We Don't Talk Enough About When Reality TV Gets Too Real

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It’s almost impossible to feel real feelings while watching a reality show. No matter how gnarly things get, in the back of your head you always know it’s all staged for maximum drama. But sometimes… just sometimes, we need to take a step back and get some perspective. These are peoples’ lives, damnit.

So here are some moments we don't talk enough about, when your favorite reality TV show just got too real.

When Justin Timberlake cried
(Punk’d Season Premiere, 2002)

Imagine this scene: you are super stoned. You’re then confronted in your own home by “IRS agents” claiming that you owe $904,000 in taxes and telling you that their repossessing your house, car(s) and all of your possessions. Including your DOGS.


Who wouldn’t cry in that scenario?!

That’s exactly what happened to Justin Timberlake during the season premiere of Punk’d in 2002. And he did cry. He was also so traumatized by the scene that he quit smoking that devil herb for almost a year.


You went too far Kutcher.

When Steven calls Kristen a slut in Cabo
(Laguna Beach, Season 1, Episode 5)

This drunken fight definitely got #TooReal. The gang is at what’s probably a Hard Rock Cafe during an absolute ragefest of a night in Cabo San Lucas during Spring Break.


In an attempt to make Stephen jealous, Kristin starts grinding on Sam’s d*ck. Stephen stalks her around the bar shouting about how she’s a huge slut.

The clincher? Stephen walks out of the bar, completely rejected and on the verge of tears, asking, “Where’s LC?”


The curtain has been pulled back and it just doesn't feel right. They were probably like 16 years old and blacked out while this all went down, and here we are watching it on YouTube right now. A person’s Worst Spring Break Moments are not meant to be seen, for the good of society.

We highly encourage you to watch the full episode here.

When Stephen slaps Irene
(Real World: Seattle)

This slap was so infamous that the actual story behind it got lost in the shuffle. And like many reality show moments, it’s better in retrospect.


Irene leaves the show, because she has to deal with her Lyme Disease and because she’s been acting crazy. As she’s saying farewell, Stephen calls her a fake bitch. Irene then calls him a homosexual. He proceeds to have a meltdown; he takes Irene’s prized teddy bear which he’s been hiding in a cabinet, throws it into a river and slaps her.

Stephen later came out as gay.

There’s a lot going on here (Vulture, thankfully, has the full story). Repressed sexuality, a potentially fake disease, a hidden teddy bear and a bitch slap. Pure reality show magic, but also a moment that’s almost too #real to enjoy.


Sidenote about the Seattle season - landline phone privileges caused so many damn fights in that house.

When Spencer Pratt goes on a rant about healing crystals
(The Hills, Season 6, Episode 2)


Spencer Pratt always seemed a little unhinged, but when he started talking about his addiction to theraputic crystals, he was officially off the deep end. The moment prompted headlines like, “Has Spencer Officially Lost It?” and “Spencer Pratt finds a whole new level of crazy.”


Spencer’s crystal rant shows just how badly reality fame can mess with someone’s mind. Watch the way his eyes bug out of his head while his friend Charlie tries to stage an intervention.

The crystals aren’t working, man.

When Heidi’s mom reacts to her daughter’s new face
(The Hills, Season 6 Episode 1)

Heidi Montag is an iconic example of reality TV gone horribly wrong. In an effort to become a better version of herself, the once-wholesome looking 23-year-old ended up getting ten plastic surgeries in a single day.


Heidi heads back to small-town Crested Butte, CO and asks her mother Darlene what she thinks about her physical transformation.

Looking with horror at her young daughter’s plastic face, Darlene fights back tears and basically tells her that she looks downright scary.


Talk about breaking the wall between reality and fiction - this is Heidi’s actual face that she has forever altered. Her own mother barely recognizes her. It’s a heartbreaking moment and one that should forever remind us that the bizarre world of reality TV can have very #real consequences:


via ImBringingBloggingBack


When Snooki gets punched really hard in the face
(Jersey Shore, Season 1, Episode 4)


Never forget.

When David sings “Come on Be My Baby Tonight”
(Real World: New Orleans)

We need to talk mainly about the fact that this scat masterpiece somehow ended up on peoples’ iPod and would regularly be played it at parties (the good ones at least). This TV moment transcended space and time to spawn parodies, earn a spot on Chappelle’s Show and become a bona fide hit song.

Alexandra DiPalma is a producer for Fusion Lightworks, Fusion’s In-house Branded Content Agency.


Romina Puga is a pop culture reporter and producer for Fusion. You can find her on "Fusion Now," Fusion's daily TV updates, going over new movies, music, apps, and why D'Angelo is still sexy.