Every TV fan worth their salt knows about The Bachelor, Dancing With the Stars and Jersey Shore.
But what about the scores of obscure (but entertaining) reality shows that don't get nearly the attention, or nearly the ratings? They deserve some love, too. That's why we've compiled a list of some random reality shows you should be watching -- for those nights when you're in the mood for something different.
While some are in repeat mode, most are available on demand, which makes for great before-bed, wind-down time viewing. Not to mention it will come in handy as the busy holiday season postpones new episodes of some beloved prime times shows.
1. Long Island Medium
Long Island Medium features Teresa Caputo, a bleach blonde, orange-skinned medium, who spends the majority of her time telling people when their dead relatives are trying to contact them -- even when she's out on a date with hubby or spending rare quality time with her teen daughter. But it's Caputo's rapid-fire, less than tactful delivery that's the star of this show. She tells people their dead mother is standing there in the same fashion she'd use ordering a hoagie or calling her dog inside. She is startling and abrupt, but somehow still manages to win people over. LIM just wrapped up its first season on Sunday on TLC, and was just renewed for another round.
2. Hillbilly Handfishin'
This isn't the first time we've mentioned Hillbilly Handfishin' (10 p.m. Sunday, Animal Planet) in a story and it probably won't be the last. It's hard to believe that watching people catch fish with their hands can hold your attention for half an hour, but the show's formula that makes it work. Handfishin' always mixes a cornucopia of different personalities with a few regular self-proclaimed hillbilly rednecks, then send them out into a muddy riverbed to fish. Inevitably, people scream, sometimes cry, and usually, someone winds up with a bloody appendage, courtesy of a 60 pound catfish's mouth. Irresistible.
3. Dance Moms
We feel sorry for the kids on Lifetime's Dance Moms, because their mothers are some of the most ridiculous, bossy, immature people we've seen on TV -- and that's saying A LOT. Granted, the moms behave like maniacs because they think they're doing right by their daughters, who are all on a competitive dance team together. But in so doing, they spend the majority of the time screaming at the dance instructor or going off on each other and are so cruel, they have no problem ripping the costume off another girl's body moments before she's due to dance. They are stage moms on steroids, and you will thank the heavens above for your own mother after seeing one episode.
4. Billy The Exterminator
With new episodes set to air in 2012 on A&E, now is a great time to get to know Billy the Exterminator via repeats. The critters he is called to remove from various properties are often nauseating (gigantic roaches) or terrifying (hungry crocodiles), so the extermination process is always entertaining. But you haven't lived until you've seen the scrawny, greasy-haired, rockabilly star of the show lure possums out of a house using a plate of greasy nachos, or, better yet, scream like a little girl when he's attacked by (seemingly innocent) squirrels in someone's living room.
5. I Didn't Know I was Pregnant
If you thought the people on 16 & Pregnant were clueless, you should take a gander at the ladies featured on the TLC series, I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. The show features women who had NO IDEA they were preggers until they went into labor and gave birth in totally random places, including an amusement park restroom; on a boat while wearing (one half of) a bikini; or while totally unconscious after a car accident. I've taken up watching this again and I had forgotten how totally insane it is. I mean, one lady was pregnant with TWINS and had no idea. REALLY?|
6. Parking Wars
Nobody likes getting parking tickets. While normal people might drop an expletive or two upon discovering an unwelcome pink envelope resting under the windshield wiper, the folks highlighted on Parking Wars (A&E) take being upset to a whole new level. It would never occur to most people to cause a public scene over a parking ticket, but this series is set in the cities of Philadelphia and Detroit -- two cities filled with people who don't play.So when car owners are on the receiving end of a boot, or worse yet, get towed, get ready for some incredible, hilarious tantrums that don't get resolved until the victim forks over hundreds (or thousands) of dollars.
7. Storage Wars
The cast of characters that compose Storage Wars (10 p.m. Tuesdays on A&E) is one of the best on reality TV. In each episode, four dudes and a woman all meet up to bid on auctions for storage units that people have abandoned, and each has a distinct personality. Because they aren't allowed to inspect what's inside each unit before bidding, the bulk of the show follows them as they unearth their often random treasures (or lack thereof), which, in itself, is intriguing. But when coupled with the characters' blunt commentary and competition over who made the biggest score, it's easy to end up watching four or five episodes of Storage Wars in a row.
8. Dirty Soap
I admit it: I used to be a huge fan of soap operas. If you, too, have indulged in such dramatic and ridiculous television, then the new E! reality show, Dirty Soap (10:30 p.m. Sundays), is worth a view, because it's almost as juicy as the various series that made these daytime actors famous. Starring young and beautiful actors such as Farah Fath, Nadia Borlin and Kirsten Storms, Dirty Soap drags you through the stars' personal lives, dissects the frenemy relationships between them and reveals that there's just as much drama off-screen as there is on -- except without the distractions of long-lost twins, frequent kidnappings and ghosts from the past.
9. American Hoggers
Even though we can only understand about 50 percent of what comes out of the heavily-accented Campbell's family's mouths, we are still strangely drawn to American Hoggers (10 p.m. Wednesdays, A&E), in which a family of hog wranglers collect feral boar from people's property. The hog hunts themselves are kind of hard to watch -- I have a soft spot for all piggies, even big, hairy, dangerous ones -- but Jerry Campbell's astute quotes are priceless. From "That's hog crap right thur!" to "That son of a bitch's breath smells like my old English teacher," to "(Hogs) eat (baby goats) up just like popcorn," this Texan is a quote machine, and I love it.
10. My Strange Addiction
My Strange Addiction (TLC), for a while, became one of my addictions, because the people on it were so cray-cray. One woman couldn't stop being a ventriloquist, while another was practically bald because she pulled out all her hair by hand. But most of the episodes are about people who eat crazy stuff, such as laundry detergent, sidewalk chalk and toilet paper. "A bulky roll with a 2 ply I could probably take down half the roll in one day," reported Kesha. However, my life was altered a little bit the night I watched a woman who was addicted to eating her dead husband's cremated ashes. I thought, "Um, it might be time to give up this little TV vice."