Seeing Double

These 8 Shows Prove Everything Old Is New Again

Watching any of these will give you a serious case of TV déjà vu.

by Dyana Goldman
The new series 'Luann & Sonja: Welcome to Crappie Lake' bears striking resemblance to the reality TV...
Bravo; 20th Century Fox Television

You know how the saying goes: "Everything old is new again." And never has that felt more accurate than when talking about today's world of entertainment. It's not just the fact that we live in the era of reboots, remakes, and live-action adaptations, either — even new shows often have a familiar feeling.

Having worked in television, I've seen how similar premises get pitched time and time again. As viewers, we want something comforting in its familiarity, yes... but we also want to watch shows that bring something new and exciting to the table. It's basically why Greta Gerwig's Barbie has been such a hit.

Not surprisingly, 2023 proved to be a year full of show releases — either brand-new premieres or series that dropped new seasons — that felt an awful lot like popular shows from the past. Keep reading to discover these "new-meets-old" titles, along with their predecessors.

Before Luann & Sonja: Welcome to Crappie Lake, There Was The Simple Life

Placing the wealthy in scenarios where they have to live like "normal people" is a premise that just seems to lead to good laughs. Bravo's new show takes two of our favorite New York Housewives, Luann de Lesseps and Sonja Morgan (although, does anyone else think Ramona would have been a great addition?), and drops them in the height of summer in the small town of Benton, Illinois.

There, they interact with locals and do as they do — including tasks like fishing in the muddy water using only their hands — as well as "help" the small town try to attract more tourism to the area.

This is basically the second coming of The Simple Life — a reality show from the early 2000s, where wealthy socialite besties Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton similarly invaded small-town America and lent a hand to everyday workers. Whether they actually "helped" is another story, of course. But both shows are equally as hilarious as they are good-natured. To see this throwback show, you can buy episodes on Apple TV.

Before Love & Death, There Was Candy

True-crime fans may have already been familiar with the Candy Montgomery case out of Texas, where this religious housewife committed a gruesome small-town murder. HBO Max released Love & Death in May, and it’s done extremely well on the platform. Starring Elizabeth Olsen, it showcases the events leading up to and after the horrific murder of Betty Gore.

Hulu’s 2022 version of the tale, Candy, stars Jessica Biel and Melanie Lynskey. This show tends to take on more of a psychological thriller approach, really getting into the depths of what was going on in the mind of Candy Montgomery leading up to this event. If you’re intrigued by the story, both series are worth a watch.

Before Ghost Adventures, There Was Ghost Hunters

Ghost Adventures, originally for Discovery+ (now available on HBO Max), released its 28th season (!) in May of this year. Paranormal investigator Zak Bagans travels all over the country and abroad to haunted sites and interviews locals about the alleged hauntings. Then, joined by his team of co-investigators, they hold a “lockdown” to prove that the site does have paranormal activity.

Zak wasn’t the first to hunt ghosts, however. Jason Howes and Grant Wilson, founders of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), hosted Syfy’s Ghost Hunters, which debuted in 2004 and ran until 2016. The show continued to get revived on different networks, and most recently, it aired Season 16 for Travel Channel this past April. The show similarly discusses the history of these haunted sites and interviews locals before the “Destination Fear Team” goes in and investigates for themselves.

These shows are so similar, in fact, that they’re basically interchangeable. Just like Ghost Adventures, you can watch Ghost Hunters on HBO Max.

Before The Big D, There Was Ex On The Beach

The Big D (“D” stands for divorce… get your mind out of the gutter) was picked up by USA Network and dropped its first episode in June. The show is hosted by Bachelor Nation’s JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers and features six recently divorced couples searching for love again, right alongside their exes. The series is set in Costa Rica (on the beach) and includes lots of drama, hookups, and scantily clad singles.

All this is very similar to a show that premiered on MTV back in 2018, Ex On The Beach. (And to go even further back, the US version was based on the British series by the same name, which first aired in 2014).

In this series, cast members live in a house with other singles, only to be blindsided by the arrival of their exes. Ex is an ex, is an ex, but no matter which show you watch, you know the premise is a recipe for disaster. The type we all like to watch. You can buy these episodes on Apple TV or watch the current season on MTV, Ex on The Beach Couples: Now Or Never, where exes show up to shake things up between existing couples.

Before Farmer Wants a Wife, There Was The Farmer Wants a Wife

Fox aired its dating reality series Farmer Wants a Wife in 2023, which, as it sounds, is about farmers looking for wives. They have quite a good amount to choose from as a large group of singles from cities across America come to their farms to win their hearts. It’s The Bachelor for farmers (see — familiar but new).

It was in Australia that The Farmer Wants a Wife took place and with a very similar premise: five farmers chose between several women to find the one who could settle down at home on the ranch. This Australian reality show aired in 2007 and went on to have four seasons.

Before Guy’s Grocery Games, There Was Supermarket Sweep

A Food Network staple, Guy’s Grocery Games is going on Season 34. Host Guy Fieri has four chefs compete in challenges all taking place within a grocery store. The chefs must shop, prepare, and plate their dishes all within a real supermarket. The timer begins and chefs are off running with grocery carts throughout the store.

The original concept of racing through a grocery store for a television competition dates back to the ‘60s, with the ABC show Supermarket Sweep. Contestants had a simpler task — throw as many items into their grocery carts as they could to see which added up to the highest total. Two iterations of the show were later made: one in 1990 and, most recently, with SNL’s Leslie Jones as the host in 2020. I was surprised to find this vintage (and now unintentionally comical) show on Amazon’s Freevee as well as on Pluto TV.

Before Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge, There Was Pimp My Ride

Superfans compete by transforming ordinary vehicles that hold some significance from their past into the Hot Wheels car of their dreams on this NBC competition show. With the help of automotive magicians known as “The Car Pool,” the competitors will create their, you may say, “pimped-out” designs.

While it was not a competition series, the car makeover premise existed way back in the early 2000s, when host, rapper Xzibit, helped drivers with dumpy cars transform them on MTV’s Pimp My Ride. You can buy episodes of this series on Apple TV.

Before The Afterparty, There Was Reunion

This quirky “whodunit” originally premiered on Apple TV in 2022 and just launched Season 2 in 2023. But it’s Season 1, which centers around a murder at a high school reunion, that sparked a memory in our millennial minds of a show that briefly aired on Fox in 2005 titled Reunion.

Reunion was a drama but the central premise was also a murder being investigated at the character’s high school reunion. Detective Marjorino (played by Mathew St. Patrick) was nothing like Afterparty’s Detective Danner (played by Tiffany Haddish), but The Afterparty could be seen as the comedic version of Fox’s Reunion. Unfortunately, unless you taped it on a VHS, I don’t think you’ll be able to watch this short-lived series.