The 6 Most Wholesome Reality Shows on Netflix

Reality shows have left a bad impression on those of us that grew up during the early 2000s. Countless shows centering around celebrity drama, ruthless competitions and social pariahs cultivated a television trend based around the belief that viewers need to see the worst sides of people to be entertained. The success of certain series like The Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives, along with the low production cost of reality shows, lead to an era of these “trashy” reality TV titles, tainting people’s perception of the genre as cheap schlock.

But in recent years, a new brand of reality TV has been on the rise. As social trends have drifted away from shock value and towards self care and positivity, television producers have taken notice. Streaming platforms, especially Netflix, have embraced reality television for its cheap cost and wide appeal. These factors have created a large catalog of reality TV shows on Netflix that build people up rather than tear them down. If you’re wondering where to find these “wholesome” reality TV shows, here is our top 6 wholesome reality TV shows to get you started on your reality TV binge session.

  1. 1. The Big Family Cooking Showdown

    What's on Netflix: 2 seasons (12-14 episodes each)

    In this cooking competition, families compete against each other to prove which one has the best home cooking in Britain. The show is organized tournament style, with 2-4 families (depending on the season) going up against each other in cooking challenges each heat.

    The winning families go on to the next round, while losing families go home. What sets this show apart from other cooking competition shows is the dynamic among the families — even if they do squabble from time to time, their love for each other and cooking always shines through.

    An added bonus of the show are the cultural dishes that the competing families use from recipes that have been passed down for generations. It serves as a reminder that no matter where we come from, home cooking is a cherished practice that brings people together.

  2. 2. Big Dreams, Small Spaces

    What's on Netflix: 3 seasons (5-6 episodes each)

    Gardening is a hobby with calming, therapeutic and environmental benefits. Unfortunately, many college students don’t have the space for their own garden. Luckily, for those who want the gardening experience secondhand, or who want some gardening tips for their own small garden, there’s Big Dreams, Small Spaces. The series follows Monty Don, a gardening guru who travels across Britain to give advice to amateur gardeners cultivating their own gardens.

    Each episode follows two households as they create their own dream gardens over the course of a season. While the show’s definition of a “small” garden may seem laughable compared to American standards, Monty’s commitment to helping each household create the best garden they can have within their means is laudable. The enthusiasm for gardening is infectious, and hearing people chat excitedly about an apple tree or a new type of soil they found in their backyard has its own special charm. That energy, along with the beautiful shots of English landscapes, is sure to uplift your spirits and leave you with a smile.

  3. 3. Kitten Rescuers

    What's on Netflix: 1 season (8 episodes)

    For all you cat lovers out there, here’s a show that’s certain to brighten your day. Kitten Rescuers host Jo Brand follows the adventures of Britain’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) as they rescue cats from sticky situations, treat and rehabilitate them at the animal hospital and rehome them to loving families.

    Each episode focuses on a couple of cat cases, with educational segments that teach about cat biology and behavior interspersed throughout the 45-minute runtime. Everyone in the show gushes about their love of cats at some point or another, so friends of felines will find plenty to relate to. A word of warning, the show portrays injured cats, and there are some on-screen surgeries that may turn the stomachs of more squeamish viewers.

    However, things do turn out well in the end for the little “moggies” (as the British affectionately dub their cats), and seeing the lengths that the rescuers will go to for one cat will fill you with warm fuzzy feelings. So if you ever wanted to watch the reality TV equivalent to cat rescue YouTube videos with some kitty education thrown in, this is the perfect show for you.

  4. 4. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

    What's on Netflix: 1 season (8 episodes)

    A reality show about cleaning people’s houses may seem ill-advised on paper, but Tidying Up with Marie Kondo proves not only that it can be done, but that it can be done in a brilliant and inspiring manner. In this series, author and cleaning fanatic Marie Kondo visits messy homes and instructs their residents on how to clean up using her KonMari method.

    Everyone can get satisfaction from watching an unruly mess become a well-organized home, but fellow mess makers gain the added benefit of learning easy to understand, step-by-step ways to overcome their sloppiness. Marie gives her audience tutorials on tidying techniques, such as folding clothes or organizing things into categories, but her method contains so much more. Rather than using shame and guilt to prompt people into cleaning, the KonMari method is specifically oriented around facilitating appreciation for your things so that you can keep the belongings which “spark joy,” or still make you happy to own them, and so you can thank and dispose of the items which no longer spark joy.

    While the show does center around house cleaning, the people who Marie helps get more than a clean house at the end of each episode. They often have a greater appreciation for what they have, showing how doing something as simple as carefully considering the amount of joy the things in our lives bring us can substantially shift the way we see the world. Plus, the happiness that Marie shows when she’s helping others is truly heartwarming. Whether you’re already a clean freak or a total slob, you’ll be sure to learn something valuable from this show.

  5. 5. The Great British Baking Show

    What's on Netflix: 6 seasons (10 episodes each)

    In this classic baking competition show, 12 amateur British bakers prove their baking prowess in three timed challenges that test their baking creativity and technical skills each episode: a signature challenge, in which contestants have to present their own take on a familiar bake; a technical challenge, where contestants must bake a surprise recipe with minimal instructions and a showstopper challenge, where the bakers make their own original extravagant dishes. The baker who underperforms each episode gets sent home, while the one who shines above the rest receives the coveted Star Baker award.

    One of the best parts of the show is seeing the contestants grow as bakers over the course of the season, so when the final rounds roll around, you’ve grown attached to the bakers you’ve watched overcome their shortcomings and worked so hard to make it to the end. Witnessing the camaraderie amongst the contestants as they go through each week’s challenges is heartwarming as well — oftentimes competitors will even offer to help each other if a baking disaster arises.

    Add in some beautiful shots of the English countryside, insightful commentary on the art of baking from the experienced judges and mouth-wateringly beautiful baked goods, and you have the perfect recipe for the ideal wholesome reality TV show. 

  6. 6. Queer Eye 

    What's on Netflix: 3 seasons (8 episodes each)

    If you at all familiar with contemporary reality TV, this was probably the first show you thought of when you read the title of this article. A reboot of the 2003-2007 show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queer Eye follows five gay guys, each with their own specialty, as they travel around the southeastern United States and give a person a makeover each episode. While the word “makeover” implies that the five hosts of the show (otherwise known as the “Fab Five”) only make aesthetic changes to the people they help, the show makes a point to demonstrate that a person’s self-confidence is what truly matters.

    Sure, the guys all offer advice and guidance in their areas of expertise, but they also impart lessons about loving yourself, making an effort for the people you care about, experimenting so you can discover the things you love in life and working towards becoming the best person you can be.

    So alongside tips about food (Antoni’s specialty), fashion (Tan), self-grooming (Jonathan), social life (Karamo) and interior design (Bobby), you’re also getting self-care pointers and motivational advice. What’s not to love?

And there you have it, the most wholesome reality TV shows available on Netflix right now. So the next time you’re feeling down or disillusioned with the real world, put on one of these shows for a reminder that you don’t have to escape to fiction to find something wholesome or uplifting — there’s enough cheerful content to keep your faith in humanity alive.