If you're sick of the Kardashians but still can't help getting sucked in to a good reality TV family, Chrisley Knows Best might be the show that you're looking for. The family, headed up by patriarch/real estate mogul Todd Chrisley, has been cracking up audiences with their good-natured drama since the show first aired on the USA Network in 2014. Along with wife Julie, his mother Nana Faye, and a revolving cast of five children and two grandchildren, Todd Chrisley has certainly made a name for himself on reality television in recent years.
Despite the fact that the family is incredibly honest about their lives -- even letting viewers get behind the curtain this year after daughter Savannah was involved in a car crash that left her in a neck brace -- there are still plenty of things that don't make it to the small screen. The Chrisleys have a ton of funny drama when cameras are rolling, but it's what doesn't happen on TV that interests people. From a multi-million dollar bankruptcy filing to old arrest warrants, there's a lot that their fans don't know about these rising stars of reality.
Read on for 15 Dark Behind The Scenes Secrets You Had No Idea About.
15 Julie’s younger brother committed suicide when he was only 25
If you’re into reality shows about psychics, you might have known this one already. The story has only gained attention recently because the Chrisleys went on Hollywood Medium, where Tyler Henry made efforts to connect them with lost family members. More casual fans, however, may not be aware that Todd’s wife Julie Chrisley had a younger brother who committed suicide when he was just 25 years old.
He was apparently very close with her father, and the tragedy was what inspired Julie’s dad to pursue a new career as a Baptist minister. However, Julie would say later that her father was never really the same. Such a personal and painful subject is obviously hard to talk about, and it’s never been discussed at great length on the show.
14 Todd Chrisley’s bankruptcy filings listed over $49.4 million in debt
For the vast majority of people, being able to spend enough money to rack up even a million dollars in debt is hard to imagine. (Unless, of course, that’s a million dollars in student loans, which is sadly easy to imagine.) By the time Todd and Julie filed for bankruptcy in 2012, though, their filings listed over $49.4 million in debt.
It’s impossible to say whether they went so deeply into debt despite or because of the lavish lifestyle they showed off in early seasons of the show. The bankruptcy documents show that the family spent wild amounts of money without the actual cash in their accounts to eventually pay the piper. $4.2 million in assets vs. $49.4 million in debt is not a pretty picture.
13 Todd allegedly stiffed Kyle's treatment center
Kyle Chrisley’s rift with his father is pretty well-known, and the Chrisley patriarch has been candid about discussing Kyle’s struggles both on and off of the show. Kyle struggled with addiction in the past, and Todd has even asked him on camera to take random drug tests, even though he completed rehab before the show ever started filming. Todd said that he shelled out “millions” for Kyle to get help.
As with some of the other money trouble rumors swirling around the family - more on that in a bit - the treatment center claims that they were never paid in full. (They also probably didn’t charge ‘millions’.) According to court documents, Chrisley paid for the first month of treatment, but only partially paid for the last two. He filed for bankruptcy not long after, and supposedly never finished paying. Yikes.
12 Todd allegedly told creditors he only spent $650 on clothes
It’s no secret that Todd Chrisley loves clothes. Even in the early promotional commercials for the show, you can hear him claiming that his family spends hundreds of thousands of dollars per year just on clothes, and he spends quite a bit of time telling Savannah that hers aren’t appropriate. (It’s also inspired a ton of articles questioning his sexuality, which he’s understandably irritated with.)
That claim that he made on television, though, isn’t the same thing that he told the IRS. When he filed for bankruptcy, he allegedly told creditors that he only spent $650.
If this were a Twitter thread, we’d put a “So what is the truth?” GIF of Oprah right here.
It’s highly likely that he exaggerated the actual money spent on clothes for the cameras, but given that his family has a TV show due to their opulent lifestyle, $650 is hard to believe.
11 Todd’s former sister-in-law tried to exploit the family for money
Last year, reports surfaced that a woman named Pamela Chrisley was charged with second-degree harassment and later arrested. Pamela, Todd’s former sister-in-law, was married to his brother Randy at the time.
These days, she’s no longer allowed to have contact with her more famous relatives, because she apparently threatened to sell a negative story about them to the National Enquirer unless they deposited money directly into her bank account. You know, just some casual blackmail from a family member, no big deal.
Todd’s brother filed for divorce from her soon afterwards, so it seems as though her severance from the rest of the family is pretty complete. She’s even blocked from contacting them via methods like email or social media.
10 Granddaughter Chloe is no longer on the show because of a legal battle
People looking for a little spot of color in the TV show didn’t have to wait very long, as Kyle’s daughter Chloe is biracial. Although her mother can be seen in social media pictures, she rarely appeared on the series. When she did, she was in the background, like when the Chrisleys threw Chloe a birthday party. The only giveaway that she was actually remotely involved in the proceedings was usually that she was the only black person there other than her daughter.
Kyle claimed that Todd only wanted Chloe on the show for a ‘better demographic’ -- AKA, it would look good for him to have a biracial baby on the show. Todd vehemently denied those claims, but Chloe no longer appears on the show due to the resulting legal battle.
9 Todd’s brother was diagnosed with cancer the same year the show premiered
Family is obviously important to the Chrisleys, which is clear to viewers of the show. So it must have been hard for them when Todd’s brother Randy was diagnosed with stage four cancer in 2014, the same year that the show premiered. Even though the family confirmed his diagnosis via a representative, they managed to maintain some necessary privacy for him to start the treatment process.
Todd Chrisley had his younger brother moved to a hotel in Atlanta so that he could be with him while he underwent chemotherapy, and he encouraged his children to pray for their uncle. Thankfully, Randy seems to have pulled through -- though all the aforementioned drama with his wife, Pamela, was still to come.
8 Kyle accused his dad of tax fraud
Chrisley’s money issues aren’t too much of a secret (especially not in this article) even though he might wish they are. It’s difficult to hide that you’re having financial troubles when your viewers watch you move from a humongous multimillion dollar Atlanta mansion to a much smaller home in Tennessee.
If you don’t follow the family outside of the series, you might not know that Todd’s oldest son Kyle added to the rumors about his family. Kyle gave multiple interviews to fan the flames of accusations that Chrisley faked living in Florida to avoid paying taxes in Georgia. Going into debt is one thing, falsifying documents to avoid more debt is something else entirely. And your own son ratting you out? Even worse.
The famous father and son have had more than their fair share of public scuffles.
7 Julie had breast cancer
It seems like sometimes Todd’s know-it-all attitude gets on the nerves of both his wife and children. He insists that it’s literally his way or the highway, even if someone else might make a good point.
That attitude might have saved his wife’s life, though. He insisted that she get a mammogram back in 2012 even though she wasn’t feeling sick and didn’t have a family history of breast cancer. Sure enough, doctors found a malignant lump -- but they caught it early enough that she wasn’t in any imminent danger.
She had a double mastectomy just a few weeks after her diagnosis to make sure that she did what was best for her family, especially her kids. She’s still active with causes like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
6 Julie was arrested in 2000
For some reality TV fans, the Chrisleys seem like the Southern version of the Kardashians -- but with a dose of Christianity and a far cleaner image. That crystal clean image means that it’s surprising to find out that Julie Chrisley was arrested back in 2000 for “obstructing the apprehension of a fugitive.” That fugitive? None other than Todd Chrisley himself.
Todd had allegedly been dodging arrest warrants for charging money for services that were never actually rendered. According to arrest documents, when police came knocking, Todd answered the door and pretended to be his brother Randy. When he went upstairs to “get his ID,” Julie came down and chatted with officers...while Todd made his exit through the back door.
5 Why Todd’s oldest daughter Lindsie didn’t return for season 6
In earlier seasons of Chrisley Knows Best, we got to know his eldest daughter Lindsie. (She’s graciously described by her dad as pretty but “bitchy.”) Todd is usually the one dishing out his opinion as gospel truth, but Lindsie can give as good as she gets. It was certainly fun to watch the two of them toss barbs at each other.
She hasn’t returned for this latest season, though, leaving a lot of fans wondering what was up. Allegedly, she had a falling out with her dad over how publicized her recent divorce was. She and her ex-husband wanted to keep things as private as possible, but nothing sells like drama does in the U.S. Todd Chrisley knew that, and he does have an entire show about how his word is law.
4 Todd’s first wife accused him of abusive behavior
Even though she has never appeared on the show and is rarely mentioned, it’s no secret that Todd was married once before Julie. His oldest children, Lindsie and Kyle, actually came from that marriage. The two got hitched when she was just 19.
In 2014 -- coincidentally, the same year that the show aired for the first time -- Teresa Terry emerged to offer up a juicy story to the Daily Mail. She called her ex-husband vindictive and alleged that he was overly controlling to the point where it became emotionally abusive. The Mail wrote that it had court documents that proved Terry claimed domestic abuse as one of the reasons for what ended up being a nasty divorce.
Todd Chrisley has denied all of the claims.
3 Todd tried to start a country music career
There have been plenty of actors who tried to make the jump to a music career, so why not reality stars too, right?
Todd is pretty open about being an ambitious man, but most fans probably thought that his ambition was mostly related to clothing and starting his own fashion line. Last year, he recorded a duet with country music star Sara Evans, who is apparently a fan of the show. The song, called “Infinite Love,” was co-written by Todd and dedicated to Julie.
Since Evans has sold millions of records, having her influence behind the song should have helped make the track a hit, but fans might not have been as excited about the transition. While the song did well with digital downloads in its first week, it didn’t make much of a peep after that.
2 His new talk show was allegedly stuck in production for three years
2017 has seen even more Chrisley on TV screens across America. Todd now has a 30 minute talk show called According to Chrisley, where he talks to very uncomfortable-looking people on the street, brings in a few D-list celebrity guests, and talks to his family some more - but in front of a live studio audience this time.
If that description doesn’t sound super enticing to you, you probably agreed with the execs over at USA Network. His show was allegedly stuck in production for three years, because there weren’t enough higher-ups who had faith that the idea would take off. But with viewership steadily growing of Chrisley Knows Best, and Savannah and Chase even getting their own spinoff show, it looks like they decided to take a chance.
1 He was sued for sexual harassment
Part of Todd Chrisley’s brand is insisting that he will not tolerate anything that he considers to be out of line. We see it with how he raises his kids on screen, and if some parts of the show seem awkwardly scripted, that seems authentic.
However, if a lawsuit brought by three former employees is true, he could have benefited from someone keeping him in line.
Years before the show debuted, three former Chrisley Asset Management employees allegedly sued him for sexual harassment and creating a “vulgar” work environment. When they voiced their concerns before suing, they say he threatened them by saying if anyone didn’t like the way he ran his company, they were free to leave.
Sounds a bit familiar.
Did we miss any other behind the scenes secrets from Chrisley Knows Best? Let us know in the comments.