Over the last decade reality TV has become one of the most popular TV genres, with families like the Kardashians creating multimillion dollar empires off their reality fame. But those are the success stories, and there tends to be far more really terrible things that have happened to people who took part in a reality show than good things.
From causing strain and amplifying problems in a marriage, to revealing the ugly side of their personalities and causing them to become some of the most hated people in the entertainment industry; there are a lot of people whose lives — or relationships — have been destroyed by the reality TV curse. Don’t believe me? Below are 15 cases of people who have had their lives dramatically affected by reality television.
15. Courtney Robertson
— Courtney Robertson (@bugrobertson) July 29, 2015
Over the years there have been a lot of memorable contestants on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, but some, like Courtney Robertson, are remembered for some not-so-flattering reasons.
Robertson was a contestant on Ben Flajnik’s Season 16 of The Bachelor — in fact, she was the woman he proposed to at the Final Rose Ceremony — but she was also extremely controversial because of the way that she treated the other women competing for Flajnik’s heart. She is arguably the biggest The Bachelor villain to date, with some of her meanest moments including lying, and making up mean insults about the other women.
So, why do I say that reality TV destroyed her life? Quite simply because it made her one of the most-hated women to ever appear on the show, and apart from her actions, heavy editing probably also had a role to play in this.
14. Paris Hilton
The media first started taking notice of Paris Hilton because of her last name, and the lavish lifestyle that came with it. Which is probably what led her to become a reality TV star.
You may remember back in 2003, Hilton and her BFF at the time, Nicole Richie, starred in The Simple Life — a show that took the two spoiled rich girls away from their pampered lives to live, as the name suggests, the simple life. However, Hilton’s reality TV fame, and her leaked sex tape with ex-boyfriend Rick Saloman, came with a massive price: Her grandfather Barron Hilton decided to donate 97 per cent of the Hilton fortune to charity.
According to a report from the Daily Mail, the announcement happened not long after rumors emerged about Barron being upset with Paris for hogging the limelight. And according to Jerry Oppenheimer, Barron was “extremely embarrassed by how the Hilton name has been sullied by Paris.”
13. Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey
Reality TV didn’t exactly destroy Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey’s lives because they are both extremely successful in their own rights, but it did destroy their marriage. Shortly after getting married in 2002, the couple were so popular that they landed a reality TV deal. And in 2003, the first episode of their show, Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, aired.
The show lasted for three seasons and spanned across almost two years. However, during their time on TV the cracks in the young couple’s relationship became clear and it was obvious they were not meant to be together — a decision that was probably heavily influenced by the fact that their every move was being recorded for television. In March of 2005 the show aired it’s final episode, and by December of that same year the couple had filed for divorce.
12. Britney Spears
Britney Spears was one of the most well-known and loved pop stars when she married backup dancer, Kevin Federline in 2004. Following their marriage, the pair secured a reality TV deal, and the first episode of their show, Britney and Kevin: Chaotic aired in May of 2005.
The reality show received harsh feedback from critics, who slammed Spears for being a narcissist and sharing too much of her personal life. It was also considered by many as her worst career move. A statement that Spears echoed during an interview with The Telegraph. She said, “I would never do something like that again.”
11. Chris Bukowski
Chris Bukowski was a former contestant on The Bachelorette, where he competed for the affections of Emily Maynard. Following his appearance on the hit dating program he continued to make appearances on various other reality TV shows, including Bachelor in Paradise and Bachelor Pad. However, Bukowski has since revealed that reality TV almost destroyed his career — and his life.
He ended up being labelled as one of the season’s villains on Bachelor Pad, and the backlash on social media was not just directed at him, but also at members of his family. Speaking of this during an interview, Bukowski said, “People are saying things not only about you, but about your family members. That’s just the most disheartening thing that you’ll ever have happen.”
10. Jenelle Evans
Jenelle Evans was one of the stars on MTV’s Teen Mom 2, and it’s likely that the choices — including being arrested for assault, breaking and entering, and drug possession — in her life would have happened, regardless of the fact that she was on a show about teenage pregnancy. However, the pressure of living in the limelight may have made things even worse.
Being a teen mom could not have been easy, in any circumstances, but having a show that follows the lives of those who have given birth during their teens could make this a lot harder — while the financial burden would have been elevated, the constant pressure of having cameras follow your daily life is no doubt complicated and stressful. And that’s why Evans deserves a spot on our list of people whose lives have been destroyed by reality TV.
9. Teresa Giudice
Reality TV wasn’t to blame for The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice being jailed, that was all down to the fact that she and her husband, Joe, were convicted of fraud.
Their legal troubles first came to light in 2013, when the couple were charged on a 39-count indictment, which included conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, as well as bank fraud, and making false statements, People reports.
The problem is that if Teresa were a normal person, she probably would have served her time with no media attention. However, countless stories were written about her and Joe during their trial, and their subsequent prison sentence. The worst part is that this attention most likely had an affect on the lives of their family members, including their young daughters.
That said, Teresa has served her time (Joe is still serving his 41-month sentence behind bars) and seems to have changed her life for the better, including mending her relationship with sister-in-law, Melissa Gorga.
8. Heidi Montag
Heidi Montag was one of the stars on the MTV reality TV show, The Hills. During this time (the first episode aired in 2006, and the final episode was in 2010), Montag went from being the girl-next-door and a great friend to Lauren Conrad, to one of the villains on the show.
Some may argue that it was meeting her husband Spencer Pratt that resulted in Heidi Montag’s fall from grace, however, it was reality TV that served as the platform. Without the show, no one would have been aware of the couple’s actions and the 2008 rumor that Pratt (years later admitted to) started about Conrad having a sex tape with her then-boyfriend, Jason Wahler.
7. Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom and Khloé Kardashian had somewhat of a whirlwind romance: They got married on Sept. 27, 2009, one month after meeting.
It comes as no surprise that there was a lot of interest in this romance, because not only is Kardashian extremely popular, and Odom was a respected Los Angeles Lakers player at the time, but also because romances make for great TV. Which is why the couple launched their own show, a spin-off of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
It was called Khloé & Lamar and first aired in 2011 — the last episode was in 2012, after two seasons. After months of speculation, Kardashian filed for divorce in December of 2013.
Now, while starring on reality show certainly did not force Odom to go into a downward spiral of cheating and substance abuse, perhaps the pressure of having his every move scrutinised, and his dirty laundry so publicly aired, was a contributing factor.
6. Jon & Kate Gosselin
Jon and Kate Gosselin rose to fame after the birth of their sextuplets, and the media attention surrounding the birth resulted in them becoming instant celebrities. The couple landed a reality TV show in 2007, entitled Jon & Kate Plus 8 which followed the lives of their eight children (they had twins prior to the birth of the sextuplets).
However, in 2009, towards the end of the series, there were bitter allegations and rumors flying around, which resulted in a very nasty divorce. Kate continued to enjoy reality TV life, and now stars on TLC’s Kate Plus 8, but Jon decided to disappear from the limelight. Some may argue that it was Jon whose life was most affected by reality TV, because he was reportedly sued by TLC for violating their contract, and he lost custody of his children (Kate was granted primary custody).
5. Hulk Hogan
Yet another person to have their life destroyed by reality TV is Hulk Hogan. In July of 2005, Hogan, his wife, Linda, and their children, starred on the VH1 show, Hogan Knows Best.
The show lasted for two years, ending in 2007, and throughout the seasons the cracks in Linda and Hulk’s relationship became glaringly obvious. So, after 25 years of marriage, the couple decided that they were no longer good together and decided to divorce.
Was this because four seasons of Hogan Knows Best proved too much? According to Hulk the show was definitely partly to blame for the end of his marriage. He told People magazine that he and Linda had been having problems prior to the show, however, “the reality show just amplified the problems.”
4. Kris Humphries
When you hear the name Kris Humphries you don’t typically associate him with being a professional basketball player, and that’s because reality TV pretty much destroyed his image.
Humphries was dating Kim Kardashian in October of 2010, and the pair became engaged shortly after, in May of 2011. During the couple’s relationship, Humphries made several appearances on the Kardashian family show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. And his wedding to Kardashian was even a two-part special featured on E! — the first part showed the preparations for the couples wedding, and the second focused on their big day on Aug. 20, 2011.
3. Carmen Electra
Playboy playmate Carmen Electra, and musician Dave Navarro, decided to make their love story public knowledge by signing up for a reality show. They first appeared on the MTV-produced show, Carmen and Dave: A Love Story which aired in 2002 and focused on their dating life. And then in 2004, ahead of their marriage, they secured a second reality TV gig: Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen and Dave.
The show was only seven-episodes, and although the couple’s marriage did make it past 72 days (unlike some other people on our list), it resulted in divorce in 2007 (they separated in July of 2016). But why does this couple make it on our list?
Because it seems they were hit with a bit of a reality TV curse, which has resulted in many unions coming to an end. This could be because it’s hard to have a real relationship with people constantly in your home, something Navarro previously touched on.
2. Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston starred on a reality TV show with her former husband Bobby Brown. The couple married in 1992, and in 2005 they starred on the Bravo show, Being Bobby Brown, which aired for a single-season — because Houston reportedly refused to sign on for another season.
However, Rolling Stone notes that after the season aired, it caused rumors about Houston’s drug addiction to spiral out of control. Bobby Brown also spoke about the show years later, as he wrote in his memoir, Every Little Step, that Houston was not the perfect Hollywood princess that people wanted her to be.
He wrote, “If people thought Whitney was something different, they got a clear glimpse of who my ex-wife was through that show [Being Bobby Brown]. She was a down-ass, horny chick. She was the woman I loved; I was the man she loved. That’s what the show was about – not drugs or anything else.”
1. Jonny Fairplay
We’ve mentioned Jonny Fairplay a few times before, but that’s mostly because after almost 15 years we are still shocked by just how low he went to try and get an edge over the other competitors on Survivor: Pearl Islands.
The lack of food and comfortable living situation on Survivor is bound to result in tempers flaring and even the nicest people can show their dark side. The thing is, Fairplay is not one of these cases, because his elaborate scheme to fake the death of his grandmother was planned out long before he came onto the show. And if we’re honest here, he has no one to blame but himself for becoming one of the most memorable and notorious villains in the show’s history.
Host Jeff Probst was so appalled by his actions that he referred to it as “the greatest lie in Survivor history.” He also called Fairplay “completely despicable” during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
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