I have a confession to make – I’m a reality show addict. I blame the Writer’s Guild strike. Last year during the hiatus of all my favorite scripted shows, I succumbed to the allure of junk-food TV, casually watching an episode of a reality show here and there… until I realized you can’t casually watch reality shows. You tune in one week, and the next week you can’t not know what’s happening. Did Melissa Rivers finally get fired? Was Adam’s song good enough to get voted through? Who will Brett Michaels sleep with this week? I have to know!
This week was the finale of one of my favorite reality shows (yes, it’s so bad that I’m addicted to several at this point), The Biggest Loser. I tell myself this is a show about helping people, so it’s okay to watch this one. Even though I know 90% is schmaltsy violin music and milking every last ounce of emotion out of the poor overweight contestants. But, I digress… the finale! In case you missed it, (which, I know some of you did because American Idol was on at the same time), the sixty-four year old Jerry, the oldest contestant ever, won the at home prize, losing an amazing 177 pounds, and the 48 year old Helen won the overall title of Biggest Loser, coming out looking like a svelte 22 year old. And I seriously covet that hot pink dress she was wearing. Not that I could get into the itty bitty thing at the moment anyway…
But, as I was watching the uber long, 3 hour finale (complete with commercial breaks every five seconds), I started to thinking back to seasons past and wondered what has happened to some of the past reality show contestants. Have their lives really changed for the better after the cameras stopped rolling? So, after a little googling, here’s what I found out…
Survivor: Richard Hatch
Richard Hatch was the first Survivor winner, back on the season when they really didn’t feed anyone and they really did just drop these people in the jungle and see what happens. It was a reality show phenomenon at the time, and millions tuned it to watch Richard Hatch collect his million dollar prize in the end.
Today, Richard Hatch is in prison. Yep, that’s right. Prison. It turns out he didn’t pay any taxes on his million dollar winnings and ended up with a 51 month jail sentence and almost 500k owed to the IRS in back taxes. So much for the prize money changing his life for the better, huh?
Richard claims that during the filming of Survivor, he caught producers smuggling food to some of the contestants. When he called them out about the cheating, the producers promised to pay his taxes on the winnings for him should he win. So, he claims he assumed the taxes were taken care of by CBS. So far, the court ain’t buying it. He’s currently scheduled to be released in Oct. 2009.
The Biggest Loser: Erik Chopin
Erik Chopin was a deli owner from Long Island who went on to win the third season of The Biggest Loser, losing an amazing 124 pounds. After the show, he even underwent radical body lift surgery to removed an additional 10 pounds of extra skin from losing the weight so quickly. Unfortunately, once the show was over and Erik was out of the public eye, he says he fell into a depression and started gaining weight back, ballooning up to over 300 pounds once again.
The Bachelorette: Trista Sutter
Trista Sutter was the first runner up on The Bachelor TV show in 2001 (meaning, the loser), and got a second chance at love when she became The Bachelorette in 2002. She chose Ryan as her prince charming at the end of the show, and the couple were married in 2003 in a huge blowout TV wedding show. Amazingly, in real life the couple are the same happy couple the play on TV. Trista and Ryan had a son in 2007 and just this year welcomed a baby girl into their family. So, I guess sometimes there is some reality in reality TV after all.
Anyone else have any reality TV favorites? Updates to share? Dish on upcoming reality shows I should add to my calendar?
~Trigger Happy Halliday