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Opinion | What J.D. Vance’s Primary Win Says About Populism and Resentment in the G.O.P.

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jane coaston

It’s “The Argument.” I’m Jane Coaston.

It seems like right now any conversation about the 2022 midterms is actually kind of about 2024. And any conversation about 2024 is inevitably about Donald Trump — even if it’s not about Donald Trump the person, but Donald Trump the idea. Because even if Donald Trump doesn’t run again, his ideas, his ethos, his whole vibe will be. It’ll just be coming from a different Republican. In this primary season, we’re seeing a lot of that. So this week I’m joined by two conservative writers who are thinking a lot about what the winning G.O.P. candidates can tell us about the waxing or waning influence of Donald Trump, or the idea of Donald Trump on the party.

chris caldwell

Hello. Nice to meet you both.

david french

Hey, good to meet you.

chris caldwell

Yeah.

david french

I can’t believe we’ve never talked, I don’t think.

jane coaston

Yeah, I actually am kind of surprised that this has never happened until now.

david french

Yeah.

chris caldwell

Good, well, that’s what you’re for, right?

jane coaston

Uh-huh. Yep. I’m bringing people together.

chris caldwell

That’s right.

jane coaston

We try. Here’s David French.

david french

I’m a Senior Editor at “The Dispatch,” a Contributing Writer at “The Atlantic,” and Memphis Grizzlies fan.

jane coaston

And Chris Caldwell.

chris caldwell

I’m a Contributing Editor at “The Claremont Review of Books,” and a Contributing Opinion Writer for The New York Times Opinion Section.

jane coaston

This all started — Chris, you wrote an article for New York Times Opinion about J.D. Vance, the best-selling author who just won the Ohio Republican primary election for Senate, analyzing what you think contributed to his popularity in Ohio’s primary, including and beyond Trump’s endorsement, and I think we can use that as an interesting case study and jumping off point for discussion. I was particularly interested, because I’m from Ohio. I grew up in Ohio. It’s always been a very conservative place in a lot of ways.

But I wanted to walk through your piece with David, because I know he disagrees with some of the major points. First, you say the people who voted for J.D. Vance haven’t changed. What’s changed is that Trump gave them an outlet for their grievances.

But I disagree with that, because in 2016, Vance was not a Trump supporter. He described him as reprehensible, as cultural heroin. Flash forward to his campaign, he said that he underwent a political evolution of sorts, that Trump was right, elites are corrupt, and then he got Trump’s endorsement in the race. So I think if you read “Hillbilly Elegy,” and you read some of what Vance wrote, it wasn’t that there were no problems, it was that Trump was the wrong solution. Why, and what do you think changed, Chris?

chris caldwell

Well, as I say, I am not sure that Vance changed as much as you are. I think through traveling with him, I formed the impression that we might have taken some of the wrong things out of “Hillbilly Elegy.” That is, we might have misidentified the center of the book. That book was written in 2013, ‘14, ‘15. It came out into the Trump campaign, and I think people grasped that as a way to explain Trump.

But I think the emotional center of that book is his relationship with his family. And I think that the sociological explanation of the politics of that region — I think it’s secondary. Now, if you look at the political attitudes the book does describe, a lot of them are really — you’d call them arch conservative.

When I say I think that Trump changed Ohio more than other states, it’s because of the nature of the Ohio economy and the Ohio culture that grew out of that economy. It is, again, a varied economy. But if you have a manufacturing style economy, it has really suffered more than other economies in the last, let’s say, generation. And the fact is, you have never had, with a few peeps here and there, but you’ve never had a presidential nominee of one of the parties who made a full-throated assault on the arrangements that destroyed that economy. And Trump did that, and it’s something unique among presidential candidates.

jane coaston

I’ve been alive since 1987, and I remember George W. Bush’s election in Ohio, and Ohio helped propel him to two presidential elections. And much of the state-level language that George W. Bush and Karl Rove were relying upon was talking about poor white voters, and talking to poor white voters, about a compassionate conservatism.

david french

Right.

jane coaston

So, David, is Vance offering something truly new to low income white voters than say George W. Bush did, or is it a different packaging, and how is that difference actually showing up?

david french

Yeah, I think Bush and Vance were moving towards working class white voters, but appealing to different aspects of the culture of working class white voters. But there’s two things going on at once — one is, Bush, through the language of compassionate conservatism, is appealing to, not just in Ohio, but broader in the United States of America, appealing to the better angels of our nature. So there are people who are being left behind that we need to help.

So you had Medicare expansion under Bush, for example, you had tariffs under Bush, for example. A lot of sort of the economic conservative purists really got upset about so many of the things that Bush did, and for a while it worked. Now, of course, we know what happened as America soured on the Iraq War. We know what happened in the aftermath of Katrina and the financial crash.

But I think what’s different about the appeal now, in the Vance’s appeal, the Trump appeal, is it is much less reminiscent of a George W. Bush, and much more reminiscent of a George Wallace. And when I see Vance, and when I see this newest incarnation of Vance, I’m not seeing so much compassionate conservatism as I am seeing a reemergence though of the kind of populism that dominated much of the South for a very long time in the South. And it’s a populism of resentment. It’s a populism of tribal loyalty. It neglects appeals to better angels of our nature in favor of appeals to rage and anger — hatred even.

And I think what’s ultimately playing here isn’t so much the globalization argument as it is much more the cultural argument. Much less rooted to, oh, here is this specific policy that Donald Trump or J.D. Vance is going to propose that is going to bring back manufacturing to this region, or their specific policy that they advance that the Democrats don’t advance that is going to make my life better. I think it goes much, much deeper than that. It makes me question how unique Ohio is.

jane coaston

Yeah, I’m curious about that, Chris, because from a what to do perspective, what is the difference between what J.D. Vance would offer and what a compassionate conservative who knows that cutting Medicare is politically a very bad idea do? This isn’t J.D. Vance versus Paul Ryan. This is J.D. Vance versus the Republicans who have been Republicans in Ohio since I was a kid.

chris caldwell

Right. Yeah, I think David lays it out as a choosing fellow feeling versus choosing group hostility, and I don’t think that that’s the way it happened. I think that what’s happened is a shift in the economy that’s brought a shift in the class system.

And I think that, let’s say at the dawn of the New Deal, you had a Democratic Party that was, although idiosyncratic, pretty identifiable as the working man’s party, and the Republican Party that was more or less a proprietor’s party. The New Deal changed that, and it created a kind of alternative way of rising through the society. There was sort of a Democratic Party constituency of both working people and, let’s say, educational institutions that gave an alternative way to rise.

And so when you get to the 1980s, neither of the parties had a strong class identity. They had a class mythology in them. I think that the Democrats still thought of themselves as the party of the downtrodden working man, but the downtrodden working man might have a second house on one of the Great Lakes with a boat, you know.

jane coaston

Right.

chris caldwell

What’s happened lately is a few things. We’ve had deindustrialization, but we’ve also had the rise of a new economy, a lot of it around universities, and the Democrats are the party of universities. And so very gradually to the point where you haven’t really even noticed, we have emerged back in a world where the parties have class identities.

And so I think that what you’re seeing is loud class arguments from certain Republican candidates. Vance is one of them, and that’s one of the reasons I began the article by quoting Vance really shouting very passionately about wanting to break up the tech companies. And it’s not that the people who vote for him don’t use the internet or anything like that, but they don’t feel they have any say in the way the new, let’s say, high tech economy and social order is set up.

jane coaston

David, you’re looking askance.

david french

I’m thinking we’re over-analyzing this a lot. I think J.D. Vance is a very online, New Right politician. He has a Twitter constituency —

jane coaston

Right.

david french

— so he has I’ve got your grievances new right Twitter that sort of builds some zealous support that he has in that world, which is really, truthfully, electorally irrelevant. It’s mainly useful because he has some of the same hobby horses that Tucker Carlson has, for example, so that helps get him on Tucker Carlson.

But the reality was, there was this race for the Trump endorsement and he captured the Trump endorsement, and then he’s running in a multi-candidate primary where that Trump endorsement’s going to make a big difference. And you know, he goes for the Trump endorsement in a couple of ways. One of the ways he goes is by fighting like Trump, by appealing to that lowest common denominator kind of rhetoric — fight, fight, fight, never back down, fight, fight, fight.

This isn’t, I don’t think, an exercise in difficult sociological analysis. He was in a multi-candidate primary, he appealed to lowest common denominator populism. One of the things he said is, “Our people hate the Right people. Our people hate the Right people.” And he captured 30 plus percent of the electorates — still bigger than folks thought. Now he’s going to run in a general election in a two-candidate race, where it’s really rough for Democrats, and that negative polarization is the single dominant factor of American politics.

jane coaston

I also think it’s worth recognizing here that because it was a multi-person primary, it’s not like J.D. Vance won an overwhelming number of votes. There were a lot of people running for that nomination, and he beat Josh Mandel, the most try hard person, perhaps, in the history of American politics. And I do want to pivot to the general election, because Chris, you wrote that Vance told you that he thinks he got Trump’s endorsement because he embraced Trump as a political program to be carried out, not just as kind of like a vibe to follow. What is the program? What is he going to do?

chris caldwell

Yeah, I should make very clear, though, that was a beautiful quote that Vance gave, but I didn’t get it. Actually, it’s from a Dayton television reporter named Chelsea Sick. So I think that the context in which she asked him that question was the one you say that a lot of candidates were going for the Trump endorsement.

jane coaston

Right.

chris caldwell

The one who didn’t seek it, Matt Dolan of Cleveland, a State Senator, got about 25 percent of the vote. But this indicates that whoever got that —

jane coaston

Endorsement.

chris caldwell

— endorsement was in a very strong position.

jane coaston

To do what?

chris caldwell

Well, it leaves him in a strong position in the election. Now, what’s he going to do? I don’t know. When he talked about Trumpism being an agenda, he named trade, the border, and not getting us into wars of choice.

And so, I tend to think that Vance will be protectionist, you know. He would not revive the Pacific Trade Pact that Trump pulled out of. He would build the wall, if he could get the votes for it in a non-metaphorical sense, and in a metaphorical sense, he would be much more restrictionist on the Mexican border. And he’ll oppose the Ukraine war — or the United States’ role in it. I think those are three things — trade, the border, foreign policy.

jane coaston

I mean, it still seems to me, and I’m curious to get your thoughts, David, that because of what I’d call the nationalization of politics I grew up with — it makes me sound like I’m 80 years old to talk this way — but I think it is interesting to me that after growing up with Ohio politics being Ohio centered, as if Ohio was, and I quote, “the heart of it all.”

But now you see — like you were just talking about, the trade policy, and the war in Ukraine, and securing the Mexican border. And I’m just like, what does this have to do with my mom? What does this have to do with if I am elected, this thing will happen. We’ll finally do something about the I-71, 75 interchange. I mean, this is perhaps just a general pet peeve of mine.

But I think that the nationalization of politics coincides with the sense that Congress can’t actually do anything because individual congresspeople are talking about the Mexican border, or war with Ukraine — which are both really important issues. But at a certain point, if J.D. Vance wants the wall to get built as a United States Senator, he’s got some power to do so, but not much. If you are supposed to call your Senator when there’s a thing going on in your state and they’re, like, hang on a second, I got to stop unnecessary wars in Ukraine —

david french

Yeah.

jane coaston

— I would get a sense of who are you here for? Are you here for Ohioans, or are you here for this larger political project?

david french

Well you know, I think that the rise of negative polarization kind of enables a J.D. Vance style candidate, who I see as sort of what is he going to be like in the Senate? I think we’ve seen the model, and the model is Josh Hawley. I think that’s what you’ll see with J.D. Vance, is you’re going to see a guy who will become a Senator and he’ll file some really performative legislation. He has this whole album side about, you know, seizing the endowments of universities and things like that.

But if we’re going to take for half a second this idea that if and when he wins the Senate in Ohio that that’s going to show that Republicans really don’t want to see American military support for Ukraine, we need to rethink that kind of analysis because he’s going to win because — he won the primary because he got Trump’s endorsement. He didn’t get Trump’s endorsement because of some really difficult, highly ideological test.

One of the reasons he got it is Trump liked his golf swing. I mean, this is the world we’re living in right now. And what we’ve constantly tried to do, I feel like, in this post-Trump world is we’re constantly trying to apply a complex intellectual frame —

jane coaston

Yeah, we’re trying to intellectualize someone who also endorsed Dr. Oz.

david french

Right, endorsed Dr. Oz, endorsed David Perdue in Georgia for the very simple reason that David Perdue will do his bidding on arguing about the 2020 election. And so this is where I feel like there’s this disconnect often when we try to intellectualize Trump, and there’s this disconnect when we try to intellectualize J.D. Vance.

Trump, A, tapped into this well of animosity. He tapped into it, and I agree that he changed the country in some ways. He changed the country by amplifying pre-existing trends towards partisan antipathy in much of the way that sometimes a symptom can make an underlying disease worse, like a hacking cough can break a rib. He did not really, actually, at the grassroots, introduce some sort of really fascinating new ideological enterprise, because the reality is kind of, whatever Trump did, they liked.

And look, I’ve piled a lot on the Republican populist movement now, but let me flip this around a little bit here. The Democrats really made a pivot towards an identity-based coalition. I remember all the talk after 2012 of the coalition of the ascendant, right? People of color, single women, all of the rising demographics of America are going to rise and swamp you. It’s all over for you, Republican Party.

Why is it all over for you, Republican Party? Well, you’re just too white and too male to win anymore. And I think when your political opponents move very much towards an identity-based coalition and away from a working class-based coalition, you leave a lane and you leave a lot of voters just right there. And if you look at the demographics of Ohio, Ohio is 81 percent white — that’s more white than in America.

jane coaston

I know. I’m aware.

david french

Jane, news to you, Jane?

Ohio is more white than the rest of America. If you look at Iowa that is now completely in the G.O.P. camp, it’s super white. And so it’s not that the Democrats were necessarily wrong that there was an emerging Democratic majority, it’s just that the majority was emerging in a lot of the wrong places where they didn’t need it to emerge. You know, how many more progressives do you need in Brooklyn or Berkeley?

And so you’re doubling down on identity-based politics, leaving behind class-based politics. And my issue isn’t that Republicans have moved into this open field that Democrats have left them, it’s more how they’ve moved into it than the fact that they’ve moved into it.

chris caldwell

I just — there’s a premise that’s come up that I think I disagree with both of you on, which is that there’s something unusual about a Senate candidate dealing with these national issues.

jane coaston

I don’t think — it’s not unusual to me, but my point is that I don’t think it’s good. I think that it is problematic to have candidates who inherently focus on issues that they themselves could not fix, or they themselves could bear no responsibility for.

chris caldwell

Oh, but I think you could. I think, you know, the Senate has a constitutional responsibility regarding treaties. Congress gets to declare war, and not —

jane coaston

Well, they do.

chris caldwell

The border is a national matter. There is a division of labor between, you know, state and national governments, and I think there’s a feeling that the government of Ohio is pretty well in hand.

jane coaston

Thinking more about — you wrote about Trump in your piece, saying that you know, globalization and being against NAFTA was one of Trump’s most effective rallying cries. And you wrote yourself though, “Whether Mr. Trump has effectively stopped anything related to globalization can be debated.” And it seems that maximalism is the privilege of being able to say anything you want without anyone really calling you on it.

chris caldwell

Yeah.

jane coaston

So with Trump, you have someone who doesn’t really do anything related to globalization, because it’s an effective boogeyman. It’s effective to just have the thing that is there is a problem, and we all know what the problem is, but you’re not going to do anything to fix the problem because either the solution is too politically complicated, or too politically unpopular. We are asking, or would be asking, J.D. Vance to do something, to be a United States Senator to represent my mom.

But if you are leaning hard on, here are all of our problems. We are in late-stage capitalism. We have to fire everyone and liquidate the Kulaks. And then you get into actual office, then what do you do?

chris caldwell

I know, but I don’t think people are saying that. And I don’t think that the difference is between rhetoric and reality, I think it has to do with the passage of time. Governing is really complicated, and I think that failed governments, whatever they propose enacting, learn a lot from the way they were thwarted, and they get better at it as time goes on. So the rhetoric always seems to be at odds with reality until it becomes reality. So I don’t, you know, some of these ideas might be good, some of them might be bad, but I’m not suspicious of them just because they’re being proposed.

david french

You know, I think you raise a really interesting question about the distinction between fixing and fighting, OK? So you say Ohio has problems A, B, C and D. What are we going to do to fix them? is one kind of thrust in campaigning. Then there’s another that says the Democrats have problems A, B, C and D. What are we going to do to fight them?

And I think that’s where Trump really discerned the building wave of Republican resentment. It wasn’t so much on the fixing prong, it was much more on the fighting prong. And you know, the interesting thing, if you’re diving into the ideology of Trumpism, is there isn’t really an ideology, it’s more the ambitions and power hunger of a single man. If you look at his single term in office, his two largest concrete policy achievements were a corporate tax cut designed by Paul Ryan, and the nomination of a whole slew of Federalist Society judges that were put into a pipeline over the last generation of establishment, Republican, judicial and legal activism.

jane coaston

And I would note here on that point that there is no reason to believe that any other Republican president would have not nominated those judges.

david french

Oh, yeah.

jane coaston

The judges were going to be in there, no matter what.

david french

Oh, they were coming out of the establishment pipeline. You do not get more establishment than Brett Kavanaugh. But what did make Trump different, it was the fighting, it was the fighting.

And I think if you talked to J.D. Vance in 2016, he would say, wait a minute, this fighting stuff is a distraction from what needs fixing. And I think what changed in 2016 to 2020 was not these folks, it was J.D. and the way he transitioned from the fixing to the fighting. And I think what he saw in Trump was somebody who would inhibit the fixing. He was somebody who was certainly an avatar for grievances, but not a instrument for remedies.

And I think that that’s what I’m talking about when I’m talking about if you have a population of white working class voters where there are real problems and how do you appeal to them and mobilize them, I think that there are constructive ways to appeal and destructive ways. J.D. was concerned in 2016 that the very method he chose in 2020 was deeply destructive, and yet that’s where he went.

chris caldwell

I think there’s no doubt that Trump is a fighting politician. But I think that fighting — I was really struck by the entrance of the word fight into a lot of political rhetoric well before Trump 10 years or so ago. And it seems to have come with a lot of psychological research on how people respond to rhetoric.

And I think it’s of a piece with the negative advertising which we see because negative advertising, whether we like it or not, has a strange effectiveness on voters. If you listen to Elizabeth Warren, she talks about fighting probably even more than Trump does. I think it’s really more a best campaign practice than an ideological side-effect.

david french

I don’t think anyone disputes it. There’s a wide open lane for populist incitement. I think the issue with J.D. Vance, and the issue with the Republican Party in general, is this move that says, we’re going to indulge it, we’re going to stoke it, we’re going to ride it. There isn’t actually a program of governance that’s attached to that beyond a few basic impulses about border security, and some vague ideas about trade.

chris caldwell

I think it’s wrong to assume that there’s going to be a symmetrical Republican policy program to the Democratic policy program. The Democrats are the party of policy programs. They have a lot more initiative in devising new things for government to do. And you’re just not going to find a sort of reflected mirror policy image on Republicans. It’s not a symmetry.

The Republicans will tend to be obstructing new policy initiatives. And I haven’t really thought about what this would mean in terms of rhetoric, but the rhetoric is bound to be different. You know, just simply sitting around and doing nothing, for Republicans, can in certain circumstances be a constructive way to spend four years. And people participate in politics for different reasons, and not all of them are constructive.

jane coaston

Well.

david french

I think we will find unanimous agreement on that one.

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jane coaston

More with David and Chris on the new standard bearers of Trump’s legacy after the break.

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So we have debated whether Vance’s win and Trump’s endorsement of Vance is about policy or about vibes, and whether some of the fighting rhetoric is just usual stuff politicians do to get elected. I want to talk a little bit now about how much we should infer from his victory about where the G.O.P. is going, and if Trump clearly is king here. And I want to know where you think the Republican platform is, going forward, because I don’t think it’s party stalwarts like Mitch McConnell. I think it’s, quote unquote, “fighters” like Ron DeSantis.

david french

Yeah, I think the most politically effective way in which a Republican politician is trying to inherit Trumpism is Ron DeSantis. And that’s not a novel insight here, but there are two aspects to the way in which Ron DeSantis is inheriting Trumpism effectively.

And that is, one, he has the right enemy, and that is the media. So he got very fortunate that the mainstream media, left media, really focused on him early in the pandemic, more so than Texas, more so than Tennessee, more so than anywhere else. Really drilled down on him and launched a frontal attack sort of on the Florida approach. And so he built up this immediate constituency just because people are going to rally on the side of whatever Republican is seen to be in the cross-hairs of the media, so he emerged with the, quote unquote, “right enemy.”

And then the other thing is, what he has done that is different from Trump is that Trump’s fighting was a lot of rhetoric, was a lot of tweeting with a lot of outbursts. DeSantis’ version of fighting is a lot of legislation aimed at targets that are popular targets for the right. So, in essence, DeSantis is the next evolution of Trumpism in that it’s taking the online beef into the real world through legislation.

Now, a lot of this is going to fall apart in the courts. It’s not going to work. You know, in other words, this fight, in a real sense, is going to fail. But the fact that he did it, the fact that he tried it, is enough. And that’s why I think he’s in a front running position if Trump is not on the ballot, and could seriously challenge Trump if Trump does choose to run and DeSantis chooses to challenge him.

chris caldwell

Yeah, and DeSantis is the first person to identify issues like this and come up with a whole legislative program around it and pick fights on them. But they’re not merely symbolic, because should the legislation be struck down, it will show you where to go with new legislation. It’s a program, and it’s really interesting. He’s an extraordinarily gifted politician.

The question I think about DeSantis is whether he has charisma at the national level, and that’s just one of those things that you can’t really figure out until you try it. But he’s solved the problem of coming up with a more focused, more policy-oriented version of Trumpism.

jane coaston

I think my last question for both of you — I start with you, Chris — is, outside of this race with Vance, what other midterm races do you think are going to be most interesting to you, or most indicative to you of where the G.O.P. is going?

chris caldwell

The Pennsylvania Senate race clearly looks interesting, and obviously Alaska is striking in different ways. But you know, I’m struck — when I look at the transformation of Ohio was almost the perfect bellwether state for many years. For 14 consecutive elections, they picked the winning presidential candidate until they lurched wildly off last election and went for Trump by eight points.

And it makes you think like, wow, Ohio must now be one of the most polarized states in the country. But it’s actually not. There are really now only about eight swing states left in the country, and that limits the number of races that are going to really tell you something.

jane coaston

What do you think, David?

david french

You know, the obvious answers to me are Pennsylvania and Georgia. And the reason I say Pennsylvania and Georgia is that in both of those circumstances, unlike Ohio — the Ohio primary, you had all but one of the leading candidates really wanted that Trump endorsement. But both in Pennsylvania and in Georgia, really you’ve got these races where he endorses Dr. Oz, he endorses David Perdue, where it really seems like this is Trump through just the shear force of Trump sort of trying to bully his candidate to victory.

And I think what you’ll see there, in both Pennsylvania and in Georgia, is going to be an interesting test on what kind of raw power does Trump have in a mano a mano race where the electorate wouldn’t necessarily automatically default to his candidate otherwise. I don’t think Trump’s candidates are going to prevail. You know, we’ll see soon enough.

I think you might see some narrative shifting move to say, wait a minute, was the J.D. Vance win a product of unique circumstances, and is the Republican Party maybe not as loyal to Trump? But the bottom line is, I think we’re in what I would call, for those who don’t want to see Donald Trump as the Republican standard bearer in 2024, which I think would be very, very bad for the country, you’re kind of in a race against time, which is, I think as each month passes, his grip on the party slips just a little bit — just a little bit. But will it have slipped enough by next summer when candidates are announcing that he’ll either think twice before announcing himself, or there will be a sufficient challenge to where there’s a real possibility that he could lose a primary? And that is a question I just don’t the answer to.

jane coaston

On that comforting note, David, Chris, thank you so much for joining me.

chris caldwell

Thank you.

david french

Thanks so much, Jane. [MUSIC]

jane coaston

David French is Senior Editor at “The Dispatch” and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. Chris Caldwell is a Contributing Opinion Writer and author of “The Age of Entitlement: America Since the ‘60s.” We’ll link Chris’s article in the episode notes, along with a piece I wrote in 2017 for National Review called “What if There is No Such Thing as Trumpism?” I am still right.

“The Argument” is a production of New York Times Opinion. It’s produced by Phoebe Lett, Elisa Gutierrez and Vishakha Darbha, edited by Alison Bruzek and Anabel Bacon, with original music by Isaac Jones and Pat McCusker, mixing by Pat McCusker. Fact-checking by Kate Sinclair, Mary Marge Locker and Michelle Harris. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta, with editorial support from Kristina Samulewski. Our executive producer is Irene Noguchi.

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Skilled cake artists create mouthwatering replicas of handbags, sewing machines and more in a mind-bending baking contest inspired by a popular meme. Stars: Mikey Day, Sam Cade, Andrew Fuller, Jonny Manganello

7. Survivor (2000– )
TV-PG | 60 min | Adventure, Game-Show, Reality-TV

A reality show where a group of contestants are stranded in a remote location with little more than the clothes on their back. The lone survivor of this contest takes home a million dollars. Stars: Jeff Probst, Lillian Morris, Jon Dalton, Rob Mariano

8. The Curse of Oak Island (2014– )
TV-PG | 60 min | Documentary, Reality-TV

Rick and Marty Lagina, two brothers from Michigan with a life-long interest in the mystery of Oak Island, renew efforts to discover the legendary treasure with sophisticated machinery. Stars: Robert Clotworthy, Marty Lagina, Rick Lagina, Charles Barkhouse

9. Married at First Sight (2014– )
TV-14 | 83 min | Reality-TV

A reality show that follows singles yearning for a life-long partnership as they agree to a provocative proposal: getting legally married to a stranger the moment they first meet. Stars: Pepper Schwartz, Calvin Roberson, Viviana Coles, Jessica Griffin

10. Below Deck (2013– )
TV-14 | 43 min | Reality-TV

Follows the crew of a multi million dollar charter boat in the Caribbean. Stars: Lee Rosbach, Kate Chastain, Eddie Lucas, Ben Robinson

11. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014– )
TV-MA | 30 min | Comedy, History, News

Former Daily Show host and correspondent John Oliver brings his persona to this weekly news satire program. Stars: John Oliver, David Kaye, Ryan Barger, Noel MacNeal

12. Naked and Afraid (2013– )
TV-14 | 43 min | Adventure, Game-Show, Horror

Reality show where two strangers (typically 1 male, 1 female) try to survive in the wild for up to 21 days, naked. Stars: Michael Brown, Amanda Kaye, E.J. Snyder, Laura Zerra

13. Clarkson’s Farm (2021– )
TV-PG | 45 min | Documentary, Comedy, Reality-TV

Follow Jeremy Clarkson as he attempts to run a farm in the countryside. Stars: Jeremy Clarkson, Kaleb Cooper, Charlie Ireland, Gerald Cooper

14. Deadliest Catch (2005– )
TV-PG | 55 min | Documentary, Adventure, Reality-TV

A documentary series chronicling the real-life high-sea adventures of the Alaskan crab fishermen. This is the most deadly profession in the world. Stars: Mike Rowe, Sig Hansen, Keith Colburn, Jake Anderson

15. The Masked Singer (2019–2022)
TV-PG | 60 min | Game-Show, Music, Reality-TV

A singing competition guessing game based on Korean format King of Mask Singer. 12 celebrity performers wear costumes to conceal identities. One singer is eliminated each week and unmasked. Small hints are given for the viewer guess along. Stars: Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, Ken Jeong, Nicole Scherzinger, Robin Thicke

16. Below Deck Mediterranean (2016– )

TV-14 | 43 min | Reality-TV

A reality show following the crew of the Ionian Princess, a luxury charter yacht in the Mediterranean. Stars: Sandy Yawn, Hannah Ferrier, Malia White, Colin Macy-O’Toole

17. Beyond the Edge (2022– )
60 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

Features celebrities as contestants, competing in a battle of strategy, wits and muscle. Stars: Mauro Ranallo, Lauren Alaina, Ray Lewis, Craig Morgan

18. Ghost Adventures (2008– )
TV-PG | 45 min | Documentary, History, Reality-TV

Zak Bagans, Aaron Goodwin, Billy Tolley, and Jay Wasley investigate the scariest, most notorious, haunted places in the world. Stars: Zak Bagans, Aaron Goodwin, Billy Tolley, Jay Wasley

19. Too Hot to Handle (2020– )

TV-MA | 40 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV, Romance

On the shores of paradise, gorgeous singles meet and mingle. But there’s a twist. To win a $100,000 grand prize, they’ll have to give up sex. Stars: Desiree Burch, Carly Lawrence, Emily Miller, Chase de Moor

20. Top Gear (2002– )

TV-PG | 60 min | Adventure, Comedy, Reality-TV

The hosts talk about everything car-related. From new cars to how they’re fueled, this show has it all. Stars: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May, The Stig

21. Drag Race España (2021– )

TV-14 | 66 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

Spanish Drag superstar Supremme Deluxe presides as ten of Spain’s most talented queens compete to be crowned Spain’s first Drag Race Superstar. Stars: Carmen Farala, Sagittaria, Killer Queen, Supremme De Luxe

22. Love Is Blind (2020– )

TV-MA | 48 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV, Romance

Singles who want to be loved for who they are, rather than what they look like, have signed up for a less conventional approach to modern dating. Stars: Nick Lachey, Vanessa Lachey, Deepti Vempati, Shayne Jansen

23. Impractical Jokers (2011– )

TV-14 | 30 min | Comedy, Reality-TV

Q, Sal, Joe and Murr are real-life best friends who love challenging each other to the most outrageous dares and stunts ever caught on hidden camera. Stars: Brian Quinn, James Murray, Sal Vulcano, Joe Gatto

24. Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof (2022– )

Reality-TV

Features eight celebrities embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime epic adventure, under the training of extreme athlete Wim Hof, aka ‘The Iceman.’ The group undertakes challenges that will test them both physically and mentally. Stars: Wim Hof, Lee Mack, Holly Willoughby, Alfie Boe

25. Below Deck Down Under (2022– )

TV-14 | 43 min | Reality-TV

Explores the complex, often explosive dynamics of the crew and a rotating group of demanding charter guests on a yacht in northeastern Australia. Stars: Jason Chambers, Magda Ziomek, Aesha Scott, Ryan McKeown

26. 90 Day Fiancé (2014– )

TV-14 | 85 min | Reality-TV, Romance

Using a unique 90-day engagement visa, four women travel to the US to live with their American fiancés for the first time. Each couple has 90 days to wed before the visas expire and the women must return home. Stars: Natalie Podiakova, Mike Youngquist, Nicole Nafziger, Azan Tefou

27. The Great Pottery Throw Down (2015– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

Ten home potters from around the country head to Stoke-on-Trent, the home of pottery, in their quest to become Top Potter. Stars: Keith Brymer Jones, Richard Miller, Sara Cox, Kate Olivia Malone

28. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (2010– )

TV-14 | 44 min | Reality-TV

A reality series that follows some of the most affluent women in the country as they enjoy the lavish lifestyle that only Beverly Hills can provide. Stars: Kyle Richards, Adrienne Maloof, Camille Grammer, Lisa Vanderpump

29. The Great British Baking Show (2010– )

TV-PG | 60 min | Reality-TV

Bakers attempt three challenges each week trying to impress the judges enough to go through to the next round and eventually are crowned Britain’s best amateur baker. Stars: Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc, Sue Perkins

30. Temptation Island (2019– )

TV-14 | 42 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

Couples travel to a tropical paradise where they are forced to decide if they’re ready to commit to one another for the rest of their lives. A reboot of the 2001 reality series. Stars: Mark L. Walberg, Toneata Morgan, Evan Smith, Ashley Howland

31. Judy Justice (2021– )

TV-14 | Reality-TV

Judge Judy Sheindlin presides over a new array of cases, litigants and judgments.Stars: Kevin Rasco, Judy Sheindlin, Whitney Kumar, Sarah Rose

32. Alone (2015– )

TV-14 | 44 min | Documentary, Game-Show, Reality-TV

Ten survival “experts” attempt to survive alone. The winner receives $500,000. Stars: Nicole Apelian, Brooke Whipple, Jesse Bosdell, Brad Richardson

33. Naked Attraction (2016– )

60 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV, Romance

A controversial dating series in which people see potential love interests whose naked bodies are gradually revealed to them. Then they must get naked themselves and choose. Stars: Anna Richardson, Sarah Jayne Snow, Melissa Edden, Brianna Jones

34. Married at First Sight Australia (2015– )

TV-14 | 42 min | Reality-TV

Eight singles (out of thousands of applicants), chosen by clinical physiologist John Aiken, neuropsychotherapist Dr. Trisha Stratford and psychologist Sabina Read, come to find themselves …Stars: Georgie Gardner, John Aiken, Mel Schilling, Alessandra Rampolla

35. MADtv (1995–2016)

TV-14 | 60 min | Comedy, Reality-TV, Talk-Show

A sketch comedy show based on the seminal Mad Magazine. Stars: Michael McDonald, Debra Wilson, Aries Spears, Bobby Lee

36. American Idol (2002– )

TV-PG | 42 min | Game-Show, Music, Reality-TV

Twelve American finalists (six men and six women) compete in a singing contest. Stars: Ryan Seacrest, Mark Thompson, Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell

37. The Challenge (1998– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Adventure, Game-Show, Reality-TV

Past members of “The Real World,” “Road Rules,” “Are You the One?,” first time cast members called ‘Fresh Meat,’ relatives of these members, and past members from other shows compete against each other for the chance to win a cash prize. Stars: T.J. Lavin, Chris ‘C.T.’ Tamburello, Johnny ‘Bananas’ Devenanzio, Aneesa Ferreira

38. Below Deck Sailing Yacht (2020– )

TV-14 | 43 min | Reality-TV

Capt. Glenn Shephard and his crew set sail in a luxury sailing yacht to explore the crystal-clear blue waters of the Ionian Sea. The physicality of working on a sailing yacht brings new … Stars: Glenn Shephard, Daisy Kelliher, Gary King, Colin Macrae

39. 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days (2017– )

TV-14 | 85 min | Documentary, Reality-TV

Couples who have applied for or received a K-1 visa “available uniquely to foreign fiancés of U.S. citizens”, have ninety days to arrange for and have the marriage ceremony. The visa is not to give time “to decide IF” they will marry. Stars: Darcey Silva, Usman Umar, Angela Deem, Jesse Meester

40. Hell’s Kitchen (2005– )

TV-14 | 42 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

World renowned chef Gordon Ramsay puts aspiring young chefs through rigorous cooking challenges and dinner services at his restaurant in Hollywood, “Hell’s Kitchen”. Stars: Gordon Ramsay, Jean Philippe Susilovic, Scott Leibfried, Jason Thompson

41. Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls (2022– )

TV-14 | Reality-TV

Superstar Lizzo is on the hunt for confident, badass women to join her world tour, and only the most talented dancers will have what it takes to twerk it out on world stages with her and join in the ranks of the elite BIG GRRRLS. Stars: Lizzo, Jayla Sullivan, Sydney Bell, Charity Holloway

42. The French Chef (1962–1973)

TV-G | 30 min | Documentary, Short, Family

Julia Child teaches the art of French cooking. Star: Julia Child

43. Top Chef (2006– )

TV-14 | 44 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

A reality competition show in which chefs compete against one another in culinary challenges and are a judged by a panel of food and wine experts, with one or more contestants eliminated each episode. Stars: Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons, Richard Blais

44. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars (2012– )

TV-14 | 60 min | Game-Show, Reality-TV

New show will serve up a new twist on the mega-hit RuPaul’s Drag Race as it pits queens from previous seasons in a wig-to-wig drag battle royale. Stars: RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Carson Kressley, Ross Mathews

45. Judge Judy (1996–2021)

TV-G | 30 min | Short, Comedy, Crime

Judge Judy Sheindlin , a former judge from New York, tackles actual, small claims cases with her no-nonsense attitude in which damages of no more than $5,000 can be awarded. Stars: Petri Hawkins Byrd, Judy Sheindlin, Jerry Bishop, Bea Arthur

46. LOL: Last One Laughing Germany (2021– )

Comedy, Reality-TV

In this comedy-gameshow, ten German comedians try to be the last one laughing. Make your opponents laugh, while staying serious yourself. Stars: Anke Engelke, Max Giermann, Michael Herbig, Carolin Kebekus

47. Luxe Listings Sydney (2021– )

TV-14 | Reality-TV

The Sydney real estate market is hotter than ever, with demand for exclusive properties far outweighing the supply. Money never sleeps, and these real estate agents will stop at nothing to deliver the best results for their clients. Stars: D’Leanne Lewis, Simon Cohen, Gavin Rubinstein, Tammy Soglanich

48. The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch (2020– )

TV-PG | 42 min | Horror, Mystery, Reality-TV

A team of experts and scientists undertakes exhaustive research at Skinwalker Ranch, an infamous location for paranormal activity and UFO sightings. Stars: Travis Taylor, Bryant ‘Dragon’ Arnold, Brandon Fugal, Erik Bard

49. Get Organized with the Home Edit (2020– )

TV-PG | 30 min | Reality-TV

Organizers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin of The Home Edit conquer clutter and transform lives. Reese Witherspoon and Molly Sims coproduce. Stars: Clea Shearer, Joanna Teplin, Reese Witherspoon, Jordana Brewster

50. Jackass (2000–2007)

TV-MA | 535 min | Action, Comedy, Reality-TV

The cast performs various crazy stunts for our amusement. Stars: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Chris Pontius, Dave England

Bravo Series – The Real Housewives Of…

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (2010) (TV Series)

Kyle Richards as Self 245 episodes • 2010–2022
Adrienne Maloof as Self 96 episodes • 2010–2021
Camille Grammer as Self 148 episodes • 2010–2021
Lisa Vanderpump as Self 220 episodes • 2010–2021
Lisa Rinna as Self 160 episodes • 2014–2022
Mauricio Umansky as Self 162 episodes • 2010–2021
Erika Jayne as Self 136 episodes • 2015–2022
Ken Todd as Self 149 episodes • 2010–2021
Kim Richards as Self 154 episodes • 2010–2021
Dorit Kemsley as Self 112 episodes • 2016–2022
Brandi Glanville as Self 130 episodes • 2011–2021
Yolanda Hadid as Self 99 episodes • 2012–2021
Giggy Vanderpump as Self 90 episodes • 2010–2021
Portia Umansky as Self 93 episodes • 2010–2021
Eileen Davidson as Self 88 episodes • 2014–2021
Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave as Self 87 episodes • 2017–2021
Taylor Armstrong as Self 87 episodes • 2010–2020
Paul Kemsley as Self 71 episodes • 2016–2021

The Real Housewives of Orange County (2006) (TV Series)

Vicki Gunvalson as Self 267 episodes • 2006–2022
Tamra Judge as Self 269 episodes • 2007–2022
Shannon Storms Beador as Self 169 episodes • 2014–2022
Heather Dubrow as Self 161 episodes • 2012–2022
Eddie Judge as Self 143 episodes • 2011–2022
Briana Culberson as Self 133 episodes • 2006–2019
Kelly Dodd as Self 116 episodes • 2016–2022
Gretchen Rossi as Self 141 episodes • 2008–2022
Terry J. Dubrow as Self 119 episodes • 2012–2022
Alexis Bellino as Self 119 episodes • 2009–2020
Emily Simpson as Self 81 episodes • 2015–2022
Gina Kirschenheiter as Self 80 episodes • 2018–2022
Slade Smiley as Self 93 episodes • 2006–2017
Meghan King as Self 93 episodes • 2014–2022
Jeana Keough as Self…93 episodes • 2006–2022
Ryan Vieth as Self 87 episodes • 2007–2019
Sophie Beador as Self 88 episodes • 2014–2022
Michael Wolfsmith as Self 85 episodes • 2006–2019

The Real Housewives of New Jersey (2009) (TV Series)

Teresa Giudice as Self 221 episodes • 2009–2022
Melissa Gorga as Self 195 episodes • 2010–2022
Joe Gorga as Self 156 episodes • 2010–2022
Jacqueline Laurita as Self 128 episodes • 2009–2022
Dolores Catania as Self 117 episodes • 2009–2022
Joe Giudice as Self 128 episodes • 2009–2022
Gia Giudice as Self 119 episodes • 2009–2022
Milania Giudice as Self 117 episodes • 2009–2022
Caroline Manzo as Self 106 episodes • 2009–2022
Gabriella Giudice as Self 101 episodes • 2009–2022
Kathy Wakile as Self 105 episodes • 2010–2022
Chris Laurita as Self 97 episodes • 2009–2022
Margaret Josephs as Self 87 episodes • 2017–2022
Audriana Giudice as Self 89 episodes • 2010–2022
Jennifer Aydin as Self 71 episodes • 2018–2022
Jackie Goldschneider as Self 71 episodes • 2018–2022
Danielle Staub as Self 90 episodes • 2009–2022
Gino Gorga as Self 76 episodes • 2011–2022

The Real Housewives of New York City (2008) (TV Series)

Ramona Singer as Self 262 episodes • 2008–2021
Luann de Lesseps as Self 248 episodes • 2008–2021
Sonja Morgan as Self…232 episodes • 2010–2021
Bethenny Frankel as Self 170 episodes • 2008–2021
Dorinda Medley as Self 153 episodes • 2010–2021
Carole Radziwill as Self 144 episodes • 2012–2021
Heather Thomson as Self 87 episodes • 2012–2021
Tinsley Mortimer as Self 96 episodes • 2010–2021
Jill Zarin as Self 78 episodes • 2008–2021
Alex McCord as Self 64 episodes • 2008–2021
Kelly Bensimon as Self 57 episodes • 2009–2020
Simon van Kempen as Self 59 episodes • 2008–2021
Mario Singer as Self 59 episodes • 2008–2021
Kristen Taekman as Self 48 episodes • 2014–2020
Leah McSweeney as Self 45 episodes • 2020–2021
Aviva Drescher as Self 49 episodes • 2012–2021
Avery Singer as Self 45 episodes • 2008–2021

The Real Housewives of Miami (2011) (TV Series)

Adriana De Moura as Self 56 episodes • 2011–2022
Alexia Echevarria as Self 53 episodes • 2011–2022
Marysol Patton as Self 50 episodes • 2011–2022
Lisa Hochstein as Self 49 episodes • 2012–2022
Lea Black as Self 41 episodes • 2011–2013
Joanna Krupa as Self 34 episodes • 2012–2013
Leonard Hochstein as Self 24 episodes • 2012–2022
Larsa Pippen as Self 22 episodes • 2011–2022
Ana Quincoces as Self 22 episodes • 2012–2013
Frederic Marq as Self 22 episodes • 2011–2013
Romain Zago as Self 22 episodes • 2012–2013
Karent Sierra as Self 21 episodes • 2012–2013
Peter Rosello as Self 16 episodes • 2011–2022
Elsa Patton as Self 16 episodes • 2011–2013
Guerdy Abraira as Self 15 episodes • 2021–2022
Julia Lemigova as Self 15 episodes • 2021–2022
Nicole Martin as Self 15 episodes • 2021–2022
Marta Krupa as Self 15 episodes • 2012–2013

The Real Housewives of Atlanta (2008) (TV Series)

Kandi Burruss as Self 279 episodes • 2009–2022
Cynthia Bailey as Self 259 episodes • 2010–2022
NeNe Leakes as Self 230 episodes • 2008–2022
Porsha Williams as Self 209 episodes • 2012–2022
Kenya Moore as Self 197 episodes • 2012–2022
Phaedra Parks as Self 175 episodes • 2010–2022
Shereé Whitfield as Self 142 episodes • 2008–2022
Todd Tucker as Self…140 episodes • 2011–2022
Gregg Leakes as Self 121 episodes • 2008–2021
Peter A. Thomas as Self 115 episodes • 2010–2021
Marlo Hampton as Self 105 episodes • 2011–2022
Kim Zolciak-Biermann as Self 92 episodes • 2008–2021
Apollo Nida as Self 72 episodes • 2010–2021
Joyce Jones as Self 74 episodes • 2009–2021
Lauren Williams as Self 66 episodes • 2012–2021
Malorie Bailey as Self 73 episodes • 2010–2021
Shamea Morton as Self 68 episodes • 2012–2021
DonJuan Clark as Self 65 episodes • 2009–2021

The Real Housewives of Potomac (2016) (TV Series)

Gizelle Bryant as Self… 114 episodes • 2016–2021
Karen Huger as Self 114 episodes • 2016–2021
Robyn Dixon as Self 114 episodes • 2016–2021
Ashley Darby as Self 113 episodes • 2016–2021
Candiace Dillard as Self 88 episodes • 2018–2021
Monique Samuels as Self 93 episodes • 2017–2021
Ray Huger as Self 92 episodes • 2016–2021
Michael Darby as Self 91 episodes • 2016–2021
Chris Bassett as Self 78 episodes • 2018–2021
Chris Samuels as Self 63 episodes • 2017–2020
Juan Dixon as Self 70 episodes • 2016–2021
Charrisse Jackson Jordan as Self 79 episodes • 2016–2021
Wendy Osefo as Self 46 episodes • 2020–2021
Corey Dixon as Self 47 episodes • 2016–2021
Carter Dixon as Self 45 episodes • 2016–2021
Grace Bryant as Self 47 episodes • 2016–2021
Milani Samuels as Self 43 episodes • 2017–2020
Chris Samuels Jr. as Self 42 episodes • 2017–2020