12 days of reality: Osbournes ham-throwing

The Osbournes changed everything. They made everyone realize reality TV wasn’t just for unknown schmoes, and that famous people had something to both give and gain from showing us more of themselves on reality shows. From Verne Troyer naked on his scooter, peeing in The Surreal Life house, to The Celebrity Apprentice‘s tasks challenging famous people to do actual work to Kathy Griffin showing us her real life as a celebrity even as she mocks celebrities, everyone owes something to the reality series that followed Ozzy Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne, and their kids Kelly and Jack.

There’s been a wide range of celebrity reality shows, some great and some shit, but the very best draw from that first season of The Osbournes, showing people we already know in a totally new and raw way. Their dog peed on the carpet (relive that moment below); their neighbors were annoying; the kids were annoying but also just regular teenagers. But then there was the unexpected and unfamiliar, like how wacky Ozzy was, or Sharon and Ozzy hurling ham over the fence at their neighbors. (Kind of interesting how Sharon Osbourne became the breakout star of the series; she’s now on CBS’ View rip-off The Talk, never mind America’s Got Talent.)

It broke ratings records for MTV, and aired four seasons before being cancelled, though only the first season really delivered. After that, they seemed to be performing, and whether it was soft-scripted or just self-consciousness, it lost its magic. That amazing first season is on DVD, uncensored, so Netflix it sometime and settle in for some entertainment. The second season, which was split, is on two DVDs, but the third and fourth never made it to DVD, and that’s just fine.

The 12 Days of Reality TV (introduction)

  1. Richard Hatch it a tree
  2. Two dog bites in the vagina
  3. Three people fighting on Real World, and “it wasn’t not funny”
  4. Four seasons of The Mole
  5. Five golden vetoes
  6. Six Deadliest Catch seasons
  7. Charla and Mirna race around the world
  8. Joe Millionaire’s slurps, Joe Schmo’s schmo
  9. Bands running on VH1’s Bands on the Run give birth to Magical Elves
  10. Osbournes ham-throwing
  11. Regifting 11 years of reality blurred end-of-year recaps
  12. 12 reader suggestions, from Erik giving up immunity to The Real World’s Pedro

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.