The United Kingdom: land of monarchs, afternoon tea, and refined manners. But it's also the home of English reality television. American programming has a reputation for over-the-top antics, brash characters, and drama, but reality TV from England proves that entertainment is even crazier across the pond.
The best British reality TV shows often have an element of competition. Come Dine With Me, for instance, pits home cooks against each other for the prize of £1000 and nonstop bragging rights. Take Me Out adds romance into the equation, as one hapless suitor faces off against 30 would-be partners. Ex on the Beach isn't a competition, unless you count the race to be the most manipulative ex lover. But not all of these series are about the backstabbing and fights - the Great British Bake Off has won global adoration for its delectable baked goods and sweet, supportive tone.
When it comes to British versus American TV, the Brits take the prize for the wildest reality shows of all. Once you start watching these series, you'll understand why that "stiff upper lip" is all an act.
Made In Chelsea documents the glamorous lives of London's elite. Some of the city's fanciest and best-looking young people swan around the borough of Chelsea in this obviously scripted reality show, where the only plot device seems to be that one of them has been cheating on their partner. The stand-out subject is Mark-Francis Vandelli, a decedent of Russian royalty, who is so incredibly privileged he doesn't know what a sleeping bag is.
Despite its repetition, this show has lasted thirteen seasons. And that's not including its location-based spin offs - occasionally, they'll take the cast to New York, Los Angeles, or the South of France to shake things up.
Number of Seasons: 4see more on Made in Chelsea
Essex is a town stereotyped as full of blindingly whitened teeth, borderline orange spray tans, and harshly accented individuals. The Essex-set reality show The Only Way Is Essex follows its cast members as they attend gyms, get in fights, hook up, and get in more fights.
Essex is frequently the butt of many a joke in the U.K., but TOWIE and its cast seem to be in on it.
Actors: Frankie Essex
Premiered: 2010see more on The Only Way Is Essex
Sex Box involves exactly what you think it would involve. A couple comes on the show with the goal of improving their sex life. Before they go in the box, the audience gives them suggestions for love making. Following that quick Q&A, the couple walks into the box and presumably does the deed before reemerging and describing what they did.
Strangers occasionally have sessions in the Sex Box as well.
Actors: Tracey Cox, Mariella Frostrup, Phillip Hodson, Dan Savage
Naked Attraction has a unique premise, to say the least. It's a dating show, in which the contestant - a fully clothed man or woman - must pick a would-be-paramour by judging their naked bodies as they are revealed to them from the feet up. To make it even weirder, the naked daters are placed in color-tinted, nearly translucent tubes.
Once the contestant sees a body part that doesn't do it for them, the person is dismissed. The contestant also typically describes what it was about the most recently-revealed body part that turned them off.