There might be no Real Housewives of Rome, sure. But Italian reality TV has something for all viewers.
From music shows to celebrities fighting. From singers to people unknown. Here are the top Italian reality TV shows.
Grande Fratello, aka Big Brother
Indeed, this is still a popular show in the country. Although the Grande Fratello did go through some rough patches.
The show started in 2000 and the participants stayed in the house for 99 days. It was an instant success. In fact, many of the people who joined the show are still famous nowadays. Sure, they are famous for different reasons, but still celebrities in their own way.
For example, Pietro Tarricone went on to have a decent acting career, both in movies and TV shows. Viewers remember him for this role in La Nuova Squadra, a 2008 show. Another successful participant of the first edition has been the winner, Cristina Plevani. Always controversial and loud, she also participated in the show Uomini e Donne, looking for love on TV. The third edition of the Italian Big Brother produced more celebrities. Especially Luca Argentero who became a famous and beloved actor.
To renew interest in the Grande Fratello, the production company launched the VIP version in 2016. It included celebrities or wannabe celebrities, fighting in the house. The first edition aired in 2016 and it’s still ongoing. During the second edition, viewers loved seeing the quirky Cristiano Malgioglio dance and sing in the house, raising the eyebrows of the other participants.
Indeed, this is a pillar of Italian reality TV.
Uomini e Donne, aka Men and Women
Here’s one number for the international viewers: 1996. This show has been around for over 20 years and its success isn’t wavering. Its secrets? Loud commentators, controversial protagonist, and the host, Maria de Filippi.
Let’s start from the rules. The show centers around the tronisti. They are ordinary people looking for love. They sit on thrones, while people fight for their heart. It’s a bit like the Bachelor, but in an Italian and tacky version. There are no elegant clothes, nor fancy houses. On the contrary.
Uomini e Donne is designed to make both its participants and viewers laugh and cry. The tronista goes on dates, all taped on camera. Slowly but surely, they get to the scelta, the choice. When there are only two contestants left and the tronista decides who to walk home with. In 2010, the format of the Over was added to the show. This edition is for seniors looking for love. Still, there is just as much drama as with the younger bachelors and bachelorettes.
The undying love for this reality TV show is also due to the host Maria de Filippi, who is a pillar of Italian TV. And to the commentators Tina and Gianni, who are loud, fun, and who have strong opinions.
This is a show for travel buffs. Through the episodes, couples travel around different countries, going through challenges -both personal and physical. They have to move from location A to location B, only by hitchhiking. And they have to spend the night with the locals. No hotel allowed, unless a stranger pays for the room. Since this reality show travels to continents such as Asia and Africa, you can imagine the language barrier.
Usually, the couples are a mix of famous people (like the TV host Max Giusti) and complete strangers. Anyone is welcome at Pechino Express. It’s not only for partners, but also for a couple of friends or a mother-daughter team. The first edition aired in 2012 and, since then, the race has never stopped. And the host has never changed. In fact, it’s always Costantino della Gherardesca who leads the couples and the viewers through the challenges and countries.
Why do viewers enjoy it so much? Because it feels real. During the competition, the couples fight, smile, get hurt, and they feel like giving up. Until they meet the welcoming locals, who open their homes and give them rides.
The show has recently changed TV channel, moving from the national RAI to private Sky. Still, there are no other certainties about the 2021 edition. Unfortunately, the pandemic got in the way. But fans are hopeful that there will be a 2021 Pechino Express.
Curious about Italian TV? Find out more here.