With the advent of the new millennium, television took an unexpected turn. From the beloved vestiges of classic sitcoms and game shows came a new breed of show: reality television.
Starting with networks like MTV (back when they played music), series like Real World popped up and gave audiences what they were looking for: an unapologetic look into everyday life, with painfully real subjects that audiences could relate to.
Shortly after, shows like Survivor and Big Brother popped up—both of which are running to this day. However, during the boom of reality television in the late 90s and early 2000s, the rush to find people and subjects worthy of a camera crew following them led to many strange places, from the hidden corners of Las Vegas to construction workers-turned-‘millionaires’ that aren’t likely to make it into any guild award shortlists.
The Casino (2004)
This show ran for a single season because, apparently, experiencing the drama of a high-stakes Las Vegas casino is something that’s better appreciated in person. Following the day-to-day life and challenges of two casino managers turned out to be less interesting and more controversial for many involved in the project.
Oddly enough, both subjects of the show, Thomas Breitling and Tim Poster of the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, are dot-com millionaires, which means they made their fortunes online. If the show was remade today, it would likely depict Breitling and Poster developing a successful online casino in a state like Delaware or Pennsylvania, where it’s legal to bet online. Instead, The Casino shows both businessmen running around the Golden Nugget while they attempt to wrangle roulette players in the high stakes lounge before being called for help with something less predictable on the Vegas strip.
As insinuated by the all-caps title, this show delivers on exactly what a viewer anticipates—plenty of interpersonal drama and hustling camera crews.
Host Joey Greco teams up with partners who are worried that their significant other might be having an affair. Unfortunately, Greco and his crew manage to capture plenty of proof of confirmation along the way. With a distinct Maury Povich-like slant toward drama and high emotion, it’s hard to imagine there are many viewers who still watch today.
Joe Millionaire (2003)
Like The Casino, this reality TV show only lasted one season. Subject of the drama, bachelor Evan Marriott meets with several women with the intention of meeting his potential bride. The lucky candidates are taken out on luxurious dates under the premise that Marriott recently came into a multi-million-dollar inheritance.
Unfortunately for everyone involved in Joe Millionaire, Marriott wasn’t a millionaire at all—in fact, he was a construction worker. The final twist in the show came during the finale, when Marriott chose one woman to reveal his secret to, only to then be surprised with an actual check for $1,000,000 should the woman choose to remain with Marriott, empty pockets and all.
Despite the fact that Marriott chose a woman who stayed with him regardless of his financial situation and the pair ended up walking away with the $1,000,000 check, they later broke up.
While, on paper and on screen, Joe Millionaire didn’t have the same cringe-affect as the other two shows on this list, viewership was down enough to prevent a third iteration following the network’s attempts at The Next Joe Millionaire.