Courtesy of NBC/Netflix/FOX.

Shows like The Amazing Race and Top Chef are top notch competition shows that keep us on the edge of our seats. But in a time of global pandemic, heart-pounding high-stakes competition is certainly not what everyone wants. The best thing for the overstimulated brains of those fortunate enough to be able to safely isolate at home is some good old fashion friendly competition, one where the stakes are low and competition is anything but cutthroat. With that in mind, these are seven of the best reality competition shows of the moment that will ease your soul and warm your heart:

Nailed It!

Spoiler alert: there are quite a few baking/cooking shows on this list. There’s a reason lots of us are hooked on the Food Network and other culinary content outlets, and that’s to visually indulge in the amazing concoctions of masters of their craft. Meanwhile, Nailed It offers up the worst of the worst of America’s baking talents and impossibly tasks them to create Instagram-worthy creations under insanely tight time limits. Hijinks ensue. Zany, self-deprecating, and just an all around silly romp. Plus, if there is anyone who can brighten your day no matter your mood during quarantine, it’s host Nicole Byer.

Available with subscription: Netflix

The Circle

For a reality competition show focused on social media, a traditionally trashy genre combined with a topic that easily turns toxic, The Circle is a shockingly light affair. Contestants are thrown into isolated pods in which they interact digitally through the titular “Circle” (a custom social media platform designed for the show) with their competitors via group chat, DMs, and other non-direct means. With the goal of garnering the most communal votes, contestants never actually meet face-to-face, and must sus out if their competitors really are who they say they are.

Available with subscription: Netflix

The Great British Baking Show


The Great British Baking Show (or The Great British Bake Off as it’s known in it’s native UK) is quite possibly the blueprint from which all modern wholesome reality competition shows are produced. It’s got all the hallmarks of great reality television: likable contestants, hilarious hosts, mouthwatering bakes, all without the over the top drama and suspense that permeates other shows of its kind. Filled to the brim with cheeky banter and innuendos, what really has made this one a cultural mainstay is the good old fashioned heart and soul of everyone involved.

Available with subscription: Netflix

Available to buy/rent: Youtube, Google Play, Vudu

Making It

If there was ever a United States answer to The Great British Baking Show (well, besides the actual Great American Backing Show), it would be Making It. Hosted by the endlessly charming Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, and featuring a delightfully eccentric cast of contestants, the show takes the tranquil, bright and cheery essence of its British inspiration and adapts it to the world of crafting and DIY. With weekly challenges designed to show off the makers’ best Etsy-ready projects, the results are absolutely stunning, and end scenes featuring cut contestants in a barnyard band with the hosts ensure eliminations never feel cutthroat.

Available with subscription: Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling TV, fuboTV

Available to buy/rent: Amazon Prime

Available to stream free: NBC.com

The Big Family Cooking Showdown


Don’t let the “showdown” in the show title fool you, The Big Family Cooking Showdown is just as wholesome and low-stress as the rest of this list. Yet another answer to The Great British Baking Show, this one is more of a direct counterpart with two major differences. Whereas the former tends to predominantly stick to sweets and confectionary, Showdown lets us virtually chow down on the whole meal; and instead of just singular contestants, it’s a whole family affair. There is nothing more calming than watching a diverse crowd of families come together in idiosyncratically polite British competition as they compete to serve the best fish n’ chips.

Available with subscription: Netflix

The Masked Singer

It is quite impossible to have not been exposed to The Masked Singer in some way over the last year. While skeptics may scoff at the unsophisticated humor or exponentially growing popularity of the program, those willing to let go will find themselves in a surreal, escapist fantasy they won’t want to leave. Featuring over a dozen identity-concealed celebrities singing in over the top costumes week to week in order to snatch the coveted golden mask trophy, The Masked Singer is great for just being all around goofy and fun (something many shows of it’s nature seem to think is above them these days). Pop culture junkies will love sleuthing together clues in a game of name-that -celebrity, while fans of American Idol and The Voice will stay for the surprisingly great performances and delightfully awful banter.

Available with subscription: Hulu, YouTube TV, fuboTV

Available to stream free: Sling TV, Fox.com

Next in Fashion


Fashion is a ruthless and highly competitive business, and while Netflix’s take on the Project Runway model (no pun intended) certainly doesn’t shy away from that fact, at its core it is a wonderfully off-beat journey that emphasizes creativity and teamwork over drama. Pitting teams of two against each other, the show highlights already-established names in the industry looking to make a larger mark in the fashion world. Hosted by the effervescent Tan France and Alexa Chung, Next in Fashion shows us some insane works of art all while giving us designer after designer to root for.

Available with subscription: Netflix

Where Art, Fashion & Culture Collide

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