp Brothers may also interest you on Netflix. I've only watched a few episodes, but the setup is the older brother owns a huge reptile farm where he breeds alligators and large snakes to sell to zoos and such, and his brother moves back from NYC to learn the business.
posted by catatethebird at 12:41 PM on September 18, 2014

Oddities is on Netflix if you like eccentric antiques and the people who love them.

An Idiot Abroad was really interesting if you can tolerate a little bit of Ricky Gervais and the premise of the series, which is that he and his producer partner send their "idiot" friend to see the wonders of the world and prearrange to make him really uncomfortable (eating exotic foods, staying in weird hotels or youth hostels, bad directions...). The show works because the friend is a great character and is up for anything. The Gervais is superfluous and should not discourage the knee-jerk Gervais haters (like me). It is also on Netflix.
posted by danabanana at 2:36 PM on September 18, 2014

Seconding Ace of Cakes. It's not on any more, but worth seeing if you can find it.
posted by cnc at 4:55 PM on September 18, 2014

Oddities was ok, but SO FAKE.

I love love love Say Yes To The Dress. The original one (not Atlanta) is pretty good, and not obviously staged. The spin offs very in quality.
posted by bibliogrrl at 6:02 PM on September 18, 2014

You might enjoy The Profit.

My boyfriend and my dad are both big fans of Chasing Classic Cars. Another one in that genre is Wheeler Dealers. Not sure if it's on Netflix, but it is on YouTube.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:51 PM on September 18, 2014

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