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The Best Reality TV Shows to Watch in Summer 2023

From Project Runway to Stars on Mars to The Real Housewives of New York, these are the unscripted series worth watching.
  • The Bachelorette, The Real Housewives of New York City, Stars on Mars, and Project Runway premiere this summer. (Photo: ABC; Jordan Littlejohn (NBCUniversal); Brook Rushton/FOX; Ramona Rosales/Bravo; Primetimer graphic)
    The Bachelorette, The Real Housewives of New York City, Stars on Mars, and Project Runway premiere this summer. (Photo: ABC; Jordan Littlejohn (NBCUniversal); Brook Rushton/FOX; Ramona Rosales/Bravo; Primetimer graphic)

    Summer reality TV season is here. Networks take a break from their regularly scheduled programming to focus on unscripted shows, cable delivers the most delectable guilty pleasures, and streaming just keeps pumping out more and more reality shows that are prime for binging after a day at the beach.

    This year’s lineup features some major milestones: Project Runway and The Bachelorette both celebrate their 20th seasons, Netflix premieres its first queer-focused reality dating show, and The Real Housewives of New York is being rebooted with an entirely new cast. In between there are plenty of competition reality series, dating shows, and glimpses into the lives of famous families running all summer long. Here are the premieres worth watching.

    The Family Stallone (Paramount+)

    Premieres May 17

    Move over Kardashians — there’s a new celebrity family taking over streaming. This series pulls back the curtain on the lives of Sylvester Stallone, his wife Jennifer, and their daughters, Sophia, Sistine, and Scarlet. Unlike The Kardashians, however, The Family Stallone focuses on the family’s most heartwarming moments, seeming to stay away from the more potentially salacious details of celebrity life.

    Selling Sunset, Season 6 (Netflix)

    Premieres May 19

    Will things at The O Group be the same without Christine Quinn? The notorious reality TV villain is out for this season, but there’s still plenty of drama on the horizon. Chrishell Stause and Jason Oppenheim are both in new relationships after their 2021 breakup — and one person seems to be more over the split than the other. This season shows the start of the romance between Stause and her now-spouse G-Flip (the two announced their marriage on May 10), and introduces a new queen bee to the agency, Bre Tiesi, who also just so happens to be the mother of Nick Cannon’s 11th child.

    Young, Famous, and African, Season 2 (Netflix)

    Premieres May 19

    Keep up with the fashions, friendships, and feuds among a group of wealthy and famous young people living in Johannesburg, South Africa. There are some new faces joining the cast this time around, including actress Bonang Matheba, musician Fantana, Big Brother Africa contestant Luis Munana, and supermodel Rosette Ncwana. This is Netflix’s first (and as of now, only) African reality series.

    MasterChef, Season 13 (Fox)

    Premieres May 24

    This year the cooking competition series is doing things a little differently. The season, dubbed “United Tastes of America,” will split up contestants based on region: West, Northeast, Midwest, and South. The home chefs will have a chance to rep their hometown by showing off its unique culinary delicacies. Gordon Ramsay, Aarón Sánchez, and Joe Bastianich are back as the main judges with plenty of other celebrity chefs popping in throughout the season.

    The Ultimatum: Queer Love (Netflix)

    Premieres May 24

    Netflix is finally turning the focus of at least one of its reality dating series to queer people with an installment of The Ultimatum featuring all women and non-binary folks. Five couples come to the show to date and have a trial marriage with other people before ultimately deciding whether or not they will leave with their original partner, their new partner, or alone. And without the need to adhere to heterosexual duos, there are greater options and possibilities for pairing up than before, making for an even more messy but entertaining and enlightening watch.

    The Kardashians, Season 3 (Hulu)

    Premieres May 25

    There may be a new Kim Kardashian crying meme on the horizon — Season 3 of the Hulu version of the mega famous family’s reality show promises lots of tears. This season will follow the fallout of Kim and Kanye West’s divorce, tension between the sisters surrounding Kourtney’s wedding, Khloé’s cancer scare, and Kylie’s body modification regrets, all with Kris Jenner doing what she does best as the ringmaster of this family circus.

    Barbecue Showdown, Season 2 (Netflix)

    Premieres May 26

    Just in time for one of the biggest cookout weekends of the year, the mouthwatering cooking competition returns to highlight some of the best pitmasters in the country. This time around, Michelle Buteau (also host of Netflix’s The Circle) steps in to host and guide viewers through all the pork, brisket, and, if last season is any indication, maybe even iguana that the contestants have to offer. Fair warning: Do not watch on an empty stomach.

    America’s Got Talent, Season 18 (NBC)

    Premieres May 30

    Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, and Howie Mandel are back to see just how talented people across the country are. Expect plenty of death-defying acts, impressive dance numbers, mind-boggling magic tricks, and children whose singing voice and life story will both make audiences tear up. Terry Crews hosts.

    The Ride (Prime Video)

    Premieres May 30

    What is it really like to be a professional bull rider? This new Prime Video series follows some of the biggest competitors in the world of Professional Bull Riders (PBR) as they balance their careers in one of the most dangerous sports in the world with their personal lives. The series comes as team competitions become more and more popular in the league, bringing a new dynamic to the age-old sport.

    Drag Me to Dinner (Hulu)

    Premieres May 31

    No one throws a party like drag queens, and this new reality competition series is out to see just which teams of queens can put on the best, most outrageous dinner party for judges Neil Patrick Harris, Bianco Del Rio, and Haneefah Wood as well as hosts Murray Hill and David Burtka. It’s like one single RuPaul’s Drag Race challenge got blown up into its own show. The prize? The Glorious Golden Grater and bragging rights, of course.

    Queen of the Universe, Season 2 (Paramount+)

    Premieres June 2

    Just as RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 8 winds down, Season 2 of the Queen of the Universe competition starts up, keeping the pageantry and death drops going. The main difference between the two competitions? On Queen of the Universe there is no lip-syncing — all the singing is live. Graham Norton hosts with Trixie Mattel, Michelle Visage, Vanessa Williams, and Mel B. judging drag queens from around the world.

    Stars on Mars (Fox)

    Premieres June 5

    Don’t worry, these celebrities aren’t actually going to space — we wouldn’t trust Vanderpump Rules’ Tom Schwartz around any kind of rocket. William Shatner hosts this competition show that pits stars like Lance Armstrong, Marshawn Lynch, Ariel Winter, Ronda Rousey, and more against each other to be the last person (or as Fox calls them, “celebronaut”) standing during a simulation of creating a new colony on Mars.

    The Real Housewives of Orange County, Season 17 (Bravo)

    Premieres June 7

    The OG housewives are back, and this time with another familiar face: Taylor Armstrong, who got her start on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, switches zip codes to return to Bravo for the first time since leaving RHOBH in 2013. She popped up alongside longtime Real Housewives of Orange County stars Tamra Judge and Vicki Gunvalson on Peacock’s The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip Season 2 last summer, proving she still has what it takes to put up with the outbursts and arguments among the women. And she’ll be back at first as just a “Friend” of the housewives, giving herself a chance to gently dip her toes back into the reality TV pond before being fully immersed in the drama again.

    Temptation Island, Season 5 (USA)

    Premieres June 14

    The revival of the Fox reality show is still going strong. This summer another set of couples head to Hawaii to test their relationship among a group of sexy singles offering up the ultimate, you guessed it, temptation. Mark L. Walberg (that’s Walberg, not Wahlberg), the series original host, continues his duties.

    Project Runway, Season 20 (Bravo)

    Premieres June 15

    The best designers are back to celebrate 20 years of unconventional challenges, breathtaking runway moments, and Nina Garcia’s intimidating stares. This season will be host-less, with Season 4 winner Christian Siriano pulling double duty as mentor and guide throughout season. But that’s just as well because these contestants have all been here before and they know the drill. The 14 all-stars competing include recent contestants like Hester Sunshine (Season 17), Brittany Allen (Season 18), and Prajjé Oscar Jean-Baptiste (Season 19) alongside longtime veterans of the show like Johnathan “Kayne” Gillaspie (Season 3), Rami Kashou (Season 4), and Kara Saun (Season 1).

    Claim to Fame, Season 2 (ABC)

    Premieres June 23

    ABC’s surprise hit of last summer is back. Brothers Kevin and “Bonus Jonas” Frankie Jonas return to host a competition among 12 celebrity relatives who go through challenges to figure out the famous family connections of other people in the house. The concept may be a little silly and seem simple, but the result is a surprisingly sweet and enthralling real-life (yet very low-stakes) mystery.

    The Bachelorette, Season 20 (ABC)

    Premieres June 26

    It was clear during her run on The Bachelor that Charity Lawson deserved so much better than the bland and disrespectful Zach Shallcross. Now she’s in control as the lead of The Bachelorette’s 20th season, with dozens of eligible men to choose from. And based on a sneak peek released by ABC it looks like she’s starting off the series with at least one advantage — her brother is going undercover among the men to see who is really there for the right reasons.

    The Prank Panel (ABC)

    Premieres July 9

    Eric André, Johnny Knoxville, and Gabourey Sidibe team up for this prank show, which was first teased in a Ghostbusters-inspired promo during the 95th Oscars. Everyday people will come to this panel with a pitch to prank someone in their life. If the panel agrees that the prank is worthy, then they put a plan into action with the help of celebrity guest stars. Knowing what André and Knoxville are capable of from their time on The Eric André Show and Jackass, this series promises to be one of the wildest reality shows to grace network television.

    The Real Housewives of New York, Season 14 (Bravo)

    Premieres July 16

    Bravo is hitting the reset button on one of its most famous Real Housewives franchises. Season 14 introduces an entirely new (and decidedly more diverse) cast to reboot the series: influencer and marketing professional Sai De Silva, model and philanthropist Ubah Hassan, interior designer and real estate agent Erin Dana Lichy, fashion publicist Jessel Taank, communications consultant Brynn Whitfield, and fashion designer Jenna Lyons. There’s already been some behind-the-scenes drama — Lizzy Savetsky was originally cast only to leave after her husband allegedly said a racial slur while on set. Who among the remaining women will hold the center apple? We’ll have to wait to find out.

    Big Brother, Season 25 (CBS)

    Premieres August 2

    An all new group of housemates comes in for this milestone season of the long-running reality series. Episodes will air (and stream) three times a week with live evictions to make sure viewers can catch as much of the action as possible. There will be plenty of throwbacks to past seasons of the show, but CBS is promising twist and turns to make this season something special.

    Superfan (CBS)

    Premieres August 9

    Who is Shania Twain’s biggest fan? What about Pitbull’s or LL Cool J’s or Gloria Estefan’s? This CBS show aims to find out, bringing in, as the name suggests, superfans of varying musical artists to go head-to-head in a competition to prove that they are the ultimate devotee of their favorite celebrity. It’s up to the artists themselves to decide who is worthy of the top prize and title of superfan.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: Reality TV, American Barbecue Showdown, America's Got Talent, The Bachelorette, Claim to Fame, Drag Me to Dinner, The Kardashians, MasterChef, The Prank Panel, Project Runway, Queen of the Universe, Real Housewives of New York City, The Real Housewives of Orange County, The Ride, Selling Sunset, Stars on Mars, Superfan, Temptation Island (2019), The Ultimatum: Queer Love, Young, Famous & African