Hollywood – and the entertainment industry as a whole – tends not to be kind. One day, a celeb can be on the rise, the Next Big Thing, and before they know it, they’re forgotten. It could have been because of one bad movie, one lackluster album, one social faux-pas, or simply aging past their time of marketability. For these stars, the ones who could have been big but weren’t, or who once were famous and now aren’t, where are they to turn? They can’t very well go back to normal life and a 9-to-5 gig, right?
That’s where reality TV comes in. Over the past 20 years, reality TV has been a godsend to celebs desperate to stay relevant. All reality TV asks for is a camera on them at all times and the willingness to be humiliated for an audience. Looks like we’ve got 20 takers!
20 Heidi & Spencer Pratt
To be completely honest, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt were never going to find themselves on the A-list, as much as they tried via tabloid tell-alls and plastic surgery. While they began on MTV’s The Hills, they graduated to other, less slick reality TV productions, like I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! and Celebrity Big Brother UK.
19 The Situation
Another star who definitely was never anywhere near the A-list, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino nevertheless made his mark on the public thanks to the dumpster fire that was Jersey Shore. Following that time on MTV, Sorrentino craved relevance (and cash), and opted to appear on Dancing With the Stars, Celebrity Big Brother, Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars, and Worst Cooks in America.
18 Shannon Elizabeth
Once an It Girl on the rise thanks to the success of the first two American Pie installments as well as Scary Movie, Shannon Elizabeth had a cute look and some comedic chops, but neither was enough to save her from landing on the B-list. She appeared on Dancing With the Stars in Season 6, but has her poker skills as a backup to pay her bills!
17 Dustin Diamond
Once upon a time, Dustin Diamond was riding high as Screech on the beloved series Saved by the Bell. His role lasted for 13 years, and left him unmoored when it ended. He turned to adult films, standup comedy, and, naturally, reality TV. Diamond ran the gamut of shows, with Celebrity Boxing, Celebrity Fit Club, and Celebrity Big Brother UK.
16 Tom Green
Tom Green was riding high in the early 2000s, with a marriage to Drew Barrymore, a standup routine, and leading roles in a few (forgettable) movies! He also did his own version of “reality TV” with MTV’s The Tom Green Show. He’s since appeared on America’s Got Talent, The Celebrity Apprentice, and Celebrity Big Brother.
15 Stephen Baldwin
It’s gotta hurt when you’re from a famous family and constantly in your brother’s shadow, and then your own daughter comes along, marries the super-famous Justin Bieber, and puts you even further out of the spotlight! Perhaps that’s why Stephen Baldwin turned to reality TV to make a buck, appearing on Celebrity Big Brother UK, The Celebrity Apprentice, and I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!
14 Janice Dickinson
Self-professed “world’s first supermodel” Janice Dickinson has learned to love reality TV so much that she’s gone from contestant to judge! In addition to being a judge for four cycles of America’s Top Model, Dickinson has been on a laundry list of shows: The Surreal Life, I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, Celebrity Big Brother UK, and Celebrity Rehab.
A one-hit wonder with “Thong Song”, Sisqo faded into obscurity following the advent of the new millennium. Apparently, he didn’t get the memo, though, and has desperately trying to make a comeback, via reality TV. The rapper has appeared on Celebrity Big Brother UK, Celebrity Wife Swap, and Keith Sweat’s Platinum House.
12 Tara Reid
Another alum from the American Pie franchise is Tara Reid, who was every boy’s fantasy in the late 1990s. Alas, botched surgery, personal problems, and a downward spiral landed her firmly on the B-list – or lower. To offset the cost of living, Reid has opted for the reality circuit, with Celebrity Big Brother UK and her own reality travel show, Taradise (it lasted for 10 episodes).
11 Corey Feldman
Corey Feldman, a former child star, has lived a pretty tough life. After being one half of ‘80s duo dubbed “The Coreys” with Corey Haim, Feldman fell into issues with substances, and later admitted to dealing with childhood abuse. Grossly, some of his problems were exploited for TV with 2003’s season of VH1’s The Surreal Life.
10 Courtney Stodden
Z-list would be closer to describing where Courtney Stodden belongs, considering that she’s most famous for her marriage to ex Dough Hutchison when she was 16 and he was 50. The marriage was, predictably, doomed, but made great fodder for reality TV and saw Stodden appear on Couples Therapy, Celebrity Big Brother UK, and The Mother-Daughter Experiment: Celebrity Edition.
9 Dave Coulier
Now that Fuller House has rekindled the ‘90s nostalgia felt by millennials for the original, Dave Coulier isn’t quite as washed-up as he once was, but we’re guessing he’s not pulling any invites to the Oscars. Coulier, after Full House, found himself turning to reality TV, with The Surreal Life and Skating With Celebrities.
8 Gary Busey
Gary Busey has always been a bit of a weird guy. The big-toothed, wild-eyed character actor’s behavior has led to him falling down onto the B-list and turning to reality TV to pay the bills. Busey has shown up on Celebrity Rehab, Celebrity Apprentice, Celebrity Big Brother UK, and Dancing With the Stars, proving that all that manic energy is going somewhere!
7 Aubrey O’Day
Aubrey O’Day has gained more recognition for her evolving, surgically-enhanced look and messy relationships than she has with her music (which began on the reality show Making the Band), so naturally she’s a B-lister (or below). In addition to MTB, O’Day has popped up on Celebrity Apprentice, Celebrity Big Brother UK, Famously Single, and Ex on the Beach.
6 Flavor Flav
Flavor Flav has made such a home for himself on reality TV that it’s difficult to remember a time when he was better known for rapping as a member of the group Public Enemy. As he aged, though, Flav chose reality TV – and even had seasons of his own shows – and appeared on The Surreal Life, Strange Love, Flavor of Love, and Celebrity Wife Swap.
5 Denise Richards
A former Bond Girl, a ‘90s It Girl, and now the ex of Charlie Sheen and star of bad TV movies, we have Denise Richards. Richards’ personal life has been dramatic, of course, and she’s offered to have it televised. Richards has had her own show with Denise Richards: It’s Complicated, appeared on Dancing With the Stars, and stars on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
4 Melissa Joan Hart
Melissa Joan Hart is best known for playing Sabrina Spellman on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, even though she later had her own show with Joey Lawrence, called, aptly, Melissa & Joey. In between both shows, Hart took some time to try and fill the pay gap with reality TV, appearing on Season 9 of Dancing With the Stars.
3 Pamela Anderson
One of the most iconic images of ‘90s pop culture is Pamela Anderson in her red Baywatch bathing suit. Anderson herself, as a Playboy model and tabloid fixture, seems to exist only in the 1990s! The truth is, though, she’s still around and has got some bills to pay! Anderson popped up on Celebrity Big Brother UK and other international spinoffs, Dancing With the Stars, and Dancing on Ice.
2 Ricki Lake
If you were a kid who stayed home sick from school, chances are you spotted Ricki Lake and her eponymous talk show. The show, alongside her leading role in the fil m Hairspray, made Lake pretty well known. Now, however, not so much. Lake has appeared on Dancing With the Stars, The Masked Singer, and The X-Factor: Celebrity.
1 Tori Spelling
Tori Spelling, previously of Beverly Hills 90210, has made reality TV work for her, rather than the other way around. Spelling has let no part of her personal life be safe from the prying camera lens, and has appeared on or starred in: Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood, True Tori, Tori & Dean: Cabin Fever, The Masked Singer, and Masterchef.