“Reality show or true crime series?” asked NPR this week. The subject in question was the he Real Housewives franchise, which has manufactured a multitude of stars who have ended up behind bars — or are headed in that direction. There’s Salt Lake’s Jen Shah (just sentenced in a telemarketing scam), the Giudices, and several other miscreant spouses who’d arguably enabled the “house” part of their wives’ titles.
We’ve also talked about the Chrisleys, whose tax and bank frauds just sent them to jail, and going back a bit there’s Jersey Shore’s Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino (tax evasion), Josh Duggar (child porn, among others), and Ryan Alexander Jenkins (murder). I could go on and on.
Since I read that NPR transcript, I started thinking about how much I’d enjoy a smart, deep-dive take on a lot of these convicted criminals, true crime properties that examine not just what they did/have been accused of doing, but how the reality TV machine might have played into their cases. Do juries look at these folks differently than they would some suspect without a TV show to their name? Do feds try harder for a conviction when their target has multiple franchises?
So that’s what I want to talk about today: what reality stars turned suspects would you like to see at the center of a well-done and smart true-crime property? What true-crime content creator would be best at this kind of story? And, bonus question — what problematic reality star would you prefer we never hear about again, for good or ill? — EB