Preserving Reality TV’s Most Iconic Artifacts

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and, in Kim Kardashian’s case, those diamond earrings are currently residing at the bottom of the ocean in Bora Bora. As Shakespeare — or maybe it was Morgan Freeman… or maybe just me — once said, an actor is only as strong as their props, and this is especially true when it comes to the heroes and zeroes of reality television. We don’t care about women yelling at each other unless they have champagne in their hands, or even a prosthetic leg (aca-scuse me?). So, in this chapter of our reality TV textbook, we celebrate the format’s most iconic artifacts of all time. Put them in the Louvre!  

Brynn’s BravoCon Shoes

Image Credit: Bravo

Brynn Whitfield always knows how to arrive in style. Only sometimes, that style doesn’t quite enter with her, and instead remains stuck in the escalator at 2023’s BravoCon. Moment of silence for that pair of Louboutins. Though the shoes had clearly been worn to death, the escalator delivered the final judgment — along with all of us scoffing about them in our Uggs at home. 

The Duck Phone

Image Credit: Jersey Shore/Youtube

Forget the return of flip phones; we want the return of the Duck Phone. True fans of Jersey Shore will notice that the phone in season 1 differs from that of season 2, onwards — IT HAD A FEATHER ON ITS HEAD! Excellent tea was spilled on this phone. Snooki never understood how to work this phone. An astronomical phone bill was created on this phone.

The Charred Remains of Bunny

Image Credit: Are You The One?/MTV

You don’t touch someone’s cuddly toy, and this rule was broken in the season 6 finale of Are You The One? In Keith’s defense, Alexis did make out with Michael. But she was honest about it! And that’s no reason to throw her beloved bunny toy in the fire. When asked why he did it, Keith explained the reasoning as if it made total sense: She hurt my ego, so I burnt her bunny, duh. Soon everyone was tossing shit in the fire, but the crisp corpse of the bunny is the real artifact of interest — a perfect exhibit of male rage and entitlement. 

Jen Shah’s Microphone

Image Credit: Bravo

Literally, the world would be a different place if Whitney hadn’t turned off Jen Shah’s microphone, and she knows that too. The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City were having a seemingly harmless argument on a party bus when Jen Shah got a phone call and dipped out… only for the Feds to arrive moments later to arrest her. Who called her? What did they say? Where did she go? The history this microphone has heard…

Tanisha’s Pots and Pans

Image Credit: Oxygen

Season 2 of Bad Girls Club gave us our forever alarm tone: Tanisha decided to wake up her fellow girlies with some pots and pans. She yelled, “Y’all gonna make me lose my mind,” but I think this clip proves she had certainly already lost hers. She was tired of them all and she was never done, never. The most iconic bit? The fact that no one reacts or jumps in fear. They’re all simply used to it. 

La Dame Perfume Bottle

Image Credit: Bloomingdale’s

Honestly, this perfume could never live up to the hype that preceded it. An entire season of The Real Housewives of Potomac was dedicated to this perfume. Everyone doubted Karen Huger, us included. But the girlie rented out an actual Times Square billboard to tease the launch, so she had to follow through. She claims it smells like fresh citrus, exotic spices, sugared violet petals, and crushed vanilla beans. We say it smells like, “I TOLD YOU SO.”

Raquel’s Plate of Pasta

Image Credit: Bravo

In 2018, we never expected Scandoval to hit our screens, and the biggest issue on Vanderpump Rules was pasta. One day in the SUR alley, Lala Kent and James Kennedy got into an absolute screaming match about her supposedly eating a dish that belonged to the reality star formerly known as Raquel. The DJ infamously shouted in his distinct British accent, “It’s not about the pasta!” Exactly how good was this pasta that it deserved such a response? 

That ANTM Weave

Image Credit: The CW

Nothing used to bring me more joy than America’s Next Top Model makeover episodes. Like, Tyra was 100% doing them dirty and ensuring they didn’t look better than her, right? But of all the awful, truly despicable makeovers, this weave takes the cake. In 2003, Molly O’Connell was given a blonde weave that kind of makes me crave instant noodles. It had to be removed after one week. For medical reasons. Seriously. It never returned, and is said to still haunt the set to this day…

The Prosthetic Leg

Image Credit: Bravo

“The only thing fake about me is this leg!”

Literally, Shakespeare could never. After Aviva Drescher is accused of not actually having asthma by the women of The Real Housewives of New York City, she snaps and pounds that fake leg down on the table. You tell ‘em, and then call your therapist, honey.

Chicken of the Sea Can

Image Credit: MTV

One could claim this is the moment that launched SponCon. Before the days of diarrhea-inducing detox teas, we had cans of tuna. In 2003, Jessica Simpson opened her iconic show Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica by asking her hubby if her Chicken of the Sea tuna was chicken or fish. In her defense, the name is confusing, and I’m just glad she ended up becoming a spokesperson for this serious issue. The original can needs to be placed in the Natural History Museum where it belongs, so more people can learn about the chicken/fish ethical dilemma.

Kourtney’s Breast Milk

Image Credit: E!

Kim Kardashian will try anything in the name of beauty — even her sister’s breast milk. She had heard that breast milk could cure her psoriasis, and she knew just the place to get it. Instead of doing the logical thing and asking her to bottle it, she has Kourtney pump right onto her leg. Of course. It’s an act of feminism to include Kourtney’s breast milk on this list, and proof that Keeping Up With the Kardashians was unscripted, because who the fuck would write this?

Old Maiden Shoes

Image Credit: iTV

When Gemma Collins gave Tiffany Pollard a pair of shoes on season 17 of Celebrity Big Brother, she probably didn’t expect to be absolutely roasted in one of television’s best monologues. New York described the shoes in question as “old maiden type of shoes,” then went on to add that Gemma is not “fly, sexy, or beautiful.” It was the Y2K version of Cinderella’s slipper.

Giggy the Dog

Image Credit: Getty

Rest in peace, Giggy, but let’s be frank — this dog did not just die in 2020. Having seen him in multiple seasons of RHOBH and Vanderpump Rules and many red-carpet photos, I’m sure it had already passed around the same time Katie Maloney went orange. It was an absolute jumpscare every time he appeared on screen. An adorable jumpscare, but a jumpscare nonetheless.

Snooki’s Slippers

Image Credit: Getty

There could be an entire museum dedicated to things Snooki wore on Jersey Shore, and it would be packed to the brim with visitors daily. But if we had to choose just one iconic artifact from the “Guidette,” it would be her slippers. Those oversized, lime-green frog slippers that engulfed her feet at the shore house. Bury me in them.

The Cucumber

Image Credit: The Kardashians/Hulu

After watching this clip of The Kardashians, you can never say the Kardashian-Jenners don’t work, because Kendall is almost dislocating her shoulder just to chop a cucumber. I understand she’s likely had a personal chef her entire life, so I’d never ask her to poach an egg or grill a sandwich, but I did expect her to be able to slice a cucumber. The devil works hard, and Kendall Jenner can’t slice a cucumber.

The Diamond-Encrusted Dog Tag

Image Credit: MTV

What do you give your boyfriend for Christmas? If you’re L.C. on The Hills, you give him a diamond-encrusted dog tag. There are a lot of strange moments in their relationship, but this takes the cake. Girlie skipped Paris for him, and then got him a dog tag for Christmas? It basically translates to “Simmer down, bitch.”

Fleurine Tideman
Fleurine Tideman
Fleurine Tideman, a European-based copywriter. She’s interesting (cause she’s from Europe), speaks multiple languages (again, she's from Europe), and is mentally unhinged (despite socialized healthcare). You can find her European musings on Twitter @ByFleurine and her blog, Symptoms of Living, both of which are written to the sounds of unhinged Taylor Swift playlists.