10 Reality Show Icons Who Give Us Tag Lines, Fashion Inspo, And Something To Talk About

10 Reality Show Icons Who Give Us Tag Lines, Fashion Inspo, And Something To Talk About

Source: Getty / Getty

I am at the big age where I remember when reality shows, as we know and love them, first gained popularity. My earliest memories include MTV’s “Real World” and “Road Rules” and the spin-offs that came from them.

The content was nothing like what we see today.

The cinematography was low-budget at best. The participants’ wardrobes were every day – and usually from their closets. And, the storylines weren’t always exciting. But they were real, and many included characteristics audiences could identify with.

Source: Peter Forest / Getty

Besides storylines, the uniqueness and appeal of reality shows came from cast members. This is true whether we are speaking about a group of strangers selected to live in a house or chefs looking to be celebrity stars.

Because no matter what show was on, we rooted for everybody Black. We still do today.  As different shows premiere, we become glued to the television, looking to see ourselves reflected on screen and cheer on those who do.

Black women are reality TV’s secret sauce.

A rise in Black representation in casts and storylines led to the growth and popularity of reality TV. In 2021, The Washington Post said, “Reality TV would never have become the billion-dollar industry it is today without Black women.”

Put another way, we are the secret sauce.

Across genres, show types, and networks, Black women top lists of the most iconic stars. Nearly all of the world’s most influential shows have a Black woman as one of its biggest names- and this is not by accident.

marl Source: Rolling Stone / Getty

Our tag lines and outfits turn into fuel for fan quotes and memes. Our storylines drive both revenue and social media discourse. And our imagery, original content, and photos go viral within seconds.

While exposing community, society, and, at times, themselves, Black women have come to define (and redefine) reality TV. Black women are undoubtedly some of our most fashionable, culture-creating, and “love to hate” TV icons.

Source: Leon Bennett / Getty

2024 Gallery: Reality Show Icons

As someone who witnessed reality TV from its infancy to now, I remain in awe of the transformation. Whether reality TV is your guilty pleasure or not, the power of these shows cannot be denied. If you can make it on reality TV, you can truly make it anywhere.

HB has compiled a list of reality TV icons we love. From top models to executive producers to tag-line trendsetters, these Black women started “unscripted” but now write the stories of their own lives.

Scroll to see who made the cut.

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