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
Early 2000s MTV was television at its finest. I know there are people that love the vintage shit where it was all about music, and then millennials will bitch about how great Teen Mom is because it opened their eyes to the epidemic of teen pregnancy in trailer parks across America, but like, none of that holds a fucking candle to the days of Real World, The Hills and My Super Sweet Sixteen. It was our first taste of reality TV besides shit like Survivor and American Idol, and we wanted to be exactly like everyone on these shows, even if they were trashy and/or douchey af. There are people who say that Netflix and other streaming services have brought us to the age of “peak TV,” but anyone who had the pleasure of watching Sammi and Ronnie in their first season knows that we reached “peak TV” long ago. That’s why we’re ranking our fave MTV shows from our youth by the only metric that matters: betchiness. Also because like, it’s better than focusing on whatever tf is going on today.
10. ‘Jersey Shore’
Don’t get me wrong, I fucking live for a weekend-long marathon of GTL, bar brawls and Sammi Sweetheart screaming Rahhhnnn at least seven times an episode, but like, this group of guidos and the Jersey Shore in general is so not betchy. They wore shit from… Fuck, idk where you buy shit like that because I would never, but y’all know what I’m talking about. It all looked like it came from the back room at the airbrush T-shirt store they “worked” in. They had a duck land line for fuck’s sake. Funny, but not betchy.
9. All Of The Dating Shows
Looking back on it, all of these shows were beyond fucked up. We think going on Tinder and Bumble is bad? Try having a fuckboy judge whether or not you’re worth his time by going on a date with your mom. Dating in the early 2000s was absolute savage. There was Next, where possible datees sat on a bus together and the main suitor just said “next” after five minutes if they were bored or thought you were ugly; Date My Mom, which is self-explanatory I hope; Room Raiders so pervy dudes everywhere could judge high school girls by their underwear drawer and women could use black light technology to see exactly how much men ejaculate on stuff; and my personal fave, Parental Control, where parents who hated their kid’s S.O. forced them to go on dates with other people and then they watched WITH THE BOYFRIEND OR GIRLFRIEND. I’m shook just thinking about it. Anyway, these were fun to watch, but like, if you need to go on one of these wack-ass shows to find love, you def can’t sit with us.
8. ‘Real World’
Real World is basically the OG reality show. If you’re anything like me, Real World was the first show you watched behind your parents’ backs because they didn’t want you turn into an alcoholic thot like all the girls on there. Understandable. The show was entertaining af, mainly because it was a bunch of semi-hot strangers who lived together and therefore ended up fucking, almost killing each other, or saying something racist. Sometimes all three. Naturally. It was fine and we all loved it, but everyone on it was legit trash and was either forgettable or went on to compete on Road Rules or The Challenge aka is now just a desperate middle-aged fame whore. No fucking thanks.
Ahhh… The classic tale of the state-winning high school football team and their undying love for every girl on the cheerleading squad. It was pretty much just MTV capitalizing off all of us being obsessed with Friday Night Lights by giving us a way more boring real life version. I loved it at the time because I could like, relate and shit, but now it’s just meh. Football captain Alex and cheerleading captain Kristin were a cute couple and all, but I would rather exercise than watch people do sports. And that’s serious.
Who doesn’t want to look in celebrities’ houses and see all the tacky shit new money can buy? Hopefully no one because that shit is entertaining. It gains betch points because the whole premise is touring v expensive mansions, but loses points because there’s no drama. Show me an episode of Taylor Swift’s “pad” as they liked to call it and have Katy Perry or like, any of the other billion people who hate her throw a glass of wine in her face. Now that’s a damn show. We need to get Andy Cohen on this, asap.
5. ‘My Super Sweet 16’
It’s a fucking miracle I didn’t turn into a legit terror because of this show. Or maybe I did, idk. Ask my mom. But despite them being the fucking worst, these spoiled af teens were betchy. They knew what they wanted and got it. Even if it was a six figure birthday party. I specifically remember one with two girls who had Sex and the City drag queens and Three 6 Mafia performed. Like, that’s legit af. But god, everyone was so annoying.
4. ‘Laguna Beach’
Let’s have a moment of silence for the first time we met Lauren Conrad… Okay enough of that. Who would have thought an overly bleached blonde teen that obsessed over a guy who friend zoned her for the BSCB would end up being our life idol? But here we are. There was the perfect mix of nice guys, mean girls, and people in the middle we’d actually wanna hang out with and I may or may not have tried to convince my parents to move to the real O.C. more than once. A lot like Two-A-Days, MTV just took a popular TV drama (The O.C., fucking duh) and turned it into a less exciting reality show. I mean, Laguna Beach was great, but no one OD’d in TJ or anything.
3. ‘8th & Ocean’
This is def one of the most underrated, forgotten MTV shows of all time. Beautiful people in a beautiful place with a decent amount of drama? I’m in. We watched really really ridiculously good looking models live together and fight about bookings and who was hotter. Riveting. There were the twins from the astigmatism commercial, the innocent new girl, the heartthrob and some more people who were there but irrelevant. In fact, is there anyway we can make this happen now? With like Gigi, Kendall, Bella, and the likes? God, I should be in television.
2. ‘The City’
This show could have slid into the number one spot because of head betch Olivia Palermo herself. Was she the mean girl who treated nicey-nice Whitney like shit while they worked at DVF? Sure. But welcome to NYC, bitch. You’re not in L.A. anymore. It’s cutthroat af. On The City, we watched Whitney go off on her own and stop being in Lauren’s less qualified but still more successful shadow. She hung with models, worked in fashion, got a scruffy boyfriend in a band, pretty much your usual basic new to New York betch starter kit. But we love Whitney and New York. And we really really love Olivia Palermo.
1. ‘The Hills’
Fucking duh. Lauren Conrad went from back burner betch to HBIC in like one fucking year. Sure, there was the whole Jason Wahler, giving up Paris to live with your bf at the beach thing, but we’re gonna pretend season 1 didn’t happen. We naively believed that Lauren was actually an intern at Teen Vogue and that she and Brody were soul mates and that she really did coincidentally meet a hot, already mic’d girl at the pool of her apartment. Were we stupid? Yeah. But The Hills gave us Lauren Conrad 2.0, one of the betchiest of all betches.