Back when MTV started dipping its toes into reality television many people were furious. Taking the music out of Music Television was blasphemy and also totally counterintuitive. However MTV took bold steps that ended up changing the face of current television and spawned a new age where reality TV became de rigueur.
Now that looking back on the late 90's and early 2000's invokes nostalgia, the programming that helped define it seems almost quaint, but trust that it's anything but. The cancelled classics are just as outrageous as they were when they first aired with the added filter of dated fashion, slang, and style reminding us what it was like to grow up in one of the strangest time periods.
- My Super Sweet 16
In the pre-recession era, My Super Sweet 16 reigned supreme. Watching spoiled teenagers cry about designer boutiques being closed, getting a zit the day of their party and not getting the car they wanted was funny. Watching those same teenagers blowing hundreds of thousands of dollars on their sixteenth birthday party was even better.
Unlike the dozens of predecessors and the handful of successors in the dating show genre, Next was a magical blend of trendy, trashy, and hilarious. For those who can't remember, the premise was that one lucky guy or girl would be set up with a handful of dates, all of whom would spend the episode hanging out with each other in an RV, while the main contestant took people out . On the date the guy or girl could scream "Next!" at any moment and get a new person to hangout with off the bus, while the booted contestant would walk away with sweet cash money for every minute they lasted. Besides vicariously fulfilling the desire to end a heinous date with a single word, Next also featured the best and weirdest people that made everyone feel better about their dating prospects.
- Pimp My Ride
Before Xzibit was a meme, he was the host of Pimp My Ride, a show best known for doing outrageous things to people's cars like taking out the backseat and replacing it with an aquarium. Restraint was never exercised and it ended up being the greatest thing, because every car that came out of Xzibit's garage was insane and usually covered in flames.
- Laguna Beach
Back in 2004 everyone and their cool older sister was drinking the OC kool-aid. The show was the 2000 equivalent of the original 90210, except even better. As such MTV got in on the ratings action by giving everyone the gift of real Orange County teenagers and their "lightly scripted" lives with Laguna Beach. The message of this show was that the teens in the OC were just like us— besides being richer, prettier, and having way better social lives. Though season 1 and season 2 were solidly entertaining, season 3 was boring and its lackluster ratings eventually got Laguna Beach cancelled. Eventually, Laguna Beach spawned a couple of spin-offs, one of which no one cared about about and the other which everyone cared about.
- The Hills
If you were a teen girl between 2006 and 2010, The Hills was probably the only show that mattered. It overtook Laguna Beach in popularity pretty quickly despite its spinoff status. The Hills was a seminal and ultra glamorous look at what life was like post high school in the hazy period of young adulthood. LC and her friends navigated the worlds of fashion, entertainment, and public relations with ease, while still managing to get into girl fights, boyfriend fights, and roommate fights like every other plebe. The Hills also spawned deeper discussions concerning image, especially when Heidi Montag went on a plastic surgery binge and came out looking almost entirely unrecognizable. The show was often too glossy for reality TV and occasionally a little forced but it still holds a special place in many hearts.