TLC is known for introducing a wide variety of reality TV concepts and getting us onboard with them somehow. Whether you want to see a dysfunctional family bungle through life or watch contestants battle each other in ridiculous games for prizes, there’s a reality show for you.
In the early days of modern reality shows - the late 1990s and early 2000s - programs tended to be more real and less scripted than they are now. These days, participants are guided into situations and fed lines to drive the drama toward whatever producers and networks think will get the best reaction from other cast members and the viewers.
Also, some scenes of reality shows are filmed more than once, and certain people are purposely added to shows simply to cause controversy and additional problems for others on the show. But when someone hears any of the above about their favorite reality show, most shrug it off and say, “Doesn’t surprise me.”
What may come as a shock are some secrets that astonished not only the viewers but also the unaware network. TLC (along with its sister network Discovery) has produced many reality shows, with vast amounts of crises caused by its stars off the screen. In most cases, especially the criminal ones, TLC has acted appropriately and swiftly, often canceling shows in the wake of disturbing news.
Here are 15 Secrets That TLC’s Reality Stars Don’t Want You To Know.
15 Mama June Bribes Oldest Daughter
One of the more well-known and popular TLC reality shows is Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. This show focuses on child pageant contestant Alana Thompson, nicknamed “Honey Boo Boo.” The Thompson family first came to fame in TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras. The show ran for four seasons and was canceled when it was reported Mama June (Alana’s mother) was dating a registered child abuser.
One daughter of June, Anna Shannon, originally was not living with the family. Anna, who was pregnant, had been living with her grandmothe, but June wanted Anna in the show. A pregnant daughter would increase ratings and shoot the family further into stardom, so June reportedly paid Anna $500 a month to return home before the series started filming.
For some time, a fifth season went unaired following the cancellation. In April of 2017, the rest of the episodes aired under the title Here Comes Honey Boo Boo: The Lost Episodes.
14 Kate Gosselin May Have Had Multiples On Purpose
Kate Gosselin, the matriarch of the TLC show Jon & Kate Plus 8, had a plan to become famous as a TV and media sensation - according to the unofficial tell-all book by Robert Hoffman, Kate Gosselin: How She Fooled the World. Hoffman was a reporter for US magazine when he began following Kate’s every move in 2009.
“What I discovered is that Kate Gosselin deliberately and intentionally got pregnant with two sets of multiples in order to become the working mom’s Martha Stewart,” Hoffman claims.
Kate reportedly wanted to be showered with attention like Bobbi McCaughey was in 1997 when she had septuplets. Her plan was to be Supermom with a bigger media empire than Martha Stewart.
To do that she felt she needed - and deserved – she must have octuplets, but her first pregnancy garnered only twins. Not satisfied, she sought another doctor, who gave her HCG injections. In 2003 she became pregnant with septuplets.
It was then that she pursued networks and eventually Discovery and TLC created Jon & Kate Plus 8.
13 Sons of Guns Father Abused Daughters
Discovery immediately canceled the reality show Sons of Guns when Will Hayden, the owner of the Red Jacket Firearms, LLC business the show was based on, was charged with several sexual assault charges.
Stephanie Ford, Will’s daughter who runs the company’s office, at first defended her father, but when she learned another family member had been abused, she changed her story and was able to admit that she also had been touched and kissed inappropriately by her father when she was underage. Hayden not only abused his immediate family but also other females.
In April 2017, Will Hayden was convicted for the assault. The following month, he was sentenced to 2 life sentences with the addition of 40 years.
12 Michelle Duggar's Anti-LGBT Hypocrisy
Despite espousing Christian values on 19 Kids and Counting and having an openly gay sister herself, Michelle Duggar has lent her support to anti-gay sentiments in the political and business community.
In 2014, Michelle Duggar wanted to spread the word out about halting an ordinance that would “prohibit businesses from discriminating against gender and sexual orientation." She recorded a robocall for Fayetteville, Arkansas citizens requesting they vote in opposition to this ordinance. Part of the message said, “I don’t believe… Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female… to enter private areas reserved for women and girls.”
A petition went up asking TLC to cancel the series because of Michelle’s “fear-mongering” against the gays and her blatant use of star power get the result she wanted. The ordinance passed, and the petition continued to get signatures anyway.
While the show was canceled soon after, it was because of Jim and Michelle covering up their son Josh’s abuse of sisters and girls outside the family.
11 Josh Duggar And The Adult Performer
The family of 19 Kids and Counting have endured their share of controversy and scandal, but Josh Duggar has had more trashy secrets than anyone from the show. Adult film star and stripper Danica Dillon announced in 2015 that Josh Duggar had rough encounters with her.
Dillon told In Touch magazine “He was… basically tossing me around like I was a rag doll.” Then added, “It was very traumatic. I’ve had rough sex before, but this was terrifying.” Josh had been patronizing the Gold Club, where Dillon performed; she became his favorite and eventually offered her $1,500 to “spend the evening” together.
These events happened while Josh’s wife Anna was pregnant with their fourth child. Josh was also exposed during the Ashley Madison hacking scandal, which compelled him to admit he was having affairs through the website.
10 Toby Willis Charged With Assault
The Willis Family is about The Willis Clan, a family of fourteen based in Nashville. The show follows them as they perform on stage in a variety of talents, including music and dancing. The Willis Clan were first discovered on American’s Got Talent in Season 9 where they made it to the quarterfinals.
In September 2016, Toby Willis, the father, was arrested after fleeing his home in Tennessee for an alleged sexual encounter with a girl younger than 13 years old. The initial encounter occurred in 2004, but three other charges were added for instances that occurred between 2004 and 2013. In July 2017, Toby pled guilty on four counts of rape and was sentenced to two 25-year sentences and two 40-year sentences running simultaneously with no chance of parole.
After the arrest, TLC promptly announced the cancellation of The Willis Family, which had run for two total seasons.
9 Jon Gosselin spent Kate's Birthday with another woman?
Kate Gosselin’s 34th birthday was aired on an episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8. The only person not in attendance was her husband Jon, which instantly sent rumors flying around the internet about Jon and Kate’s marriage.
On the morning of Kate’s 34th birthday, Jon left for Utah, saying he was going to hang out with friends. US Weekly reported that Jon possibly cheated on his wife. "Friends" may have changed into one friend by the name of Deanna Hummel, a schoolteacher. Deanna’s brother has stated the affair happened and even heard Jon and Deanna getting intimate. Deanna claims they are just friends.
Jon has consistently defended himself against the barrage of rumors that he cheated on his wife, saying, “The most common misperception [is] that I cheated on my wife, that I left my family, that I’m a party boy. But my family knows the truth.”
8 Andrea Clevenger Sentenced For Assault
A lesser-known TLC reality show called Cheer Perfection ran for 16 episodes before being canceled after an arrest of one of the participants, Andrea Clevenger. A few of the people who appeared on the show also were on Toddlers & Tiaras.
Clevenger, one of the shows reality stars, was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in jail for assault and initiating explicit conduct with a 13-year-old boy. Two warrants were out for her arrest, and Clevenger turned herself into the police. She pled guilty on all counts. When she is released from jail she must register as a sex offender.
Her activities were discovered when the boy’s parents uncovered nude pictures of Andrea on his phone. The assaults occurred once in Clevenger’s home and twice in her vehicle.
7 Mama June's Daughters All Have Different Fathers
When the show was on the air, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was a hard topic to miss online, in magazines, and maybe even your office watercooler. Whether you were a hardcore fan or one who kept up on the show through recaps, the following dark secret may not surprise you at all.
Mama June Shannon has four kids – Alana, Lauryn, Jessica, and Anna – and each kid has a different father. And three of the fathers have a criminal background. Anna’s father stole a handgun in 1995 and cigarettes in 1998; both times he went to prison. Jessica’s dad was in jail for over two years for the exploitation of a minor. He is a registered sex offender in Georgia.
Alana, a.k.a. Honey Boo Boo, is the only child living with her father, who is nicknamed “Sugar Bear” on the show. Sugar Bear robbed hunting camps in his past and was sentenced to five years.
6 Buddy Valastro's Ex-Brother-In-Law Jailed For Assault
Cake Boss has weathered the rumor mill over allegations that no one buys the cakes and that the boss himself, Buddy Valastro, is never at the shop. But the worst secret to come out of the show involves one of the frequent cake decorators, Buddy’s ex-brother-in-law, Remigio Gonzalez, who had been married to Buddy’s sister, Lisa.
Between July 2009 and March 2010, Remigio assaulted a 13-year-old girl. At first, he had pled guilty to the charges, but during the sentencing phase, wanted to remove the plea. The judge refused and sentenced Remigio to 9 years for 2 counts of aggravated sexual assault. He has to serve at least 85 percent of the term (more than 7 years), and will most likely be deported to his home country Mexico after the jail time.
5 Sister Wives's Son Not Living Mormon Lifestyle
The lifestyle portrayed by Sister Wives is supposed to be of the Mormon lifestyle. Themes of family, reserved attitudes, and polygamy run through the show. Kody Brown – the patriarch of the family - had a main goal of educating viewers on the sanctity of how he and his family lives.
But one son, Logan, was not living the lifestyle represented in the show. Logan and his girlfriend (as of January 2017) have stated they are serious about their relationship, but don’t want to live the polygamist lifestyle. And if social media is any evidence, Logan and Michelle are forthcoming with how they live.
For example, Michelle has posted pictures kissing another girl. She has also dressed as a submissive woman from 50 Shades of Grey. And Logan is not shy about admitting he likes to drink and go hunting with Michelle. Logan and Michelle are not officially part of the Mormon church, and he feels if he’s “a good person,” it doesn’t matter if he lives against the lifestyle he grew up with.
4 JoAnn Wells Scams Target
Gypsy Sisters was a spin-off to My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding and ran for 4 seasons and 1 Christmas Special. It followed a number of gypsy women in and around the Martinsburg, West Virginia area as they search for love, have fun, and keep their business going. One of the sisters was JoAnn Wells, who was on the show from Season 2 through 4.
In July 2014, JoAnn was arrested for defrauding a Target store in December 2013 by using fake merchandise bar codes, forcing expired coupons, and cashing in on gift cards. She promised a share of the profits to 2 Target cashiers in a North Carolina Target store. The total cash value stolen was $14,700.
Wells turned herself in because “I don’t got nothing to hide or run from,” she said on her Facebook page at the time.
3 Long Island Medium Uses Classic Tricks
Long Island Medium stars Theresa Caputo as a medium who claims she can speak with the dead. Caputo states she helps loved ones of the deceased find closure, but many suspect her medium business is fake due to investigations and former clients.
Ron Tebo, a private investigator, accuses Caputo of “cold reading,” based on conversations with some of her clients. Cold reading is an old magician’s trick where Caputo will ask high probability questions to determine a correct path to continue. For the show, she hand-picks her clients after doing research on them. That way, she can manipulate the conversation to provide the best dramatic performance of the reading.
When she is onstage to do live readings, many audience members have complained about her being “uninspired” and wrong about so many statements that she’s confident are facts. Tebo has various videos of live performances at Scififake.com showing her constant mistakes. The TV show ended its 10th Season in April 2017.
2 What Not to Wear Hosts Barely Help
The reality show What Not to Wear ran for a staggering 10 years, from 2003 to 2013. The show helped many fashion-challenged people find the best outfits for everyday wear or for special events like high school reunions. The two hosts, Clinton Kelly and Stacy London, provided fashion advice and rules a participant should follow to get best look. Both Kelly and London are fashion consultants with decades of experience between them.
According to one participant of What Not to Wear, Kelly and London are not on set or around in general for much of the taping for the fittings. Mostly involved are the personal shoppers and assistants. And how much “consulting” the hosts actually do is minimized by the pre-tailored and pre-sewed outfits that will work best for television.
Recently, on November 15, Kelly announced that London has blocked him on Twitter, though reasons are vague.
1 Anfisa And Jorge's Webcam Beginnings
Whether it allows people to fall in love at first sight, 90-Day Fiancé does bring men and women together for instant marriage. Two strangers are paired and have 90 days to get to know each other in an accelerated dating period before the actual wedding.
In season 4, Jorge and Anfisa were brought together. Almost immediately, rumors of Jorge’s lack of finances surfaced. He talked about his business, drove expensive cars, and shopped in high-end stores. But Jorge didn’t appear rich in real life, though he claimed he’s not rich now because he spent lots of money making Anfisa happy.
Jorge’s secret involves how he allegedly met Anfisa. In a recent “tell-all” episode of 90-Day Fiancé, Jorge forced Anfisa to admit what she does for a living, despite Anfisa insisting she didn’t have a job. However, there are videos and pictures on the internet showing Anfisa working as an online stripper. There’s some speculation Jorge met Anfisa this way, but Jorge hasn’t substantiated if she had worked as a webcam model.
What other secrets from TLC reality shows make you cringe? Let us know in the comments!