The early 2000s were a magical time of Abercrombie miniskirts, chunky highlights, weird tiny vests, and of course, some of the trashiest reality TV that has ever existed. There was nothing better than gasping in horror at that week’s episode of A Shot at Love and posting about it on Myspace, where you’ve been friends with Tila Tequila for like, ever. Or watching Viva La Bam at your boyfriend’s house after school and losing your sh*t at the many hilarious pranks they pulled. Who didn’t have a crush on Ashton Kutcher after seeing him be so funny and charming on Punk’d? Simpler times. Now that we’re almost to the 2020s (wtf?), what’s become of our favorite trash reality TV stars? I did some research.
Forget about the Kardashians, we have The Osbournes to thank for reality TV as it is today. This was the most popular MTV show of all time, and from what I remember, it consisted of Sharon yelling at Ozzy, Ozzy mumbling incoherently, lots of bleeping, and their goth vampire children Jack and Kelly. Also, there is a third child, Aimee, that the family pretended didn’t exist on camera, which I think is so weird and hilarious. Since the show, Ozzy, in typical rock star fashion, f*cked his hair stylist, leading him and Sharon to separate, then reconcile. then renew their vows. Ozzy, Kelly, and Jack all had issues with drugs and alcohol, and are all currently sober. Ozzy was recently hospitalized for complications from the flu, but is doing okay now. TBH, how is that man even alive?
Jack has two kids, deals with MS now (which is extremely sad), and is on a TV show I’ve literally never heard of with Ozzy called Ozzy & Jack’s World Detour. Apparently they go around the world and talk about history? That’s who I want as a history teacher, The Prince of Darkness that I can’t even f*cking understand. Kelly put down the eyeliner and has evolved into a TV personality, style icon, and a judge on Project Runway Junior. Sharon is a host on The Talk, which I can’t believe is still on.
‘The Girls Next Door’
The Girls Next Door was total trash, following Hugh Hefner’s current favorite girlfriends and their lives at the Playboy mansion. It was a lot of bikinis and photoshoots, from what I recall. The show originally starred Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson. There were eventually replaced with even younger blonde versions for the final season. Anyway, all three OG girlfriends got their own spin-offs from this dumpster fire, so I guess it was a solid career move on their parts. Holly Madison was the “main” girlfriend, and later wrote a book (that I definitely read in college) exposing Hef’s abuse, the drugs, and the super creepy group sex with Hef. F*cking yikes. She is now married, has a kid named Rainbow (wtf), and had a Vegas burlesque show. Bridget Marquardt was always the one who seemed to be there for no reason, and she didn’t seem to know why she was there either. She’s now married and trying to get pregnant, so good for her. As for Kendra Wilkinson, her trash husband very publicly cheated on her in 2014 with a prostitute. They milked it heavily for their own reality spin-off, Kendra On Top, and later, Marriage Boot Camp. Shockingly, cheating men just need to be thrown away, and they couldn’t work it out. Their divorce became final last month. Kendra has recently been spotted with none other than THE CHAD from The Bachelor franchise. She really knows how to pick them.
‘A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila’
Why was everyone friends with Tila Tequila on Myspace before this show even happened? Like, what need did I have in my adolescence to be internet friends with random adult women? We all were friends with her and that one makeup artist chick whose name was like ForBIddEn (or something—what happened to her, did she die?). It was a weird time. Anyway, soon after, Tila got her own dating show, which was super groundbreaking because ~gasp~ Tila was bisexual. This was huge in the reality TV world, and therefore Tila was able to find the thirstiest people alive of both sexes for it. BTW, I have no memory of any of these contestants, but Wikipedia has a chart with why each one got eliminated, which is hysterical. After the show, Tila’s life went insane. She attempted suicide a few times, overdosed, did porn, claimed to have superpowers, decided she was an alien, became a Nazi, then claimed to be Hitler reincarnated, had a child, dressed that child up as Hitler, openly supported Trump, announced that the Earth was flat, said a bunch of more Nazi stuff, got into Satanic rituals, and then had another baby. So. She’s been busy. Also, someone please call CPS.
On Punk’d, Ashton Kutcher revealed that he wasn’t just attractive, but also super funny. I loved watching him make celebrities like Justin Timberlake or Frankie Muniz cry. Ashton had a slew of actors on the show that would help with pranks, but I remember Dax Shepard and Ryan Pinkston the most. As everyone knows, Ashton went on to have a continually successful acting career, and ended up marrying and having kids with his That ’70s Show love interest, Mila Kunis. Dax also became a successful actor and married the most adorable person and sloth lover in the world, Kristen Bell, and they have two kids. And tiny Ryan Pinkston was an extra one time on Hannah Montana and then faded into the abyss. So. Not as good as the other two. Apparently BJ Novak got his start on Punk’d too, yet I have no memory of him on it??? Anyway, everything also worked out from him, from his successful writing/acting career, The Office, and also possibly impregnating Mindy Kaling, whom I adore.
‘Viva La Bam’
This show was mostly skateboarding and pranks. I only watched because I thought Bam Margera was super hot, thus proving that I always had sh*t taste in men. He was borderline abusive to his parents and his uncle, but that part is actually fine in retrospect, as the uncle went on to be a f*cking pedophile. Bam also made a really big deal of his wedding to Missy Rothstein. It had its own MTV special called Bam’s Unholy Union. They divorced five years later due to Bam’s cheating, surprising no one. Since the show ended, Bam’s life has been a mess of DUIs, arrests, rehab, herpes, meltdowns, and public fights. Just last week, Bam was supposed to perform at a comedy club, but it got canceled because he got in a fight with his current wife. She stole his credit cards, he filmed a video calling her a “street ho”, and then he threatened his manager. He subsequently threw a tantrum because there weren’t enough people at his show, but it was several hours before it was supposed to start. The club canceled his gig, and as of yesterday, Bam is on his way to his third stint in rehab. Okay, see, this is exactly why I don’t date.
Images: MTV (3), Amazon, Giphy
When I was growing up, my parents were pretty laissez-faire about raising my sisters and me. They would just give me Ritalin, let me watch trashy reality television and South Park unsupervised, and pawned me off to a nanny. But to their credit, they were a little harsh because they wouldn’t let me watch Friends because they deemed it “inappropriate.” (BTW later in life I found out they wouldn’t let me watch it because it sucks.) Anyway, I’ll save my bitching about my mom and dad’s parenting skills for therapy and talk about all of my knowledge about the best of the worst trashy reality shows from our childhood that you totally forgot about. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, which is probably littered with Four Loko cans, G-strings from Kitson, and Ryan Cabrera’s used condoms.
Sunset Tan was the go-to tanning place for celebutantes like Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan. The main star of the show was Jeff, who is so tan that you would think he has Rachel Dolezal syndrome. He takes himself awfully seriously for someone who spends his days managing a tanning salon, keeping Ed Hardy and Von Dutch in business, and being one of only seven people on the planet who is a die-hard fan of Hoobastank and Burn Notice. The other noteworthy characters on the show were obviously The Olly Girls. They’re literally just hot chicks named Molly and Holly whose sole purpose was being cute and charming to the customers to distract from the fact that they were incompetent. I can totally relate because that was literally my experience when I worked at
SoulOrg SoulCycle for three months. Maybe I’m biased because my mom has taken me to get fake tans since I was 13, but the highlight of this show is when this L.A. stage mom took her 8-year-old daughter to get a fake tan for her school pictures. The Sunset Tan employees suggested that the child get the same tan Lindsay Lohan always gets. I have no idea whatever happened to Jeff or the Olly girls, and TBH I don’t really care. I’m far more emotionally invested in finding out whatever happened to the little girl who got the Lindsay Lohan tan. My guess is she dropped out of Arizona State because her communications major was just too grueling, met two of her four husbands while being a bottle service chick at Encore Beach Club in Las Vegas, and now is the proud owner of a condo in Reno. At best, I’m sure she’s shilling ItWorks, and at worst, I bet she’s something an aspiring social media influencer.
Pretty Wild is perfect reality television. The premise of three sisters with a stage mom sounds exactly like Keeping Up With The Kardashians, but trust me, Pretty Wild is an entirely different breed. I mean, when Alexis Neiers was vying for a role in a Mickey Avalon music video, she advocated for herself by saying, “The line in the song says ‘sliding down from heaven on a stripper pole,’ and that’s totally me!” And that, in essence, is Alexis’ charm. The show is infamous because it was filmed when Alexis was under investigation for her involvement in The Bling Ring, but it’s even more infamous for the voicemail Alexis left for so-called “journalist” Nancy Jo Sales for completely misrepresenting her in an article for Vanity Fair. Alexis verbally incinerated her out in such a millennial, hyperbolic, and bitchy way that she would be a perfect fit at Betches. There were underrated moments that are also worth talking about, like that time Tess went on an awkward AF bowling date with Ryan Cabrera or when she ended up dating Max, who is a musician that invented a music genre that’s called—wait for it—electro indie pop. Also, let’s talk about the fact that when Alexis pleaded “no contest,” her response to going to jail was, “If Buddha can sit under a tree for 40 days, then I can survive jail.” I can’t believe Lauren Conrad, who has the charisma and cloying innocence of an American Girl doll, has built an empire and remains in the public eye while the girls from Pretty Wild have mostly faded into oblivion.
Sidenote: While these girls are fun to satirize, they actually went through some dark sh*t while filming the show and are now doing really well in life. Alexis Neiers came forward and said she and Tess were actually struggling with crippling drug addiction during the show. Alexis now is married to a man who runs a rehab center and has two kids. She recently had the charges against her expunged because she has done so much charity work for drug addicts. Tess is sober, engaged, and has a baby. She sells homemade honey because… well, I don’t know why. But it’s a better hobby than doing practice Playboy shoots with her mom. Gabby recently got married too. No word on whether or not the mom got help for her tic that always made her say “and so it is.”
‘Paris Hilton’s My New BFF’
Anyone who watched The American Meme knows that Paris considers anyone who comments “YAAAASSSS QUEEN” and “iconic!” to be a personal friend. With that being said, I don’t understand why a woman with such low standards for friendship would have a reality show where you had to compete to be her friend. Paris would come up with the most ridiculous reasons to kick the contestants to the curb. Denouncing some of the contestants because they were only on the show for fame? Sweetie, you invented the concept of being famous just for being famous. Criticizing a contestant for drinking and doing drugs? You got a DUI and got arrested for possession of cocaine. Throwing someone off because the guys from Three Six Mafia said she seemed fake? Maybe you shouldn’t take friendship advice from guys who consider Lil Jon and Juicy J to be part of their inner circle.
‘Rock of Love’
Rock of Love may be so trashy that it makes me want to bleach my brain with the same bleach these girls used for their hair, but it’s still an enjoyable level of trashy. The contestants were the crème de la crème of wet T-shirt contests and monster truck rallies. It’s awkward enough living in the same house as girls that are competing for the same man. However, it was probably even more awkward for these women to be in the same house together because I’m sure they’ve all slept with at least 5 of the same NASCAR drivers and lead singers of Van Halen cover bands before participating on Rock of Love. One of my favorite VH1 reality show moments of all time is when a contestant (who was nicknamed “Rodeo,” BTW) was telling Bret Michaels about how she got into a horrific accident and was told she would never walk again. It was a touching story because she ended up recovering and became a personal trainer after what she went through. Bret ended up totally killing the only moment of substance that has ever happened on a VH1 show by comparing this woman’s traumatic accident to the fact that he has diabetes. In case you’re wondering whatever happened to these women after the show, I know that one of the contestants played a hooker on It’s Always Sunny. At best, I’m sure the rest of the contestants are now ring girls at amateur boxing competitions. At worst, I’m sure they work the Wednesday afternoon shift at a strip club.
‘A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila’
You know it’s you’re in for a wild ride if the HBIC of the show’s safe word is “Keep going.” Tila Tequila was known for being the queen of MySpace back when that site was relevant. Nowadays, she’s been banned from Twitter because she’s completely batsh*t. So next time you feel bad about yourself when looking at a picture of Alexis Ren, bear in mind that much like every social media interface, Instagram will fade into oblivion in 10 years and Alexis will probably be a model who holds a suitcase on Deal Or No Deal. Anyway, A Shot at Love was groundbreaking because it was the first bisexual dating show. Of course, it still carried on certain reality show traditions, like having female contestants with intentionally misspelled names (special shout out to Krystal, Brandi, and Ashlii!), having the token virgin contestant (who, surprisingly enough, was a guy), and of course, the winner and the low-rent bachelorette broke up, like, two seconds after the cameras stopped rolling.
Ariana Grande is everything to me, but this MTV show was the origin of “thank u, next.” Next was totally Tinder if it were a reality show. Think about it. The contestant entered with some outrageous and salacious facts about themselves that may have embarrassed their mothers, and the object of the contestants’ affections just said “Next” if they weren’t about it. Based off the insane fun facts and lack of self-respect these contestants had, I’m guessing participating on Next was just preparation for when they inevitably ended up in a bang bus porn. They may have lost a sh*tty reality show, but at least they had a shot at winning an AVN award! Am I allowed to say that on this website? Because I just did.
‘8th and Ocean’
If I ever want to fall asleep, I can just binge watch 8th and Ocean. It’s probably a healthier option than Ambien, because last time I took that I ended up trying to give myself a Brazilian and feel asleep halfway through. But this show was as excruciating to watch as it was having to take off those waxing strips the morning after that were basically embedded in my skin. I mean, the storylines were as captivating as motel art or listening to elevator music. Look at some of these episode descriptions:
Okay, first off, karaoke is fun if you’re drunk, but when you’re sober it’s like a step above going to a paint your own pottery place. Also, going bible study is such a snoozefest and the only time shoving Jesus down a someone’s throat is entertaining to watch is if they’re on the receiving end of an intervention. While these plotlines are relatable, they’re BORING. However, when you’re that good-looking, you’re not obligated to be interesting. And while the show itself isn’t great, it’s totally worth writing about because the theme song “Beautiful Love” pierced every teenage girl’s soul. It was any teenybopper’s away message on AIM or yearbook quote at some point. With that being said, I think it’s fitting to end this trip down memory lane with this ballad.
Oh, and P.S.: Special shoutout to “HangryMartini” for telling to write this article in the comment section of my article about the annual Kardashian Khristmas party. I’ll be sure to thank you in my acceptance speech when I inevitably win a Pulitzer for my work.
Images: Getty Images; Giphy (3); theaftersvideos, Rowland Jones / Youtube; Wikipedia