Reality Dating Franchises Ranked From Worst To First

For as far as television has come since it was invented, there still really isn't anything better than a good (or bad, let's be honest) reality dating show. From awkward encounters to steamy first kisses and everything in between, watching two (or five) people fall in love on your television screen is pretty prime entertainment. And obviously, over the years reality dating shows have come and gone, but some series that are no longer around manage to stay in your memory because they were just that good, or bad.


Seriously, even a terrible reality dating show is something to behold most of the time, because they're just that cringeworthy. There are dating competition franchises, matchmaking shows, and series where ridiculously good-looking people are just thrown on an island to see what happens. Additionally, there's no shortage of reality dating shows, though some are of course better than others. So, looking at reality dating franchises ranked from worst to first should make it abundantly clear that dating shows aren't going anywhere. On the contrary, they might just be the best thing to happen to television since the 24-hour news cycle.

Just the title of this reality dating series is shocking

There are some shows out there that really should have never been approved. Take, for instance, a reality dating show so twisted that the title was the least problematic thing it had going for it. The series, which was literally called Date My Mom, was only around for one season, but the premise was certainly enough to garner plenty of attention. As the title suggests, the show features young, single men who go out with the mothers of their potential mates. The mothers try to convince the men to date their respective daughters, and at the end, the men have to let the mothers down and meet their match in the daughter they've chosen. It's a real conundrum, but nevertheless the show was highly entertaining.


However, Date My Mom was also seriously weird, and just plain bad. It was obviously highly scripted, made on a shoestring budget, and let's not forget that it wasn't renewed for a second season (via the New Statesman). Date My Mom might have truly been the worst reality dating shows to ever exist

This Tila Tequila reality dating series was so weird

In the early and mid-2000s, MTV had quite a star on its hands with Tila Tequila; she was enigmatic, energetic, and quite eccentric. And in 2007, she launched her own reality dating show looking to find true love. The show was called A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila, and it was quite a wild ride. It featured 16 men and 16 women, all vying for the heart of Tequila.


While A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila might have been ahead of its time in terms of dating and sexuality, it was still pretty weird. The show ran for two seasons, and saw Tequila herself try to decide if she wanted to be with a man or a woman as she searched for love. 

While A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila was certainly more diverse than the other dating shows at the time, the show lacked depth, and was pretty much like watching teenagers on spring break. While it did have an interesting title and premise, in the end it just fell flat. 

You probably forgot about this reality dating series

One of the pitfalls of reality dating shows is that things tend to seem pretty superficial for the most part. Everyone looks like models, you can tell they're hyper-aware of being filmed, and it often just doesn't seem authentic. But one 2010 series sought to change all that by creating a reality dating show that dug deeper. With a title like Baggage, you know things are going to get heavy. And they did.


The series was hosted by Jerry Springer (yes, really), and the title kind of gives the premise away. Basically, contestants compete for love by showing up with their own emotional baggage in tow. Obviously, it was entertaining as people revealed their most embarrassing secrets on national television, but that's also what made Baggage kind of uncomfortable. You might assume that the show was more authentic because of the "baggage," but it felt less like a search for true love and more like cheap thrills for viewers.

This reality dating series got kinky

It's not every day that you watch a reality dating show featuring literal chains and guest appearances by the main man's mother, but on Chains of Love that was all just par for the course. With only one season, the show clearly wasn't a hit, but it was... something. Call it enigmatic or out of this world, but the show has four women chained to a man, competing for his love (and some cash) in some really strange ways. Aside from the fact that the women were literally chained to a man while he decided whether or not he liked them, Chains of Love was just plain bad.


Additionally, the series had some seriously kinky undertones, but it was also a little insulting towards women, and just not made well at all. As Entertainment Weekly reported, NBC actually didn't pick up the show, and for good reason: for as hypnotic as it was to watch, Chains of Love was just too weird.

This reality dating series got to the bottom of things

In the dating world, there's nothing scarier than letting the person you're dating or involved with see you naked for the first time. Seriously, it can be terrifying, no matter how confident you are, to be that vulnerable. Well, VH1's Dating Naked sought to put an end to that nerve-wracking, self-conscious feeling that showing someone your naked body gives you — literally having people date naked.


However, not everyone was a fan of the premise, in particular The Parents Television Council. "We aggressively called out every corporate sponsor of Dating Naked, telling them in no uncertain terms that by choosing to spend advertising dollars on that program, they were deliberately aligning their corporate values with the values of that show," council president Tim Winter told Entertainment Weekly. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, Dating Naked was canceled after three seasons. But for as highly controversial as the show was, it wasn't the worst out there! Dating Naked allowed people to put aside their insecurities and just get to know each other, and it was seriously fun to watch.

This reality dating show asked a simple question but made things complicated

Not every reality dating series has to have a weird premise or title to make it exceptionally interesting. For instance, Are You the One?, another MTV reality dating show creation, didn't have too many weird twists or complications, but it was still enticing in its own way.


Not only is Are You the One? seriously entertaining, but some of the couplings have been successful, though not all of course. In addition to being a much raunchier dating show than most, the series also used actual science in order to determine who belonged together. Well, sort of. Before the contestants land on the beach, an algorithm has determined who their perfect match is, and it's up to them to figure it out for themselves. 

Are You the One? is the perfect combination of reality television drama and genuine quests for love. It's not as addicting as you might expect, but it's certainly not terrible.

Now this reality dating show is an experiment

Sometimes a show comes along that's so shocking you just assume it won't last longer than one season, but somehow it manages to go way beyond that. And with Married at First Sight, Lifetime managed to do just that. Yes, the show is exactly what the title implies, but it's also managed to stick around for longer than anyone initially thought possible, with the 12th season having premiered in January 2021.


Specifically, the series follows "ten brave-but-loveless singles [who] meet their new spouse at the altar and enter a legally binding marriage at first sight," according to the show's website. And yes, it gets as complicated as you would assume. While some couples don't make it, there are a surprising amount of happy couples who met on the show who did; some have even stayed together for years, had kids, and seem seriously happy. Clearly, Married at First Sight is better than you would expect, though there are some rough patches.

This reality dating show features some actual happy couples

In the same way that marrying someone you've never met or seen before is strange, so is spending just 90 days with someone in person before you actually tie the knot. Add in the fact that one person is from another country, and you've got yourself a hit. And while 90 Day Fiancé is wildly popular, it isn't the best reality dating series, but it also isn't the worst. In short, the show is entertaining as heck and seriously thought-provoking, but still a little awkward to watch.


Not only is 90 Day Fiancé itself a seriously captivating show, but the entire 90 Day Fiancé franchise is also particularly compelling. There are so many spinoffs, each one as dramatic and addicting as the former. But as a show centered on bringing two people with very different upbringings and cultures together, there's no way that can't be enthralling to watch. 90 Day Fiancé isn't great at finding super compatible couples all the time, but that's kind of part of the fun.

This reality dating series is seriously entertaining

Part of the charm of reality dating shows is watching real-life people on television, who aren't that different from you, try to find love. But if you want the ultimate in escapism, then The Millionaire Matchmaker might be what you need; there aren't as many real-world struggles as there are questions of net worth and family money. Seriously, who doesn't love watching shows about the rich and fabulous and all their love problems?


The Millionaire Matchmaker is, obviously, about a millionaire matchmaker. On Bravo, the series follows matchmaker Patti Stanger as she works to find the perfect matches for her clients, all of whom are wealthy and powerful. 

While there's something oddly satisfying about watching rich people struggle to make love connections, The Millionaire Matchmaker is more than that. It's so fun to watch and become invested in that, although the show was cancelled, there have been calls to renew it. Whatever happens, this show was one for the books.

This reality dating show was a hot mess, literally

As soon as Netflix began its own original programming, viewers were dying to see the streaming company launch a reality show — and wow did they come through. One of their first ventures into the world of reality dating came with their series, Too Hot To Handle.


The show follows a group of seriously beautiful singles from around the world as they stay at a gorgeous beach resort and get to know each other on an intimate level — but not too intimate. The plot twist comes when the contestants learn that there's a $100,000 cash prize to be split amongst them equally at the end. However, every time a contestant breaks a rule by kissing, fooling around, or engaging in basically any kind of sexual activity, money is taken from the pot. It's like a social experiment and dating show all wrapped in one, and it was hard to look away. 

Too Hot To Handle definitely is worth the watch, if only for the total cringe-fest at seeing these horny singles try to stay away from each other.


The Bachelor is a reality dating classic

Oh, The Bachelor. Whether or not you're an avid fan of the show, you've probably heard of the ABC franchise that's spanned years and years of "the most dramatic season yet," and that's doled out more roses than you could ever imagine. The show features one man — or woman in the case of The Bachelorette – and two dozen or so contestants all fighting for their heart. There are group dates, competitions, and hometown visits so cringe-worthy that they deserve an entire episode dedicated to just meeting the parents.


Still, for all The Bachelor has going for it, the show has had some issues in the past. Well, the franchise has. In addition to The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, there are also shows like Bachelor Pad, Bachelor in Paradise, and Bachelor Winter Games, and all of them have been seriously entertaining. That said, the franchise has lacked diversity, and has hired some fairly problematic cast members (via The Ringer). Overall, The Bachelor is a classic, but not for everyone.

This reality dating series is super juicy

If you've ever been cheated on or cheated on anyone, then a show like Temptation Island might not exactly be for you. And that's kind of what makes the series not the best, but also not the worst. Infidelity is no joke, but on Temptation Island, it's pure entertainment. According to the show's website, the series is all about couples who "take a break from each other while living in separate houses with sexy singles to discover if there is another partner with whom they are more compatible."


Still, the show is seriously interesting, and after several seasons it seems to just get better and better. After all, what could be more entertaining than watching people in a relationship hook up with other people on a gorgeous island? Temptation Island isn't a perfect show, simply because of its premise, but some couples do leave stronger than ever, and darn if that isn't heartwarming and fun to watch.

This Netflix reality dating series is already so beloved

Because Netflix is an overachiever, it couldn't just settle for one reality dating series, so the streaming service created more. With Love Is Blind, though, Netflix found an instant hit and the series was a journey from start to finish. The show tried to answer the question: "is love really blind?" by having contestants speak to each other through a wall without seeing one another and trying to find a match. After they fell in love, blindly, they either got engaged or they didn't. And that was just the beginning.


Love is Blind went on and got even better, but it was a huge success from the get-go. Lauren and Cameron were certainly the fan-favorite couple from the series, and they seem extremely happy together. And while the show's premise is obviously intense, it's produced some genuine connections. More than that, there was drama, awkward conversations, and a reunion show so epic it should have won an Emmy. Really, Love Is Blind is a perfect reality dating series, and will hopefully be around for years and years to come.

There's a reason this reality dating show is so popular

You really can't go wrong when you throw a group of strangers together on an island and watch what happens, romantically speaking. And that's really all Love Island is, but it's so, so good.

Love Island is so beloved all over the world that a U.S. version premiered in 2019, much to the delight of fans everywhere. Additionally, Love Island is relatively simple, and that might be what makes it so great. The show just follows young, hot singles as they arrive at an island and instantly get paired up. The pairing doesn't have to last the entire time, but it can make a difference on how long you stay. There was even a cash prize at the end, but the show has also produced some happy couples, believe it or not. 


In a nutshell, Love Island is easy to watch, and total guilty pleasure viewing. There's a reason this show is so popular, and has jumped the pond as it were. So, if you haven't seen it yet, get on board because you're missing out.