For those of you too young to remember, TV was once full of scripted shows and real actors. It wasn't until the phenomenal success of "Survivor" and "Big Brother" in 2000 that networks realized they could make successful programs a lot more cheaply. For instance, reality shows cost about $1 million an hour, or one-half to one-third as much as scripted shows, according to The New York Times. So by 2009, the newspaper reports, reality shows made up more than one-fourth of all primetime programming on the five broadcast networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and The CW. And reality shows have only become more popular in the last three years. No less than seven of the 25 highest-rated programs in the 2011-2012 TV season were reality shows. And other networks, like Bravo, TLC, and E!, have practically become all-reality channels. Steve Carbone, of the website RealitySteve.com, told CNN in January that there are "over 100 [reality shows] with all of the cable programs." With so many reality shows, there are bound to be some with similar formats. So for every "American Idol," there are also shows like "The X Factor," "The Voice," "Duets," "America's Got Talent" (which, to be fair, features talents besides singing), and E!'s upcoming "Opening Acts" from "Idol" producer Nigel Lythgoe. Yep, another one is coming! "There are so many channels and reality shows out there, it's hard to come up with a concept where everything is completely new," Carbone told CNN.
The Real Housewives of New York City (Michael Rosenthal/Bravo)
One way shows are making themselves stand out is featuring people audiences already know and love — or love to hate. Here's a quick look at a few, most of them starring familiar faces:
"The Choice" (Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox)
"The Choice," which debuted June 7, features some of our fave reality stars looking for love. Rob Kardashian, Carmen Electra, Joe Jonas, "Jersey Shore's" Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and Paul "DJ Pauly D" Del Vecchio are some of the bold-faced names that will sit in spinning chairs a la "The Voice." On this show, however, they'll listen to potential dates describing themselves. The celebs won't see their prospective dates until they select one by spinning around.
Snooki and JWoww (Said Elatab/Splash News)
"Snooki and JWoww" (Premieres Thursday, June 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MTV)
This much-hyped "Jersey Shore" spin-off starring the house's resident "meatball," Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, and her best friend Jennifer "JWoww" Farley. Polizzi has described the show as a modern version of the '70s sitcom "Laverne and Shirley." "The spin-off is just me and Jenni and we just want to show more of our other side, not partying so much," she told Fox 411. Farley added, "It's more of our boyfriends, crazy families, and other friends that are even more psychotic than the ones on the show." Of course, their adventures will be complicated by the fact that Snooki is engaged and expecting!
"Craft Wars" (Premieres Tuesday, June 26 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TLC)
"Craft Wars" is a new competition show with contestants showing their creative side. It already sounds sneaky-addictive for anyone who can spend an entire afternoon at a craft store, but toss in the fact that former actress/current reality star Tori Spelling is the host, and it's a must-see.
"Beverly Hills Nannies" (Premieres Wednesday, July 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC Family)
"Beverly Hills Nannies" is just what it sounds like, and promises plenty of scenes that show the rich acting ridiculous. Although it doesn't star any big names, it is produced by the team that brought us "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."
"Married to Jonas" (Premieres Sunday, August 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on E!)
"Married to Jonas" follows the oldest member of The Jonas Brothers, Kevin, and his wife of two-and-a-half years, Danielle Deleasa. The other JoBros are sure to make appearances, since they're making new music.
"Hotel Hell" (Premieres late summer on Fox)
"Hotel Hell" is yet another show with outspoken celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. Think "Tabatha Takes Over" for overnight venues.
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