20 of the best reality shows on Hulu for when you need an escape

From "RuPaul's Drag Race," "The Kardashians," "Love Island," and beyond.
By Jenni Miller  on 
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A collage of a woman, a drag queen, a person in a bee costume, and a chef.
Credit: Composite: Mashable / Images: Hulu / Getty Images / Fox / Shutterstock

Reality TV has come a long way since MTV plopped a bunch of twentysomethings in an artsy loft, trained cameras on them, and left them to their own devices for a few months way back in 1992. Now our reality TV choices are seemingly limitless — from ruthless restaurateurs to fabulous, multitalented drag fantasies; from rich and ruthless housewives to hardcore survivalists living by their wits.

If any of that sounds like fun, you’re in good company! Hulu has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to reality TV. We’ve sifted through the digital dross to find you the best.

1. Bachelor Nation

Michelle Young and a suitor on "The Bachelorette"
Is he here for the right reasons? Credit: ABC

The Bachelor began way back in 2002 with a simple premise: Take one dude (Alex Michel) and a bevy of single ladies competing for his attentions — as signified by red roses doled out at the end of almost every episode — with the aforementioned dude eliminating women until he was left with the one he wanted to marry. Along the way, the ladies participated in challenging adventures, group dates, and sometimes embarrassing activities — all in the name of love (and social media infamy). The original show was spun off into The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise, among others, along with an entire media ecosystem devoted to scrutinizing Who’s Here for the Right Reasons. There's plenty of behind-the-scenes drama, too. — Jenni Miller, Contributing Writer

How to watch: The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise are all available to stream on Hulu.

2. Catfish

Back in 2010, the Sundance documentary Catfish took viewers by storm as they watched a lovelorn suitor named Nev Schulman fall for a young woman he meets on Facebook only to have it all unravel when he discovers the truth about his virtual girlfriend. Even now, the movie is a stunner that leaves audiences wondering who was catfishing whom. Schulman took his newfound notoriety and put it to work under the auspices of helping others tricked by Internet paramours in this hypnotizing TV show. Watch for shocking truths about the people we think we know best, online or off. — J.M.

How to watch: Catfish is available to stream on Hulu.

3. Love Island (UK)

The Love Island franchise originated in the UK and has spawned little amorous archipelagoes in Denmark, France, Finland, and Australia, among other countries, where bikini-clad singletons mix and mingle in sexy climes. Unlike The Bachelor franchise, the emphasis is on “coupling up” and enjoying “a good craic,” hopefully with someone who is “fit” and tan with good teeth who is ideally “a bit of me” rather than rushing to the altar, which makes for a more laidback and somewhat less frenzied vibe. Plus, whoever the audience chooses as the best couple brings home a bushel of cold, hard cash on top of those sweet vacation tans. — J.M.

How to watch: Love Island (UK) is available to stream on Hulu.

4. Kitchen Nightmares

Gordon Ramsay in "Kitchen Nightmares"
Credit: Granada / Optomen TV / A Smith Co. / Kobal / Shutterstock

Do you want to find out what all of those Gordon Ramsay memes are about? Of course you do! On Kitchen Nightmares, the famous chef uses his culinary expertise to help restaurateurs with struggling businesses — but sometimes these places are beyond help. Whether it's the staff's cooking techniques (or lack thereof), dated or downright dirty décor, interpersonal problems, financial mismanagement, or something else altogether going wrong at these restaurants, we can trust Ramsay's vivid vocabulary to never fail us. — J.M.

If you enjoy his whole deal, there's also Hotel Hell, MasterChef, and MasterChef Junior to keep you occupied!

How to watch: Kitchen Nightmares is available to stream on Hulu.

5. Hot Ones

It's become inordinately difficult to get a fresh angle on the celebrity interview, but Sean Evans cracked the code with Hot Ones. To be fair, there aren't that many famous folks who are game to try eating increasingly spicy chicken wings on camera while being interviewed… but the ones who are give good interview indeed. Hulu has the first four seasons of this insanely popular YouTube show, which includes everyone from Billie Eilish and the Jackass guys to none other than Guy Fieri getting into it. — J.M.

How to watch: Hot Ones is available to stream on Hulu.

6. Jersey Shore

Jersey Shore is a pop culture phenomenon, and if you haven't acquainted yourself with this piece of recent history, it's time to add it to your list. MTV's hit show follows the ins and outs of eight friends vacationing in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Things get crazy. Insults are thrown. Fights erupt. And the result is reality TV at its absolute finest, from the people that arguably made it what it is. There are one too many quotable lines from Jersey Shore, so buckle up for the wildest, tequila-infused ride imaginable. It's trash TV, and it's incredible. — Yasmeen Hamadeh, Freelance Contributor

How to watch: Jersey Shore is available to stream on Hulu.

7. Drag Me to Dinner 

A drag queen and two men sit at a carnival-themed dinner table.
Credit: Jeong Park/Hulu

Drag AND dinner parties? Sign us up! Hosted by the one and only Murray Hill (Somebody Somewhere), Drag Me to Dinner pits two teams of drag queens against each other to throw the perfect drag dinner party. The criteria? All teams must stick to the theme, deliver a delicious feast, and do it all in drag, with top-notch entertainment to match. If that hasn't already sold you, David Burtka, Neil Patrick Harris, Haneefah Wood, and the incomparable Bianca Del Rio all serve as judges, and things get oh, so wonderfully wacky and chaotically camp pretty quickly. — Y.H.

How to watch: Drag Me to Dinner is now streaming on Hulu. 

8. America's Next Top Model 

Yes, it's outdated. Yes, there's a lot wrong with it. Yes, Tyra Banks put these girls to hell and back. But America's Next Top Model unfortunately remains one of the most entertaining reality shows ever, as well a well-needed lesson in pop culture — if only for single-handedly launching a thousand memes. In the show, 14 aspiring models undergo a slew challenges to become America's next top model and win a cash prize. The challenges are so ridiculous, like that forsaken runway with swinging pendulums, that you might as well be watching the show out of horror or bemusement. And in my book, that's great reality TV. — Y.H. 

How to watch: America's Next Top Model is now streaming on Hulu. 

9. Project Runway 

For all the fashion aficionados, this one's for you. Project Runway, which is now in its 20th season, follows a group of aspiring designers and stylists competing against each other to win a coveted cash prize (plus other perks) to help them launch their own line. Through a series of unique challenges, contestants are slowly eliminated by a panel of judges that includes some of the industry's top designers. Be inspired by the art. Be inspired by the style. But be particularly inspired by all the backstabbing. — Y.H. 

How to watch: Project Runway is now streaming on Hulu. 

10. The Masked Singer

Beetle and Kermit the Frog in the Muppets Night episode of "The Masked Singer"
Yes, there's a Muppets Night episode. Credit: Fox

This wildly popular singing competition show, which is based on the South Korean show King of Mask Singer, features a dizzying array of celebrities dressed up in costumes and belting out hits while judges Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger, and Robin Thicke vote on the best performers and try to suss out which random celeb is dressed up as, like, a glittery beach ball or something. (We really cannot stress how surreal this show is.) Once the judges and audience members vote, the least-popular singer must reveal their identity. This goes on until the last episode, where the last celeb standing is presented with The Golden Mask. While the judges and audience members are given clues about who’s behind the mask, the behind-the-scenes security measures make the Oscars look low-key. — J.M.

How to watch: The Masked Singer is available to stream on Hulu.

11. MasterChef Junior 

These little kiddos would put The Bear's entire kitchen to shame. In MasterChef Junior, a group of young chefs, aged eight to thirteen, compete in a series of challenges where their dishes are judged by none other than Gordon Ramsay himself. But worry not! In this show, Ramsay is actually nice! And he's so good with the kids! Part of what makes MasterChef Junior particularly entertaining is seeing a different side to the irascible chef, which is delightfully paired with all the sheer talent exuding from its young contestants. While these kids are out here making an amuse-bouche, we're struggling with cereal.  — Y.H. 

How to watch: MasterChef Junior is now streaming on Hulu. 

12. Survivor

To some extent, reality TV is all about watching other people do things we’d rather not and then criticizing how they conduct themselves, and Survivor is the greatest example of that impulse. This extraordinarily popular long-running series drops competitors off in a remote location somewhere in the world where they’re left to team up and scramble for food, shelter, and other everyday necessities, as well as compete in challenges that may require anything from eating bugs to holding onto a buoy for almost 12 hours. The winner gets one million dollars, eternal bragging rights, and countless bug bites and tummy aches. There are 34 seasons of Survivor currently available on Hulu! — J.M.

How to watch: Survivor is available to stream on Hulu.

13. RuPaul’s Drag Race

RuPaul and Debbie Reynolds being legends
RuPaul and Debbie Reynolds being legends Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

It’s hard to remember a world before RuPaul brought drag into America’s living room with this effervescent show that melds creative competitions with performances and behind-the-scenes revelations, in addition to a fabulous stable of judges and guest stars. It made RuPaul a media mogul and turned its winning drag queens into household names, along with inspiring international spin-offs and Drag Race All-Stars. While there has been some controversy around Drag Race and its creator over the years, not to mention some of its contestants, it’s impossible to deny its imprint on the cultural landscape. — J.M.

How to watch: RuPaul’s Drag Race is available to stream on Hulu.

14. Alone

This is a reality show from the History channel, which gives it a whiff of authenticity. (Plus, it seems to be less salacious than, say, Naked or Afraid, which invites titillation just by the title. Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Competitors chronicle their day-to-day life as they try to survive by themselves in extreme environments like Patagonia, Mongolia, and the Arctic, with a minimum of supplies or interference from the outside world. Naturally, they can tap out at any time, but the winner could pocket anywhere from $500k to a cool one million smackeroos in the seventh season. In addition to cash and considerable bragging rights, the winner of the eighth season also came home with a cool hat he made himself from a deer he killed — after he ate its heart, of course. — J.M.

How to watch: Alone is available to stream on Hulu.

15. Forged in Fire

This delightfully baroque competition series pits amateur bladesmiths with oft-extraordinary facial hair and tattoos against one another as they forge a variety of knives, swords, and other cutting implements, based on the various stipulations of each challenge. Not only is this a wildly dangerous hobby that requires lots of equipment and supplies, it also requires a ton of historical knowledge, artistry, and general steeliness of spirit. The most satisfying part of the show is when the judges test the implements against a variety of objects (including animal carcasses, which are then typically donated). When Doug Marcaida says, “It will cut!” it’s better than a handshake from Paul Hollywood. — J.M.

How to watch: Forged in Fire is available to stream on Hulu.

16. The Kardashians

A woman wearing a crown poses.
Credit: Courtesy of Hulu

Is The Kardashians as scandalous as Keeping Up With the Kardashians? Not really. But does the show still deliver unforgettable Kardashian moments we all hate to admit we love? Yes, it does. Whether you've missed watching Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe shake their salad bowls or Kris Jenner rallying the girls for a family meeting to discuss a PR crisis, The Kardashians is an elevated look into America's royal family at their absolute best — and worst. Come for all the drama, and stay for the iconic nasal fry. — Y.H.

How to watch: The Kardashians is available to stream on Hulu.

17. Shark Tank

In Shark Tank, entrepreneurs get to pitch their budding small businesses to a bunch of high-powered tycoons like Mark Cuban, who can then choose to invest or negotiate further, as the case may be. There's nothing like watching a deal being hashed out — the free samples, the wheedling, the peacocking and snark — and then, finally, the decision that renders someone a millionaire or just some guy with a failed dream. It's ruthless. It's brutal. It's callous capitalism. If the venture capitalism of it all seems off-putting, worry not, because Shark Tank is equal parts hilarious drama and financial fluff — a 10/10 binge experience in every way. — Y.H.

How to watch: Shark Tank is available to stream on Hulu.

18. Secrets & Sisterhood: The Sozahdahs 

A young woman listens intently while sitting on a couch.
Credit: Courtesy of Hulu

If you miss the old-school Kardashian days, Secrets & Sisterhood: The Sozahdahs is sure to fill up that family drama-shaped void in your life. The reality show follows 10 Muslim American sisters (Yes, there's 10 of them!), as they navigate their love lives and career amidst cultural expectations and conflicting identities. While there are some heartfelt moments in Secrets & Sisterhood, the show finds its true brilliance in how MESSY these girls can get. Expect explosive fights in each episode, drunk shenanigans, and so, so many secrets. Have your popcorn ready for this one. — Y.H. 

How to watch: Secrets & Sisterhood: The Sozahdahs is now streaming on Hulu. 

19. Hoarders

Like its name suggests, A&E's Hoarders looks into the lives of people who are compulsive hoarders and have, over the years, accumulated a house full of stuff. Each episode follows an intervention process for at least two participants, and things get intense. This award-winning show walks a fine line between exploitation and entertainment, as hoarding is classified in the DSM as a disorder that's part of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. Problematic as it may be, the show's portrayal of extreme expressions of human behavior has proven irresistible to viewers, even after being cancelled and renewed in various iterations. — Y.H.

How to watch: Hoarders is available to stream on Hulu.

20. Married at First Sight

You get what you signed up for with Married at First Sight, which reverses the standard dating order and has couples tying up the knot first, leaving the whole getting-to-know-you bit second. Watch as two complete strangers get paired up and then finally meet each other — on their wedding day. With the most awkward honeymoons ever under its belt, Married at First Sight is weirdly wild and is an easy binge for any evening. — Y.H.

How to watch: Married at First Sight is available to stream on Hulu.

UPDATE: Aug. 17, 2023, 1:00 p.m. EDT This post has been updated to reflect current streaming options.

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Jenni Miller

Jenni Miller is an NYC-based writer and editor who has managed to make a career out of being morbidly curious about people, the media we consume, and why. Along the way, she has traversed the tundra of Sundance, worked countless red carpets, and interviewed everyone from The Lizardman to Jackson Galaxy. The original Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Happy-Go-Lucky are her favorite movies right this second.

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