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Classic Sitcoms with Reality TV Spin-Offs That Fans Hated

Reality TV is a love-it-or-hate-it genre. It’s a way to waste a few hours but may require you to turn off your mind to enjoy it.

Sitcoms don’t always find their footing for a similar reason. They can also seem like mindless dredge, but some manage to become classics.

Using nostalgia to turn a sitcom into a reality show often backfires. They may be seen as offensive, too far off from the spirit of the original, or just plain boring.

Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on how these genres intersect. Keep watching to learn about classic sitcoms with reality TV spin-offs that fans hated.

The Real Beverly Hillbillies

The Beverly Hillbillies was one of the most successful classic sitcoms of the 60s. It had up to 60 million viewers each week when it debuted in 1962. It also inspired similar shows that could be called “spin-offs,” including Petticoat Junction and Green Acres.

Virginian filmmaker Dub Cornett had an idea to make a reality show spin-off instead based on The Beverly Hillbillies. The concept of this new show was almost the same as the original. A poor Southern family gets relocated to a Beverly Hills mansion. They’d receive money and the luxuries of Hollywood life such as maids and assistants over the course of a one-year stay.

He even found the perfect family, the Griffeys, near his hometown. It seemed like a recipe for success, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Fans didn’t just hate this sitcom spin-off; they took offense to it.

The Centre for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, Kentucky took notice before the pilot even began filming. Dee Davis was the president of the organization. He loved the original Beverly Hillbillies because he knew it was comedy.

When he saw a poster offering $100,000 for families to become the next Clmapets family, he knew the joke had gone too far. He saw the new show as “humiliation TV. To him, it was nothing more than a “hick hunt” that demeaned poor rural southerners.

CBS attempted to fix everything. Their spokesman Chris Ender said they never intended to perpetuate stereotypes. He said that, in the original series, it was typically the “hicks” that were the heroes, and that it would be the same in the new show. 

That wasn’t enough for the Center for Rural Strategies. The organization stated a massive protest.  They gained supporters, especially when an executive tried to sell it. He insensitively said, “imagine the episode where they have to interview maids.” They posted 30,000 emails in a few weeks.

The issue even went to high court. The Centre for Rural Strategies also set up a meeting with Les Moonves, the president of CBS at the time.

The Real Beverly Hillbillies was eventually canceled before it could air. It was followed by a documentary called The True Adventures of the Real Beverly Hillbillies. Dub followed the Griffeys family in their motor home to Hollywood. It was an honest but inoffensive look at them and the lifestyle of “the family Congress kept off TV.”

The Real Gilligan’s Island

This reality show spin-off lasted for two seasons, airing on TBS from 2004-2005. It featured contestants who had to complete challenges based on plot points in the original sitcom.

There were promising elements in the beginning. Bowling for Soup covered the famous theme song, with Brett Epstein handling the rest of the music. The location in the Mexican Caribbean was beautiful and felt like a great new Gilligan’s Island.

The 14 contestants split into two teams of seven. Each one had a member that dressed like and resembled their characters. They included Gilligan, the Skipper, the Millionaire and his Karen of a wife, the movie star, the Professor, and the ever-lovely Mary Ann.

The first round had each of the same characters from each team going against each other. In the first season “the millionaire and his wife” counted as one contestant, with couples going against each other. They split them up in the second season, adding a bit more drama.

The show began to almost copy the hit reality show Survivor in its final round. The seven finalists had to compete to earn immunity before reaching Voodoo Village. They had to put a voodoo doll of one of the contestants into a box to cast their votes for who should go home.

Glenn Stearns, who played the Millionaire, won the first season, and Charlie Albert who played the SKipper won the second. Other notable cast members included Nicole Eggert, Rachel Hunter, Erika Eleniak, and Angie Everhart.

One of the biggest problems with The Real Gilligan’s Islands was that it lost the wholesome charm of the original. There were injuries ranging from fingers getting cut off to contestants nearly drowning. The contestants also tended to be rude towards each other in a way that reality TV seems to encourage.

The original Gilligan’s Island fans were put off by this change in tone. Fans of cutthroat reality television were a bit more forgiving, but only enough for a two-season run.

Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on the best and worst spin-offs in TV history. Keep watching to learn about more classic sitcoms with reality TV spin-offs that fans hated, including talent searches, dating shows, and more.

In Search of The Partridge Family

This reality spin-off of the hit 70s sitcom The Partridge Family began in 2004. Unlike most of the others on this list, it was a talent competition. After all, the new family had to have the same singing and dancing talent as the original.

The show did manage to set itself apart. It had the unique hit of letting viewers in on the casting process on another show. That was an idea that could have worked if done correctly.

There were eight official episodes. The Audition Special aired on September 5, 2004. Then, the was The Battle of the Keiths, The Battle of the Lauries, The Battle of the Dannys, and The Battle of the Shirleys, The Battle of the Finalists, and The Finale.

Emma Stone won the role of Laury. It was one of the only moments from this spin-off that’s still remembered and watched online today. She admits that at first, she thought the show was just another talent competition but then really wanted to win.

The ones who didn’t win were VH1. The New Partridge Family, the sitcom that the reality show intended to help cast, only aired one episode. Ironically enough, the entire family didn’t even appear. Mr. Partridge didn’t show up, but previews showed that Danny Bonaduce, the original Danny Partridge, was set to play him.

The Real Dirty Dancing

Here’s another talent show spin-off and one of the more recent. It aired on February 1, 2002, 35 years after the original movie became a hit.

The eight celebrity contestants included Brie Bella, Corbin Bleu, Tyler Cameron, Cat Cora, Howie Dorough, Antonio Gates, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, and Loni Love. They went to Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia where Dirty Dancing was filmed. Stephen tWitch Boss of the Ellen Show hosted.

They reenacted scenes with footage of Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze behind them. Almost all their dances were matched with original shots, and it seemed like the entire point of the show was to elevate the original movie to god-like status. The cast played along, with Brie Bella saying she “found herself” in an interview.

Cat and Corbin ended up winning the competition. They were labeled the “Best Baby” and the “Best Johnny.” They “broke down” when they heard the announcement. They said how proud they were to have nailed the film’s iconic lift scene but were relieved that the training to perform it was over. They also expressed how lucky they were to have been able to work together.

The runner-ups were Anjelah and Tyler. They nailed the lift during rehearsals, and Corbin and Cat were proud of them.

The schmaltz of it all didn’t help attract viewers. Original fans didn’t feel the contestants met up to the dancing skills of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray, either.

Scheduling also made sure that The Real Dirty Dancing failed to make a major impression. It aired on Fox, but most viewers tuned to NBC instead because it had the Winter Olympics.

The Real Love Boat

Here’s the final idea for what type of reality TV spin-off to turn a classic sitcom into. If you can’t make it a Big-brother style exploitation fest or a talent competition, why not make it a dating show?

Eureka Productions got the idea when they were looking for an old IP to use for nostalgia value. They appreciated the value of The Love Boat as a brand. It had over 50 million viewers every week. It even transformed cruises from an activity that was only for the “dead or newlywed” into a popular vacation option.

The showrunners came up with an American and Australian version. They’re slightly different in a few ways but still have the same basic goal; help real singles find love on a ship.

Married couple Rebecca Romjin and Jerry OConnell are set to host the American version. They’ll also sing the iconic theme song. They met with original cast members Cynthia Lauren Tweet, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, and Ted Lange. They’ll serve as background matchmakers like in the original show.

The whole show is set on a specially-made Love Boat Princess cruise ship called Arrigo. Captain Paolo Arrigo will lead it. He’s been with the cruise line since 1996.

The ship will leave from the Port of Los Angeles. It’ll travel for seven days around the Mexican Riviera.

A set of 12 singles will engage in destination dates, challenges, and more to test their compatibility. New ones will keep coming on as the ship reaches new ports. Only one couple will win a cash prize and a free trip in the end.

The show began airing on October 5 on CBS at 9/8c. It will also be available for streaming on Paramount+. Scheduling may affect its ratings, as it airs right between this year’s season of Survivor and The Amazing Race. 

Did one of your favorite sitcoms get a reality show spin-off that you can’t stand? Let us know in the comments below.

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