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The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series 

Ranker TV
Updated July 23, 2020 1.8k votes 39 voters 144 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite docusoaps.

The best docusoaps mix reality television and documentary to offer an unscripted look into a world.  While some docusoaps follow the exploits of a unique family, other docusoaps examine the difficulties of specific professions and subcultures. Many different kinds of reality series offer documentary-style drama, letting audiences behind the scenes and letting the plot occur more naturally, offering a more realistic sense of story.

From MTV's True Life, which follows people involved in different subjects each episode, to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, which has many spin-offs and long, ongoing stories - docusoaps offer the audience a stronger feeling of authenticity. That's not to say documentary reality series aren't edited to up the tension or tighten a story, just that the plot arcs in reality documentary series such as Toddlers & Tiaras or Duck Dynasty feel as much like a docuseries as they do a reality show.

Vote up the best docusoaps and documentary reality series and vote down the shows that don't bring the drama!

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1
True Life is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring Serena Altschul (MTV)

Premiered: 1998

True Life (MTV, 1998) is an American documentary television series. Each episode follows a particular topic such as drug use, money issues, and sexuality, and the show is created by following a ...more
2
Toddlers & Tiaras is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series

Premiered: 2009

Toddlers & Tiaras (TLC, 2009) is an American reality television series. The series follows the families of contestants in child beauty pageants.

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3
Breaking Amish is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring Abe, Jeremiah & Rebecca (TLC)

Premiered: 2012

Breaking Amish: LA (TLC, 2012) is an American reality television show. It follows a new group of Amish and Mennonite young adults as they trade in their old-world traditions for the modern ...more
4
The Real Housewives of B... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring Yolanda Hadid, Kim Richards & Camille Grammer (Bravo)

Premiered: 2010

The Real Housewives (Bravo, 2010) of Beverly Hills is an American reality television series and the sixth installment of The Real Housewives franchise. It focuses on the personal and ...more

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5
Up Series is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Up Series

Premiered: 1964

Up (ITV 1963) is a documentary film series. It follows the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, with one episode being made every seven years—thus spanning 56 years. 

6
Amish in the City is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Amish in the City

Premiered: 2004

Amish in the City (UPN, 2004) is an American reality television series. The show follows Amish teenagers as they explore their freedom from the Amish religious code, which is a common element of ...more
7
Teen Mom is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series

Premiered: 2009

Teen Mom (MTV, 2009) is an American reality television series and a spin-off of 16 and Pregnant. The series follows the lives of Farrah Abraham, Maci Bookout, Catelynn Lowell, and Amber ...more
8
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series

Premiered: 2012

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (TLC, 2012) is an American reality television series. It features the family of child beauty pageant contestant Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson.
9
Duck Dynasty is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring Willie Robertson, Jase Robertson & Si Robertson (A&E)

Premiered: 2012

Duck Dynasty (A&E, 2012) is an American reality television series. It portrays the lives of the Robertson family, who became wealthy from their family-operated business, Duck Commander.

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10
Airport is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring John Nettles and Liza Tarbuck (British Broadcasting Corporation)

Premiered: 1996

Airport (BBC One, 1996) is a British documentary television series. The show is a fly-on-the-wall series following a handful of passengers and staff based at London Heathrow Airport (the world's ...more
11
Teen Mom 2 is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring Jenelle Evans, Chelsea Houska & Kailyn Lowry (MTV)

Premiered: 2011

Teen Mom 2 (MTV, 2011) is an American reality television series. It follows the lives of four girls from the second season of 16 and Pregnant as they navigate their first years of motherhood.

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12
Airline is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring Caharlie Higson, Tony Robinson & Veronika Hyks (ITV)

Premiered: 1998

Airline (ITV, 1998) is a British fly on the wall television program. It showcases the daily happenings of passengers, ground workers and on-board staff of Britannia and later EasyJet.
13
Bug Juice is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring Jon Adler, Rhett Bachner & Stephanie Etkin (Disney Channel)

Premiered: 1998

Bug Juice (Disney Channel, 1998) is an American reality series. The series focuses around 20 kids and their experiences at summer camp as they work hard to excel in their activities and become ...more
14
The Real World is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring Jamie Chung, Steven Hill & Landon Lueck (MTV)

Premiered: 1992

The Real World (MTV, 1992) is an American reality television program inspired by the 1973 PBS documentary series An American Family. Seven to eight young adults are picked to temporarily live in ...more

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15
Making the Band 2 is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring Fonzworth Bentley (MTV)

Premiered: 2002

Making the Band 2 (MTV, 2002) is an American reality show and sequel to MTV's Making the Band. It centers around the musical group Da Band and is filmed in various spaces around Manhattan all ...more
16
U8TV: The Lofters is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
U8TV: The Lofters

Premiered: 2001

U8TV: The Lofters (U8TV.com, 2001) is a Canadian reality web series. The show followed the lives of eight Canadians in their 20s who lived together in a Toronto loft for a one-year period, while at the same time producing and hosting their own television programs for Life Network or other cable TV networks, and for the website U8TV.com.

17
Sorority Life is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Sorority Life Starring Amanda Hale (MTV)

Premiered: 2002

Sorority Life (MTV, 2002) is an American reality television show. The show consists of girls pledging to become part of a sorority.
18
Bad Girls Club is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series

Premiered: 2006

Bad Girls Club (Oxygen, 2006) is an American reality television series created by Jonathan Murray. The show focuses on the altercations and physical confrontations of seven highly aggressive, ...more
19
Jersey Shore is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Vinny Guadagnino & Jenni 'Jwoww' Farley (MTV)

Premiered: 2009

Jersey Shore (MTV, 2009) is an American reality television series created by SallyAnn Salsano. EIght housemates live together at a vacation home and experience friendships, romance, and drama.

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20
Jamie's Kitchen is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Jamie's Kitchen

Premiered: 2002

Jamie's Kitchen (Channel 4, 2002) is a British documentary TV series. It follows chef Jamie Oliver as he attempts to train a group of 15 disadvantaged youth, who will—if they complete the course—be offered jobs at Oliver's new restaurant Fifteen. 

21
The Salon is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
The Salon

Premiered: 2003

The Salon (Channel 4, 2003) is a British reality TV show. Various members of the public are invited daily to have treatments in a studio built beauty salon situated in Balham, south-west
22
American Chopper is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring Paul Teutul Sr., Paul Teutul Jr. & Michael Teutul (TLC)

Premiered: 2003

American Chopper (Discovery, 2003) is a reality television series. The series centers on Paul Teutul, Sr., and his son Paul Teutul, Jr., who manufacture custom chopper-style motorcycles.

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23
Fraternity Life is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Fraternity Life

Premiered: 2003

Fraternity Life (MTV, 2003) is an American reality television show and a spin off of Sorority Life . The show consists of college boys pledging to become part of a fraternity.
24
Road Rules is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Starring Cara Zavaleta, Veronica Portillo & Kit Hoover (MTV)

Premiered: 1995

Road Rules (MTV, 1995) is an American reality show created by Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray and based off of The Real World. The series followed six strangers, between the ages of 18 and ...more
25
Cheer Perfection is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series
Cheer Perfection

Premiered: 2012

Cheer Perfection (TLC, 2012) is a reality sports television show. It follows a group of young cheerleaders at Cheer Time Revolution, located in Sherwood, Arkansas, as they endure the world of competitive cheerleading.