Reality television provides us all with plenty of seemingly real-life drama for our binge-watching consumption. From the "Real Housewives" franchises to reality competition series like "Big Brother," viewers know that they're bound to be entertained by tuning in. But what happens when scandals erupt off-camera? Wonderwall.com is rounding up the all-time biggest scandals from reality TV, starting with this family drama… Jon Gosselin and Kate Gosselin were one of the original reality TV couples, documenting their life with sextuplets and twins on "Jon & Kate Plus 8." In 2009, they went through a messy split, which was chronicled on their show. They started their divorce process in June of that year as rumors swirled that both sides had been unfaithful. Jon was accused of carrying on affairs with much younger women, including a schoolteacher. After the couple parted ways, Jon was tied to multiple women while Kate was accused of carrying on an affair with married bodyguard Steve Neild, which she's denied. These days, the couple's reality past is well behind them and both remain single. Jon got out of a long-term relationship in 2021, and Kate has not publicly stepped out with a new man.
Keep reading for more of reality TV's biggest scandals…
The world of reality TV collided with A-list Hollywood in early 2021 when a Bravo star became the center of a high-profile celebrity relationship cheating scandal. "Southern Charm" star Madison LeCroy (right) appeared on the show's season 7 reunion in January 2021 and raised eyebrows after a co-star accused her of hooking up with a "married ex-MLB player". That individual in question was later identified as Alex Rodriguez (who was engaged, not married, to Jennifer Lopez at the time). Though Madison denied having any kind of physical relationship with A-Rod, co-star Danni Baird revealed on the podcast "Reality Life With Kate Casey" that Madison told her she and A-Rod "were FaceTiming or something." The retired baseball star and J.Lo called off their engagement two months later in the wake of the scandal.
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One week into filming "Bachelor in Paradise" in June 2017, the show was suspended due to allegations of sexual misconduct — and all cast members were sent home from Mexico. Reports quickly surfaced revealing that the two involved were Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson. Multiple reports claimed that DeMario and Corinne were inebriated and fooling around in a swimming pool and that things could have gone too far. DeMario told a friend that video of the incident would vindicate him. Days later, an investigation determined that no wrongdoing occurred.
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"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" — the first spinoff of TLC's "Toddlers & Tiaras" — centered around hilarious 6-year-old pageant contestant Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson and followed her family's ups and downs. But when it was revealed that Alana's mother, "Mama June" Shannon, had a new boyfriend who'd been accused of molesting Alana's sister Anna, TLC canceled the show.
Viewers were shocked to learn that Teresa Giudice and Joe Giudice, who'd starred on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" since the show's inception, were facing prison sentences. In July 2013, Teresa and Joe were charged with hiding assets and income in a bankruptcy case, conspiring to defraud lenders and illegally obtaining mortgages and loans. The couple entered a guilty plea in March 2014, and Teresa began a nearly year-long federal prison sentence in January 2015 — with the legal battles were documented on the spinoff "Teresa Checks In" on Bravo in the fall of 2015. She was released in December 2015, just a few months before Joe started a 41-month sentence in March 2016. He was released in March 2019 but headed straight to Immigration and Customs Enforcement lockup to await the results of his deportation appeal, which was denied in April 2019 and resulted in Joe heading to Italy permanently a few months later that October. (In October 2018, a judge ruled that Joe would be deported to his native Italy.) The couple unfortunately didn't weather the storm — they called it quits and their divorce was finalized in September 2020.
In January 2019, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino began serving an eight-month prison sentence for tax evasion. The "Jersey Shore" star's brother, Marc Sorrentino, was also ordered to serve two years for related tax crimes. In 2014, Mike and Marc were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud after the government claimed they did not pay all of the federal income tax owed on The Situation's $8.9 million income from 2010 to 2012. In January 2018, Mike agreed to a plea deal and copped to one count of tax evasion. He surrendered to prison authorities in January 2019 and was released in September 2019.
HGTV stars Tarek El Moussa and Christina El Moussa (now Haack) were permanent fixtures in the news a few years ago thanks to the crazy unraveling of their marriage. In January 2017, Tarek filed for divorce from his wife of seven years nearly eight months after they had a massive fight that resulted in Tarek fleeing their home with a gun. Christina feared he was suicidal and police were called, but Tarek claimed he was just going on a hike and needed the gun for protection from wild animals. What followed was a series of alerts on the couple's old dramas and numerous new relationships — including a report about Tarek taking up with their children's former nanny and entering outpatient rehab, as well as Christina dating a hockey player and an ex-lover with a record of felony arrests. In August 2017, Christina finally responded to Tarek's divorce petition — asking the court to cancel his request for spousal support while requesting it for herself. Christina married "Wheeler Dealers" host Ant Anstead in December 2018 and changed her name to Christina Anstead, then she filed for divorce less than two years later. Tarek got engaged to "Selling Sunset" star Heather Rae Young in 2020. Despite their split, the reality stars continued to shoot their show together — though they made headlines in July 2021 for an on-set conflict.
Season 19 "The Bachelor" star Chris Soules was arrested in April 2017 and charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing a death. The shocking incident happened in Iowa when the reality star's vehicle hit a tractor driving on the road, sending it into a ditch — and killing the driver, farmer Kenneth Mosher. Meanwhile, Chris left the scene before cops arrived, though he did call 911 and tell them what happened first. Reports later claimed Chris had alcohol in and around his vehicle, though he wasn't charged with DUI. In November 2018, Chris pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, which is an aggravated misdemeanor. In August 2019, he was given a two-year suspended sentence and put on probation.
"Big Brother" allows fans to watch the lives of house guests 24 hours a day. No cast accrued more controversy than during 2013's season 15. On the show's live feed, four different contestants got themselves in hot water for making wildly offensive comments ranging from racist to anti-Semitic to homophobic remarks. Model Aaryn Gries made headlines for her myriad offenses, which got her dropped by her modeling agency, while Spencer Clawson's talk about child sex abuse images got him publicly chastised by his employer. House guest GinaMarie Zimmerman (right) provided so much casual racist commentary that it got her fired from her job back home. Even the winner of the show that season, Andy Herren (left), was fired from his job as a college professor after referring to eliminated houseguests as "robotic biracials" and talking about wanting to punch a female contestant in the throat.
Oh "Big Brother," where art thou?! The ladies and gents of 2018's season 20 of the binge-worthy reality show put a stranglehold on the "most controversial cast" title from 2013's season 15, with one member in particular nearly providing enough scandal for an entire season! JC Mounduix (second from bottom right) made headlines when sexual harassment accusations flew after he touched fellow houseguests inappropriately with an ice cream scooper and made questionable comments, including using a racist word and asking female houseguest Rachel Swindler (center, in blue) if she was transgender. Contestant Kaitlyn Herman (third from top right) also made waves when she flirted with numerous male houseguests while openly having a boyfriend back home. And to round out the group, the aforementioned Rachel and pal Angela Rummans (far right) infuriated fans when they made racist comments about their skin color, comparing their tans to the skin tone of African American contestant Bayleigh Dayton (far left), with Rachel noting her stomach was "as dark as Bay" and Angela adding, "I'm looking ghetto here with the skin coloration."
2021 saw "The Bachelor" franchise make a major change — host Chris Harrison left the show in June after hosting every iteration of the series since its debut in 2002. The departure came after a big scandal earlier that year that saw Chris come to the defense of season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell. Controversial photos of Rachael surfaced as the season aired, showing her attending an Antebellum-themed college party and dressing as a Native American woman. For her part, Rachael issued an apology, noting, "I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist." Chris defended the contestant while being interviewed by former "The Bachelorette" star Rachel Lindsay, calling for "a little grace" and "compassion," but he was met with a lot of backlash and eventually issued his own apology. He originally stated he'd be taking a step back from the franchise, stepping aside for Emmanuel Acho to host the "After the Final Rose" special, but eventually took to Instagram to announce he'd be leaving the franchise forever. Deadline broke the news of Chris's permanent departure, claiming the terms of his exit included "a mid-range eight-figure payoff and promise to keep his mouth shut."
TLC's "Sister Wives" has delivered plenty of controversy as the show chronicled the polygamist marriages of Kody Brown. The Brown family moved from a state that disapproved of their plural marriage arrangement, Utah, to Nevada to settle and live in multiple homes on the same cul-de-sac. They made headlines when it was announced in early 2015 that Kody would be divorcing one of his four wives — first wife Meri (second from right) — so he could legally marry fourth "spiritual" wife Robyn (far left), to make it easier for Kody to adopt her kids from her first marriage and give her access to perks like his health insurance. In the fall of 2015, more scandal struck the Brown family as it was revealed that Meri had been catfished into a six-month emotional online and telephone phone affair with a middle-aged woman who was posing as a hunky businessman.
Just days before Khloe Kardashian was set to welcome their first child into the world in April 2018, footage emerged showing her boyfriend, NBA star Tristan Thompson, involved with multiple other women — all while Khloe was pregnant. Despite outcry from her family and fans, the "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" star chose to stand by her man, even allowing him to be with her during daughter True's birth. Unfortunately, this news shouldn't have been too shocking: Tristan started dating Khloe in 2016 while his ex-girlfriend, Jordan Craig, was pregnant with their son, though Khloe has insisted she wasn't the other woman in that relationship. The couple continued to have an on-again, off-again relationship marked my multiple cheating scandals, splits and reconciliations.
2021 marked a first in Bravo's "Below Deck" history — a baby! The second season of "Below Deck Sailing Yacht" saw the stews and deckhands pairing off early on, with a few couples blossoming — and one of those relationships yielded a pregnancy. Bravo blogs buzzed that Dani Soares, second stew on the yacht, was expecting a baby with deckhand Jean-Luc Cerza-Lanaux following their boat-mance. When it came time for the season's reunion, Dani confirmed that the baby was indeed Jean-Luc's; he opted to not appear with the cast, citing work conflicts, so there was no showdown. Jean-Luc later appeared solo to answer host Andy Cohen's questions about the allegations and claimed he would take responsibility after a paternity test was conducted. Since then, the former couple have remained mum on the results.
Fraternizing with the crew? Apparently that's one type of hookup that "The Bachelor" producers aren't cool with, as evidenced by the dramatic dismissal of contestant Rozlyn Papa that aired in January 2010 during Jake Pavelka's season. After the beautiful contestant was accused of entering into a physical relationship with a producer, both were dismissed from the show. The confrontation happened on camera, and although Rozlyn insisted the show concocted the story for plot purposes, host Chris Harrison maintained it was a real relationship.
"The Real Housewives of Orange County" introduced us to a level of awful we didn't know existed during the show's 10th season — in the form of a man named Brooks Ayers. Vicki Gunvalson's controversial boyfriend — who had already made waves by telling Vicki's daughter's husband that he should use force to discipline his wife — stooped to a new low as it was revealed he'd allegedly faked having cancer. After Vicki's fellow Housewives raised concerns about his illness, in November 2015 the hospital where Brooks claimed he'd been treated denied he'd been a patient. That same month, Brooks himself admitted to "fabricating" medical documents. In a statement to E! News, Brooks admitted to falsifying the records but maintained that he still had cancer. He also refused to take a lie detector test, and insisted he would no longer be discussing his health issues publicly.
It truly was one of the most dramatic season in "The Bachelor" history! Season 22 featured franchise vet Arie Luyendyk Jr. looking for love. His casting was already scandalous enough (he hadn't appeared on the franchise since 2012 during Emily Maynard's season of "The Bachelorette"), but he managed to outdo that outcry with his final pick. Despite originally proposing to Becca Kufrin on the finale, Arie ended up dumping her a few weeks later after deciding he actually wanted to be with runner-up Lauren Burnham. Though this wasn't the first time a "Bachelor" star ended up going back to his No. 2 pick (ahem, Jason Mesnick), this certainly was the most savage. A camera crew filmed the incredibly awkward, premeditated breakup, then Becca had to face Arie once more on "The Bachelor: After the Final Rose," where he also proposed to Lauren on live television. (He and Lauren married in January 2019 and now have three kids.)
One of the OG reality TV dramas was delivered to us by the original reality singing competition show, "American Idol," way back in 2005. Paula Abdul was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with season 2 contestant Corey Clark. Two years after Corey was dismissed from the show for failing to reveal an arrest on his record, the wannabe professional singer claimed he and Paula had had a three-month sexual relationship. Paula denied it and FOX launched an internal investigation led by an independent counsel, ultimately finding Corey's claims were unsubstantiated.
"The Real Housewives of Atlanta" can always be counted on to serve up some serious drama, but they served up a little too much during part one of the season 6 reunion special. After tensions arose while Kenya Moore repeatedly antagonized Porsha Williams, Porsha lost it and slapped Kenya. A real fight ensued involving a scepter, a megaphone and poor host Andy Cohen as he attempted to intervene. Porsha eventually grabbed Kenya's hair, pulled her to the ground and dragged her across the floor of the reunion set — resulting in Porsha being charged with battery after the show wrapped.
On the 10th season of "Survivor" in 2003, one cast member became an instant villain after a cruel lie was revealed. Jonny Fairplay (real name: Jon Dalton) lied about his grandmother dying. He'd planned to have a friend tell the untruth about his grandmother passing away during the show's visit-from-a-loved-one segment, in order to get a 24-hour visit with a friend from home. The reprehensible behavior led to the show's host, Jeff Probst, banning Jonny from all subsequent "Survivor" events, and made enemies of almost all of his "Survivor: Pearl Island" castmates.
Farrah Abraham got her start on a one-off episode of "16 and Pregnant" then starred on the first installment of "Teen Mom." Since viewers had watched her grow up before their eyes, her transition into the adult entertainment world in 2013 was quite a shock. The star originally claimed that her adult film, "Farrah Superstar: Backdoor Teen Mom," was a filmed private romp that just happened to feature professional porn star James Deen as her partner — but its release made it pretty clear that the move was more strategic than Farrah initially let on and that she'd profited big-time. In January 2014, she told In Touch magazine that the adult film ruined her life, but the sequel to her first adult film was released a month later.
Viewers watched the unhappy marriage of Taylor Armstrong and Russell Armstrong unfold during the first season of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." It was later revealed that the venture capitalist was abusive to Taylor during the show's run, and their money troubles were also brought to light. Taylor filed for divorce in July 2011, and just one month later, Russell died by suicide.
Phil Robertson (left) found instant fame on the wildly successful A&E reality show "Duck Dynasty." But just as quickly, the duck-hunting family patriarch's popularity plunged after he made homophobic comments in a January 2013 GQ magazine interview. The commentary got him temporarily suspended from his hit show, and he wasn't reinstated until December 2013. The show ran until 2017.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Thomas Ravenel's alleged past actions returned to haunt him in 2018. The "Southern Charm" star was accused of sexually assaulting a woman he met on Tinder in 2015 as well as his children's nanny, known on the show as Nanny Dawn, whose claims resulted in Thomas being investigated for "first-degree forcible rape." But the charges didn't end there. In 2014, the hairdresser to the mother of Thomas's children (with his "Southern Charm" co-star Kathryn Dennis) claimed he shoved a door so hard it hit her and caused her to fall backwards down three stairs. Depending on who you believe, he either quit "Southern Charm" or was fired in the wake of the sexual assault allegations.
Reality TV star Kendra Wilkinson and hubby Hank Baskett officially called it quits in 2018. Kendra took to social media to make the announcement that April, sharing that their nearly nine-year marriage had ended. Their show, "Kendra On Top," chronicled their struggles — namely, a cheating scandal in 2014. Hank allegedly stepped out on Kendra with a transgender model while Kendra was eight months pregnant with their second child, daughter Alijah — and it nearly torpedoed their marriage at the time. They tried to make things work and even appeared on "Marriage Boot Camp: Family Edition" in 2015. But by 2018, she'd filed for divorce.
Jillian Michaels was known for being a tough and productive team leader on "The Biggest Loser," so fans of the show were shocked when it was revealed that she was cheating behind the scenes. The fitness guru reportedly gave her team members caffeine supplements in 2013. Since they were given without a doctor's permission in an attempt to help with weight loss, her team was penalized 4 pounds. That result was considered controversial, since Jillian didn't suffer a punishment despite it being her decision.
MTV's "16 and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom" star Amber Portwood shocked fans by getting physical and punching on-again, off-again boyfriend Gary Shirley on camera. The altercation resulted in Amber being arrested on domestic violence charges, which snowballed into more charges for being in possession of prescription drugs that weren't in her name. After violating her probation, Amber was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison in February 2012, something she could have avoided by going to rehab. Instead, she asked a judge to send her to the slammer — she was afraid rehab wouldn't work and she'd die from an overdose — where she faced her demons, got clean and got out after spending less than two years behind bars.
"The Real Housewives of Potomac" husband Michael Darby found himself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons when he was charged with sexual assault of a male crew member in September 2018. Michael, who's married to Ashley Darby, allegedly grabbed the backside of cameraman Orville Palmer while filming the show and gave the staffer a "flirtatious look." Orville said he told Michael to stop and told his supervisor about what happened before going to authorities. The claim resulted in Michael being criminally charged with felony assault and misdemeanor improper sexual contact — which did nothing to assuage the barrage of gay rumors that have been discussed heavily on the show. In October 2018, the Montgomery County State Attorney's Office opted to not prosecute Michael over the incident and he was able to resume filming the Bravo franchise.
Bachelor Nation was shocked in September 2018 when "Bachelor in Paradise" sweetheart and single mother of two Amanda Stanton was arrested for domestic battery in Las Vegas. It all went down after a bachelorette party where security was called due to a noise complaint. The original story spun was that while security guards talked to Amanda's boyfriend, Bobby Jacobs, Amanda intervened and allegedly shoved Bobby. The violent act led security to call the cops, who arrested Amanda for misdemeanor domestic violence. Authorities responding to the incident later explained that things were much more physical than just a shove and included Amanda hitting Bobby while he was in bed and swinging a hotel room telephone at him. Bobby also told police she punched him and kicked him after he didn't answer her calls that night. Despite all that, the couple remained together for a time. Amanda pleaded not guilty to a count of misdemeanor domestic battery in October 2018.
A former "America's Next Top Model" contestant was murdered in a triple homicide in February 2015. Mirjana Puhar competed on the 21st cycle of the show and did well in the modeling competition. The 19-year-old beauty hung in until the 10th round of eliminations, but was tragically killed a year later when she and her boyfriend were gunned down in a drug-related murder.
"Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" star Tommie Lee might have set a record in October 2018 when she was arrested two times in 24 hours. Yep, her first offense came after she allegedly slammed her daughter into a locker at the child's middle school, where she was then arrested for battery, aggravated assault and child cruelty. The VH1 star posted her $27,000 bond and then violated a court order requiring her to stay away from her daughter — within three hours of leaving jail — which meant she headed right back that night. It wasn't her first time in the slammer. In September 2018, she pleaded guilty to one count of DUI and one count of driving without headlights, which amounted to 48 hours in jail thanks to a plea deal related to a 2016 arrest. She was also arrested in July 2018 and booked for disorderly conduct while under the influence after an incident outside of Atlanta's Royal Peacock Club in which she refused to move out of a road where a cop was directing traffic.
Duane "Dog" Chapman, better known as "Dog the Bounty Hunter," found himself in the midst of a major scandal when a recording of private phone call he spoke on was released in 2007. The taped conversation revealed some racist commentary from Dog and led to the reality star and fugitive hunter being suspended from his show. He appeared on "Larry King Live" shortly afterward to issue an apology, then resumed production of his successful A&E series.
"The Real Housewives of Atlanta" fired one of its longtime cast members in May 2017 after she did the unthinkable. Phaedra Parks, who joined the show during season 3 and stayed on until season 9, was dismissed after she confessed to being the source of a date rape rumor involving co-stars Kandi Burruss and Todd Tucker. The false information spread by Phaedra indicated that Kandi and her husband wanted to drug and sexually take advantage of co-star Porsha Williams. Phaedra apologized for repeating the information and specifically attempted to make amends with Porsha at the reunion show, but it was too late. The damage was done.
A criminal contestant
VH1 had a major scandal on their hands in 2009. The network launched its reality show "Megan Wants a Millionaire" without incident — then one of the contestants was accused of murder. Ryan Jenkins, who vied for Megan's love, was suspected of violently killing his wife, model Jasmine Fiore, mutilating her body and stuffing it in a suitcase. Days after Jasmine's body was discovered, Ryan — who'd gone on the run — committed suicide and VH1 canceled the show.