I’m going to be honest: I was worried that reality television wouldn’t escape the last few years unscathed. Survivor’s all-winners season was painful to watch, Real Housewives sacrificed entertainment for drama, and new series incorporated so many twists that most tied themselves into knots. Was I really going to be doomed to watch Too Hot to Handle forever?
2022, though, has been a light in the darkness. And okay, sure, we owe a lot of that to competitions that have learned to embrace their better aspects. But I can’t overlook the impact those few have had on the greater landscape. (Case in point: Taylor Hale’s Big Brother victory singlehandedly restored my faith in the franchise—and made up for all the unrelated white nonsense some other shows have subjected us to.) We’re getting drama. We’re getting friendships. We’re getting people we can root for.
We’re getting reality TV that’s fun again.
So, if you’re looking for something to watch as the year comes to an end but don’t have the mental energy to commit to a mystery, scandal, or foreign world, fear not. There are certainly some alternatives worth your time. Please enjoy my very favorite reality TV of 2022, for your binging pleasure.
Big Brother 24 (CBS)
I’m sorry I spoiled it above, but Big Brother 24 is a unique case in that it’s worth watching because of its winner. The first few weeks of footage are hard to get through for how uncomfortable they are. Taylor Hale, a stylist and former Miss Michigan, suffers microaggressions and bullying at the hands of the other houseguests. She’s ostracized, targeted, and mocked. But Hale never rolls over; soon, an alliance of outcasts forms around her. I don’t want to say too much about the 12-week journey that takes her from the edge of eviction to finale night, so I won’t. Just know that Hale is worth tuning in for and rooting for along her journey. (As is Joseph Abdin. See above.)