The Best Reality Dating Shows of All Time

According to a self-proclaimed reality TV connoisseur.
Stills from two reality dating shows
Photo 1: ABC/Craig Sjodin,
Photo 2: @need4lspeed | Instagram
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Entertainment & Celebrity Editor
  • Sarah is the Entertainment & Celebrity Editor for The Knot, with special focuses on pop culture and celebrity wedding news.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Mar 28, 2024
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I take my role as The Knot's Entertainment & Celebrity Editor incredibly seriously. Not only am I committed to being chronically online, as the kids say, I wholeheartedly believe it's my duty to stay up to date on the latest celebrity wedding news—and this includes watching a constant stream of reality dating TV shows. (Hard work, I know.)

My introduction to the world of reality dating shows began years ago with The Bachelor franchise. Since then, I've grown emotionally attached to far too many reality dating series, like Love Is Blind to Too Hot to Handle. While it's nearly impossible to rank them, I've taken the liberty to compile the best reality TV dating shows ever made—including where you can stream them right now.

The Bachelor & The Bachelorette

Iconic series like Survivor and Big Brother paved the way for reality TV in the early 2000s—and The Bachelor franchise did the same for dating shows. Following its premiere in 2002, ABC's hit dating show has followed 28 Bachelors and 22 Bachelorettes on their journey for love. The series is a pop culture phenomenon, inspiring spinoffs and countless social media memes. (Long live Hannah's windmill and Corinne's cheese pasta.) From emotional engagements to swoon-worthy wedding specials, this reality dating show is probably the first that comes to mind when you think of the genre, making it the best of the best.

# of Seasons of The Bachelor: 28

# of Seasons of The Bachelorette: 20

Bachelor in Paradise

To satisfy Bachelor Nation's fervent demand for even more content, the franchise launched its wildly popular spinoff series Bachelor in Paradise in 2014. The show welcomes past fan favorites who faced untimely eliminations to a beach in Mexico in the hopes of helping them find love again. Often messier and more dramatic than its predecessors, BiP is a reality dating show staple…and its success rate is quite impressive, all things considered. The show has led to a handful of weddings for star couples like Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert, Joe Amabile and Serena Pitt, and Hannah Godwin and Dylan Barbour.

# of Seasons: 9

The Golden Bachelor

Rounding out our love for the Bachelor franchise, we'd be remiss not to include the latest spinoff series, The Golden Bachelor. In its debut season, fans watched 72-year-old Gerry Turner search for love following the death of his high school sweetheart, Toni. The show led him to Theresa Nist, a fellow widow from New Jersey. Fans were captivated by the raw emotion displayed by the cast, which was comprised of women over the age of 60 (many of whom became breakout stars). The Knot even got the chance to attend the first Golden Bachelor wedding special in January 2024. Given its immediate success, fans hoping are the first Golden Bachelorette will soon follow.

# of Seasons: 1

Love is Blind

If you aren't watching Love Is Blind like the rest of the world, you're sorely missing out on a fabulous reality television experience. Since its premiere in 2020, this Netflix phenomenon follows couples as they date each other behind walls. After getting engaged through the pods, they meet for the first time as fiancés and embark on a honeymoon in the real world before moving in together ahead of their wedding, which takes place three weeks later. It's one of the most fascinating reality dating shows in recent years, partly because it's just so unpredictable…and fans keep coming back for more.

# of Seasons: 6

Catching Kelce

We all know Travis Kelce is happily dating Taylor Swift, but we can't forget about his foray into reality TV back in 2016. Amid his blossoming football career, the Kansas City Chiefs tight end landed an E! reality dating show in hopes of finding his soul mate off the field. Spoiler alert: He didn't end up with his final pick, but that doesn't mean this show isn't worth the watch. In fact, we'd argue that Catching Kelce is required viewing for Swifties and reality TV lovers alike.

# of Seasons: 1

The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On

Love Is Blind isn't Nick and Vanessa Lachey's only reality TV venture. The couple also hosts The Ultimatum, a Netflix dating show that's arguably even more provocative than LIB. The series follows longtime couples who must decide if they want to get married or break up…while dating potential new matches, that is. It's the exact kind of show that's perfect for viewing with your besties over a glass of wine (or something stronger).

# of Seasons: 2

The Ultimatum: Queer Love

It's no secret that reality dating shows are lacking in the diversity department, so The Ultimatum: Queer Love has helped push the needle forward. It follows the same format as the original series, though this spinoff features same-sex couples. Hosted by actress JoAnna Garcia Swisher, this queer reality dating show deserves a spot on your watchlist.

# of Seasons: 1

Singles Inferno

Things get spicy on Singles Inferno, a Netflix dating show that follows nine single Korean daters who get stranded on a tropical island. Their only chance at escaping relies on their ability to couple up and find a partner they're willing to leave with. Think of this reality dating show as a cross between Survivor, The Traitors and The Bachelor—it's an absolute must-watch, especially since it's just been renewed for a fourth season.

# of Seasons: 3

Love Island UK

With over 10 seasons that generally feature 30 or more episodes, Love Island UK is a commitment—but the payoff is worth the dedication. Although it's a British reality dating series, this TV show has captivated audiences around the world, especially in the US. The premise is quite simple: contestants (a.k.a. "Islanders") reside in a villa isolated from the outside world, all with the intent of finding love with another Islander. If they manage to remain coupled up throughout the competition, they'll win the £50,000 grand prize. Season after season, fans just can't get enough of all the hot new bombshells that enter the villa; As of 2018, Love Island became ITV2's most-watched show in the network's history.

# of Seasons: 10

Love on the Spectrum

A cross between a reality dating show and a docuseries, Love on the Spectrum centers around singles on the Autism spectrum as they navigate the world of dating and friendships. This heartwarming series received rave reviews from fans and critics alike, and even inspired a spin-off in Australia.

# of Seasons: 2

Are You the One?

How reliable is matchmaking technology? If you've ever groaned over your dating app algorithms, you might find solace in MTV's dating show Are You The One? Contestants on this dating show participate in extensive interviews and compatibility testing to find their most compatible match in the group—but the results are hidden, and they must undergo weekly tests with each other to see if they can find their perfect match. If they guess incorrectly, the daters have to start their search from the beginning. The stakes, of course, are made higher by a significant cash prize that all the daters can win…but only if they find their pre-determined soulmate.

# of Seasons: 7

Temptation Island

Following its original television tenure in the early 2000s, Temptation Island was revived by USA Network in 2018. Similarly to The Ultimatum, this reality dating show focuses on a group of non-married couples who travel to a tropical island to have their commitment tested. Things get sticky when the couples are separated and introduced to new, single competitors who want their own shot at love.

# of Seasons: 5

Too Hot to Handle

Although the premise is downright silly and goofy, Too Hot To Handle is one of those dating shows that's so fascinating, it's impossible to look away. In this Netflix series, a group of single contestants cohabitate in a tropical resort with the goal of remaining celibate throughout the competition to win $100,000. Sounds easy, right? It's not exactly a walk in the park for these daters. In fact, some might even say it's too hot to handle.

# of Seasons: 5

Indian Matchmaking

What are arranged marriages like today? This captivating Netflix dating show pulls back the curtain on India's time-honored tradition of matchmaking, following Sima Taparia as she guides her clients around the world and helps them find their soulmates.

# of Seasons: 3

The One That Got Away

As one of the most underrated reality dating shows, well, ever, The One That Got Away deserves a spot on your watch list. In this Amazon Prime series hosted by Betty Who, six daters have the chance to mingle with each other. Things aren't as smooth sailing as they seem, though, especially when their past flames join the show and turn the group dynamics upside down. Easily bingeable, this one-season hit is cringe, shocking, and messy—in other words, everything you want in an addictive reality dating show.

# of Seasons: 1

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