Remember sitting down to Sunday dinner and then finding yourself sobbing as Ty Pennington unveiled the latest dream house to a family in need? Or how about being in the grocery store and seeing that every tabloid cover featured “Speidi” from The Hills? Ah, it was a simpler time… when we loved our top models, our “real worlds” and our American idols.
But whatever happened to all those reality stars of the early 2000s? In the list below, we take a look at what some of the most memorable villains and victors of those shows are up to now – from Richard Hatch to William Hung and Susan Boyle.
20. Ty Pennington (Extreme Makeover)
Ty Pennington launched his career as everyone’s favorite handyman/decorator on the wildly popular Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, in which he surprised families by completely renovating their houses. And such was the series’ success that Pennington even went on to do a British version of the show. These days, though, he’s still on the reality circuit, decking out diners on the Food Network’s American Diner Revival. Oh, and as a lucrative sideline he also has his own furniture line with Sears.
19. Yoanna House (America’s Next Top Model)
Back in 2004 Yoanna House claimed the top prize on America’s Next Top Model. That win led House on to become “the face of the CW,” providing a variety of promotional spots for the network. But while House subsequently took on various TV hosting jobs, including for the Style Network’s The Look for Less, she definitely keeps a much lower profile these days.
18. Evan Marriott (Joe Millionaire
In 2003 Evan Marriott rose to fame as the simple construction worker pretending to be rich on dating show Joe Millionaire. At the end of the series, though, he and his chosen woman split their seven-figure winnings and went their separate ways. And as Marriott later said that he found reality star fame to be bizarre and difficult, it’s perhaps no surprise that he eventually went back to his work as a contractor.
17. Richard Hatch (Survivor)
Richard Hatch was the very first winner of Survivor, way back in 2000. What’s more, he was also one of the earliest reality stars who everyone loved to hate, as many felt he won the show in a conniving fashion. Still, that made him TV gold, and Hatch duly went on to appear on All Star Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, and The Biggest Loser: Temptation Nation. After that first burst of fame, however, he also went to prison for over four years due to tax evasion. Oops.
16. Spencer Pratt (The Hills)
Spencer Pratt took reality star villainy to a whole new level during his stint on The Hills. He and his wife Heidi Montag loved the spotlight and would do and say anything to hold on to it. And it appears things haven’t changed much – Pratt has since been on Marriage Boot Camp, Wife Swap and British reality show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!. In January 2017, meanwhile, he became a houseguest on Celebrity Big Brother UK.
15. William Hung (American Idol)
William Hung hypnotized the country with his rather unusual performance of “She Bangs” on American Idol and proved that truly anyone can be a star in the process. Indeed, he consequently racked up millions of views on YouTube and even released an album in 2004. Despite his success, however, Hung later hung up his microphone and devoted himself to more serious work as a technical crime analyst.
14. Justin Guarini (American Idol)
Justin Guarini came oh so close to stardom on the very first American Idol season in 2002, coming second behind some new singer named Kelly Clarkson. Even so, Guarini later received huge praise for his standout performances on the American Idol tour. All these years on, meanwhile, and he’s still showing off his pipes in public – albeit more often on Broadway these days.
12. & 13. Alex McCord & Simon van Kempen (The Real Housewives of New York)
Alex McCord and her husband Simon van Kempen were among the most memorable stars of early episodes of The Real Housewives of New York. They appeared on the first four seasons, always somewhat attached at the hip, and fans loved and loathed them in equal measure. Nowadays, though, they live a much quieter life in Australia, raising their kids and posting pics of their swimming pool on Instagram.
11. Audrina Patridge (The Hills)
Audrina Patridge was The Hills’ soft-spoken brunette whose relationship with Justin Bobby was an endless source of amusement and mockery for the show’s fans. Eventually, though, and to many people’s relief, she left both the series and Bobby. Patridge subsequently appeared on Dancing with the Stars, hosted NBC’s 1st Look and went blonde. What’s more, she now has another beau in the form of BMX racer Corey Bohan.
10. Jo Frost (Supernanny)
On Supernanny, Jo Frost entered the homes of America and told people in a gentle English accent how to keep their kids from climbing the walls and throwing things. And as a result of the show’s popularity, she was invited onto countless talk shows and has since written numerous books about childcare. These days, though, she’s back to teaching Americans how to properly discipline their offspring with her Up TV series Nanny on Tour.
9. Cindy “Rodeo” Steedle (Rock of Love)
Cindy “Rodeo” Steedle made quite the impression while vying for Brett Michaels’ heart on Rock of Love. Indeed, with her ten-gallon hat, slammin’ body and cowgirl attitude, she certainly gave the show an added kick. With her reality TV days now well behind her, though, Steedle busies herself as a marketing strategist, personal trainer and “figure competitor.”
8. Tiffany “New York” Pollard (Flavor of Love)
It’s hard to imagine someone upstaging Flava Flav, but that’s exactly what Tiffany “New York” Pollard managed to do on Flavor of Love. And because of her wild attitude and unique way with words, she landed herself a spin-off show, too, in I Love New York. A lasting romance seems to have eluded Pollard, however, as she is still looking for reality TV love – most recently, by appearing on the E! series Famously Single.
7. Puck (The Real World)
Way back in 2004 David “Puck” Rainey shocked Real World viewers with his nasty attitude and even nastier personal hygiene. As a result, he became perhaps one of the most reviled reality stars ever – which is really saying something. And that bad behavior next took him onto appearances on Road Rules and Battle of the Sexes. In 2012, though, he served time in prison for stalking a woman, and since his release he’s lived with his wife and children “off the grid” on a Californian farm.
6. Jon Gosselin (Jon and Kate Plus 8)
Jon Gosselin and his wife Kate became household favorites on Jon and Kate Plus 8, which documented their experiences raising their eight children. But after a nasty divorce, Jon left the show and became a DJ, although photos also recently surfaced of him working part-time as a cook in TGI Fridays. Plus, time doesn’t appear to have healed relations with Kate – they were having custody disputes as recently as 2016.
5. Trista Sutter (The Bachelorette)
Trista Sutter was the very first star of The Bachelorette and, amazingly, she did seem to find true love on the show. Indeed, she and husband Ryan have now been together for more than a decade. And since the show ended Sutter has kept busy by appearing on Dancing With the Stars, writing a book on her Bachelorette experience and in 2015 partnering with cosmetics firm Olay.
4. Danielle Staub (The Real Housewives of New Jersey)
Danielle Staub was only on two seasons of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, but no one can forget her explosive blow-ups with her castmates. Since leaving the show, meanwhile, Staub’s life has been rocky, with both bankruptcy and addiction issues to deal with. Nonetheless, she’s still managed to write autobiography The Naked Truth and send Housewives fans bananas after she was spotted reuniting for some yoga with none other than arch rival Teresa Guidice.
3. Eva Marcille (America’s Next Top Model)
Eva Marcille won the third cycle of America’s Next Top Model and has done a pretty good job of stretching her 15 minutes of fame out. In the years following her 2004 victory, in fact, she’s acted on TV and in film and become a series regular on The Young and the Restless. And since 2016 she has starred on About the Business on BET, which follows her career in the entertainment industry.
2. Susan Boyle (Britain’s Got Talent)
Susan Boyle wowed the world with her version of “I Dreamed a Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent. And while the softly-spoken singer eventually came in second place on the show, she nevertheless went on to become an incredibly successful recording artist, selling over 19 million albums and receiving two Grammy nominations. Just as amazingly, her most recent album, Hope, held the number spot for 35 weeks on Billboard’s Top Inspirational Albums chart.
1. Heidi Montag (The Hills)
In the mid 2000s, The Hills’ Heidi Montag and husband Spencer Pratt seemed to be everywhere. But just like Pratt,, Montag’s popularity has dipped dramatically, even with the release of her 2010 album Superficial. She apparently hasn’t given up on fame or reality TV, though, given her subsequent appearances on U.K. shows Celebrity Big Brother and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!. And while she didn’t appear on the Hills anniversary special in 2016, she did nevertheless live-tweet it.