Courtesy Paula Deen Ventures
Courtesy Paula Deen Ventures
In the world of reality television, stars are not only free to say wacky things, they're often encouraged. Still, there's a line that they shouldn't cross. Here are a few stars who did.
From homophobic and racist remarks to full-fledged lies, the following list of television personalities said things that didn't just raise red flags—their remarks landed them in some seriously hot water.
As former MTV figure Lauren Conrad pointed out in a 2015 issue of Cosmopolitan, "When I did television, scandal was always around me." Here's a look at four reality stars who fanned the flames of the scandalous industry with their words.
Courtesy: Tom Briglia/PhotoGraphics
Former professional soccer player Juan Pablo Galavis stirred up controversy during his time as The Bachelor in 2014 when he argued a gay Bachelor would not be "a good example for kids."
"I respect [gay people], but I honestly don't think it is a good example for kids to watch that on TV," the Venezuelan native told The TV Page in January 2014 at a network party.
"Obviously people have their husband and wife and kids and that is how we are brought up," Galavis said in an audio recording. "Now there is fathers having kids and all that, and it is hard for me to understand that too in the sense of a household having peoples. Two parents sleeping in the same bed and the kid going into bed. It is confusing in a sense."
"They want to be parents," the show's first Latino bachelor continued. "So it is a scale. Where do you put it on the scale? Where is the thin line to cross or not? You have to respect everybody's desires and way of living. But it would be too hard for TV."
ABC and the show's network decried Galavis comments in a joint public statement. Two weeks later, the star sat down for an interview on Good Morning America where he claimed his comments were taken out of context and misunderstood because of his poor translation.
"I have a cousin who is gay. His sister is a nun. So it's been around my house all my life," he explained to George Stephanopoulos.
In regard to calling gay people "more pervert in a sense," he clarified, "What I meant to say was that gay people are more affectionate and intense and for a segment of the TV audience this would be too racy to accept," he later wrote on his Facebook page. "The show is very racy as it is and I don't let my 5 year old daughter watch it. Once again, I'm sorry for how my words were taken. I would never disrespect anyone."
While the comments caused an initial uproar, the episode that aired after the controversy had almost the same viewership. However, Galavis and his final rose choice, Nikki Ferrell, split the same year and the athlete has remained out of the spotlight since.
Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson incurred not much more punishment than the Bachelor star when he offered his thoughts on "modern immorality" in an interview with GQ in 2013, including likening homosexuality to beastiality.
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men," he told the magazine. Paraphrasing Corinthians, he added, "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."
"It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man's anus," he continued. "That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."
The show's network A&E initially suspended the star for the remarks, but lifted the suspension a little over a week later to resume spring filming following public support of Robertson and uncertainty about whether the rest of the reality star family would continue the show without its leader.
"While Phil's comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the 'coarse language' he used and the mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article," the network said in a statement. "He also made it clear he would 'never incite or encourage hate.' We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, and reiterate that they are not views we hold."
Paula Deen Ventures
While Paula Deen was known as the queen of southern cooking in front of the camera, her comments behind the camera took center stage in 2013.
At the time, Deen and her brother were sued by a former employee who claimed the celebrity chef had made racist comments to members of the restaurant's staff. In a video deposition for the lawsuit, Paula admitted to having used the N-word, but that "it's been a very long time" since.
"That's just not a word that we use as time has gone on," she explained. "Things have changed since the '60s in the South. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do."
As the scandal snowballed, Deen issued remarks in a since-deleted YouTube video begging for forgiveness. "I've made plenty of mistakes along the way," she said. "But I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness. Please forgive me for the mistakes that I've made."
Soon after, business partners like QVC and the Food Network ended their business relationships with Deen. Meanwhile, fans and fellow public figures came to her digital defense, including former president Jimmy Carter, who told CNN, "I think she has been punished, perhaps overly severely, for her honesty in admitting it and for the use of the word in the distant past. She's apologized profusely."
"I learned that no matter how old words get, they have a power," Paula said on E! News a year later. "They have a power to hurt, they have a power to make people happy."
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As the then-boyfriend of the Real Housewives of Orange County's Vicki Gunvalson, Brooks Ayers and his cancer diagnosis had become a significant element of the show's 2015 season, but not for reasons you'd expect.
While Ayers initially claimed to have been diagnosed with stage three non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the show's castmates became increasingly suspicious of the revelation. However, their inklings were met with persistence from Gunvalson, who maintained that her former beau was indeed battling the illness.
After confirming to E! News that he was indeed suffering from cancer, he provided medical bills from the City of Hope cancer research and treatment center to prove he was undergoing treatment. However, E! News determined the documents had been falsified and a hospital representative affirmed he had never been treated at their facilities.
"Words cannot express the deep regret that I have in fabricating documents to 'prove' to the world that I, in fact, have cancer. What I did was wrong and inexcusable," Ayers told E! News.
"I never intended to disclose my actual medical records or details about my private and personal medical history, thus the rationalization of presenting documents that weren't true simply for a 'storyline' for the show. From this day forward, my own personal journey with this disease will remain private as I initially intended over a year ago."
Needless to say, he and Gunvalson broke up for good and she is currently dating Steve Lodge. "[Brooks] is in my past. We dated five years. I'm on a new relationship," she told Andy Cohen in June. "I just really don't want to talk about Brooks anymore."