Too Freaky to Fake–5 Television Curses

SOMETHING IS AMOK. These 5 streaks of bad luck are so horrible we just have to believe.

1. The Reality TV Divorce Curse

Couples, especially famous couples, generally break up during or immediately after a filming a reality TV show. Seven couples on The Real Housewives have filed for divorce over the course of the franchise’s five years on the air. The list of celeb couples who had a reality show, then called it quits, includes:

  • Britney Spears and Kevin Federline
  • Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey
  • Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro

Reality shows have also ushered in divorce for Hulk Hogan, Danny Bonaduce, Travis Barker, Kathy Griffin, Corey Feldman, and that annoying couple from John & Kate Plus Eight.

Mommy needs to have a sex scandal in on camera so we can afford baby formula.

One might be tempted to dismiss this phenomena as the inevitable result of an industry that attracts famewhore divas and self-centered douchebag husbands. But way a reality TV show destroys marriages is that it holds a mirror up to the couples’ lives. And it really sucks to have your everyday, normal fuckups played back right in front of you. Most couples react to this by nitpicking their partners until they reach a breaking point.

A classic example: An American Family was a PBS documentary, filmed in 1971, that followed the day-to-day trials of the Loud family. Producer Craig Gilbert wanted to know if the camera would distort the everyday tribulations of a common U.S. family. The Louds, however, assumed they had been picked for the show because they were the perfect American family.

How does the guy on the right fit into this ‘perfect’ picture?

The proud Louds were in for a shock of family-shattering magnitude: They had to deal with issues they’d never before confronted–like one of the sons came out of the closet on the show. In 1971.

The show’s big climax incredibly drew 10 million people to watch PBS for something other than Sesame Street. Unable to cope with the stress of maintaining their perfect facade, mother Pat Loud asked her husband for a divorce and kicked him out of the house. Thus began the television-watching public’s obsession with seeing people worse off than they are.

2. Otechestven Front

Otechestven Front is a Bulgarian slice-of-life interview show. Presenter Martin Karbovski travels around interviewing normal-seeming folk with extraordinary tales. The most extraordinary tales, however, happen after the show airs, when the guests die.

The weirdness started two years ago, when a criminal died days after appearing on the show. Rumors of black magic circulated, but probably the criminal just pissed someone off who saw him on TV and whacked him. If Otechestven Front is really just about exposing criminals without using that face-blur thing, it’s hard for us to call it a curse.

Which is why no one really paid attention when another guest died immediately after their appearance. Even if there was a curse, it’s hard to call it a coincidence when the victim is an 85-year-old Bulgarian woman whose story was, honest-to-gosh, that dogs had eaten her legs. This curse sure took a while to ramp up into proportions we would call noticeable.

We prefer to think of her like this, without huge scars where the legs should be.

However, soon after, people started dying of actually unexpected reasons: Rushing into the house to save a cat, surprise cancer (which sounds bad until you consider the alternative is slow, agonizing cancer). So Martin Karblovski is apparently the angel of death.

Remember this neckbeard, it may be the last thing you ever see.

3. Deadliest Catch Turns Even Deadlier

It takes a lot for a show with the word deadliest in its title to be considered excessively unlucky. But for thirteen months, starting in January of 2010, the series had a streak of bad luck way worse than the usual. We imagine the usual involves cameramen plunging overboard and having to fistfight dozens of giant crabs. Then again, we’ve never been able to watch the show for more than five minutes without having to leave and go to Long John Silver’s.

First, a ship captain had a stroke aboard his ship, and sadly died a month later in the hospital. According to a producer, the captain asked for the cameras to keep rolling while he died.

“I’m going to pretend to die a few times, first, in case my actual expiration doesn’t take.”

In May of the same year, a production manager for the show received felony drug charges. He is accused of giving cocaine to an undercover cop in the town of Unalaska. If “Unalaska” doesn’t scream “fake undercover town name” to production managers, then there’s no helping them.

But, then things got absolutely stupid. To understand how ludicrously dumb, pretend you are going to rob a bank. Presumably, you make a plan for getting the money and getting away, but then what do you do? You probably said, “lay low,” unless you are as big of a drooling moron as Joshua Tell Warner. Warner hit a Washington Mutual in 2007, then soon after hopped on board a Deadliest Catch fishing boat. An ideal way to escape local law enforcement investigation, but Joshua Warner’s perfect crime had one chink: He was on television all the time. Someone recognized him: lots of people, actually. He is now serving a nine-and-a-half year sentence for that robbery.

What is most incredible is that a 2007 WaMu bank actually had any money in it.

Around that time shooting was supposed to start on a spin-off starring fisherpeople Andy and Jonathan Hillstrand. However, midway through filming, the brothers withdrew their involvement, perhaps after learning the title of the show (“Hillstranded”). Discovery filed a lawsuit claiming they totally bailed.

In February, a fisherman on Deadliest Catch died. The autopsy revealed that his sleep apnea caused his heart to enlarge and his arteries to harden. Apparently that’s a real thing, which gives us yet another reason to be totally paranoid when we sleep.

4. The Vampire Diaries

Hoping to capitalize off of the success of the Twilight series, CW has created a television show all about really scary monsters doing really emo bullshit. It seems appropriate that a show about curses and stuff would have a problem with actors constantly getting laid up. Star Ian Somerhalder had walking pneumonia for two months. Four different episodes were filmed with Somerhaulder delivering his lines through a stuffed up nose and a mouth filled with cough drops.

The closer to death Ian became, the more realistic his vampire character looked.

The other two main actors also had injuries which greatly affected their ability to act, or make love with their eyes, or whatever it is they do. Paul Wesley twisted his ankle and was on crutches whenever not on camera. Lead hottie Nina Dobrev threw out her back and was hobbled for weeks, as well.

They are actually holding each other up in this photo.

We searched Youtube for a clip of the actors hobbling around on-camera, but couldn’t find anything (that is, besides the usual morgue of taste that comprises The Vampire Diaries). While checking up on the set, the executive producer fell down some steps and ended up in the hospital. We blame all of these events on the curse, and not on the fact that today’s teen heartthrobs/old producers are clumsy and sickly.

5. Diff’rent Strokes

Almost everyone knows the tragic story of this Dana Plato had sex and did drugs with her co-actor, Todd Bridges, introducing him to a world that would consume his life for over a decade. After the show Plato went from posing for Playboy to doing soft core pornography films. After filming the ‘Just Say No’ episode with Nancy Reagan, Bridges admits he probably got high.

Note the word ‘probably,’ which implies he doesn’t even remember what happened the day he met Nancy Reagan.

Bridges went to jail in 1994 for using his car to settle an argument. Although Bridges straightened out, and now does motivational speaking, Plato did not turn herself around and died in 1999. Gary Coleman entertained audiences with his real-life antics, including auctioning his virginity (sounds like Dana Plato dropped the ball), entering into a high profile marriage, and being a security guard and punching a lady. But the curse of Diff’rent Strokes hit Coleman hard in 2010, when he hit his head and had a stroke.

Yes, there is a wordplay joke there. We’re not making it.

It’s strange that television shows could be beset with such strings of tragedies. Let it serve as fair warning that there is no end to the madness that is show business. Let it also serve as fair warning that TV curses have no sense of taste, since the CBS Monday night lineup continues to be curse-free.

Facebook friend Evan Hoovler. 

Related on The Smoking Jacket:
6 Ironic Casting Calls in Movies and TV
The Teen Mom Guide to Parenting

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