The 2000s were a special time for MTV's reality television division. While we watched music videos in the morning and new episodes of Laguna Beach and The Hills at night, the true power hours came during the afternoon into the evening when the network's programming shifted to airing a specific brand of reality television shows.
Shows like Date My Mom, Next, and Pimp My Ride filled the time slots between The Real World, Road Rules, and as much as we wanted to look away, we simply couldn't. This was mindless television at its height.
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So, with the news that My Super Sweet 16 is being revamped (yay!), here, we've rounded up and ranked the 10 best MTV sort-of reality shows that we miss the most (except for two that are still alive and kicking today!). Keep reading for a trip down cringe-worthy lane paved with the best the mid- to late-2000s had to offer.
MADE truly stands the test of time. Celebrating its 15th anniversary (and 15th year on the air), the self-improvement show still holds true to its original formula. Teenager plus aspirational goal plus sometimes-celebrity coach equals episode. And that model continues to work for them. There’s something truly addicting about watching high school students struggle to become stereotypical archetypes, like prom kings and queens, skater girls, and “boyfriend/girlfriend material.” But the strength of MADE rests in its ability to inspire the masses. The message is simple: Uou can really be anything you want. Whether that’s a healthier person or a girlie girl.
2. True Life
There’s no denying the power of voyeuristic television and True Life capitalizes on that by featuring small groups of individuals all experiencing the same specific difficulties, intriguing professions, or compulsive habits. The Emmy Award-winning show has covered a wide array of serious subjects: financial challenges, coming out, drug abuse, eating disorders, as well as lighter topics like prom, embarrassing parents, backpacking through Europe, and dating a mama’s boy.
3. My Super Sweet Sixteen
There’s something soothing about sitting back, relaxing, and watching supremely wealthy teenagers face the unjust struggles that come with throwing the best Sweet 16 (or quinceañera) that money will literally allow. Whenever we heard the voice of a juvenile Hillary Duff sing "gunna spread my wings..." we knew it was time for a teen to come face to face with a slew of party planning decisions, like finding the most elaborate (but still parent-approved outfits), and serious dramas, like when uninvited guests show up. It was always worth the stress, though, because the night almost always ended with the gift of a car they were usually too young to drive.
4. Pimp My Ride
Perhaps one of the best things about Pimp My Ride was its rapper host and producer, Xzibit. The show, which aired from 2004 to 2007, featured an inventive crew of experts who would take old, sore cars and upgrade them with extreme customizations. While the tricked out vehicles would almost always feature large-scale electronic updates like DVD players (remember those?), flat-screen TVs, and state of the art sound systems, they would also always be "pimped" with completely outlandish add-ons that usually reflected the car owner's interests. Like, for example, a hot tub for practical dipping once in a while. Or a pool table installed in a truck's flatbed. Or, you know, the standard coffin grill. Oh, and rims. Just about every car got rims worth more than the original vehicle.
5. Date My Mom
Everything about Date My Mom screamed "No, not okay!" when it first aired back in 2004. But, like most great, sort of creepy MTV reality show premises, it was a hit. Brilliant in its complete absurdity (Freud would have a field day!), DMM sent singles on dates with three insane moms who then try to convince them to pick their son or daughter to date. The mothers often provide detailed physical descriptions of their children and lead the singles on dates that usually involve an activity their child enjoys. But maybe the best thing about this show was the final beach scenes wherein the mothers would pull up in limos and the single would gently eliminate two of them. All of the kids are revealed and the single is either devastated or disturbingly relieved upon getting a glimpse of the girl or boy they might've matched. Date My Mom was inspired ickiness.
If you remove the lame date parts of the show, Next becomes a study in the worrying habits, theories, and behaviors of humans. All of Next's success lies in the three fun facts provided about each participant as they exit the bus (that, and the fact that the person dates could literally scream next upon first glance of their suitors, ending the date before it even began). For example, a contestant Brian was equal parts "terrified of large, mean women" and fantasizing "about the Little Mermaid." Or Aimee who was "frightened by the perfection of her own beauty." The phrase "you can't make this stuff up" was most assuredly coined after the creation of Next.
7. Parental Control
MTV loves a quality parent narrative. Parental Control, actually one of the longer running shows (2006-2010), showed parents screening potential matches for their children in hopes of luring them away from their undesirable significant other. The auditions were a bit cheesy, no doubt, but the real meat of PC was in its depictions of the unwelcome boyfriend or girlfriend. They were shown as common villains with bad habits and worse attitudes. And then they were made to sit with the antagonistic parents and watch the loves of their lives go off on dates with complete strangers, leaving us to wonder why don't these adults have anything better to do?
8. Room Raiders
Room Raiders fell second to only NBC's Fear Factor when it came to disgusting the masses. Even without the UV-light sheet search featured in every episode, the premise of entering someone's room, digging through their things (mainly their underwear drawer), and then choosing to date them based on your findings, is questionable at best.
9. I Want a Famous Face
What's creepier than young adults getting televised plastic surgery to improve their still young, probably developing faces and bodies? Young adults getting televised plastic surgery to look like celebrities. I Want a Famous Face, which somehow aired for two full seasons, showed teenagers and 20-somethings play Mr. Potato Head with their appearances to look more like their favorite stars. And the celebrity range was broad, covering everyone from Britney Spears to Jennifer Lopez and Brad Pitt to Ricky Martin, and the results were always meh.
10. Engaged & Underaged
Although none of the couples who appeared on MTV's oddly popular Engaged & Underaged, were actually underage (by legal standards, anyway) many of them were cringe-worthy and hard to watch. Whether they were getting married before deployment, for religion, or for good old love, these couples argued about everything from party favors to spending time with one another's families. Leave the wedding shows to TLC, please.