Back in the mid-2000s, MTV’s latest television project was taking the small screen by storm. Of course, we’re talking about Pimp My Ride, which captured the outrageous transformations of beat-up vehicles. But since the show’s conclusion in 2007, a number of former contestants have revealed some troubling stories about their experiences.
Pimp My Ride made its American TV debut in March 2004, with rap superstar Xzibit fronting proceedings. And the format of the show was fairly straightforward: the host and his crew would make their way over to a young person’s home, where the individual in question would explain why their vehicle deserved an overhaul.
From there, Xzibit would examine the contestant’s ride, reeling off the problems he could see. The rapper would then guarantee that the car would receive some major improvements. So with everything in place, he’d drive it to a local body shop where mechanics got to work. And the results were often insanely good, with vehicles showcasing the outrageous and the slick that perhaps only millionaires could dream of.
Finally, once the work had been completed, the contestant would get to see their newly improved vehicle. Over the years, viewers were treated to some epic car transformations – and some truly memorable TV moments, too. But as we highlighted earlier, a few of the youngsters that took part have shared some shocking information about their experiences.
Over the course of Pimp My Ride’s six seasons, more than 70 episodes of the show aired on the small screen. And so, fans were treated to a whole host of different vehicle overhauls. Some of the finished products are, of course, more memorable than others, but one thing’s for sure: they were never understated.
For instance, one episode focused on a woman who wanted to transform her brown station wagon. The contestant was introduced as an aspiring nurse, and her ambitions were taken on board by the show’s body shop crew. And when the big reveal came, the once-boring vehicle was totally unrecognizable.
First off, the nurse’s previously sludge-colored car had been given a brand-new paint job: the upper half of the station wagon had been sprayed white, while the lower section was now a dark blue. And the two colors were separated by a red line, which cleverly represented the readings of a heart-rate monitor. On top of that, the medical symbol of caduceus had been drawn on the bonnet.
But the surprises didn’t end there. After showcasing the extravagant paint job to the contestant, Xzibit and his colleague directed her to the trunk of the car. And they touched upon the young woman’s desire to become a nurse, before popping the back open.
Incredibly, a large portion of the vehicle’s interior had been transformed into a lie-down area, somewhat resembling a CT scanner. But instead of a dose of radiation, music pumped out of the TV screens and speakers. Meanwhile, the bottom extended to the outside of the trunk – like an ambulance stretcher – with the push of a button. And if this weren’t cool enough, the car had been equipped with a “hip-hop” siren as well.
Another particularly memorable episode centered on a young man named Rob, who owned an old, beat-up van. Unsurprisingly, the contestant was desperate for the vehicle to get a new look. And while Rob got his wish in the end, few could’ve predicted just how far the show’s crew would go with it.
Prior to Xzibit’s intervention, Rob’s van was a tired sky blue. When the body shop workers were done, though, the exterior had a new golden sheen. Plus, the vehicle’s grill was now covered in diamonds, adding to the lavish feel. And yet that wasn’t all, as the show still had a few more tricks up its sleeve.
After unveiling the van’s new color, Xzibit and company directed Rob to the exhaust pipe. And with the push of a button, a deck of playing cards suddenly shot across the shop floor, drawing a big laugh from the host. But this was nothing compared to what was about to come: the entire van appeared to have been transformed into Rob’s very own mini casino.
And no casino would be complete without games. That’s right: the crew had installed an actual slot machine into the car door. Even more incredibly, Rob had to pull the machine’s lever, score a match with the slots on the screen and watch a number of coins fall in order to unlock his vehicle. Now that’s bling.
At this stage, Rob got his first glimpse inside the newly decked-out van. And there the gambling theme carried over into the interior, as the carpet had its own craps table and dice stick. To round things off, a small white piano was fitted in the back as well with a padded seat positioned next to it. Presumably, Rob felt as though he’d won the jackpot.
Meanwhile, a different contestant received a surprise when Pimp My Ride got hold of her car. Her name was Esmerelda, and she owned a convertible. After the crew finished working on the vehicle, it had a yellow paint job. Alongside that, a giant Tiki mask was drawn across the bonnet. But that’s not the half of it.
You see, much like the bonnet, the seat had a Tiki mask design sewn into it. But the real surprise saw a pair of extravagant binoculars screwed into the frame, allowing backseat passengers to look through them when the convertible’s roof was lowered. This was especially important for Esmeralda, who’d wanted to take the car to the beach more.
Once again, the Tiki theme had been implemented there, as the binoculars formed part of another large mask. Esmerelda subsequently tested them out, before being redirected to the rear of the car. From there, Xzibit and company unveiled one last alteration to the vehicle that caught the contestant off guard.
Yes, after opening the trunk, Esmerelda caught sight of a fully-equipped snow cone machine. In fact, she went on to make her own slushy in the body shop, dousing it in red flavoring. While it might not have been as elaborate as the previous two transformations, it did outline how far Pimp My Ride was willing to push things.
On that note, another memorable moment occurred when a skater named Mike handed his van over to the show. Prior to that, the vehicle had a white paint job, with pink lines wrapping around the lower half. Following some time in the shop, though, the exterior was spray painted blue and orange.
In addition to that, the driver’s seat was given an overhaul. For you see, Mike’s van was a bread truck, so the crew reshaped the chair into two giant slices of white bread. And if that wasn’t enough, they installed a skater’s ramp at the back of the vehicle as well.
To round things off, the body shop workers placed some large speakers inside the van, fitting them in front of the ramp. Once the transformation was complete, Mike couldn’t contain his excitement alongside Xzibit. Highlights from that particular episode were uploaded to YouTube by MTV, with the video earning over 96,000 views.
So as you can see, Pimp My Ride was responsible for some stunning pieces of work during its run. Regardless of the vehicle, each motor was given an overhaul that left viewers speechless. However, as we touched upon before, not all was as it seemed behind the scenes.
As it turned out, a few of the young contestants didn’t have the greatest time on the program. Jake Glazier, who appeared in the fourth season, was one of them. His feelings were shared by two other guys named Justin Dearinger and Seth Martino, who featured in the show’s final season.
Following the trio’s respective appearances on Pimp My Ride, they each took part in their own “Ask Me Anything” threads on Reddit. But in an effort to learn more, the HuffPost website contacted all three of them for an interview in February 2015. The news outlet also spoke to one of the show’s executive producers, hoping to get his reply to the stories.
To begin with, Dearinger revealed that certain accessories in his car were taken away after the filming stopped. The crew had originally installed both a “drive-in theater” and a champagne “pop-up,” yet those two items got scrapped for safety reasons. Meanwhile, one of Martino’s upgrades proved to be a big disappointment.
Indeed, the body shop crew stuck a “robotic arm” inside Martino’s motor during his episode. But the contraption could only be operated via a laptop computer, so it ended up being quite useless in the end. On top of that, the LED bulbs that had been fitted into the vehicle’s chairs were problematic as well.
“There were plenty of things wrong with [the car],” Martino recalled to HuffPost. “[The LED lights] would get really hot if left on so I couldn’t drive with them on. They took the gull-wing doors off because the pistons used to lift them, kept them from putting seat belts in the back, which was highly dangerous.”
The issues with Martino’s ride didn’t end there, though. He continued, “There wasn’t much done under the hood in regards to the actual mechanics of the vehicle. For the most part, it needed a lot of work done to make it a functioning regular driver, which they did not do.”
“[The crew] added a lot of extra weight but didn’t adjust the suspension to compensate,” Martino explained. “So I felt like I was in a boat. And every time I hit a bump, the car would bottom out and the tires would scrape inside the wheel well.” Due to that, the former contestant claimed that his vehicle couldn’t operate for longer than a month.
In the end, Martino eventually had to buy a brand-new engine to fix the issue. Off the back of those comments, the show’s co-executive producer shed some light on what happened after the cars were fixed up. According to Larry Hochberg, he would personally get involved if a vehicle previously worked on by the show experienced problems. This included taking MTV’s own tow truck to meet the former contestant.
But in Hochberg’s mind, certain problems couldn’t be avoided. He told HuffPost, “It’s not accurate to say that we didn’t work on the mechanics of the cars. [Yet] some of the cars were so old and rusted that they would have mechanical issues no matter how much work you put into them.”
Glazier and Dearinger were in a similar position to Martino, as they experienced issues of their own. The former offloaded his car a few weeks on from the transformation due to mechanical complications. As for the latter, his extravagant vehicle caught fire on the road following years of required touch-ups.
Away from the mechanical problems, other issues came to light too. For instance, Dearinger and Glazier recalled that the show didn’t like their initial responses when the vehicles were unveiled. They subsequently had to act more enthusiastic in front of the camera, even though they’d already seen the end results.
Glazier revealed to HuffPost, “I remember this very clearly. Big Dane, [a] very big dude, he like puts his arm around my shoulder, kind of walks me around the shop for like ten minutes and he’s like, ‘Listen, we put a lot of work into this. We expect you to be a little more f****** enthusiastic.’”
Alongside the fake reactions, the timelines in the episodes were also deceptive. For you see, the vehicles were often in the warehouse for several months, as opposed to a few days. Unsurprisingly, that led to additional issues for the contestants. For instance, Martino was stuck with a rental car that he himself had to finance, until MTV covered the costs some time later.
Furthermore, Glazier and Dearinger claimed that certain aspects of their stories were embellished by the program. In the former’s case, his car was littered with cigarettes when he revealed that his grandma was a smoker. As for the contestant from the sixth season, his vehicle was made to look more beat-up than it actually was.
However, Martino arguably got the worst of it, as he explained on Reddit. “I know I’m fat,” he said. “But [the show] went the extra mile to make me look extra fat by telling the world that I kept candy all over my seat and floor, just in case I got hungry. Then [they] gave me a cotton candy machine in my trunk.”
Martino then told HuffPost, “At the time, I didn’t question anything because it was an exciting experience and I just kind of went with the flow. I know it is kind of mean, but I think they just wanted to put a cotton candy machine in a car and used the fat guy as the opportunity to do it.”
Despite the aforementioned negativity, Dearinger and Glazier both shared a fondness for their time on the program, which shows no sign of coming back. Indeed, the latter admitted that he “missed it for many years.” Martino was a little less enamored after what happened to him, but he still tried to put a positive spin on things.
“The whole situation was definitely not what I hoped for,” Martino told HuffPost. “And there were times I wanted to give it all back because of how frustrating it was, but now I look back and laugh. I have this really cool story that only a handful of people can say they experienced.”
By now, you’re probably wondering whether any more of your beloved TV programs are hiding dark behind-the-scenes secrets. And unfortunately, reality shows seem to be guilty of keeping the truth from their fans. So, here’s a list of the worst culprits on the box right now. Ultimately, though, it seems a lot of your favorites can be regarded as being completely fake.
We’ve all seen the disclaimers on our favorite reality shows. Yes, the ones that tell the audience that the episodes could mess around with the edit to heighten the drama. But just how real are these so-called factual entertainment shows anyway? And when Seth Rogen and James Franco appeared on Naked and Afraid, just how naked and afraid were they? Well, here’s a closer look at 20 staples of the U.S. TV schedules – including everything from house-hunting ventures to survival missions – that might have been duping their viewers for years.
20. Fixer Upper
HGTV show Fixer Upper sees husband and wife team Joanna and Chip Gaines renovate a property in dire need of some love. The pair ask a prospective buyer, who will benefit from the pair’s DIY expertise, to choose from three different houses for the project. However, it turns out that the decision has usually already been made.
Yes, all the agonized decision-making is just for show – as each client has typically bought the house in question before the Gaines get to work. And that isn’t the only deceit. You see, not every room in the house gets the Fixer Upper treatment. Rumors have floated about that Chip puts down his tools the minute the cameras stop rolling, too.
19. What Not to Wear
What Not to Wear had a pretty impressive run, with Clinton Kelly and Stacy London offering fashion advice across ten seasons. But the pair weren’t always the stylish saviors they professed to be. For one thing, the stars were heavily assisted by another fashion consultant off-camera – according to a Reddit thread. And it’s claimed Kelly and London often left the participants out of pocket.
What’s more, some say those who subjected themselves to a sartorial inspection ended up having all their clothes donated to charity. And sometimes the $5,000 they were given by the show wasn’t enough to build an entirely new wardrobe. To make matters worse, participants reportedly had to shell out for any tailoring and haircuts, too.
18. House Hunters
House Hunters has a simple premise. A couple visit three different properties before deciding on which one they would like to call home. But to make things even simpler, the pair have usually chosen their new abode long before the camera crew comes to town. Its home network, HGTV, sees nothing wrong with this lifehack, though.
In a 2012 statement released to Entertainment Weekly, a representative admitted, “We’re making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints while honoring the home-buying process. To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process. Often everything moves much more quickly than we can anticipate, so we go back and revisit some of the homes that the family has already seen and we capture their authentic reactions.”
17. The Real Housewives
The Real Housewives franchise is unarguably the jewel in Bravo’s reality TV crown. The shows follow the day-to-day lives of various impossibly rich women from across the United States. Cue a whole host of luxurious getaways, astonishing spending sprees and – perhaps most notably – dramatic catfights. When it comes to the last, however, it seems that the housewives are simply playing pretend.
This is despite producers likely claiming that all the heated debates on display are entirely authentic. You see, during the filming of one particular episode in New York, onlookers reportedly noticed something very odd about these unscripted interactions. The crowd said that not only would those involved constantly pause for the benefit of the cameramen, but they would also often reshoot their conversations several times, too.
16. Beachfront Bargain Hunt
Beachfront Bargain Hunt producers certainly used their fair share of artistic license for one particular episode. The HGTV show sees realtors guide interested parties through several beachfront properties before asking them to settle on one. However, on one occasion, the property professional featured essentially ended up showing herself and her husband around their own home!
How did this happen? Well, when the realtor couldn’t find a client with a property that met producers’ stipulations, she informed them that her recently acquired home did. Subsequently, she and her partner ended up playing both agent and buyer for the cameras. The pair also had to pretend that it was the height of summer when, in fact, it was the end of winter.
15. Say Yes to the Dress
One of TLC’s longest-running reality shows, Say Yes to the Dress does exactly what it implies in the title. A bride chooses the outfit in which she will walk down the aisle – with assistance from her loved ones and a fashion expert. Unfortunately for the newlywed-to-be, though, the experience is never as glamorous as it looks on camera.
For one thing, the size of the New York boutique is much tinier than most expect. Brides generally are only given about 90 minutes to choose their dress for the big day, too, and they reportedly only get a small selection to peruse. And it’s said the resident expert will often persuade several participants to choose the same dress as a way of saving time and earning more money.
14. Basketball Wives
Basketball Wives has made stars of those who would normally be in the shadows of their sporting partners. Jackie Christie, the spouse of NBA star Doug, and Shaunie O’Neal, the ex-wife of the legendary Shaquille, are just two of the names who have risen to fame on the reality show. But some of its cast members wish they’d never signed up.
Tanya Young, the ex-wife of basketball great Jayson Williams, was one such disgruntled participant. In an article for website The Daily Beast, Young claimed that the constant disharmony on the show was all stirred up by producers behind the scenes. In a chat with Complex, NBA star Matt Barnes also alleged that Basketball Wives is essentially a scripted drama.
13. Love It or List It
Airing on HGTV from 2008 until 2015, Love It or List It supposedly gave homeowners quite the dilemma: buy a new house chosen by a realtor or stick with their current place that the show has given an incredible makeover. However, the decision you see on camera isn’t necessarily the one that was made away from it.
In a revealing Reddit thread, one individual alleged that their uncle and aunt had been asked to film two separate endings for the show. Producers then selected which take made for better TV. In this particular example, the couple decided to stay put – but were shown putting their house on the market.
Bridezillas has become one of the most popular wedding-based reality shows thanks to its never-ending array of participants prone to throwing tantrums over the tiniest setback. You may wonder why anyone would willingly sign up for a show whose title implies they are some kind of monster. Well, it turns out that apparently, some don’t.
One bridezilla, Julia Swinton-Williams, believed that she was partaking in a slightly more refined documentary with the name of Manhattan Bride while filming took place. And she ended up filing a lawsuit against producers for the apparent deceit. Cynthia Silver, another demanding bride-to-be, alleged that she was also subjected to similar trickery.
11. Property Brothers
Property Brothers episodes usually begin with prospective buyers falling in love with houses – only to be informed that they’re way out of their price ranges. Hosts Jonathan and Drew Scott then help them to find other, cheaper properties that can be transformed into their ideal homes. But all this initial heartbreak is all just for show.
Yes, to make it on to the show, a participant already has to be in the process of renovating or purchasing a fixer-upper. So all the footage of them walking around a completely different dream property is only to heighten all the drama. And this means that realtor brother Drew is essentially surplus to requirements.
10. Mystery Diners
Mystery Diners is supposed to shame those restaurant workers who slack off while cooking, cleaning or serving. In one episode, for instance, a man dubbed Chef Dave was shown to be responsible for the notable amount of food and supplies that went missing in Arizona eatery The Grove Bar and Grill. However, this particular chef didn’t need to worry about never finding employment again.
And that’s because the man in question was allegedly never a chef in the first place. Yes, reportedly Dave Germain wasn’t a thieving cook at all – but an actor playing one. And his ties with the showbiz industry don’t end there. He also owns the Tempe-based company known as Disjointed Productions LLC.
9. Breaking Amish
The Amish community has often been a source of intrigue in the genre of reality TV. And in 2012 TLC decided to shine the spotlight on five youngsters leaving their secluded community for the bright lights of the Big Apple in Breaking Amish. However, this wasn’t the massive culture shock that the show claimed it to be.
Online reports claimed Jeremiah Raber, one of the teens featured in the show, had already spent time outside his Amish community. Abe and Rebecca, meanwhile, were supposed to have only clapped eyes on each other for the first time during filming. Yet according to the Daily Mail, the pair were already an item – and indeed parents – when cameras started rolling.
8. Jersey Shore
Jersey Shore was undoubtedly one of the defining reality shows of the 2000s. The MTV series launched the likes of Nicole Polizzi, a.k.a. Snooki, to worldwide fame – and even spawned a British spin-off, Geordie Shore. But the wild and rowdy behavior you often saw on screen wasn’t exactly spontaneous.
According to a Daily Beast interview with a Jersey Shore extra, everything about the show was scripted to within an inch of its life. Remember that dramatic showdown between Vinny Guadagnino and Pauly D? Well, the pair were apparently coerced into fighting directly under a streetlamp to create a perfectly lit scene.
7. Storage Wars
Storage Wars might not be the most glamorous of reality TV shows. But it’s struck a chord with nosey viewers who have always wondered exactly what kind of things people like to hoard in such giant lockers. But some skeptics believe that the contents shown aren’t entirely what they seem.
Perhaps worried that the lockers opened may not contain anything remotely of value, producers have allegedly taken to planting items inside them. This would then ensure that those attending the auction have something to bid on, ramping up the drama. However, publicists for the show’s network, A&E, have denied that such interference takes place.
6. Undercover Boss
It’s hard to imagine that anyone being followed by an unconvincingly disguised recruit on camera doesn’t realize they’re on Undercover Boss. The CBS show has been on air since 2010, after all. But it’s not the employees’ reactions that have been questioned when it comes to the authenticity of the series.
At the end of each episode, the undercover boss typically claims that they will make positive changes within their company based on what they’ve witnessed. Unfortunately for their employees, though, these promises can turn out to be empty. According to reports, many bosses will end up completely forgetting what they said once they go back to the day job.
5. South Beach Tow
You perhaps can’t blame producers for trying to stir things up a bit on South Beach Tow. It would undoubtedly have been tough to make four seasons of a series about a car-towing company without a little creative tinkering, after all. But if reports are to be believed, the makers of the truTV show surely went a little overboard with their interference.
Allegedly, there was hardly anything real about the day-to-day running of the Miami Beach-based towing company featured on the show. According to reports, each storyline, including the dramatic rivalry with a neighboring firm, came from a script. You may also be surprised to know that one of its creators was none other than all-singing, all-dancing Hollywood star Jennifer Lopez!
4. Cake Boss
Running for no fewer than ten seasons, Cake Boss followed the fortunes of Carlo’s Bakery and its owner Buddy Valastro. The TLC show featured a mouth-watering array of wedding, birthday and other celebration cakes during its lengthy run. But although the cakes were very real, it seems the same couldn’t always be said of the events surrounding them.
Yes, many of the occasions for which the Valastro family were shown busy preparing were staged purely for the series. And although Buddy is indeed the head honcho at the family establishment, he’s not exactly as involved as the cameras portrayed. In fact, it’s claimed he’s barely at the cake shop when the crew isn’t around.
3. Pawn Queens
Airing in 2010, Pawn Queens lasted just ten episodes before being pulled by its home network, TLC. Perhaps viewers could sense that the whole thing was a sham? Apparently, the two women portrayed as long-time aspiring pawnshop owners had never had such a dream. They reportedly auditioned for the show without knowing anything about what it entailed.
In fact, it seems one of the two main stars had been a dental assistant who had no experience or knowledge of the pawnshop industry. To try and get audiences invested, then, producers allegedly came up with an entirely fictional backstory for her in which she’d always been fascinated with opening a store. But viewers evidently didn’t buy it.
2. Duck Dynasty
It would probably be quicker to list the things that are real about Duck Dynasty than those that aren’t. Even the Robertson family themselves have freely admitted that they regularly talk over storylines with producers before filming begins. It’s a process that the hirsute duck hunters have described as “guided reality.”
But perhaps one of the Robertsons’ most surprising acts of deception is their appearances. The men of the family are renowned for the long beards that would put even ZZ Top to shame. And yet pictures taken long before they ever graced the A&E network show they were all once preppy-looking and entirely clean-shaven.
1. Naked and Afraid
Naked and Afraid is one of the most revealing reality shows out there – literally. Yes, as its title implies, those who are transported to a remote, isolated setting are then stripped bare in the ultimate survival challenge. However, it turns out that participants aren’t left to fend for themselves as much as the show claims.
Although contestants are supposed to live off the land entirely, producers are apparently all too happy to give them certain supplies. Tampons, vitamins and prescription medication are just a few of the items that are allegedly dished out to wannabe survivalists away from the cameras. So participants may be naked, but it seems like they don’t necessarily need to be afraid. The episode featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco was a hilarious spoof of the whole scenario, too.