Reality shows have amassed themselves into a major force on network and cable television. From competition shows to behind-the-scenes programs looking into unique aspects of American life, 2012 had a lot going for it, including more angry dance moms, Honey Boo Boo, bearded wonders with a duck call empire, Mario Lopez’s snark, Survivor’s completion of Season 25, the guidos and guidettes giving their last go at the shore, and the Storage Wars guys claiming his own show was faked. The year was a crazy, wild time for reality TV, and we hope you were along for the ride.

After arguing, nitpicking and throwing out several well-versed reasonings, those of us at TV Blend whittled down the list of programming to 5 shows we feel best express quality in this year’s TV. From competitions to moneymaking endeavors, 2012 had some real winners and the top 5 are available, below, listed in no particular order.

Amazing Race
More than twenty seasons in, you wouldn’t think The Amazing Race would still be one of the better reality shows on television, but thanks to constantly refining its rules and carefully planning every single leg, it’s just as riveting today as it was during season one. The editing is top notch. The balance between luck and skill allows for the better teams to usually win, and more often than not, the personalities are genuinely interesting. Season 21, the second cycle to air this year, was enjoyable and fun, but its predecessor that aired from February to May was flat-out incredible.

Season 20 featured quite possibly the greatest back-and-forth between two teams we’ve ever seen with Rachel and Dave, a combat pilot and his wife, and Art and JJ, two border patrol agents, combining to win every single leg but one. Their rivalry was fascinating to watch, as was the vicious hatred spewed between former Big Brother contestants Brendon and Rachel and dating divorcees Vanessa and Ralph, who arguably despised each other more than any other teams in the history of Amazing Race. The premise might be well-established at this point, but as this year proved, the drama and intrigue certainly are not.

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