Top 10 Times Reality Show Judges Went TOO Far
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Willow McLaughlin
Sometimes reality show judges went too far. For this list, we'll be looking at the most notable instances of questionable, bad, over-the-top or dramatic behavior by judges in the world of reality television. Our countdown includes "Top Chef," "America's Got Talent," "RuPaul's Drag Race UK," and more!
Top 10 Times Reality Show Judges Went Too Far
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Times Reality Show Judges Went Too Far.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most notable instances of questionable, bad, over-the-top or dramatic behavior by judges in the world of reality television.
Which of these shocked you the most? Let us know in the comments.
#10: Hound Dog Attack
“Dancing with the Stars” (2005-)
Michael Bolton is a singer who has a sense of humor and isn’t afraid to poke fun at himself. He even made jokes about his dance skills in “Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special”. However, when “Dancing with the Stars” judge Bruno Tonioli ripped Bolton’s hound dog jive routine to shreds, he was not amused. The comments were all negative and lacked any kind of constructive feedback. Pretty much everyone, including head judge Len Goodman, agreed that the critiques were inappropriate and mean. The star himself felt an apology was in order. After all, there’s judging fairly and respectfully, and then there’s whatever this was.
#9: Not Following the Rules
“So You Think You Can Dance” (2005-)
Matthew Morrison rose to fame as the music loving teacher Will Schuester on the hit-show “Glee”. He’s done plenty of dancing there and throughout his Broadway career. So it wasn’t a surprise when he was announced as a judge for Season 17 of “So You Think You Can Dance.” It was a huge shock, however, when articles revealing that he’d been let go surfaced. It was ultimately revealed that he was fired from the show for messaging a female contestant. The dancer reported the communication to producers because it made her feel uncomfortable. Morrison claimed that his message was just friendly and in no way inappropriate. Regardless, his behavior violated show protocols.
#8: Early Elimination
“Top Chef “ (2006-)
Tom Colicchio is no stranger to badly prepared meals. As the head judge on the “Top Chef” cooking competition, he’s had to deal with many disgusting dishes. Usually, contestants get a chance to demonstrate their culinary skills at least once, though. But Tyler Stone was cut from the first episode of season 9 before he even had a chance to cook. The personal chef from Sacramento struggled to butcher some pork. After reviewing the cuts, Colicchio asked him to pack his things and leave. Stone believed the judges should’ve given him more of a chance to compete and waited for the dish to be fully prepared before they decided his fate. Needless to say, the elimination surprised everyone and proved that Colicchio wasn’t messing around.
#7: A Scary Storm
“America's Got Talent” (2006-)
Simon Cowell is known for being a judge that speaks his mind. He usually doesn’t concern himself with other peoples’ reactions. This might be why he frequently gets water dumped on his head by fellow judges. On one episode of “America’s Got Talent”, Cowell took his comments too far and sparked an extreme reaction from Mel B. When he made a rude comment about her wedding night, Scary Spice decided not to ignore it or pretend it was funny. Instead she threw her water in his face and exited the set. Since she was in the middle of a divorce at the time, Cowell should have been more considerate with his quips.
#6: Too Many Divas on the Panel
“American Idol” (2002-16; 2018-)
The feud between “American Idol” judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj made headlines during their single season on the panel. These two divas butted heads on more than one occasion, and definitely appeared to rub each other the wrong way on set. By the Chicago auditions, they didn’t even seem to be pretending to get along. Their patience with each other was clearly running out, as they began talking over each other when Carey interrupted her co-judge. When Minaj thanked her for a comment and started her own, Carey replied with this: [”You’re welcome, my name I won’t say in case there’s little kids watching the show”]. Despite the smiles, it was a spat that made for a pretty poor showing in front of a talented auditioner.
#5: Harsh Simile
“The Great British Baking Show” (2010-)
The technical bakes on “The Great British Baking Show” are always fraught with difficulty. Contestants are given a complicated project with very little instructions, and judge Paul Hollywood rarely holds back with his comments. Sometimes it crosses the line from amusing to just plain cruel. In this episode, the competitors were challenged to make a Victorian era fruit cake decorated to look like a tennis court. Mat Riley struggled at every turn. Ultimately, he ended up with a melted net and decorations that looked more like flames than flowers. The final product prompted Hollywood to make a rather hellish comparison. Talk about a harsh way to put it! There’s no need to kick a friendly bloke when he’s down…
#4: Len Goodman Loses It
“Dancing with the Stars” (2005-)
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough ended Season 16 of this long-running dance competition with the mirrorball trophy. However, one of their showings was met with over-the-top criticism. Their Paso doble with Tristan MacManus resulted in showers of praise from judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli. Len Goodman, however, saw things differently, and he made his opinion crystal clear, not mincing words at all. The other judges’ disagreement and the audience’s boos seemed to set him off even more. He yelled and pointed accusingly at the choreographers, blaming them for the atrocity. Eventually, co-host Tom Bergeron sent the dancers off. That was definitely the right call.
#3: RuPaul vs. H&M
“RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” (2019-)
Production of “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” series 2 was paused for seven months due to COVID-19. However, Joe Black probably wishes she’d stayed in lockdown after this outburst. In the first episode filmed once production resumed, the judges criticized Joe for wearing a dress off the rack. This comment was seen as tone deaf by many: firstly, “Drag Race” has been accused of rewarding the queens who spend the most money on the competition. What’s more, many queens had lost their sources of income during the pandemic, so shopping at stores like H&M was a necessity. However, others defended the reality judge and host, explaining that creativity costs nothing - and Joe’s outfit was not creative. Either way, Joe Black went home that week. But on the upside, she did receive a cheeky gift from H&M.
#2: Tyra’s Tirade
“America's Next Top Model” (2003-18)
Although it’s been years since the model competition first aired, it’s still getting criticism for the way the contestants were treated. One prime example is when host, judge, and creator Tyra Banks reprimanded contestant Tiffany Richardson. Banks expressed her disappointment that the eliminated model was not showing more emotion as she said goodbye to the other competitors. She felt Richardson wasn’t taking the show seriously. Her tirade soon became far more intense and personal than necessary though, and the moment has since become infamous. This inappropriate rant occurred simply because the contestant tried to put on a cheerful demeanor, instead of crying like she was “supposed” to, which is completely nonsensical.
#1: Fashion Temper Tantrum
“Making the Cut” (2020-)
When a fashion designer has limited time to make a runway garment, it’s not always going to be great. Even the most talented ones disappoint the judges occasionally. So on a show like “Making the Cut”, some harsh criticism is par for the course. The fans were baffled, however, by judge Jeremy Scott’s behavior during one particular post-runway talkback. He felt like all of the accessible looks were terrible and harshly reprimanded every designer. Scott escalated the situation by screaming out and violently chucking his notebook to the floor. It was clear that basically everyone in the room felt uncomfortable at this extreme reaction.