Every Miami Reality TV Show, Ranked
Reality TV -- like leased cars, plastic surgery, and everything else that makes America great -- just seems to love South Florida. It may actually be written in reality show contracts that after one successful season, the next one must be shot in Miami. Reality TV crews are so ubiquitous, you aren’t really a Miamian until you’ve appeared in the background of a show. But after a while you start to lose track of them all and find it hard to separate the bad from the so-bad-they-made-me-cancel-my-cable. So to help organize this weekend’s Netflix queue, here’s the 21 best-known Miami-based reality show ranked from worst to first.
21. Making the Band: 4
There’s an old cliché about laws and sausages that also applies to pop music: those who like them shouldn't watch them being made. Never was this more obvious than this BTS look at the making of Danity Kane, where Diddy put together an all-girl R&B group, recorded some songs, and promptly never made another episode of the show.
20. Brooke Knows Best
All the vapid, pointless plots of Hogan Knows Best, without the bonus of the occasional Hulkster sighting.
19. Miami Social
What ultimately amounted to a seven-episode commercial for the Gansevoort not only made us hate every person on the show, but also hate hearing the word “Gansevoort.” And it didn’t work: the “iconic” Gansevoort has since become the One Hotel. And the cast has become... a bunch of people who used to be on a reality show.
18. Dance Moms: Miami
Since the world of overbearing mothers needed a locale a little sexier than Pittsburgh, Lifetime made this show, which focused on the Stars Dance Studio in... Westchester. To their credit, they avoided the TV cliché of setting a show in South Beach. To their discredit, they didn’t bother with studio directors with accents funny enough to make the show interesting.
17. Million Dollar Listing: Miami
Though this spinoff of the NYC “hit” follows around some of the more accomplished and well-respected of Miami’s 28 million real estate agents, a far more realistic concept would have been following strippers and guys who just finished a six-month stint in DCJ as they try and rent out condos in Doral.
16. Tough Love: Miami
We could have saved VH1 a lot of money and ten forgettable episodes by just giving these eight contestants a handy list of Miami deal-breakers. But, hey, if they think people would rather watch Steven Ward and his mom guide women through the unscrupulous world of Miami dating, who’re we to stop them?
15. Kourtney and Kim Take Miami
The show itself? Not terrible, just some girls running a store. The fact that it made the Kardashians famous and created an entire generation of Miami girls who think they should be mega-celebs for having a big ass? That makes it possibly the worst show in history.
14. Basketball Wives
Some of the ladies on this show weren’t even wives, and most of them are now technically ex-wives. Possibly because they were married to... BASKETBALL PLAYERS. Perhaps “Real Short-Sighted Delusional Wives of Miami” would have been a better title.
13. Hogan Knows Best
The show was pretty hard to watch, without much in the way of plots other than a surly spoiled son and a talentless daughter trying to make it in music. And while making scripted outcomes seem real was second nature for the Hulkster, we can’t say as much for the rest of the cast.
12. Top Chef: Season 3
Setting almost an entire season of a cooking show at the Fontainebleau seemed like overkill. But if you’re into food it was a pretty serviceable season of the Bravo! hit. And more-importantly it gave us Howie Kleinberg and Bulldog Barbecue.
11. 8th & Ocean
This show about ten Irene Marie models living in South Beach only lasted ten episodes and didn’t land the cast anything much more impressive than a role in Deck the Halls. And while it’s a sometimes-interesting look into the world of high-fashion, a show about the people who go to the beach on 8th street probably would have been crazier.
10. The Real Housewives of Miami
Somehow a show about women who are good at "marrying well" took seven seasons to make its way to South Florida. But ohhh, once it did. If making F-list celebrities out of Lea Black, Cristy Rice, and Marysol Patton wasn’t bad enough, the show also gave publicity to that fine, upstanding individual known as Thomas Kramer.
9. Jersey Shore
When the only club you were allowed in shut down shortly after filming, and the only business that welcomed you with open arms was Big Pink, you realize Miami never really wanted you.
8. Bad Girls Club
You’d think a show about complete train wrecks set in Miami wouldn’t require much more than setting up a camera on 5th and Ocean and walking away. But during not one, but TWO seasons, they actually managed to soft-script fistfights, booze-fueled rage, and high drama while filming in such glamorous locations as Ted’s Hideaway. So, points for keeping it real.
7. Sex Lives
Three models and three porn stars given a different “erotic task” to complete every day, complete with topless catfights? How does nobody remember this show? Oh right, because it aired on the Playboy channel, and you only saw it scrambled.
6. South Beach Tow
A “reality show” about South Beach tow truck drivers really should have to include towing legally parked cars and stealing your iPod. (Ir)Regardless, the show managed to do the impossible by getting us to root for Tremont Towing, and we kinda enjoyed seeing Bernice scream at belligerent New Yorkers.
5. Airport 24/7: Miami
This was an actually educational show about the inner workings of our beloved MIA, where we learned what ramp agents do, the high-stresses of security, and the laundry list of things that can go wrong and make your flight late. Exactly none of which you remember when you’re screaming at the gate agent because your flight to JFK is delayed 15 minutes.
4. Miami Ink
Aside from making “Where is Miami Ink?” the first question out of every tourist’s mouth for six years, this show about the 305 tattoo shop on Washington Ave was a pretty watchable look into the tattoo subculture. And made tattoo artists far more likeable than real estate agents.
3. Animal Cops: Miami
Not to be confused with Miami Animal Police (word reorganization will get you every time) this Animal Planet hit was a little like a real-life Ace Ventura, just replace the funny faces with guys getting treated for snake bites.
2. Miami Animal Police
Kudos to you, Miami-Dade Animal Services Department: of all the crazy, only-in-Miami law enforcement agencies in this city you’re the only one who managed to parlay it into becoming an independent entity. And, more importantly, getting a second TV show. For that Beyoncé-like split from the group to bigger stardom, you beat Animal Cops by a notch.
1. The Real World: Miami
Sure, that sprawling four bedroom house on Rivo Alto island wasn’t all that realistic. But six people sitting around a waterfront house all day and running through fifty grand while they talk about starting a fashion design business and doing a bunch of drugs? It doesn’t get any more “real Miami” than that.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Looking for The First 48? We have opted to omit it, because even though it may seem like every episode is shot here, it's not technically a Miami-based show.
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Matt Meltzer once field produced a reality show for French network TF-6 shot in Miami. This is why he's now a staff writer for Thrillist. Follow him @mmeltrez.