Top reality TV moments of 2023

A "Real Housewives" reboot and a must-see season of "Love is Blind" made our year-end list.

HOUSE OF VILLAINS -- Episodic -- Pictured: Tiffany “New York” Pollard -- (Photo by: Casey Durkin/E! Entertainment)

From brand-new series to jaw-dropping moments on our returning staples, we’re breaking down our top reality TV moments in 2023.

A new day, a new ‘RHONY’

Kicking off our list is the brand new “Real Housewives of New York” on Bravo. For years, the beloved Big Apple edition of Bravo’s crown jewel in the “Real Housewives” franchise charmed audiences with a cast of women mostly from the Upper East Side. While the original iteration remains beloved (the former cast is currently on Peacock with an “Ultimate Girls Trip” spin-off), as the show continued to air, viewers and critics began to question its very apparent lack of diversity.

The show would go on to cast its first Black housewife, theGrio’s Eboni K. Williams, in 2020, but the season, which was plagued with filming during the COVID-19 pandemic, a divided cast and serious allegations of racism on set, did not resonate with audiences. After a major hiatus, Bravo did something for the first time in “Real Housewives” history: completely reboot the series with a fresh cast.

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(Left to right) “Real Housewives of New York” cast members Brynn Whitfield and Ubah Hassan attend Glamour Women of the Year 2023 at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Nov. 7 in New York. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Glamour)

The experiment was ultimately a major success, as Bravo introduced a more diverse cast with Black, Afro-Latinx, Indian, and Jewish representation, reflective of the “greatest city in the world.” Housewives Brynn Whitfield and Ubah Hassan not only charmed audiences with humor but also opened up about their backgrounds and experiences. In addition to a compelling personal storyline, there was plenty of drama to go around.

Now that we’ve gotten to know these fresh apples, we can’t wait to see what their next season has in store.

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ stuns with season 15

Every year, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” introduces us to a brand-new batch of drag queens filled with uniqueness, nerve, and talent. As the queens compete to become “America’s Next Drag Superstar,” audiences fall in love with them, entranced by their charm and enthralled by the nail-biting competition, while supporting their favorites all the way to the finish line.

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 15   MTV Premiere Screening and Red Carpet Event
Malaysia Babydoll Foxx, Aura Mayari, Irene Dubois, Jax, Amethyst, Salina EsTitties, Loosey LaDuca, Marcia Marcia Marcia, Anetra, Mistress Isabelle Brooks, Robin Fierce, Sasha Colby, Sugar, Luxx Noir London, Princess Poppy, and Spice attend the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 15 MTV Premiere Screening and Red Carpet Event on Jan. 5 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Paramount )

Season 15 of “Drag Race” was another home run for the franchise when it aired this year, introducing millions to queens such as Luxx Noir London, Malaysia Babydoll Foxx, Jax, and the winner, Sasha Colby. The thrilling entry earned the series yet more Emmy Award nominations, including for outstanding reality competition program. 

‘Married to Medicine’ gets the Phaedra Parks treatment

“Married to Medicine” is getting its time in the spotlight. While never a ratings juggernaut for Bravo, “Married to Medicine” has maintained a loyal and devoted audience over the last 10 seasons, as viewers follow the lives of prominent doctors and doctors’ wives in Atlanta. Quad Webb, Dr. Heavenly, Dr. Jackie, Toya Bush-Harris, Dr. Simone, and others are among some of the biggest stars on Bravo, and for season 10 the show added one more name to bring the series to an entirely new level: Phaedra Parks.

A “Married to Medicine” panel at Caesars Forum in Las Vegas drew Dr. Alicia Egolum, Phaedra Parks, Quad Webb, Dr. Heavenly Kimes, Francesca Amiker, Dr. Jacqueline Walters, Dr. Simone Whitmore, Toya Bush-Harris, Lateasha Lunceford. (Photo by Nicole Weingart/Bravo via Getty Images)

While Parks’ exit from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” was controversial, to say the least, she has slowly integrated herself back into the Bravo ecosystem, as theGrio previously reported. She appeared on the second season of the “Real Housewives” all-stars-style show on Peacock, “Ultimate Girls Trip” last year, and made cameo appearances on shows such as “The Real Housewives of Dubai.”

With season 10 of “Married to Medicine,” Parks made her grand return to the network in a full-time capacity, completely shaking up the group and bringing her signature wit (along with fresh drama) to the series. With Webb on the outs after last season, Parks has played an integral role in bringing her back into the fold, going so far as to invite her to Webb’s ex-husband’s new fianceé’s bachelorette party (you read that right). While time will tell if and how this lasts, bringing Parks’ housewives antics to “Married to Medicine” has made an already flawless show shine even brighter. These women are just getting started.

‘Love is Blind’ jumps the shark

“Love is Blind” fans were truly tested this year. The popular Netflix franchise returned with season 5 this year, once again trying the “experiment” to determine if love is truly blind. Set in Houston, the season kicked off like the others before it, pairing hopeful singles together in pods where they get to know each other without seeing what their prospective significant others look like. This part of the show, often the most engaging, is the baseline, introducing viewers to the hopefuls we are supposed to follow as they look for love throughout the rest of the season.

(Left to right) Uche Okoroha and Lydia Velez Gonzalez in episode 507 of “Love is Blind.” (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix © 2023)

Enter Uche, Aaliyah and Lydia. These three contestants will go down in infamy as the biggest love triangle to hit the series thus far. When it is revealed that Uche and Lydia had dated each other before the pods, Aaliyah, who spent the first three episodes pursuing Uche, is left reeling, as the fourth-wall-breaking revelation pushes her to quit the experiment altogether.

While the drama was nail-biting and certainly a must-see reality TV moment, as we wrote earlier this year, we can’t possibly imagine how the show recovers from such a massive dramatic swing. By the middle of the season, we were barely following couples at all, and only one made it to the finish line: Lydia and Milton. Despite our reservations about the future of the show, season 5 was a highlight of the year in terms of reality TV, as the series completely cracked open to reveal the dark underbelly often lurking in the genre.

‘House of Villains’ breaks open the reality TV universe

If “House of Villains” gets credit for anything, it’s bringing back the “HBIC” to our screens. Yes, Tiffany “New York” Pollard made her grand return to reality TV this year, appearing in E!’s mash-up series that brought together some of the biggest reality TV villains in history in one house to compete against each other.

Tiffany “New York” Pollard in “House of Villains.” (Photo credit: Casey Durkin/E! Entertainment)

The cast was truly an embarrassment of riches, with Pollard staying in the house with infamous icons of the genre like Omarosa, Bobby Lytes (“Love & Hip Hop: Miami”), Tanisha Thomas (“Bad Girls Club”), Jax Taylor (“Vanderpump Rules”) and more. 

While the series lost steam after Pollard was kicked off, it still gave us iconic moments with some of the best to ever do it, and leaves us excited for what legendary cast E! can come up with should it move forward with a second season of “House of Villains.”

Brandi Marshall steals ‘Selling the OC’

Oh, “Selling the OC.” Like the main series in the franchise “Selling Sunset,” we can’t get enough of this larger-than-life reality series. Centering on the professional lives of real estate agents in the Oppenheim Group in Los Angeles and Orange County, “Selling” showcases lavish lifestyles, glamorous trips, and an incredible amount of drama.

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Brandi Marshall, Alexandra Jarvis, Alex Hall, and Tyler Stanaland in “Selling the OC.” (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix © 2023)

Season 2 of the series leveled up in every single one of those ways, pushing the group to the limits with an intense feud between former friends Brandi Marshall and Alex Hall. As we wrote as the season aired, the spat between the two raised our eyebrows (and the eyebrows of fans) as Marshall, the sole Black cast member on the show, was seen dealing with microaggression after microaggression from Hall.

Despite the cringeworthy slights at Marshall, she held her own with Hall, delivering a top-tier reality TV moment as she stood her ground. “I am used to being the only Black person in a lot of spaces, which is why you saw me walk away … I won’t let anything take me out of my character because I know there is a lot riding on this,” Marshall told us earlier this year.

“It’s about having conversations that need to be had,” she added. “It’s about education and it was an unfortunate situation with her. You guys have to see that play out, but I just can hope for better in the future.”


‘Queens Court’ bets on love

Light on drama but filled with plenty of charm, Peacock’s “Queens Court” became one of our favorite reality offerings this year. The reality dating series starred legends of reality TV and music (Tamar Braxton, Evelyn Lozada and Nivea). Viewers watched as the three women formed a sisterhood together, looking for true love in front of the cameras.

As expected, these women were engaging, often hilarious and incredibly entertaining. While the long-term results of the series were less than stellar (Nivea did not end up with her options on the show, while both Lozada and Braxton have split from the partners they left the series with) the show was unique, with a particular sentimental and often moving tone.

By following these women on their journeys, the show helped highlight women at a certain crossroads in life who are still looking for that special someone. “I’m thankful that we can be of service to the people who are watching who truly have given up on dating, given up on love,” Braxton told us. “I can’t wait for people to watch it for that aspect and also because it’s really relatable and funny and genuine.”

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