We all know that reality TV has changed massively over the last few decades, and a lot of what used to be “okay” circa the ’90s and Y2K definitely isn’t now. But, still, even today, we’re lucky enough to get moments that transcend time, for better or for worse, to remind generations to come of what real messiness looks like.
So in no particular order, here are some of the most unhinged reality TV moments ever caught on camera:
After Snooki and J Woww wrote the infamous note to Sammi regarding Ron’s infidelity on Season 2 of Jersey Shore:
An internal investigation was launched within the shore house, and all fingers pointed right back to Nicole and Jenni.
The situation eventually resulted in J Woww and Sammi getting into a massive brawl that involved the entire house, and you can watch the whole thing and how it unfolded here:
Season 1 of VH1’s Flavor of Love gave us countless moments to look back on as the most unhinged age of TV. But this particular moment is when New York had a jacket go missing, and her first thought was to confront a contestant with whom she already had beef with, Hottie.
As the entire house looked on in shock, and the conversation somehow escalated into a lesson about being a wolf in sheep’s clothing, we were finally awarded with something that most people would only call delusion.
We all know the Kardashians have had their fair share of very bizarre things unfold on our TV screens since 2007, but something that will forever top the list is when Kim planned multiple heists to steal Kourtney’s breast milk to treat her psoriasis on Kourtney and Kim Take Miami Season 3.
After multiple heist attempts and Kourtney finally realizing that so much of her breast milk had gone missing, Kim finally spilled the beans to Kourtney, which led to Kim getting exactly what she asked for, DIRECTLY from the source.
As Irene was leaving, she had some very choice words to say to Stephen that not only shook him but literally shook TV in the 90s.
Yeah, Irene outed Stephen on national TV in the 1990s. The confrontation before Irene’s swift departure eventually led to what was dubbed “The Slap Heard Around The World” and one of MTV’s most jaw-dropping and unreal TV moments of all time. You can watch the full video and Stephen’s slap here:
Now this is what we call old-school reality TV breaking into the new generation. During the airing of Season 10 of Vanderpump Rules, news broke out that castmate Tom Sandoval had been having a months-long affair with fellow castmate Raquel Leviss. Unfortunately, his almost decade-long partner, fellow castmate, and co-home owner, Ariana Madix, was in the middle of it.
Season 10 ended filming in the fall of 2022, and after the news broke, production picked up again in March 2023 to catch the aftermath of the now extremely talked-about scandal. This all resulted in the Season 10 finale, where viewers saw Tom and Ariana together after the news got out, and a three-part reunion filmed only two weeks later.
During Season 17 of The Amazing Race, racer Claire Champlin was completing a roadblock challenge that involved a slingshot and a watermelon. Physics was not on her side that day, and the situation resulted in Amazing Race history.
During the Season 10 finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Asia O’Hara lip-syncs against fellow queen Kameron Michaels to “Nasty” by Janet Jackson. Part of Asia’s “gag” for the performance involved butterflies hidden throughout her costume that she planned to release from bracelets and cones on her chest.
Of course, she intended to have them fly around and create this beautiful scene, but unfortunately, that was not at all what happened, leaving the entire audience completely shocked, and led to Asia placing fourth overall in the competition (which is obviously still amazing):
On Love Is Blind Season 3, we were given a moment that was not only a bit controversial but also extremely awkward and low-key unbelievable. During the contestants’ time in the pods, Andrew Liu decided to propose to Nancy Rodriguez but was ultimately rejected. The confessional after is really where the nonsense starts.
During the confessional, Andrew proceeds to take a bottle of eyedrops out of his pocket, squeezes way more than the suggested amount into both of his eyeballs, sniffles, and begins a dramatic monologue — not once, but twice. He also kept attempting to verify with production that what he was doing was okay, and production let him know that if the eyedrops were to care for his eyes, then it was.
Floribama Shore deserves numerous mentions for finally bringing back the essence of old-school reality TV messiness to this new generation. In the first season, the roommates all went out for dollar draft beers. The entire night, Nilsa was being weirdly singled out and disrespected by some of the townies at the bar, and (most of) the boys were not having it.
What started as this random woman trying to fight Nilsa ended up turning into the entire house, bar patrons, and security getting into what I can only call an MMA throwdown. Fighting aside, it was honestly an amazing drunken display of what it means to really have your friend’s back.
MTV has blessed us with the entire 10-minute scene, so you can see just how quickly things got out of hand and just how bad the fight was for yourself:
In Cycles 4 and 13 of America’s Next Top Model, the models were challenged to have their races switched during a photoshoot. They would be “changed” using hairstyling, costuming, and a lot of what you could only call blackface. While Tyra has admitted that was never her intention or outlook on the shoot, it still didn’t erase how wild it really was.
In the Season 1 finale of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, Teresa and Danielle get into a massive argument over the origins of some pretty serious gossip Danielle was hearing about her past, which was being put on display in a book called Cop Without A Badge, written about her undercover FBI informant ex-husband.
After Teresa claims that something in the book must be true for it to be out there, the argument gets so bad that Teresa ends up flipping a table and has to be physically carried out of the dining space.
In Season 17 of Celebrity Big Brother UK, Tiffany “New York” Pollard is gifted a pair of designer shoes for her birthday by UK media personality Gemma Collins. During a challenge, Big Brother shared comments each contestant made about other houseguests.
After Gemma explains she actually had already taken the shoes back as they “need to be on someone’s feet; they’re very beautiful,” New York explains to her that she doesn’t care, and another houseguest offers to take her out for a smoke to end the bickering. New York eventually heads to the diary room to do her confessional, and she talks about what happened in a way only a real reality TV pioneer can.
You can check out the drama unfolding and New York’s entire confessional here, and trust me, you need to hear what New York has to say about Gemma:
And finally, I give to you one of the absolute wildest and greatest displays of athleticism that has ever touched our drama-filled TVs:
This show could have a whole list of its own, but one moment that will never be forgotten is “The Bananas Backpack” from The Challenge: Cutthroat, Season 20. After not seeing CT for a while, he came back as a mercenary, alongside another Challenge legend, Tina, in an attempt to eliminate one of the regular contestants.
The task was to force your competitor over to your respective side and knock down a yellow barrel while you’re both strapped together. Anyone who watches The Challenge knows that hearing CT and elimination in the same sentence is a very, very scary thing. And on this night, Johnny Bananas sure did find out.
Check out CT carrying a grown man like a baby on his back, and find out why we Challengers call this game “America’s Fifth Sport”:
I know this list could go on for years and years, but if you have any reality TV moments that will always live rent-free in your head, let me know in the comments!