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The Best Docusoaps and Dramatic Reality Documentary Series

Updated February 12, 2021 2.6k votes 45 voters161 items

List RulesVote 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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  • Toddlers & Tiaras1
    45
    7

    Toddlers & Tiaras

    Alana Thompson, Eden Wood

    Premiered2009

    Toddlers & Tiaras (TLC, 2009) is an American reality television series. The series follows the...  more

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  • True Life2
    44
    8

    True Life

    Serena Altschul

    Premiered1998

    True Life (MTV, 1998) is an American documentary television series. Each episode follows a...  more
  • The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills3
    44
    8

    The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

    Yolanda Hadid, Kim Richards

    Premiered2010

    The Real Housewives (Bravo, 2010) of Beverly Hills is an American reality television series...  more

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  • Breaking Amish4
    44
    10

    Breaking Amish

    Kate Stoltz, Rebecca Byler

    Premiered2012

    Breaking Amish: LA (TLC, 2012) is an American reality television show. It follows a new group...  more
  • Here Comes Honey Boo Boo5
    40
    8

    Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

    Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson, Jessica "Chubbs" Shannon

    Premiered2012

    Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (TLC, 2012) is an American reality television series. It features the...  more
  • Up Series6
    40
    8

    Up Series

    Bruce Balden, Jackie Bassett

    Premiered1964

    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. 

  • Amish in the City7
    38
    8

    Amish in the City

    Jonas P. Kurtz, Kevan Moezzi

    Premiered2004

    Amish in the City (UPN, 2004) is an American reality television series. The show follows Amish...  more
  • Teen Mom8
    38
    10

    Teen Mom

    Farrah Abraham, Maci Bookout

    Premiered2009

    Teen Mom (MTV, 2009) is an American reality television series and a spin-off of 16 and...  more

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  • Airport9
    38
    12

    Airport

    John Nettles, Liza Tarbuck

    Premiered1996

    Airport (BBC One, 1996) is a British documentary television series. The show is a...  more
  • Duck Dynasty10
    38
    14

    Duck Dynasty

    Phil Robertson, Si Robertson

    Premiered2012

    Duck Dynasty (A&E, 2012) is an American reality television series. It portrays the lives of...  more

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  • Airline11
    37
    14

    Airline

    Caharlie Higson, Tony Robinson

    Premiered1998

    Airline (ITV, 1998) is a British fly on the wall television program. It showcases the daily...  more
  • Bug Juice12
    27
    4

    Bug Juice

    Jon Adler, Rhett Bachner

    Premiered1998

    Bug Juice (Disney Channel, 1998) is an American reality series. The series focuses around 20...  more
  • Making the Band 213
    25
    2

    Making the Band 2

    Fonzworth Bentley

    Premiered2002

    Making the Band 2 (MTV, 2002) is an American reality show and sequel to MTV's Making the Band....  more
  • U8TV: The Lofters14
    25
    2

    U8TV: The Lofters

    Trevor Smith, Arisa Cox

    Premiered2001

    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.

  • Teen Mom 215
    37
    15

    Teen Mom 2

    Jenelle Evans, Chelsea Houska

    Premiered2011

    Teen Mom 2 (MTV, 2011) is an American reality television series. It follows the lives of four...  more

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  • Bad Girls Club16
    24
    2

    Bad Girls Club

    Tanisha Thomas, Neveen Ismael

    Premiered2006

    Bad Girls Club (Oxygen, 2006) is an American reality television series created by Jonathan...  more
  • Jersey Shore17
    24
    2

    Jersey Shore

    Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, Vinny Guadagnino

    Premiered2009

    Jersey Shore (MTV, 2009) is an American reality television series created by SallyAnn Salsano....  more

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  • The Real World18
    32
    12

    The Real World

    Jamie Chung, Steven Hill

    Premiered1992

    The Real World (MTV, 1992) is an American reality television program inspired by the 1973 PBS...  more

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  • Jamie's Kitchen19
    27
    7

    Jamie's Kitchen

    Mark Halliley, Jamie Oliver

    Premiered2002

    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. 

  • Sorority Life20
    32
    14

    Sorority Life

    Amanda Hale

    Premiered2002

    Sorority Life (MTV, 2002) is an American reality television show. The show consists of girls...  more
  • American Chopper21
    25
    7

    American Chopper

    Paul Teutul Sr., Paul Teutul Jr.

    Premiered2003

    American Chopper (Discovery, 2003) is a reality television series. The series centers on Paul...  more

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  • Fraternity Life22
    25
    7

    Fraternity Life

    Tim Kukulka, Earl Altheide

    Premiered2003

    Fraternity Life (MTV, 2003) is an American reality television show and a spin off of Sorority...  more
  • Road Rules23
    25
    7

    Road Rules

    Cara Zavaleta, Veronica Portillo

    Premiered1995

    Road Rules (MTV, 1995) is an American reality show created by Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan...  more
  • The Restaurant24
    21
    2

    The Restaurant

    Rocco DiSpirito, Natalie

    Premiered2003

    The Restaurant (NBC, 2003) is an American reality show. It follows celebrity chef Rocco...  more
  • The Salon25
    31
    14

    The Salon

    Brian Dowling

    Premiered2003

    The Salon (Channel 4, 2003) is a British reality TV show. Various members of the public are...  more