ENTERTAINMENT NEWS - But 2017 may be seen as the year that changed all that, thanks to the unexpected stars of shows like Love Island and The Only Way is Essex.
Feminism, mental health and positive body image are some of the big talking points that dominated this year's reality shows and got the nation talking.
So as we slip on our sparkly dresses and head to ITV's Gala in London, we take with us the question - did reality TV just become more intelligent?
The moment when bomb disposal expert Camilla Thurlow turned to business director Jonny Mitchell and asked the question "Shouldn't we all be feminists? Surely you believe in equality?" may sound like an excerpt from a particularly heated debated on Woman's Hour, but no, it happened in a villa in Ibiza, televised live on ITV2.
Thurlow, who has worked in Cambodia and Zimbabwe, ended a long stint in Afghanistan to take part in the show as a way of overcoming her "social barriers".
She became an instant hit with viewers because of the way she handled herself on screen, using it as a platform to express her views on the Mediterranean refugee crisis and feminism, after she decided to stop dating Mitchell on the show after he told her he felt emasculated by women who wanted to pay their share on dates.