From Southie Rules to Wahlburgers: Which Boston-Area Reality TV Show Had the Best Ratings?

Numbers don't lie, friends. In the words of my good friend Jay Z, let's check the scoreboard.

It’s been quite a year for Boston in terms of reality TV. From the disasters that were Southie Rules and Wicked Single, to obscure and unusual originals like Big Bad Wood and Saint Hoods, it seems like Boston has been portrayed in every possible manner on the small screen.

We’ve definitely had more lows than highs in terms of accurate representation in the media last year. I even proposed last winter that Boston may actually be the new New Jersey of reality TV. But 2014 is looking up and way up.

Meet our new local frontrunner: Wahlburgersproduced by and starring Mark, Donnie, and Paul Wahlberg as they run their family restaurant of the same name. And next, meet the underdog: The Fighters, which follows a group of Southie guys making boxing a lifestyle. The two shows premiered last week (Wahlburgers airs Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. on A&E, The Fighters on Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Discovery), and based on premiere ratings alone, they’re looking promising.

Here, check out the viewership of many of the Boston reality shows that have premiered in the past year. These numbers are based on the number of viewers for season premiere episodes:


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Southie Rules, despite its poor reviews, has the highest season premiere viewership among 2013’s shows with 1.28 million viewers. The first season of Boston’s Finest, a docu-series about the BPD produced by Donnie Wahlberg, came in a close second with 1.21 million viewers, a well-deserved figure considering Finest is a show that depicted Boston to its closest form of reality. Saint HoodsBoston’s Finest, Season 2, and The Vineyard also had a considerable amount of viewers for its season premieres with numbers just short of one million. Between Wicked Single and Big Bad Wood, ratings were so low that they didn’t even make Neilsen’s top 100 shows for the individual nights that their series premiered.

Moving on to 2014, Wahlburgers had a series premiere that dramatically outnumbers the viewers of any and all Boston-area reality shows from 2013 with an impressive 3.3 million viewers. Although The Fighters did not have a strong number of viewers for its premiere episode—with 347,000 viewersreviews say that “Boston’s broken-glass-and-gravel personality” makes the show worth watching. In other words, The Fighters has a chance to pull through in 2014.

So what does this mean? I don’t want to jump the gun and assume ratings will spike, stand, or drop throughout the respective seasons of Wahlburgers and The Fighters. But 2014 is looking really peachy, folks.


POLL: What is your favorite Boston-area reality show?