Whether you revel in watching reality shows or have lied about not watching a reality show, you've likely been compelled to view one at some point. Even though most of us know that the average reality program was designed to exploit the part of our brains that compels us to watch a train wreck, we're still drawn to them. The problem is that train wrecks are fairly rare occurrences that are usually overtly horrific enough as to limit the extent of their entertainment value to well before emergency services arrive. Reality shows, however, are just innocent enough as to convince you that there’s nothing wrong with finding joy in them. Perhaps there isn't.
However, the era of reality television did come with a severe catch that damaged the world more than a single train crash ever could. It is because of reality TV that we were forced to endure the terror of reality television show stars. Reality television series stars are a lot like real stars, except for the fact that many of them didn’t actually “do anything’ to achieve their fame beyond allowing someone to film them living a life that is somehow amusing enough to look upon with fascinated horror. Among this collection of unfortunate insta-stars is an elite group of the especially unworthy.
Here are the 15 Reality Stars The World Should Never Have Made Famous.
15 William Hung
William Hung must be on this list, but he ranks low due to how sad/kind of interesting his story is. Hung entered the public eye when he participated in the third season of American Idol. Hung was one of those awful participants that made each season’s initial episodes so amusing. However, Hung also exhibited a combination of enthusiasm and obliviousness that made him oddly endearing.
Even though Mr. Hung lacked any actual musical talent, he went on to make several television appearances and was even signed to a record deal. By the time that William Hung was appearing in shows and commercials, people started to realize that they might have just turned an underdog into a living meme that refused to go away. There was an odd underlying sense of “laughing at them” bullying about Hung’s rise to fame. Still, at least Hung was humble about the whole thing.
14 Tiffany “New York” Pollard
Our only fear is that you might have lived your life up until this point in blissful ignorance of who Tiffany “New York” Pollard is. If that is the case, it is our unfortunate duty to inform you that Pollard began her “career” as a member of the reality series Flavor of Love in which reasonable proximities of actual human beings compete for the affection of a man who wears a giant clock around his neck like he’s a C-tier Batman villain.
For psychological reasons best left unexplored, Pollard quickly became a fan favorite because of her fondness for snapping at everyone and going off on violent tangents peppered with Hot Topic t-shirt worthy catchphrases. By the time that Pollard got her own reality show, people started to realize that the joke that was her persona was starting to wear thin. Despite this, she lingered on the outskirts of pop culture for as long as the people would allow her to.
13 Kevin Federline
It’s hard to tell if Kevin Federline’s life should be the poster child for the American dream or the most convincing argument yet for the “America, wake up” movement. Federline was a backup dancer who worked with people like Michael Jackson and Pink. Perhaps deciding that he’d like to be more successful at a career involving being a bit player in the life of someone who actually has talent, he married Britney Spears, and the two became stars of a reality show called Britney & Kevin: Chaotic.
Because a dumpster fire does need to be attended to at some point, people paid attention to this show long enough for Federline to get it into his head that he was a real star now. Even though Federline wasn’t a particularly good male model or musical talent, he still managed to score lucrative male modeling gigs and released a few albums.
12 Brooke Hogan
We will admit that it’s quite funny that Brooke Hogan was in the middle of one of those “let’s milk this famous guy’s daughter for all the money her family is worth” record deals when Hulk Hogan secured his own reality show. This sudden rise to fame seemingly forced the record company into the awkward position of actually having to put out an album featuring the musical stylings of Brooke Hogan.
Around this time, Hogan decided to hedge her career bets by also doing some swimsuit modeling. Add it all together, and she suddenly became the second most famous member of one of the top-five orange skinned power families in America. Brooke Hogan’s 15 minutes of fame lasted long enough for her to pollute the waters of music, television, film, and even professional wrestling. She also wrote a poem in response to her father’s controversial audio tapes. It was an awful poem.
11 Omarosa Manigault
Quick, what’s the most someone can achieve from a career in reality television? Their own fragrance line? A series of t-shirts decorated with their faces? The honor of attending a party hosted by hosted by someone whose last brush with relevancy coincided with the Reagan administration? If you said “White House Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison,” then you’ve been paying attention to the story of Omarosa Manigault.
To be fair, Manigault did actually have a little public office experience prior to her appearance on The Apprentice. However, it was her time on this show that made Manigault famous for her comic book-like cutthroat business practices and general demeanor. Donald Trump was so impressed by her that he referred to her as “the biggest slaughter in the history of The Apprentice,” co-produced a dating show with her, then later offered her a lucrative position within the White House. We’re truly living in some strange times.
10 Heidi Montag
Heidi Montag got her reality show start on a series called Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. The show aimed to show us plebs how the beautiful people of Laguna Beach High School lived. During the show’s second season, Montag decided to drop out of the school after declaring that it wasn’t challenging enough. She then went on to become an event planner which is, of course, the most intellectually challenging job in modern society.
From there...well, we have no idea what happened. Montag rose to fame by becoming the star of several other reality TV series. Mind you, she looked, acted, and spoke exactly like pretty much everyone else on the Orange County show. Why Montag was singled out as a star is one of those things that can only be answered by a 14-year-old in 2005. Regardless, the damage was done. Montag continues to be a reality television star/singer who has realized that drama is as good as currency.
9 Spencer Pratt
You can’t talk about Montag’s unfortunate rise to fame without also discussing Spencer Pratt. Actually, Mrs. Montag’s biggest failure in life may just be the fact that she allowed Spencer Pratt to achieve a level of fame himself. Pratt began his career as a producer of other reality shows, which is one of those job titles that sounds impressive, but doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny.
At some point, Pratt married Montag and the world was treated to the personality of an individual who can best be described as the result of what would happen if you gave life to a troll doll and refused to educate it. Pratt’s “brand” consisted of him being the cruelest and dumbest human being imaginable. From his fondness for mystical rocks to his summer vacations with Alex Jones, Pratt is one of the more unfortunate byproducts of the reality era.
8 June “Mama June” Shannon
In 2012, a show aired which would be described by some as perhaps the scariest piece of entertainment that doesn’t technically belong to the horror genre. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo followed a beauty pageant child and her family. Without getting into the dark world of a show that focuses on a legal form of child exploitation, let’s talk about the matriarch of this family, June “Mama June” Shannon.
Mama June is the type of person who loves to fart in elevators and always wear socks because of a condition she describes as “forklift foot” which she acquired after a forklift ran over her foot. She also once gifted someone a can of her own farts and seemingly once worked as a pole dancer despite the fact that every law of physics suggests otherwise. Her alleged relationship with a registered sex offender ended the show, but her own reality career continued when she lost 300 pounds and starred in her own series.
7 Kim Kardashian
If you want to get technical, Kim Kardashian’s rise to fame actually began when she was revealed as the friend of another person yet to appear on this list. Of course, she really became famous when a sex tape involving her and a singer named Ray J leaked on the internet. Now, we’re not here to discuss the ethics of a sex tape, but it does seem a bit absurd that one would lead to someone starting an entertainment empire.
Yet, that’s exactly what happened when Keeping Up with the Kardashians debuted in 2007. The Kardashians were already somewhat well-known among the American public due to Robert Kardashian’s role in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, but this show elevated the family - especially Kim - to heights of fame that people that have cured major diseases have never enjoyed. So what has Kim actually done? Some “modeling," some “acting,” and some releasing of “beauty products.” She’s also considered an advocate because she tweets about how things and their respective hashtags are bad.
6 The Rest of The Kardashian Family
While Kim Kardashian’s career has been an infuriating series of mind-boggling events, at least her rise to fame is a fairly cohesive story. The same cannot be said of the rest of her family, who were selected for fame in the same way that a network may order several spin-offs of an already popular show.
The difference is that spin-offs usually entertain on their own merits, whereas the rest of the Kardashians have been involved in a seemingly endless game of “who can get famous doing the least?” that has escalated to such a point that the family’s genetic material might just get its own spot on the Walk of Fame. While Khloe and the rest of the gang have typically stayed in the spotlight by dating famous people or launching a new perfume, we’re particularly amazed by the rise of 19-year old Kylie Jenner, who has 23 million Twitter followers and the absolute worst Pepsi commercial ever to her name.
5 Paris Hilton
That “famous friend” of Kim Kardashian’s we alluded to earlier? Yup, you guessed it. Paris Hilton wasn’t the first person to become famous for being famous - our apologies...famous for being a “socialite” - but she did kick off a new era of undeserved fame that will probably make her a pioneering hero in some far-off future society that we’ll thankfully not live to see.
Hilton’s fame technically began with her modeling work, but most people became aware of her when she starred in a show called The Simple Life, which saw her and fellow waste of space Nicole Ritchie live on a farm. Despite the fact that the show’s mere existence was a cruelty to animals, it lingered on long enough for Hilton to become famous for a dumb persona which she insisted was just an act. The fact that she continued this act for 14 more years either makes her a Daniel Day Lewis caliber performer or a regret of humanity on par with the atom bomb.
4 Jon Gosselin
On the one hand, it’s tempting to look at the Jon Gosselin story as a sad example of how a cultural obsession with fame can utterly destroy people and leave everyone involved feeling rather ashamed. On the other hand, it feels like we’re far, far past the point where reality television may inspire people to come to that conclusion.
That being the case, let’s talk about Jon Gosselin. Gosselin entered the public conscious when he and his wife Kate Kreider (who already had twins) had sextuplets. This being the era of anything slightly out of the perceived ordinary being worthy of a television show, the pair eventually became the stars of a series about their lives. The whole thing fell apart when Jon reportedly cheated on his wife and entered an extended legal battle that was amplified when he tried to rob the home of his former wife. It became clear to everyone that Mr. Gosselin was an emotionally disturbed individual, but the public refused to pull that spotlight away as he tried to settle into a normal life. The constant attention eventually led to Gosselin participating in things such as his highly-publicized appearance as a male stripper.
3 Tila Tequila
At the age of 19, a scout for Playboy spotted Tila Tequila - real name Thien Thanh Thi Nguyen - and, presumably, said: “Hey, I’d like to see your ID and then ask you to get naked.” This began the first stage of Tequila’s career, the “person who people enjoy looking at when they’re not wearing clothes” stage of her career. Little did we know that this was the last time anyone would be able to make sense of Tequila’s popularity.
Tequila then starred on a Ted Nugent-led reality show which caught the attention of so many people that Tequila became the most followed person on MySpace. She is, in fact, credited with starting the larger trend of followers and friends having nothing to do with people you actually know. After Tequila’s subsequent reality shows eventually bombed, she began the “desperate for attention” phase of her career. This included such memorable moments as her writing an article about why Hitler was actually a pretty good guy.
2 The Cast of Sons of Guns
Sons of Guns was a reality show that aired on the Discovery Channel as part of that network’s increasing interest in allowing people to discover reality television shows. It followed the owners and employees of a gun store/manufacturer in Louisiana. The show was...it catered to a specific demographic. That’s not really the point of this story.
The point is just how horrible nearly every single star of the show was. Son of Guns’ problems started when the store’s owner, Will Hayden, was convicted of crimes against children that were so heinous that we won’t recount them in detail here. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was later revealed that the other two stars, Kris Ford and Stephanie Hayden-Ford, were also convicted on child abuse charges. It’s really a shame the show allowed these people to enjoy years of fame and fortune.
1 The Cast of The Jersey Shore
Ask many people why they watch some of the worst reality shows ever made, and they’ll likely tell you that they simply love to watch stupid people do stupid things. It makes them feel better about their lives and situations to look down on someone else. That may sound harsh, but it’s one of the biggest reasons behind the success of this genre. It’s a psychological phenomenon that is best captured by the entire cast of The Jersey Shore.
The Jersey Shore followed the lives of eight housemates living near a New Jersey beach. These housemates...look, there's no single word we can use her to describe them that won’t be unnecessarily offensive. Let’s just say that, collectively, they represented a breed of young people whose relative wealth, looks, complete lack of shame, and general ignorance of the world allowed them to live the kind of life that most of us only “enjoy” for about five minutes after one tequila shot too many. Nearly everyone on the original cast achieved some level of fame that typically resulted in such glamorous opportunities as serving as the guest DJ at a club where the beer costs more than the GDP of Panama.
What other downright awful reality stars should TV viewers be apologizing for? Let us know in the comments.
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