Scenes That Almost Made Reality Stars Quit

Is there anything more satisfying than quitting? Giving up on something, particularly something deeply unpleasant, annoying, scary, or unseemly, is a great act of self-empowerment. To quit is to send the message, "This is not worth my time, and I love myself too much to endure this soul-sucking discomfort for another second."

But as adults, quitting isn't so simple—there are more factors involved in the decision to quit, say, a job, than just "I don't like it" or "I don't think it feels right." Grown-ups have to keep jobs they loathe due to concerns like money (which can be used to buy things like food, clothing, and housing), as well as not wanting to earn the reputation as someone who is flaky or unreliable.

Take for example these reality stars. All of these folks have found attention, fortune, and fame (or at least notoriety) via an appearance or starring role on a hit nonfiction TV program. And every last one of them considered quitting, forced to a breaking point and a snap decision by a moment, scene, sequence of events, or person.

Had this Bachelor never seen The Bachelor?

Ben Higgins, star of the early 2016 season of The Bachelor was so Bachelor-appropriate (in that he's Midwestern, gently attractive, and looks like he was a football star in high school) it seemed like he was created in the top-secret Bachelor bachelor-generating hunk lab we all know exists somewhere a mile beneath a Los Angeles-era McMansion. And yet, according to show "insiders" who spoke with supermarket checkout staple Life & Style, Higgins nearly walked away from the chance to find a temporary fiancée for the sake of television... on more than one occasion. "Ben was so upset in the middle of filming that he was ready to quit a few times," the person close to the production told Life & Style. 

But why? Because of one of the most definitive things about The Bachelor: "all the drama with the girls fighting." The insider added that Higgins stayed on after he received a "pep talk from his mom." Turning to your mom for guidance? That's the kind of sweet and charming nonsense that's only going to make those bachelorettes want you more, Ben!

Her attempt to leave was a little pitchy, dog

Crystal Bowersox, not to be confused with the Boston Red Sox, who never give up, is best known for appearing on the ninth season of American Idol in 2010. (She's also best known for having some impressive dreadlocks that look like they took a very long  time to prepare.) The folkish/country-style singer almost won the insanely popular TV talent show, too, finishing in second-place behind rocker guy Lee DeWyze. But Bowersox almost could have finished a lot lower, like somewhere in the bottom half of the top 10, by forfeit. 

In mid-April 2010, TMZ reported that in the studio parking lot after an American Idol episode taping, Bowersox broke down in front of host Ryan Seacrest. Witnesses say she confided in Seacrest that she didn't like all the newfound attention, missed her family back in Ohio, and failed to see "the point" of the reality competition. Seacrest, always a company man, convinced Bowersox to stay by reminding her that if she won, it was potentially worth millions. "The greatest thing I ever did was make enough money so I could buy my mom a house," Seacrest reportedly told the shaken singer. "You can buy your mom a house." Seacrest later confirmed to E! Online (via MTV News) that the exchange had occurred as reported, and that he really had dangled the prospect of house-gifting to Bowersox.

Dancing with the protesters

Ryan Lochte, America's favorite swim-bra and the most famous swimmer not named "Michael Phelps," took home a gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as part of the USA's 4x200 meter freestyle relay team. After the completion of his events, Lochte and three other American swimmers were involved in an incident at a Rio gas station. At first, Lochte said he and his fellow Speedo-bros were robbed...but it turned out, it was really security guards trying to stifle them after they vandalized that gas station. 

Lochte embarked on a damage control tour, which included a spot in the cast of ABC's Dancing with the Stars. In a reality show rarity, at least six protesters interrupted the critique period after Lochte's first performance. Two people wearing T-shirts emblazoned with anti-Lochte language rushed the stage, while several others in the audience shouted anti-Lochte chants, including "Liar!"—all clearly related to Lochte's gas station adventure. All were escorted off the premises by security guards.

A week later, Lochte reflected on the confrontation to CNN. "Right after the show I wanted to quit because it hurt so bad," Lochte said. "And having my mom in the stands, watching her go through it, that hurt me. And I wanted to quit." After his dance partner Cheryl Burke reminded the Olympic champion that he was "not a quitter," Lochte decided he wasn't going to quit.

On your marks, get set, bake…or don't

In 2017, the delightful, gentle, and sweet-as-treacle English reality show The Great British Bake Off endured an uncharacteristic scandal. The show, in which regular Britons make breads and cakes under a tent in the countryside, jumped to broadcaster Channel 4, lured away from its longtime home on the BBC. Not going along for the ride: hosts/contestant stokers Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins. The dear friends and frequent collaborators walked away rather than bolt from the network that's been very good to them.

However, the duo almost bolted during filming of the first GBBO season back in 2010, when the show wasn't as sweet and easygoing and was trying to be more like its nastier reality show brethren. Producers briefly tried to create drama and urge contestants to get emotional. "We felt uncomfortable with it," Perkins told The Telegraph in 2015. "And we said, 'we don't think you've got the right presenters." (In the U.K., they say "presenters" instead of "hosts.") "I'm proud that we did that, because what we were saying was 'Let's try and do this a different way'—and no one ever cried again."

Bully for you, Ramona

Ramona Singer has been an integral part of Real Housewives of New York City for a decade now, her kinetic, daffy, Kathie Lee-with-an-edge presence a counterbalance to the Bravo show's formula of drink-throwing, husband-bashing, and Bechdel Test-failing theatrics. She's actually the only original cast member left who's been with the show all the way through, with no breaks (like Bethenny Frankel) or a drop down to recurring status (like LuAnn de Lesseps). How has she lasted for so long, and not heeded the call of standalone spin-off or a desire to get away from all those rich, inebriated frenemies gossiping and screaming near, at, with, or about her?

Singer is only human, and she's had her moments. "I remember once after a reunion [episode], I said to myself, 'I can't do this anymore,'" Singer told Bustle in 2006, estimating that it was after the show's second season, because she "felt really ganged up on from Bethenny and Jill," referring to former cast member Jill Zarin. But, she persevered, taking to heart the advice from an unidentified associate: "Someone said, 'Listen, it's just like a baby. You'll forget the pain.'"

Solo - a Dancing with the Stars story

It's surprising that more people don't quit Dancing with the Stars. The seemingly old-fashioned light entertainment is a grueling, exhaustive experience for its celebrity contestants, who toil around the clock for weeks on end with their partners to perfect their intricate, often athletic routines. That can make for a stressful environment, and stress makes people lose their cool... which tends to push other people away.

During a 2011 rehearsal, soccer star and contestant Hope Solo was in conversation with pro dance partner Maksim Chmerkovsky, when, as she related on Ryan Seacrest's radio show (via Us Weekly), he clamped down hard on her shoulder to emphasize a point. That imposing physicality bordering on toxic masculinity was just a little too much for Solo. "I almost quit the show right then and there," she told Seacrest. "I almost walked out, but I told myself I am in this for the long-haul, through all the bumps and bruises." The moment didn't happen during a taping of Dancing with the Stars, but Solo put the story out because she wanted "everybody to know out there that as a strong, independent woman that stands up for herself, I would never just let that go unnoticed.

Back to the Top Chef grind

Winning Top Chef is huge. As Padma Lakshmi always reminds in the cooking competition show's opening sequence, winners take home a huge cash prize, a feature in Food & Wine, and not to mention instant fame as a celebrity chef that will ensure lines out the door of their restaurants for years. All of that must have seemed very far away for Top Chef competitor Sheldon Simeon. A top-three finisher in season 10 of the reality cooking competition, Top Chef, he returned for season 14, which featured eight new contestants and eight Top Chef veterans. His focus during the season was less on his cuisine, and more on the tremendous physical pain he was suffering during taping due to a herniated disc in his back.

"I kind of hid it from everybody how badly it was hurting. I literally woke up in the morning, and I'd take half an hour showers, almost crying in the bathroom, to tell you the truth," he told Bravo. "I almost thought I was gonna throw in the towel to go home." Ultimately, he stayed, because he didn't want to blow his shot. "I didn't want to come so far to go home on a back injury," he added. "I literally just opened my restaurant a month before leaving, and it was all for those guys back at the restaurant, for leaving my family, my kids, I was like, 'No, you've got to grind it through.'" Amazingly, Simeon finished in a stellar third place.

A bachelor who didn't want to go back to paradise

Bachelor in Paradise is one of the more seedy reality shows, sending castoffs from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette into a Real World or Big Brother-esque setting, only in a tropical wonderland and guided by the principles of a 1960s free-love commune. 

However, in 2017, Bachelor in Paradise turned the corner from sleazy fun into the deeply troubling and possibly criminal. On the first day of production of a new season, cast members Corinne Olympios and DeMario Jackson engaged in some sexual activity. Jackson thought the encounter had been consensual, but  few days later, he learned that the show was investigating possible sexual misconduct on his part, and a producer urged him to quit the show. 

Production on the series shut down for 10 days, and everyone involved (including producers) were cleared of any wrongdoing. When taping resumed, Olympios and Jackson were gone. Cast member Vinny Ventiera nearly joined them on the sidelines—not because things on the reality show front had grown so dark, but because he didn't really feel like flying all the way back to paradise. "You get out of that element of, 'You're on a TV show,'" Ventiera told TooFab. "Then you go home, and you get used to being home, and your whole routine, and you relax, and you're like, 'Ugh, you know what? I don't really know if I want to go back."

The real housewife of sickening lies

Reality TV doesn't always feel so "real." Viewers willingly suspend their disbelief when watching those kinds of shows, well aware that material has been edited, if not at least lightly staged, to create conflict or a dramatic narrative. That's not necessarily true, however, for The Real Housewives of Atlanta. 

During the ninth season of the show, which aired on Bravo in 2017, some very dark activities went down. During the four-part (!) reunion special that capped the season, it was revealed that Housewife Phaedra Parks spread a nasty rumor that Housewife Kandi Burruss, with the assistance of her husband, had plans to drug and have their way with Housewife Porsha Williams. The real scandal over an imaginary scandal was nearly Burruss's breaking point with the reality franchise. "I was feeling like I might want to leave because there was so much hate from fans online, and I was having trouble because, how do you defend yourself from a lie?" Burruss posited to Us Weekly. "How do you defend yourself from something that never happened?" Ultimately, Burruss stayed on for season 10, as did Williams... but not Parks.

Lord help the mister who doesn't want to broadcast his sister (wives)

Life is not easy for Kody Brown, star of TLC's long-running plural marriage-centric hit Sister Wives. It's hard to balance being a loving and stable husband to four wives, helping to raise well over a dozen children, star on a high-profile basic cable television show, and maintain that Sammy Hagar look. Something had to give for Brown, and in 2015, he revealed in a Sister Wives Tell All special (via Us Weekly) that that something was almost Sister Wives.

It all started when he had an argument with Christine (Sister Wife number three), which included Brown's remark that his spouse was "PMS-ing" and that menstruation made his various and assorted wives act "insane." Understandably, there was a lot of negative online reaction when the fight aired on a Sister Wives episode, so much that it nearly sent Brown packing. "I literally started talking to the family the week after that aired," Brown said. "I started talking about, how can we get out of this show? I was dead serious. I had had enough." Brown stayed on, and apologized for his remarks, both privately and publicly. "I actually apologized to Christine about this whole experience, but the PMS subject—in spite of being married for so many years—was a new problem to me. And so, when it became a real thing to me, it was a place where I was very insensitive about it."