In general, I don't enjoy reality shows that revolve around some kind of contest, even if some can be watchable. To me, the competitive reality show subgenre seems based on the principles of humiliation and hierarchy. A group of experts evaluate, often in unqualifiedly obnoxious mode, a group of people clearly placed lower than them on a scale of achievement designed by television network executives. The contestants are expected to show deference to the authority of the experts. As time progresses, whether they win or lose, the contestants are meant to demonstrate gratitude for what they have learnt, and share, often misty-eyed, how they have shed their immature selves, like snakes after moulting.
Competition-based reality shows also reek of a get-rich-quick, gaming-the-system kind of air. And the shows are presented to viewers in an ambivalent tone that simultaneously celebrates and reviles the baseness of human nature. We are asked to witness how the lure of money or fame will compel humans to backstab each other, sabotage their colleagues' opportunities, and scheme to emerge victorious from a labryinth of intrigue. What such shows present--aside from any particular competition- is the principle of competition itself. And that too, at its very ugliest.
Rohit Chopra, of the wonderful blog Anti-History/In Another life, comments on reality television: