The BRASH 10: Reality TV Villains
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By RichardPFeria October 10, 2008
The godfather of snarky commentary, Simon Cowell propped this upstart imported show, American Idol, on his British shoulders and to this day helps it be the seminal and often riveting weekly ritual in U.S. in popular culture. Here's the thing about Simon: He may be the king of mean, but as the most influential judge by far, he's right, folks. The dude gets it right.
Imagine the Keith Richards guy on a semi-sucky Rolling Stones cover band, now combine that same guy with the obnoxious dweeb in your fraternity who never, ever got laid and you have a close approximation of Dick Donato ("Evil Dick"), the unlikely winner of Big Brother 8. Rude, confrontational and unappealing on every level, Evil Dick was the best villain on this long-running CBS summer staple.
Of course the first villain on reality network television in America was an overweight, gay, ruthless, nudist who walked away with the million-dollar prize on the very first season of Survivor, CBS' monster hit show. Love him or not, Richard Hatch had a plan. And it worked like a charm.
Now this takes talent: For anyone—anyone—to out villain Janice Dickinson on her own show is quite remarkable; the fact that it's Brian Kehoe, one of Janice's original models, makes it kind of great. Generally annoying, entitled and completely self-aware (to say nothing of his obvious sexual fluidity), Kehoe's laconic pleading to let crazy Janice keep him in her agency may make it creepy to watch at times but, also, irresistible.
At first glance you may have wondered why Bravo would even give this seemingly vanilla wafer of a Los Angeles house flipper his own show. And then—wait for it—he's berating one of his hapless junior assistants to go back to Subway to "properly distribute the ratio" between Sprite and Diet Coke or some other combination, down to the percentage, of his $1 fountain soda. He's not kidding. OCD doesn't even begin to cover the level of neuroses everyone in Lewis' path must endure. The thing is he's actually good at his job and as fun to watch as any bully has a right to be.
The ultimate douche bag, former bike messenger David "Puck" Rainey caused so much rancor and commotion on the third season of MTV's The Real World: San Francisco that he became only the second cast member to be evicted from the house. His hard-to-watch assaults—most notably against Cuban-born AIDS educator Pedro Zamora, who would die shortly after the series wrapped—was impossible not to watch. Puck may be a hero to some, but to most he remains a sad, ignorant footnote in the annals of reality television.
Boston Rob, as he came to be known on two seasons of Survivor and later with his wife (and Survivor champion, Amber) on The Amazing Race, was known for his heavy Boston accent, his often disparaging remarks he would make about his fellow competitors to the camera and his out-and-out lying to get him and Amber ahead in the game. Not hesitating for a moment to betray whomever was in his way to victory, Rob Marciano—and his antics—became must-see-TV on a weekly basis.
Saying this is a reality show may be stretching the definition of the pseudo-reality experience known as The Hills, the show—itself a spin-off of the popular MTV program Laguna Beach—has captured the imagination of a increasingly celebrity crazed population. Though not a lead character, Spencer Pratt, who's Heidi Montag's boyfriend, basically hates Heidi's "frenemy" and rival Lauren Conrad. Or something like that.
When you're watching this rather unsatisfying cooking competition show—this ain't no Top Chef—and you realize you're under your covers trying to avert your eyes and ears, you understand that Chef Gordon Ramsay isn't exactly Rachael Ray. To say Chef Ramsay has a potty mouth and a colossally bad temper would be a gargantuan understatement of epic proportions. The man is nuts. Seriously. Crazy.
Now this is an interesting choice for "villain" because all this strapping Texan did to become Public Enemy No. 1 to American female TV viewers was simply, well, do nothing. By not choosing either of the two finalists on the season finale of the long-running ABC show The Bachelor, Womack opened a deep wound to millions of women who've been rejected by men who lead them on only to disappoint them by not committing. Whatever. Womack just wasn't that into them. Get over it. He did.
If reality television is the ultimate guilty pleasure—um, Tila Tequila—then that genre's most notorious villains are its gooey center. Delicious to be sure, these bad boys leave nothing but trouble in their telegenic wake. But we can't turn away. Damn it, we can't.Read More ↓