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.

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