Why do you watch reality shows? To see average folks compete against each other? Or to see average folks turn into comic book villains before your very eyes?
Pour yourself some tea and find a spot of shade — these are the best reality show villains you love to hate.
Puck – The Real World
Time to stop acting polite and start acting real? David “Puck” Rainey took that as an invitation to indulge in just the worst behavior possible.
Among his many unhygienic offenses? Picking his nose and using that finger to dip into the house’s peanut butter jar. Eww!
Things took a turn from “entertaining” to “disturbing” as Puck kept berating Pedro Zamora, an HIV-positive activist, with anti-gay slurs. The house voted to evict Puck, but Puck kept prank calling and harassing them all from afar. More recently, he served two years in prison for stalking.
Dustin Diamond – Celebrity Fit Club
After being introduced to the world as lovable nerd Screech on Saved By the Bell, Dustin Diamond grew up to become… a mean guy. He even trashed his former castmates in a fabricated book. But to see how vicious Diamond was, you had to watch him on Celebrity Fit Club.
The premise was simple — celebs compete to lose weight and become healthy. Diamond fought this simple premise every step of the way, using diet pills and regularly fighting with other contestants. Finally, Diamond got into a fight with the entire cast — including the host and a literal drill sergeant.
Russell Hantz – Survivor
There wasn’t a bridge Russell Hantz wasn’t willing to burn during his time on Survivor. And we mean “bridge” metaphorically, since the show takes place in the wilderness and there aren’t really any bridges.
Know what is literal, though? The “burning” part.
Among his knock-down, drag-out, shady-as-heck tactics on the show, Hantz messed with contestants’ supplies — even those on his own tribe. He emptied water canteens during the middle of the night. And he burned people’s socks. He got his just desserts when a fellow contestant burned his trademark hat.
Farrah Abraham (and her mom) – Teen Mom
During MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, we watched the complicated story of Farrah Abraham, a young girl who suddenly became pregnant. The father of Abraham’s child died in a car accident, and her mother Debra Danielsen berated her at every turn. It was, admittedly, riveting television.
But in Teen Mom, it all took a turn for the “even worse.”
Abraham started lashing out at everyone, including her mom, friends, and even Dr. Phil. Abraham and Danielsen’s arguments became tinged with unsafe anger. Abraham still attracts attention for her unorthodox parenting style.
Jed Wyatt – The Bachelorette
Supposedly, The Bachelorette is about finding love. It’s the “right reason” people are there for.
But for Jed Wyatt, the “winner” of season 15 with Hannah Brown (we’ll explain those quotes in a minute), those reasons got tangled up in some behind-the-scenes drama.
Brown did indeed choose Wyatt as the winner. But People Magazine dropped a bombshell soon after: Wyatt was in a serious relationship the entire time of filming, and was just trying to promote his music career. Brown then asked runner-up Tyler Cameron for a casual date on the reunion episode.
Shay and Mikey – Instant Hotel
The Australian Airbnb competition show, which recently made a splash on Netflix, features a wide variety of unsavory characters staying in and voting on each other’s makeshift hotels. But no one holds a candle to Shay Razaei and Mikey Gelo, “high class” couple extraordinaire.
They ruthlessly trash and berate their contestants’ places for not being up to their standards. They brag to the camera on how they’ll rate things low for no reason. And most deliciously, their Airbnb… is AWFUL.
It literally smells like cat urine, and everyone hated it, rightfully so.
Anfisa – 90 Day Fiance
Mindy Kaling tweeted it very succinctly: “Anfisa is my favorite character on any show, any time, in tv history.” That’s a bold claim, especially since Kaling has created many incredible TV characters herself!
Why is Anfisa Arkhipchenko of TLC’s 90 Day Fiance so intriguing?
Because she speaks her mind and acts bluntly. If she and fiance Jorge Nava want to steal every box of pizza, they’re going to. If she wants to berate someone for calling her a gold digger, she’s going to. She is who we all wish we could be, unchecked.
Simon Cowell – American Idol
Paula Abdul was the endlessly affectionate one. Randy Jackson was the firm but fair one. And Simon Cowell was the one who would tell you to sue your singing teacher over how bad you are, without an ounce of remorse.
He was a mean judge, is what we’re saying.
Cowell’s barbs and takedowns of contestants good and bad helped propel American Idol to the top of the ratings during its 2002 debut. And when Cowell left the show to pursue opportunities like America’s Got Talent, the new judges Idol booked never quite reached the same highs… er, lows.
Gordon Ramsay – Hell’s Kitchen
Gordon Ramsay: Beautiful dishes, dirty mouth.
This guy swears so much we bet the censor has carpal tunnel from smashing the beep button. He berates the contestants on this show, smashing unsatisfactory dishes on the ground and even pouring food on people. One contestant even tried to slap him!
If you’re in the mood for a tonal whiplash, check out Ramsay’s work on MasterChef Junior. He speaks to the child chefs with warmth, joy, humor, and absolutely no cuss words. As you watch, you half-expect him to freak out on one kiddo, but he keeps it cool.
New York – Flavor of Love
Ah, the 2000s. A time when VH1 ruled the airwaves with a cavalry of dating shows centered around musicians whose primes came decades earlier. Flavor of Love followed a group of bachelorettes eager to canoodle with Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav. But one contestant stood tall above the rest.
New York versus everybody.
Tiffany “New York” Pollard fought her fellow contestants, especially rival Pumpkin. She mooned people she didn’t agree with — mooned them! And on her spinoff show, I Love New York, when her fiance left her during the reunion special, she publicly belittled a certain appendage of his.
Jade Cole – America’s Next Top Model
Who is Jade Cole? She put it herself to America’s Next Top Model host Tyra Banks: “I am the undiscovered supermodel.”
Cole was the villain of the season, as she targeted those she found to be weak. And when she got eliminated, she said, “Jade will be hard to forget.”
But was that the full story?
After the show, Cole said that producers exploited her, deliberately crafting a misrepresenting narrative that made her seem worse than she was. She even declined a chance to appear on future seasons, and has since founded an agency for biracial models.
Top Chef – Stephen Asprinio
The first season of Bravo’s food competition Top Chef featured a litany of food maestros ready to respectfully dole out their dishes. It also featured Stephen Asprinio.
No disrespect to the man’s skills — he was one of the final five, after all. But huge disrespect to the man’s, well, disrespect.
Asprinio made us all take aspirin with his headache-inducing insults. He frequently talked down to his fellow contestants, calling one dish “cooking school 101,” and referring to Candice Kumai as “trash.”
Maybe now he’s seen the light: He’s since retired from the restaurant business and works in hospitality.
Jeffrey Sebelia – Project Runway
How much of reality TV is real, and how much is fake? Here’s a better question: If it gives us incredible characters like Project Runway winner Jeffrey Sebelia, who cares?
Sebelia admitted exaggerating his villainous tendencies as a “good strategic ploy.” But ya know what? It worked!
Sebelia got under everyone’s skin with his shenanigans, even making Angela Keslar‘s mother cry! Laura Bennett finally had enough, publicly accusing Sebelia of outsourcing the clothes he made to other workers. But when Bravo’s investigation revealed no foul play, Sebelia wound up winning the whole thing.
Lacey Conner – Rock of Love
You gotta learn from the best. And when Lacey Conner appeared on Rock of Love, the Bret Michaels dating show spinoff of Flavor of Love, she namechecked New York as a role model for behavior.
Conner’s antics were wide-varying and volatile, often resorting to threats of physical violence.
Conner provoked her fellow contestants, taunting them with the fact that if they retaliated against her, they’d be eliminated. She also knew how to manipulate Michaels, telling him half-truths about the other contestants. She was eliminated and told by Michaels that she had “two sides.”
Abby Lee Miller – Dance Moms
What’s worse than a child dancer being screamed at? A child dancer being told they’re “replaceable.”
That sums up Abby Lee Miller’s strategy as the head of a company on the first season of Dance Moms. She was so volatile, a contestant sued her for assault.
That’s not the only legal trouble Miller has pirouetted into. She was investigated and charged with numerous federal crimes, including bankruptcy fraud and customs fraud. She pleaded guilty to these crimes and served ten months of her one year prison sentence.
Jonathan Baker – The Amazing Race
Some negative reality personalities are fun to watch. It’s junk food, but very good tasting junk food. Other reality personalities behave so reprehensibly, it grinds to a screeching halt. That, unfortunately, is the case of Jonathan Baker, a contestant on The Amazing Race’s sixth season.
He competed with his then-wife Victoria Fuller, revealing himself to be egotistical and temperamental, and seeming to be proud of this. And then, when Fuller grabbed his backpack without his knowledge, America watched as Baker shoved her. Thankfully, she has since divorced him.
Spencer and Heidi – The Hills
Ah, The Hills. That fabled MTV reality show that made us hate and love the rich life of spoiled kids in Los Angeles. At its center, spinning the web of various camera-ready feuds and spats? Speidi — the spooky nickname given to spooky couple Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag.
Montag and Hills star Lauren Conrad were friends. But thanks to Pratt’s Pratt-ness, that all changed — in front of a camera crew. There were public arguments, charged feuds, and spreading stories to tabloids a-plenty.
Now, Speidi is married, and Pratt tried a weird blond beard for awhile. What an epilogue.
The Apprentice – Omarosa
Did you know Omarosa’s full name is Omarosa Manigault Newman. You didn’t. Because you don’t need to. Because her notoriety is so omnipresent, you only need the first name.
In other words, she may have started on The Apprentice. But her strategies make her the master of reality TV villainy.
Except — don’t call her a villian.
Omarosa believes that her ability to play contestants against each other and manipulate her boss in the boardroom would be called genius were they traits a male worker possessed. She also believes show producers edited footage to make her look worse.
Wendy Pepper – Project Runway
Some villains make their status known immediately. If you ran into the Joker, you’d have some clues leading you to the conclusion that he’s not quite right. Other villains wait in the shadows until the right time to pounce.
We guess what we’re saying is that Wendy Pepper is Bane.
If a contestant talked to Pepper face to face, they’d walk away thinking she’s normal and pleasant. Then, when it came time for confessions and eliminations, Pepper revealed her ruthless tactics.
In other words, the handcrafted, very fashionable gloves came off.
Jonny Fairplay – Survivor
We love an ironic nickname. Little John from Robin Hood is actually big? Heck yeah. So by those standards, we should be all about Survivor contestant Jonny Fairplay, right?
To an extent, yes. His audacious lie on the show was… quite something. But at what cost?
Fairplay lied about his grandma dying on the air. He said his grandma was dead, garnered sympathy from contestants, paid tribute to her spirit before challenges — and it was all a lie. Wow and yikes!
Host/producer Jeff Probst said publicly he’d never want to run into him anywhere else.
“Evel” Dick Donato – Big Brother
Remember all that stuff we just said about ironic nicknames? Never mind.
Richard Donato’s nickname, acquired on Big Brother, gets right to the point. “Evel Dick” ain’t just a common shortening of the name Richard. It… sorta gives you an idea of his whole deal.
Dick fought with every single house guest, going so far as to pour iced tea on Jen Johnson. But when producers brought on Dick’s estranged daughter, Daniele Donato, as a “rival” for Dick to compete with, everything escalated even more. Despite their constant fighting, the duo won the whole shebang.
Danielle Staub – The Real Housewives of New Jersey
Have you ever flipped a table? Of course not. That’s not a real thing people do. Unless they were pushed to desperation by a wild act of villainy. Enter… Danielle Staub.
On The Real Housewives of New Jersey, she made Teresa Giudice so upset, Giudice performed the famed table-flipping.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg for the provocative Staub. Another incident involving Staub, housewife Jacqueline Laurita, and Laurita’s daughter Ashley Holmes ended in violence as the police were called. Staub’s tendency to stir the pot became so intense, she was fired before the third season.
Jax Taylor – Vanderpump Rules
Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants are chock full of wacky characters. But Jax Taylor, who had booked many gigs as a model before being hired at SUR, was less “wacky” and more “skeezy.”
Season one saw Taylor dodging and denying allegations that he was cheating on his girlfriend, fellow server Stassi Schroeder.
In the season finale, Taylor revealed… that he’s a dirty liar. He had been cheating on Schroeder the entire time. With fellow cast member Kristen Doute. Who was in a relationship with Tom Sandoval. Who’s Taylor’s best friend.
How deep does this go?!
Marcel Vigneron – Top Chef
As a chef, Marcel Vigneron took gastropub cuisine and turned it on its head, drilling food down to its molecular essences (which often looked like curious foams). But that’s not why he turned heads on Top Chef.
He turned heads on Top Chef because he acted like a grade-a jerk!
Vigneron took any chance he could to get in everyone’s face. He was so disliked, that when a stranger at a club recognized him, she thwacked him with a bottle. Contestant Cliff Crooks got his revenge on Vigneron when he attacked Vigneron on camera and tried to shave his head!
Chilltown – Big Brother
We’re back on our ironic nickname steez!
“Chilltown” is anything but chill. Instead, it’s the nickname given to the two-man Big Brother alliance of Mike “Boogie” Malin and Dr. “Evil” Will Kirby (nicknames on nicknames!). Their BB tactics… were anything but chill.
Malin and Kirby appeared on two seasons of Big Brother. On their first appearance, Kirby won. The second time, Malin won. This gives Chilltown an undefeated record — despite (because of?) their wildly ruthless methods and complete lack of shame. Now, Kirby is back to a normal life as a dermatologist.
Scott Disick – The Kardashian Empire
Sure, you can keep up with the Kardashians. But can you keep up with Scott Disick, Kourtney’s on-again-off-again boyfriend with whom she has three children? He’s appeared on various episodes and spinoffs of the Kardashian reality empire.
And he’s been a huge tool in all of them.
The other Kardashians’ contempt for Disick is visible — Khloe walked away when Kourtney revealed their first pregnancy. Honestly, we can’t blame them.
Disick has done things like: Cheated on Kourtney, punched a mirror in front of Kourtney, partied instead of watching his newborn, and shoved money down a waiter’s mouth (!!).
Chad Johnson – The Bachelorette
Before appearing on The Bachelorette, “Bad” Chad Johnson was a real estate agent and not, surprisingly, a bully from a 1980s teen movie. Though on the show, he sure as heck acted like one.
He was a classic hothead, confronting his fellow contestants and even ripping Evan Bass’ shirt.
Johnson also, quite amusingly, had a voracious appetite, shoving behind-the-scenes craft services like cold cuts into his mouth on-camera. He blatantly refused to participate in on-camera challenges to win JoJo Fletcher’s affections. And at one point, a security guard was forced to follow him around.
Aaryn Gries – Big Brother
Here’s a first: Aaryn Gries’ behavior on Big Brother was so upsetting, it forced CBS to air a disclaimer. In a genre populated by some of the worst behavior you’ll ever see, what did Gries do to deserve such unprecedented — oh, she was openly racist and homophobic?
Got it. Deserved.
Gries’ housemates included gay, Korean, and black people. And Gries, in a series of charged tirades, had some despicable, stereotypical things to say to all of them. She horrified viewers and Big Brother’s host Julie Chen. Gries later apologized, saying “If I said those things, I feel horrible for that.”
Angelina Pivarnick – Jersey Shore
Every person on MTV’s Jersey Shore could be considered a figure you love to hate. But only one behaved so ludicrously that she had to be kicked off twice by, of all people, The Situation and Snooki. And that person is the Kim Kardashian of Staten Island herself: Angelina Pivarnick.
In episode three (three!) of season one, Pivarnick found herself evicted after refusing to work a shift at a T-shirt shop — one of many of her strangely confrontational behaviors. Season two, which brought the gang to Miami, culminated in a downright violent interaction, forcing Pivarnick to leave immediately.
Vicky Vilcan – The Biggest Loser
Normally, The Biggest Loser is one of the more wholesome reality shows, depicting genuine folks trying to live a healthier lifestyle. Vicky Vilcan is not one of these genuine folks. She played the game with claws typically seen on other reality shows. And her fellow contestants were not happy.
At one point, Vilcan’s tensions with contestant Amy Cremen were so fraught, Vilcan put a sign on her door reading, “I will not rest until that lying b**** is out of this house.” Somehow, Vilcan’s tactics got her to the final three.
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