In a year where most of us were ordered to stay at home with our calming companion TVs (what? It’s a thing), the reality genre delivered by being predictably — and gloriously — unpredictable.
Already this month, we’ve taken a macro level look at the year’s best dramas and comedies, the sexiest (and grossest!) scenes and more. But now it’s time to shine a light on 2020’s shame-free reality stars with the following list of some of the most jaw-dropping scenes from your favorite competition, baking and dating series.
From Survivor‘s banner all-winners season and Big Brother‘s (ahem) “all-stars” to Dancing With the Stars’ controversial host swap, reality TV kept us glued to our screens in a year where we craved some much-needed escape from the real reality outside.
Though the choices here aren’t all celebratory — from assorted blindsides, blunders, baking mishaps and more — these moments kept our furious fingers both typing and tweeting, while our mouths hung open and our brains struggled to catch up.
Review all of the amazing moments below, then hit the comments with your picks for the reality TV scenes that bugged you out the most in 2020!
Still to come in TVLine’s Year in Review: Quotes of the Year, Series Finales Graded, TV’s Biggest Scene Stealers and much more!
THE BACHELOR DUMPS HIS FINAL ROSE
It seems like every Bachelor season ends with a shocking twist these days, and Peter the pilot’s “journey” was no different. Although he gave Hannah Ann the final rose (and proposed!), he later changed his mind and broke it off with her, hoping to rekindle things with runner-up Madison. Don’t worry: Those two split up soon after, too.
THE BACHELORETTE SWITCHES STARS
For the first time in franchise history, we saw a Bachelor/ette get swapped out midseason, with Clare deciding to run off with instant soulmate Dale after just four episodes and Tayshia stepping in to be this season’s Bachelorette.
BIG BROTHER'S 'TRIPLE' DISAPPOINTMENT
All things considered, Big Brother‘s first-ever triple eviction was sort of a snooze, with all three evictions — Kevin, David and Dani — panning out how we assumed they would. What we didn’t see coming, though, was the moment when Big Brother accidentally revealed the triple eviction twist to the houseguests earlier than planned: Julie Chen Moonves wasn’t supposed to share the twist until after the second person had been evicted, leading them to think only a double eviction was taking place. But the players caught sight of a gigantic “Triple Eviction” banner that was floating on a screen behind Moonves’ head, prompting them to gasp in unison as they discovered what the night would really entail. Honestly, what better way to sum up this dud of a season than with a botched reveal of the season’s biggest curveball?
THE CHALLENGE BURIES A BEEF
The fact that The Challenge‘s Wes and Bananas aligned together on Total Madness after years of being sworn enemies was a trip, but when Wes volunteered to face his comrade in elimination with hopes of winning a red skull, it was a mouth- and mic-drop moment nearly 15 years in the making. Wes ultimately lost the game, but what he won was a new friend. Awww…
DANCING WITH THE STARS' HOSTING SWITCHEROO
After Bobby Bones pulled off an upset back in 2018, we thought DWTS couldn’t surprise us anymore… until the show unceremoniously dropped co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews ahead of Season 29 (and brought in Tyra Banks to replace them), explaining away their exits as a “new creative direction” for the show. Executive producer Andrew Llinares later elaborated that the recast was about “making the show feel fresh, feel new, maybe make it reach out to a new audience,” but the move was met with intense criticism from longtime viewers.
THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW TAKES A SPILL
Sure, this was a mild incident, but for an exceedingly polite show, it was a stunner: Sura tried to shoo away a fly and accidentally knocked her competitor Dave’s pineapple upside-down cakes to the floor, ruining them. Gasp! Of course, this being The Great British Baking Show, Sura felt awful, everyone forgave her and everything tasted delicious.
LABOR OF LOVE DUDES TAKE IT TO THE (SPERM) BANK
Fifteen potential baby-daddies got friendly with themselves in a trailer, made deposits in specimen cups — on camera! kinda! — and proved that they are the last people you would ever want fathering your child.
REAL HOUSEWIVES OF SALT LAKE CITY STAR'S TWISTED FAMILY TREE
Bravo’s latest Real Housewives edition came out guns blazing with the jaw-dropping revelation that cast member Mary is married to… her own step-grandfather?! Yes, it was her late grandmother’s dying wish, and no, Mary and her husband are not related by blood — but we’re still not quite sure how to process this news, exactly.
DRAG RACE'S PRE-SEASON SASHAY
Contestant Sherry Pie (né Joey Gugliemelli) was disqualified from Season 12 of RuPaul’s Drag Race on the day of its premiere after a catfishing controversy exposed the queen for masking as a casting director to solicit degrading audition tapes from aspiring actors. With the season already glammed up and runway ready, the show opted to debut as scheduled, but ran disclaimers about the early ejection ahead of every episode. (Who would’ve thought we’d ever say no to Pie?)
SELLING SUNSET GETS TOO REAL
We figured Netflix’s realty reality show, which came out months after Chrishell Stause and Justin Hartley’s sudden breakup, would gloss over the hard details regarding the end of the marriage. We were very, very wrong.
SURVIVOR'S QUEEN IS DETHRONED
Survivor: Winners at War delivered some absolute bombshells, but nothing topped the ousting of the show’s reigning queen, Sandra Diaz-Twine, who, after making a handshake deal with Denise Stapley, was masterfully sniped out and sent packing. As much of a bummer as it was to see the two-time champ taken out so early, it was a riveting moment that will go down in history as one of the show’s most thrilling blindsides ever.
The final round of To Tell the Truth‘s May 28 episode asked panelists to guess which Woman of a Certain Age had served as a surrogate for their child, and thus gave birth to their own grandkid. When it came time for the imposters to be introduced, we discovered that one (far right) was Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira, Mistress of the Dark! But wait, there’s more: the other pretender was a repeat from the same episode’s opening round — Jonna Mendez (center), a master of disguise who used to work for the CIA!
THE VOICE'S NAUGHT AT THE OPERA
Moments before The Voice was to announce the winner of a four-way Knockout designed to send a 17th contestant to Season 19’s Live Playoffs — got all that? — Carson Daly revealed that it had become a three-way Knockout: Ryan Gallagher, Team Kelly Clarkson’s wannabe Andrea Bocelli, had been removed from the competition — we’d later learn, for breaking the show’s strict COVID safety protocols.