It’s that time of year when it’s time to look back. Examining this past year in reality TV gives us a chance to reflect as we look forward–and gives me a great excuse to take a couple weeks off. Mid-week next week, I’ll celebrate those moments, shows, cast members, and trends that made me glad to be a fan of reality television in 2005, but today, I’m giving the top reality TV whores of the year some additional recognition. Competition, as always, was fierce; your list would likely vary.
Here are the people who I think sold themselves out on their way to reality fame, and generally annoyed me in the process:
- American Idol 2‘s Corey Clark. Maybe he had an affair with Paula Abdul, maybe he didn’t. But it seemed more than coincidental that he decided to reveal this news right at the peak of season four. And, surprise, he had an album to promote! With partner-whore ABC News at his side, Corey’s indictment of the show took a back seat to promoting his crap-ass record (with lyrics that included the phrase “straight up”) and book. The only redeeming part about any of this is that Corey Clark has since disappeared from the cultural radar, hopefully forever.
- Martha Stewart. She asked for it, really, and clearly embraces the title, even though she didn’t use the word. A few weeks ago, Martha said that she involved herself in The Apprentice: Martha Stewart because, and I quote, “it would get attention. … it was just a job. I got paid a fee. I have no participation in the show.” Um, your name is in the damn title–not even Donald Trump named his show after himself, and his ego is bigger than something that’s really fucking big. Trump, who won a whore award last year, almost won another this year, because although he serves as executive producer on the show and was set to make money from it, he bailed and started badmouthing the show when its ratings failed to improve.
- Quasi-celebrity/reality couples. This year, there were far too many couples that were either born of reality TV shows or assumed that having their relationships play out in front of an audience meant that they were suddenly huge celebrities (ahem, entire cast of Laguna Beach). All of them, to a degree, used their love as a way to get into our living rooms, and when a whore promises love, well, you know. Britney and Kevin basically sold their life, via their home videos, to UPN for their show. Nick and Jessica finally split, long after we knew it was over, and long after our belief in their relationship had faded. The most tragic moment in quasi-celebrity relationships came when Kathy Griffin filed for divorce from Matt, but thankfully they’re back together. Laguna Beach‘s Talan takes top honors, however, for his engagement with Kimberly Stewart that ended 11 days later.
- The producers of Battle of the Network Reality Stars. Dear producers: Did you really think you could paint some pieces of wood and sandbags, turn on the cameras, and expect viewers to show up and advertisers to pay? Reuniting reality cast members can definitely work (see MTV and E! for examples), but it doesn’t succeed when you have nothing for them to do but play shuffleboard. Actually, shuffleboard would have been an improvement over your lame challenges. Next time, look for ideas somewhere other than a show that was successful more than 20 years ago.
- Toni Ferrari. Earlier this year, Love Cruise and Paradise Hotel star Toni Ferrari revealed that, because of her fame, she “was physically attacked in NYC,” “was bombarded by belligerent angry nightclub patrons and suffered severe trauma,” and “encountered a stalker who literally camped out in front of her apartment building and threatened her life.” These stories, of course, are horrifying, and no one deserves to be treated that way. But Toni falls into the reality whore category for a) announcing this in a press release that b) was really just a way to say that she was shopping her own reality series. And c) never mind the whole ongoing “Please respect me, I’m a real actress” routine which was perhaps believable until she showed up for her first day of work on E!’s The Scorned. If reality TV has caused one a great deal of consternation, one would imagine that peace would not be found on yet another reality show; likewise, credibility as an actress wouldn’t appear to come from being a pain in the ass on the set of a crap-ass made-for-TV-movie, even if Toni was the best actor there.
- The entire cast of Kill Reality and The Scorned. You made one of the worst TV movies ever produced. You played pranks that involved shit and trashed a house that was not yours. Someone among you spread rumors just to bring more attention to the project. You should be ashamed–except for the fact that we all loved watching every second of it.