Celebrity Spouses Who Were Forced Into Reality TV

Since its inception, reality TV has served as a catalyst for so many splits that there's a belief that couples who invite cameras into their lives are dooming their relationships. According to Rolling Stone, the pair who possibly became patient zero for the so-called reality TV curse were "Newlyweds" stars Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson.

But they weren't the only pop stars who unwittingly sacrificed their love on the altar of reality fame. Britney Spears documented her relationship with Kevin "K-Fed" Federline for the aptly titled UPN series "Chaotic," and she later admitted that it was a big "oops" that she would not do again. "That was probably the worst thing I've done in my career," she told The Telegraph in 2013. Hulk Hogan and his ex-wife, Linda Hogan, also split after appearing on their reality series, "Hogan Knows Best," but Hulk doesn't completely regret the experience. "There was a lot gained and a lot lost by doing that," he told OK!. As for Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, the "Meet the Barkers" star doesn't blame reality TV for causing his split from Shanna Moakler. "I have no regrets. Like, it's all lessons learned," he told Vice in 2015.

But with its bad track record of playing some role in so many breakups, who can blame a celebrity spouse for being reluctant to sign on for a reality show? These stars needed some convincing to open up their relationship to the scrutiny of millions of viewers.

Bill Rancic was reluctant to return to reality TV

On paper, Bill Rancic and Giuliana Rancic seem like a couple who would have no qualms about filming a reality series. Bill won the inaugural season of Donald Trump's reality series, "The Apprentice," in 2004, while Giuliana spent years covering entertainment news for E!, the home of many a reality star. There was clearly chemistry between the pair when Giuliana interviewed Bill for E! News in 2005, and their marriage started with a televised special. However, Bill apparently had no idea that their nuptials were going to be filmed until the day of their wedding, an experience that made him hesitant about allowing more of his relationship to be documented for the consumption of television viewers. "I saw these elaborate rigs and camera crews, and my initial thought was, 'what is this costing me?' Then I realized Giuliana had invited the Style Network to film our wedding," Bill told PR.com. "That was kind of how it happened, and I was pretty reluctant to do it at first."

In a 2011 interview with Digital Spy, Bill further explained that he dislikes the tendency many reality shows have to play up the negative in relationships. He would only agree to film his own series if it dared to be different, and "Giuliana & Bill" thrived without the usual drama. Giuliana told HuffPost the only reason they walked away five years after its 2009 premiere was because they wanted to protect their young son's privacy.

Kris Humphries short-lived reality career was reportedly built on guilt

In 2011, Kim Kardashian planned her dream wedding and scored ratings gold; "Kim's Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event" was E!'s top-rated television special at the time, per Deadline. But behind the scenes, Kardashian was living a nightmare. During the 2021 "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" reunion special, she admitted to questioning her decision to marry NBA player Kris Humphries in the hours leading up to their nuptials, but she felt it was too late to back out. "I thought, 'OK, everyone, you know, we're filming this for a TV show. If I leave, I'm going to be known as the runaway bride forever, and it's going to be a huge joke,'" she explained, per Page Six.

Apparently, she wasn't the only one who struggled with doubts about a decision. However, according to Radar, Humphries had the opposite issue. "Kris is a relatively private person, and he just didn't want to be on camera and part of a reality show," an insider claimed. Kardashian reportedly had to beg Humphries to allow their 72-day marriage to be filmed for "Kourtney & Kim Take New York." The source added, "Kim guilted Kris into initially appearing on the show."

Humphries confirmed that he had no interest in pursuing reality stardom in a 2019 essay published by The Players' Tribune. "I never thought I was going to be famous in that way," he wrote. "All I've ever wanted to be known for was basketball."

Kanye West was slow to embrace his wife's world

After Kim Kardashian's ill-fated marriage to Kris Humphries ended, the "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" star struck up a romance with another beau who seemed unlikely to happily adopt her lifestyle. In a 2015 interview with Access Hollywood, Kardashian confessed to reaching out to Kanye West in 2012 to stoke their shared spark into a full-blown flame, but their relationship faced one big hurdle: Ye had issues with "KUWTK." The rapper shared one of his biggest complaints with the reality series during an appearance on "The Angie Martinez Show" in 2013. "I don't particularly like the way the producers shoot some of the shots," he explained. "I'm very meticulous about that, right?" However, Ye was willing to compromise somewhat, saying that he made sure that cameras were present for his proposal to keep the future wifey happy.

In 2017, Kardashian told The Hollywood Reporter that Ye disliked filming as often as she did and that he would approve the use of any footage he was featured in. But that same year, an insider told People that Ye was making an effort to film more often because he realized that his marriage wasn't in great shape. In 2019, he even appeared in his first-ever "KUWTK" confessional. He explained that he'd seen the format used in "The Incredibles" and felt he and his family members had a lot in common with the movie's animated superheroes. One observation? "The wife got a big butt."

Reality stardom was hell for Ozzy Osbourne

In 2002, rock royalty jumped on the crazy train of reality TV, and the Prince of Darkness took his family along for the ride. However, according to Ozzy Osbourne, it was his wife, Sharon Osbourne, who found the idea of appearing on camera alluring enough to invite a camera crew into their home. "Sharon loves flying around the world and being a TV star. I don't. I can't stand it because my heart is in music," Ozzy told Metal Hammer (via Digital Spy) in 2010. "I hated every second of it. She kept pushing me into this f***ing stuff."

In an interview with The Ringer, the couple's son, Jack Osbourne, revealed that MTV actually approached him and his sister, Kelly Osbourne, first after the two charismatic teens showed off their home on "Cribs." But it was Sharon who gave MTV the green light for "The Osbournes" and constantly reminded her family that they couldn't demand to leave certain scenes on the cutting room floor because the footage made them look bad. One of their children avoided this conundrum; Aimée Osbourne famously refused to be filmed at all.

When the family, minus Aimée, appeared together on "The Howard Stern Show" in 2002, Sharon explained why she wanted to film the series, saying, "I thought it would be good to document our lives for posterity, to hand it down to our grandkids." Ozzy responded by complaining that Sharon didn't demand enough money for the first season.

Paris Hilton's husband didn't love appearing on Paris in Love

Paris Hilton gained reality fame on "The Simple Life," but when she wanted to film her 2021 wedding, getting that chapter of her life recorded on camera wasn't so simple. The buildup to Hilton's big day was filmed for the Peacock docuseries "Paris in Love." Accomplishing this would be a challenge — if not an outright impossibility — without the groom's participation, obvs. But according to Hilton, this is almost what happened. In May 2021, Hilton told Extra that she started filming the series before getting her now-husband, venture capitalist Carter Reum, to agree to appear in it. "I'm still trying to convince him," she said. "He doesn't like the camera. He doesn't do red carpets, doesn't do interviews."

In another interview with E!, Hilton revealed that she pretty much had to beg Reum to participate. She also reminded him that he brought all the extra wedding prep stress upon himself when he chose her as his bride. "I said, 'You're marrying Paris Hilton, there's obviously going to be cameras around sometimes,'" she recalled, "so he understands, and he knows it's important to me."

Reum admitted that his privacy is important to him on "Paris in Love," but he was willing to sacrifice it for Hilton's sake. "I just love Paris the person so much, and so for me, it's an easy trade because I get to spend the rest of my life with Paris," he said.

Camille Grammer blames Kelsey Grammer for her reality fame

Camille Grammer's failing marriage to "Frasier" star Kelsey Grammer was a huge storyline during the first season of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," and it ended with a heartbreaking divorce filing that had viewers crying into their tossed salads and scrambled eggs. In a 2010 interview with the New York Post, Camille speculated that Kelsey pushed her to appear on "RHOBH" because he had fallen for the woman he would later marry, flight attendant Kayte Walsh, and wanted to hide their affair from Camille. "I really didn't want to do the show. I think it was more Kelsey's agenda. I was very reluctant because I am a very private person," Camille said.

Camille believed that she got confirmation of Kelsey's scheming when she appeared on "Watch What Happens Live" in 2016. According to host Andy Cohen, not long after Kelsey dumped Camille, the actor met with Cohen and other Bravo execs to pitch an idea for a scripted series. "It was like he had everything premeditated, like it was planned out beforehand," said Camille, per The Daily Dish. As for Kelsey, in a 2011 appearance on "Piers Morgan Tonight," he suggested that he gave Camille a happy ending, not a tragic one. "I have to tell you, the Real Housewives was my parting gift to her," he said, per The Hollywood Reporter. "It was my way of saying, 'Look, you always wanted to be famous. Here you go.'"

Reality TV had wrestler Bryan Danielson in a chokehold

For "Total Bellas" star Bryan Danielson, there was one similarity between reality TV and wrestling that he could not stand. On "The Sessions with Renée Paquette," he revealed that some moments on "Total Bellas" were staged, and while he was willing to engage in some well-choreographed fakery in the ring, the WWE Grand Slam Champion did not enjoy doing it on the E! series. "I don't hate many things; I hate filming reality television," he said. "You're constantly changing clothes on the same day to go film something to pretend like it's a different day."

Danielson seemingly stuck it out for the sake of his wife, Brie Bella, who told the Miami Herald that she and her twin sister, fellow pro wrestler Nikki Bella, were approached by the E! network and the WWE about starring in their own reality series. "How could we say 'No,'" said Brie. However, she admitted that filming started at a tough time for Danielson, who had to (temporarily) retire in 2016 after suffering a number of injuries. Speaking to Paquette about his post-retirement life, Danielson revealed that he was also unhappy about having to live with Nikki and her boyfriend at the time, John Cena. 

"Total Bellas" ended its five-year run in 2021. Brie admitted that Danielson's disdain for the show was one reason they decided to wrap it up, and she told ET that their daughter, Birdie, shared his feelings about appearing on camera.

Rob Kardashian accused Blac Chyna of using him

This pair didn't quite become spouses, but they got close. In 2016, Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna coupled up to create the messiest union in the Kardashian cinematic universe. Chyna was a former friend of Rob's sister, Kim Kardashian. However, Chyna's relationship with the "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" clan became complicated when Tyga — her ex and the father of her child — began dating Rob's half-sister, Kylie Jenner. The sitch reached soap-opera levels of inconceivability when Rob and Chyna got engaged in April 2016, and they welcomed their daughter, Dream Renee Kardashian, seven months later.

The couple's whirlwind romance was chronicled on the E! series "Rob & Chyna," but in August 2016, sources told TMZ that Rob was starting to shun the cameras, purportedly out of fear that continuing to film would put his relationship with Chyna in jeopardy. By the following March, the couple had called it quits, and their show was dunzo, per ET.

Chyna later sued the Kardashians. She accused them of defaming her, claiming that their actions derailed her reality career. In court, Rob testified that Chyna only wanted him to propose to her because she planned to pitch a reality show centered on their relationship, a ploy he didn't approve of. "I supported her because I'm obviously with her, but it's not my character at all," he said, per BuzzFeed News. In May 2022, AP reported that Chyna lost her lawsuit.

Clint Eastwood was a stranger on his family's reality show

Some celebs might be willing to accept a fistful of dollars to star in a reality TV series, but Clint Eastwood kept his participation in his family's E! show, "Mrs. Eastwood & Company," at a bare minimum. His wife at the time, Dina Eastwood, told The Daily Beast that the series was supposed to serve as a vehicle to promote a boy band she was managing called Overtone. But at the behest of producers, it became a family affair when Clint and Dina's daughter, Morgan Eastwood, and Clint's daughter from his relationship with Frances Fisher, Francesca Eastwood, were encouraged to participate. Getting Clint to put in a handful of appearances, however, was like trying to convince one of his outlaw characters not to ride off into the sunset. "Yeah, I had to twist his arm, you bet," said Dina. "I would never want to put Clint's career in jeopardy. That's my worst nightmare."

In an interview with CNN's "Showbiz Tonight," Dina assured Clint's fans that no tomfoolery was used to get him to film with his family. "He did know he was being taped," she said. Dina also revealed that she consulted with Kim Kardashian ahead of the show's 2012 premiere, but soon viewers were only keeping up with the Eastwoods in the tabloids — the show lasted just one season, and Clint and Dina separated in 2013. "Clint was furious about the show," a source told People.

Harry Hamlin almost dumped Lisa Rinna over her reality career

These days, Harry Hamlin can expertly ignore Lisa Rinna's antics, as demonstrated by the way he doesn't even glance at her while she enthusiastically dances around him in her hilarious Instagram videos. But when she first told Hamlin that she wanted to pursue reality stardom by joining the cast of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," he didn't just go about his business while she got her groove on. "He looked at me and said, 'If you do this show, I'll divorce you,'" Rinna recalled in a 2015 appearance on "Live! With Kelly and Michael" (via E!). While Hamlin eventually relented, in 2014, a source told Radar that Rinna was bummed that he wasn't embracing his role as a real housewife hubby. "Harry wants nothing to do with 'RHOBH,' and has been told by his agents that appearing on that reality show would be bad for his career," said the insider.

Hamlin did, however, start making sporadic appearances on the show. On "Watch What Happens Live," Rinna revealed the compromise he made with her ahead of her first season. "He said, 'I will give you three moments, and that's it,'" she recalled, per The Daily Dish. She also shared her secret for getting Hamlin to warm up to filming with her: not being pushy about it.

By the time Rinna exited "RHOBH" in 2023, Hamlin seemed proud of his wife's work. "She elevated the show," he told People.

Bobby Brown didn't consult with Whitney Houston about his reality TV plans

While her fans will always love her, the late Whitney Houston's rep as an inimitable diva took a hit when she starred on the Bravo reality series "Being Bobby Brown" in 2005. She went from being known for possessing a voice that can give fans chills to making viewers cringe with her unapologetic oversharing. After her then-husband Bobby Brown revealed his hands-on approach to helping her relieve her constipation, she declared it a sign of true love; however, Entertainment Weekly deemed the revelation one of the most disgusting TV moments of the year.

Brown and Houston separated in 2006, and in 2009, Houston opened up about their single season as reality stars in an "Oprah" Interview. She revealed that Brown did not consult with her before signing on for the show and said of her participation, "I did it for him. I did it with him. How could you not do a reality show, and I'm your wife, and not have me in it?" She also hoped that the show would work as a salve for their struggling marriage. Instead, it just allowed the world to watch their relationship unravel. 

Houston also spoke to Oprah about struggling with drug use during filming, an issue that played a role in the singer's tragic 2012 death, per CNN. However, in a 2022 appearance on "The Breakfast Club," Brown said that he had no regrets about doing the show.