Reasons Why My Strange Addiction Is Totally Fake

Most of us don't recognize TLC as purveyors of educational content, but don't be fooled. The acronym stands for The Learning Channel, and the network is dedicated to doling out meaningful lessons, such as how to not get suckered into a green card marriage and how to find the perfect wedding dress. While TLC's roster has taught us a few things about reality TV relationships, My Strange Addiction takes it to the next level by showing us what it's like to be in a committed, romantic relationship with a carnival ride or a car. What?

Watching My Strange Addiction is like repeatedly playing that video of Ashlee Simpson bombing on Saturday Night Live — you just can't look away. The more you watch, the more uncomfortable it gets. With addictions ranging from eating sticks of deodorant to consuming your deceased husband's ashes, the series teaches us perhaps the most important lesson of all: humans are really, really weird. But are they actually that weird? Seriously, how dooes the woman who sucks on dirty diapers or the lady who drinks gasoline survive?

It's unclear how much of My Strange Addiction is scripted or grossly exaggerated, but TLC is known for its heavy-handed editing. Some cast members have publicly suggested that their episodes were fabricated, while others apparently did TLC's dirty work and ramped up the drama for the cameras. Let's take a closer look at some reasons why My Strange Addiction is totally fake.

The taxidermy addict that wasn't

Taxidermy may  not be the most common pastime, but this Brooklyn taxidermist is far from the bizarre and tormented character My Strange Addiction painted her out to be. Though TLC framed Divya Anantharaman as someone "addicted to dead animals," she has transformed her craft into an award-winning metropolitan career. Thrillist called her "Brooklyn's Hottest Taxidermist" and the Observer referred to her as a fashionista cashing in on an "artisanal taxidermy" trend, which it described as "edgy, ecologically-friendly, lo-fi and crafty."

Anantharaman studied fashion and sculpture at the esteemed Pratt Institute and won Lifetime's 24 Hour Catwalk in 2012. She used the $10,000 grand prize to create a line of taxidermy-themed shoes. In other words, does running an in-demand taxidermy business for NYC hipsters constitute an addiction? No, it just sounds like a brilliant business plan to us.

This 'tanorexic' shed some UV rays on the truth

If you're a fan of Trish Paytas, it's probably not because of her My Strange Addiction episode. The social media influencer has attracted a massive following on YouTube for her honest, drama-filled videos. (Who doesn't love a good breakup play-by-play?) Before she was internet famous, the quick-talking starlet took her intense tanning habits to a 2009 episode of My Strange Addiction — but she claims she wasn't actually dependent on toasting her skin. Her lifestyle as a self-proclaimed tanorexic is a choice, she said, not an addiction. 

But after her appearance on My Strange Addiction, Paytas insists she's choosing to steer clear of that type of television. "I won't be doing anything more in the TV world with tanning, " she says in a tell-all YouTube video. "Like, I've gotten burned so many times — no pun intended — from magazine articles and TV shows. No matter how reputable they are, they're going to spin it and try to make a story." Paytas even cites My Strange Addiction as one of her most manipulated TV appearances because of how the network "turned things around." 

This urine addict needed therapy, but not for the reason you'd think

Carrie undoubtedly has some alternative ideas (she's a proud flat-Earther,) but her addiction to drinking urine isn't exactly what TLC made it out to be. She wasn't guzzling her own urine because she was hooked on it the way someone may be addicted to alcohol. No, she was trying to cure cancer.

Urine therapy is a controversial, alternative cancer treatment that has not been embraced by mainstream Western medicine. However, 3 million people reportedly partake in the practice every year in China, and according to Gizmodo, urine therapy dates back centuries and has been cited in early Chinese and Egyptian medical texts. Carrie claims urine therapy helped her survive cancer. In a YouTube video calling out TLC, she claims she's one year away from becoming the first person to survive stage three malignant melanoma past 15 years (though the American Cancer Society states the 10 year survival rate is between 24 and 68 percent). Regardless, Carrie claims TLC twisted her story.

"If I knew what was going to be done to the footage I gave, I would not have agreed to do it." she says. "...The show made it look like my daughters did not believe in me or urine therapy. This was a blatant misuse of the truth and we were all disappointed about that."

Was this puppet addict pulling the strings on TLC?

It's not always TLC that exaggerates addictions for good TV. Sometimes, the network's subjects allegedly toy with the truth just to nab their 15 minutes of fame. According to a bombshell Gawker report on April Brucker (as bombshell as a report on a C-list reality star can get), the alleged puppet addict is simply a comedian who uses ventriloquism in her act.

The Brucker who appears in a 2010 episode of My Strange Addiction is portrayed as a woman who is unable to part from her ventriloquist puppets. Her addiction is supposedly so severe that her fiancé makes her choose between him or her puppets. (Of course, she chose the latter.) 

Curiously, Gawker found numerous videos of Brucker living her best life without her ventriloquist dolls, and her Instagram account also shows a woman with no strings attached. Gawker even tracked down an alleged acquaintance who claimed Brucker only uses puppets in her comedy act and "scammed TLC" to get "fame, fortune and above all, attention." At the time of this writing, she's still pursuing ventriloquism and actingacting. Yes, Brucker is a trained actor with a bachelor's degree in the subject. Sorry, TLC, but this gal probably fooled us all.

There's an easy (mani)cure for this nail addiction

Ayanna Williams is the current Guinness World Record holder for longest fingernails, clocking in at a combined total length of nearly 19 feet. Despite the fact that we'll never be able to erase the image of her toenails popping through her sneakers, this apparently isn't some out-of-control addiction.

When Williams was featured on a 2012 episode of  My Strange Addiction, she was depicted as a crazed nail addict willing to risk her health to keep her talons. According to the show, having long nails apparently inhibits her from exercising which could eventually aggravate her diabetes. Williams claimed that's a stretch. She said her nails don't stop her from doing what she wants to do, and if they did, she'd just cut them off, cold turkey.

"If I can't make a decent living like I would like to, I might have to cut them," she told Houstonia. "That and my health would be the only reasons."

These living dolls had no idea they were living dolls

The 2014 My Strange Addiction episode called "I'm a Living Doll" features Justin Jedlica, a guy who rose to fame after undergoing 125 surgeries to look like a human Ken doll. His portion of the episode seems authentic, and anyone who's followed Jedlica's online presence would probably agree. The same thing can't be said for his co-stars, Venus and Emily.

According to a Reddit post from someone who claims their friends-of-friends briefly appeared in the episode, Venus and Emily only pretended to be living dolls on the show. In reality, they supposedly simply enjoy wearing Lolita fashion — a type of style inspired by Harajuku and Victorian clothing. In fact, some people interviewed by TLC supposedly had no idea the episode was about living doll subculture. Instead, they supposedly thought the piece was about Harajuku style, which is extremely popular in some parts of the world. 

The living doll lifestyle may certainly be a thing, but lumping Venus and Emily in with that crowd is debatable. At the time of this writing, Venus is a YouTuber with nearly 2 million subscribers, but her channel description makes no mention of being addicted to looking like a doll.

This furry had the wool pulled over her eyes

It's not uncommon for a reality show to stretch the truth in order to create some drama, but what TLC allegedly did to this My Strange Addiction star may have crossed the line. According to a Reddit post from someone named Lauren who claimed to be featured in an episode called "Fur Suit Fetish," her entire story was almost completely fabricated. 

The episode focuses on the subculture of furries, adults who dress in animal costumes. Lauren claims she was painted as a "jobless, educationless shut-in who uses a mask to hide behind the fact that [she] cannot accept the death of [her] father." She's described as wearing her furry suit every single day in public, but she claims that couldn't have been further from the truth.  

Lauren says her life is completely normal. Though her father's death was painful, she has a job, boyfriend, loving family, and friends. She apparently wears a fursuit just once a year at an annual convention. In fact, she said she crafted her fox look solely for the episode and considered making and wearing the fursuit just a "small hobby," not an obsession. She claims TLC "took what information [she] gave and ran with it."

Masters of the bait and switch

Do the so-called addicts on My Strange Addiction truly understand the premise of the show? In a post on Reddit, Lauren claims she agreed to don the aforementioned fursuit for cameras because TLC framed the series as a program about "people's strange hobbies," rather than a show about addictions or fetishes. She also thought it would be a good way to broaden perceptions about furries, who are often stereotyped as folks with bizarre sexual fetishes. In reality, many furries use their suits to raise money for charity or to visit children's hospitals. When producers told Lauren they wanted to film the process of making a fursuit, she said she thought it was a great opportunity to showcase what the subculture was really about — creativity, expression, and fun. 

"Furries have always had a bad rap with the media, so I thought that this could be a way to shed a different light on it," she said in her Reddit post. "Of course once I was knee-deep, it all evolved into something different, and I was ashamed with the way they portrayed me."

Are producers addicted to drama?

Reality TV stars often get some direction from producers, but Lauren claimed TLC was heavy-handed when it came to scripting her episode about the fur suit. The manipulation allegedly started with common things, such as repeating phrases over and over again in different inflections to make the editing process easier. She was also supposedly recorded when she wasn't aware in an attempt to get some juicy material. Producers also allegedly made her do numerous things she didn't want to do, including standing on a street corner in her costume (which she claims furries would never do) and running around in a forest for 45 minutes straight (she could barely see or breath in her suit.) 

"And they didn't like hog-tie me and bring me places or anything of course, but they pretty much gave me no other option." she said via a Reddit post. "...When I expressed my disinterest about certain things, they'd always say something like 'It'll be quick, just get out there and do your thing ... We may not even use this, it's fine.' .... and would sort of push me until I did what they wanted."

Things reportedly came to a head when the camera crew tagged along on Lauren's family vacation and prompted her to run around in the fursuit in public. Lauren said the deeply embarrassing experience prompted her to see a therapist for the first time. 

This adult baby is actually a successful porn star

TLC scandalized the masses when the network aired a My Strange Addiction episode about adult babies. It features Riley Kylo, a transgender girl who describes, in extreme detail, why she loves peeing in a diaper. However, TLC neglected to mention the fact that Kylo is also a famous porn star by the name of Sadie Hawkins. According to Vice, Hawkins has won a Tranny Award and was nominated for an AVN award in 2012 — some of the highest honors in the adult entertainment industry — so this big baby is certainly media savvy and no stranger to putting on a show for the cameras.

In a very NSFW interview with Vice, Kylo seemed well aware of how her kink and a show like My Strange Addiction could be perceived by mainstream audiences. "Society still has its boot on the neck of self-expression," she said. "Unless you fit in, drink Coke, dress like the people on TV ... you are going to get singled out. There's an agenda for normality because it sells." 

Unless, of course, one is selling a show called My Strange Addiction.