Reality TV gets too much flack for toeing the line of it being scripted versus unscripted. Building a show around the premise that audiences will watch just about anything happening in the lives of regular people can create some wild moments that are too good — too human — to have been written down and memorized.
From Teresa Giudice flipping a table over on “Real Housewives of New Jersey” to way back in the day when Jessica Simpson admitted she wasn’t sure what tuna was, reality TV often lives up to its stereotype of “trashy TV,” but there’s a level of influence it has that tends to be overlooked. It’s a conversation piece, a cultural moment and a fulfillment of everyone’s secret wish that any ordinary person can be famous.
In honor of outrageous reality TV moments, In The Know has rounded up our top five for your viewing pleasure, in no particular order:
Aviva slams her prosthetic leg on the table in ‘Real Housewives of New York‘
It was an iconic moment in the season six finale of “Real Housewives of New York.” Aviva Drescher was fed up with costars calling her phony and in a fit of rage at Le Cirque, screams, “The only thing fake about me is this!” as she proceeds to slam her prosthetic leg onto the restaurant table and then throw it across the room.
It was one of the most outlandish reactions in an argument to have happened on the series and Drescher insists that it was out-of-character for her and purely for entertainment value to “earn her keep.” (She was let go from the franchise before the start of season seven.)
“I look at being a Housewife as a job to entertain people, and, you know, it was a piece of the entertainment,” Drescher told HuffPost. “The highest ratings of the entire season was that episode.”
According to her ex-husband, Harry Dubin, Drescher had planned to throw her leg at some point while filming.
“I’m sitting at the bar and she’s sitting at the lounge, where they’re filming,” Dubin said on the Behind The Velvet Rope podcast. “She comes out and says ‘Harry, you gotta help me! I’m going to throw my leg on national TV and you pick me up and carry me out of the scene and tell them what kinda people they are.’”
The statement comes in contrast to what Drescher said happened, but does it really matter? It was an iconic scene and the first thing that comes up when you Google Drescher, which I’m sure she’s thrilled by.
“Often when I sit at table, to keep the circulation going with my limb, I loosen it by pressing a button which releases the prosthesis,” Drescher told E! Online. “[Co-star Heather Thomson] was standing over me, yelling at me, calling me a fake and blah, blah, blah. It just gave me this knee-jerk reaction to take my leg and slam it on the table. It is what it is.”
Snooki gets punched in the face on ‘Jersey Shore’
Note: The footage does not actually show the punch.
The start of the first season of “Jersey Shore” saw Snooki being on the outskirts of the group, which in retrospect seems surprising considering she basically started a cultural reset with her “pouf” and fake tan in the 2010s.
But during a night out, early in the season, other bar patrons were stealing shots from the group and not paying, and Snooki was not going to take it. One of the guys stealing drinks, Brad Ferro — a SCHOOL TEACHER — didn’t like that the soon-to-be-very-famous reality personality was bothering him about paying, and punched her in the face. On camera.
Ferro was fired from his job and MTV decided not to air the footage but did air the events leading up to it and the aftermath where Snooki was sobbing in the bar bathroom. It ultimately is what brought her closer to the members of the group.
“It should be out there. Everyone should know that it can happen,” Snooki said about MTV keeping the scene in the show. “But also, a positive came out of it. It brought the cast closer together.”
To costar Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, the incident was indicative of how “real” “Jersey Shore” actually was.
“This is what happens down here. Some of these people are trying to pretend like when you’re in your twenties and you’re single you don’t go out and have fun,” he said. “And when that happens you know there are gonna be a couple of arguments. There are gonna be a couple of fights. Life is not perfect.”
Definitely sounds like something someone who was not punched in the face on national TV would say.
Stassi finds out Jax and Kristen slept together on ‘Vanderpump Rules’
Before “Vanderpump Rules” spiraled into cast members getting fired over their racist comments and boring plots about lizard funerals, the first two seasons of the show were pure reality TV gold.
The series started out as a spinoff of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” where Lisa Vanderpump was a cast member for nine seasons. She pitched the idea to Bravo that they should film her West Hollywood restaurant staff who were all hot and always dating each other and fighting.
In contrast to “Real Housewives,” the cast was in their mid-20s and living in tiny, heinous apartments with roommates and getting drunk in a way that was more fun to watch than concerning (Now, in the eighth season, the cast is in their 30s and have mortgages, which makes their drunken antics slightly less funny.)
But back in the show’s heyday, an iconic scandal between Jax, Kristen and Stassi lifted the second season to a biblical level of unscripted chaos.
Stassi and Jax (a certified sociopath — not even an editorial judgment call, he took a test) had dated and lived together for two years before he unceremoniously confessed that he had cheated on Stassi (multiple times) and gotten a woman pregnant after a trip to Vegas. Devastated, Stassi confides in Katie and Kristen, her two best friends and fellow coworkers.
Katie gets drunk at a party in the aftermath of the breakup and brings up a rumor that’s been quietly circulating that Kristen and Jax have slept together, despite the fact that Kristen is one of Stassi’s best friends AND has been dating one of Jax’s best friends, Tom Sandoval, for five years.
Stassi, whose terrifying demeanor is only fueled further by the fact that she’s on camera and wine drunk, sets up a public confrontation with all of their mutual friends to pressure Kristen into admitting that she’s cheated on Tom with Jax. Despite Jax confirming he’s slept with Kristen, Kristen continues to deny it, resulting in Stassi backhanding Kristen in the face.
In a satisfying twist that a soap opera writer’s room could not come up with, Kristen eventually confesses to Stassi that the rumors were true: she slept with Jax. Kristen tearfully apologizes to her best friend in front of her boyfriend and then goes on a magnificent crazy rampage for, like, three seasons. Character development!
Tanisha doesn’t get any sleep on ‘Bad Girls Club’
Tanisha Thomas was on the second season of Oxygen’s “Bad Girls Club,” a show with the premise that if you put seven alpha women with strong personalities who are always willing to physically fight, you’ll get a great show.
Tanisha had her moment to shine in one episode when she finally had enough with how “sticky” the house was. She promptly grabs some pots and pans from the kitchen and starts screaming, “GET UP! GET THE HELL UP! GET UP AND CLEAN THE F****** HOUSE!” at 6 a.m.
When someone bravely dares to ask Tanisha what the problem is, she screams “I DIDN’T GET NO SLEEP BECAUSE OF Y’ALL LAST NIGHT.”
While certain moments like this one may ruin a person’s post-reality TV career, Tanisha is still involved in the “Bad Girls Club” as the host for the reunions and the spinoff show “Love Games.”
Plus, her singing about not getting any sleep seamlessly fits into just about any pop song.
Jon Dalton lies about his grandmother’s death on ‘Survivor’
The concept of family visits on “Survivor” is insane as is, but “Survivor: Pearl Islands” contestant Jon Dalton — AKA John Fairplay — took it to a whole new level.
“Survivor” loves to make the contestants compete to spend time with their loved ones after weeks apart. Dalton’s friend was visiting him on the island and a (what seemed at the time) heartbreaking conversation took place after they saw each other.
Dalton: “Oh, dude! How’s Grandma?”
Dalton: “How’s Grandma?”
Dan: “She died, dude … Did you get the letter?”
Dalton tells “Survivor” host Jeff Probst that he knew it was either going to be his friend Dan or his grandmother who came for the family visit and the fact that he had no further information about his grandmother devastated him.
“I don’t know, I can hope to win this and maybe get some more information,” Dalton said.
It was Burt who got to make the final decision on who got the time with their loved one, and he chose Dalton because Dalton had been talking about his grandmother all day.
“Jon’s news is — I mean, it’s the worst day of his life,” he said. “I’ve got to let him hear it through.”
Except it was a TOTAL LIE. According to Dalton, his grandmother was safe at home and watching “Jerry Springer.” One can only hope she doesn’t watch her grandson’s season of “Survivor.”
Dan and Dalton high five and compliment each other on their acting abilities and Dalton went down in history as one of the worst (best?) reality TV villains.
Jesse gives a rose to the wrong girl on the ‘Bachelor’
The “Bachelor” likes to look at love a little differently. First comes competing against 24 other women, then comes an open bar, then comes a rose — if he can remember your name.
Let’s take it way back to 2004 where Bachelor Jesse Palmer fumbles his first Rose Ceremony. After meeting 25 women and having two-minute conversations with them, Palmer asks the wrong girl if she’ll accept his rose — naming Katie instead of Karen. Ugh.
Palmer grabs Chris Harrison and explains his gaffe and in the end, producers let him hand out one extra rose. Spoiler: Palmer doesn’t end up with either of them.
If you’re wondering why this isn’t a more common problem on the franchise, producers nipped it in the bud and now make flashcards with every person’s name and photo. But even that’s too hard, so sometimes the Bachelor or Bachelorette are allowed to say a few names and then step outside to figure the next couple of people.
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