Ever since those first rats were spit-roasted in that first-ever episode of Survivor more than a decade ago, sending a wave of nausea to sofa dwellers across the U.S., reality TV’s devolution into gross-out porn has yielded a never-ending stream of gag-inducing television moments. Yet, amidst the endless onslaught of people eating wretched things and nauseating sight gags, a few less-than-prestigious clips rise to the top—or bottom—as the genre’s nastiest scenes. On the occasion of the A&E docuseries Hoarders offering a glimpse into what may be the world’s ickiest refrigerator, on Monday night’s episode here’s a retrospective of reality TV’s Gross Hall of Fame.
Hoarders: The Dead-Cat Lady
“I always thought the more the merrier,” said Terry, the cat lady to end all cat ladies, before revealing what may be the least merry environment to raise felines that has ever existed. Nearly 50 cats, most not domesticated, roamed unmonitored, defecating and urinating willy-nilly until “tons of fecal dust” blanketed the entire home. There was so much ammonia in the air in one room that a kitten’s eyes bulged out of its bitsy head. But all of that was just a tease for the climax: a refrigerator literally brimming with dead cats and other animal carcasses, which Terry says she planned to eventually cremate, or stuff. Just in time for the holidays?
Man Vs. Wild: Bear Drinks His Own Urine
It’s cute that after Bear Grylls drinks his own pee on an episode of Man vs. Wild, he assures audiences that “your urine is safe to drink,” as if we’re suddenly going to wean ourselves off Diet Coke and onto pee-pee. Man vs. Wild is a program that teaches viewers what to do when caught in worst-case scenarios out in the wilderness. “Warm” and “salty,” Grylls reviews of his own bodily discharge. “Worst case” is an egregious understatement.
Man Vs. Wild: Bear Eats a Live Snake
Can’t even watch.
Man Vs. Wild: Bear Creates a Camel-Skin Shelter
So many crucial life lessons have been taught in episodes of Man vs. Wild. For example: What to Do If You’re Wandering the Desert and It’s Cold and—Oh, Look!—There’s a Camel Carcass! In case you happened to miss that particular episode, the answer is skin the camel, excise its organs, gorge on its meat, crawl inside the disemboweled carcass, and—voila!—sleeping bag. The revolting stench is just the price you pay for the luxurious digs.
Fear Factor: Hotties Drink Donkey Semen
Suddenly mere urine-swilling Bear Grylls looks like a chump. In an act that was deemed—in surprising credit to the last semblance of American broadcast standards—too grotesque to air in the States, contestants on the recent reboot of Fear Factor were challenged to chug donkey semen. Pints of it. Of donkey semen. In a soul-shaking postshow interview, unfortunate contestant Brynne Odioso revealed, “What I ended up doing was vomiting in my glass, and just drank that.”
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo: Thompsons Smells Each Other’s Breath
Forget charades. America’s favorite folksy child pageant also-ran turned reality-TV empress has invented the next great party game, sure to liven up any holiday party. The rules, as delineated by 7-year-old Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, require that one lucky player be blindfolded and asked to smell the breath of the other participants. Said player must then match the stench to its culprit. Family fun, really.
Flavor of Love: Sumthin Poops the Floor
Has any rose ceremony on The Bachelor ended with he-who-is-looking-for-love shouting, “What is that fucked-up smell in my crib, yo?” No, and that is precisely why Flavor of Love, VH1’s insane Bachelor rip-off in which rapper Flavor Flav searches for a beau, is such a cherished blip in reality-TV history. Yes, one of the buxom ladies vying for Flav’s affection actually defecated on the floor after drinking too much ... and left the offending deposit just lying there to stew.
Survivor: Teams Feast on Pig
Any critics who have deplored reality TV as savage, primitive television had their cases made for them during a Survivor challenge in which contestants were asked to tear as much meat off a roasted pig as possible ... without using their hands. As they rip into the slabs, saliva, sand, and sweat begin seasoning the meat. At one point, a hunk of meat gets stuck in one contestant’s teeth, so he bird-feeds it to his teammate, who then spits it out in the slop bucket. The reward for their efforts: getting to take home the already-chewed meat to cook for dinner. Thousands of volunteers are turned away from being contestants on this show each year, folks.
Keeping Up With the Kardashians: Kourtney Has a Baby
Reality-TV series have, over time, gleefully charged to the extreme edge of how graphically they could show childbirth. The crowning achievement of shudder-inducing labor scenes, however, has to be when Kourtney Kardashian gave birth to her first son on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. In this circumstance “Kourtney Kardashian gave birth” could not be more literal. The starlet actually reaches down, grabs her newborn as he is still emerging from her vagina, and pulls him the rest of the way out with her bare hands. Pop!
No Reservations: Anthony Bourdain Eats Warthog Anus
That about sums it up.