Food & Drink

‘Survivor’ changed reality TV

Fifteen years ago, a show called “Survivor” premiered. And it changed the face of television.

Airing this strange new competition series, called a “reality show,” was considered such a risk that CBS scheduled it to air in the summer, formerly the dead zone of the television season. Then something amazing happened: Everyone started watching. During the finale, a staggering 50 million people tuned in to see Richard Hatch win $1 million after living for weeks on an island with strangers.

The extreme success of “Survivor” officially ushered in the era of reality television, and nothing has ever really been the same. Sure, “The Real World” was chugging steadily along on MTV since the ‘90s; but that was a cable show with a niche audience. When “Survivor” was a monster hit, it opened the floodgates. Everyone, particularly broadcast networks, wanted a piece of the success and massive fortune they sensed was around the corner.

Now, hundreds of reality shows are produced every year for every channel. Exactly 15 years later, here’s a look at which genres made the biggest impact.

▪  Talent Competition. The groundbreakers: “American Idol,” “Project Runway,” “America’s Next Top Model”; The flops: “Celebrity Boxing,” “Pussycat Dolls Present,” “Rising Star”.

▪  Competing for Prizes. The groundbreakers: “Survivor,” “Big Brother,” “The Amazing Race”; The flops: “I Want to Be a Hilton,” “America’s Most Smartest Model,” “Kid Nation”.

▪  Dating/Love. The groundbreakers: “The Bachelor,” “Temptation Island,” “Millionaire Matchmaker”; The flops: “Mr. Personality,” “More to Love,” “A Shot of Love With Tila Tequila”.

▪ Family. The groundbreakers: “The Osbournes,” “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” “Duck Dynasty”; The flops: “Britney & Kevin: Chaotic,” “Living Lohan,” “The Hasselhoffs”.

▪  Autobiographical. The groundbreakers: “The Anna Nicole Show,” “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” “Being Bobby Brown”; The flops: “Hey Paula,” “Kirstie Alley’s Big Life,” “Shannen Says”.

▪  Ridiculous People. The groundbreakers: “The Simple Life,” “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” “Laguna Beach,” “Jersey Shore”; The flops: “NYC Prep,” “Princesses: Long Island,” “Nashville”.

▪  Life Improvement. The groundbreakers: “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” “The Biggest Loser”; The flops: “Charm School,” “Shedding for the Wedding,” “Tool Academy”.

▪ Random Businesses/Careers. The groundbreakers: “Deadliest Catch,” “Say Yes to the Dress,” “Pawn Stars”; The flops: “Kell on Earth,” “Chicagolicious,” “My Big Friggin' Wedding”.

▪ Hidden Camera/Trickery.

The groundbreakers: “Joe Millionaire,” “Punk’d,” “Undercover Boss”; The flops: “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance,” “The Joe Schmo Show,” “Howie Do It”.

▪ Wives

The groundbreakers: “Trading Spouses,” “Wife Swap”; The flops: “Ex Wives Club”.