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      Cracked.com Is Full of Lies

      February 25, 2013

      By Jamie Lee Curtis Taete

      West Coast Editor

      Cracked.com is awesome, huh, guys? They manage to put together the craziest, most obscure facts in totally digestible "listicles" that are funny AND informative. Have you ever wondered how they're able to gather such amazing, unheard of info? THEY JUST MAKE SHIT UP, that's how. 

      Earlier, someone linked me to a Cracked post from a few days ago called "5 Depressing Realities Behind Popular Reality TV Shows," which, as I write this, has been viewed over 1.2 million times.

      It contained something that I knew to be untrue. So I decided to go through and check the other "facts" in the post. Here's what I found:

      CLAIM #1: NO ONE FROM THE BIGGEST LOSER CAN KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF.

      Cracked.com's claim: 
      "First season winner Ryan Benson lost a total of 130 pounds... Who wouldn't be motivated by that? We'll tell you who wouldn't be motivated – anyone who has met Ryan Benson in real life. Benson's current weight is around 300 pounds, which is just 30 pounds less than what he weighed at the start of The Biggest Loser. Benson isn't an anomaly – almost every Biggest Loser winner has gained back a chunk of the weight he or she lost on the show... The unfortunate truth is that people on The Biggest Loser don't do anything but train for the entirety of the season... They aren't doing anything except training, under constant supervision, for however many weeks production lasts.Once the show is over, they go back to their normal 9-to-5 lives, which typically do not include controlled diet and exercise. They cannot possibly continue a weight loss program as intense as the one on the show."

      The truth:

      Winners who have put the weight back on:
      Ryan Benson – Season 1 (source)
      Matt Hoover – Season 2 (source)
      Erik Chopin – Season 3 (source... but don't click on this video. It is the most annoying video in the world.)

      Winners who have successfully kept the weight off:
      Bill Germanakos – Season 4 (source)
      Ali Vincent – Season 5 (source)
      Michelle Aguilar – Season 6 (source)
      Helen Phillips – Season 7 (source)
      Danny Cahill – Season 8 (source)
      Michael Ventrella – Season 9 (source)
      Patrick House – Season 10 (source)
      Olivia Ward – Season 11 (source)
      John Rhode – Season 12 (source)
      Jeremy Britt – Season 13 (source)

      So, of the 13 people who have won The Biggest Loser, ten of them seem to have been able to keep the weight off. About one-fourth weren't able to. A figure that was referred to by the Cracked writer as "almost every single Biggest Loser winner".

      CLAIM #2: ALMOST EVERY RESTAURANT ON KITCHEN NIGHTMARES GOES OUT OF BUSINESS.

      Cracked.com's claim:
      "Ramsay's technique of bellowing profanity like a Nazi born from a Vidal Sassoon explosion magically rescues the restaurant from the brink of financial collapse and restores its profitability. His work complete, he floats away on the breeze like Mary Poppins to find another ailing eatery in need... Oddly enough, restaurateurs who are terrible at running a business don't suddenly become JD Rockefeller just because a Scottish man shouts at them and gives them a new menu their cooks can't even read. In actuality, only about a third of the restaurants Ramsay "rescues" actually manage to stay open once he leaves them in a haze of scowls and belittlement, and the number drops as time goes on. For instance, in the first two seasons of the show (2007 to 2009), Ramsay rescued 21 restaurants. Only two are still open."

      The truth:
      According to this website, which is the website Cracked cited in their OWN FUCKING ARTICLE, there have been 69 restaurants featured on Kitchen Nightmares. Of those, 36 have closed and 33 have remained open. So, about half of them have stayed open.

      Cracked, in their post, refers to this 33/69 number as both "about a third" and "almost every restaurant". Which, obviously, isn't quite right. 

      CLAIM #3: THE PEOPLE ON EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION CAN'T AFFORD TO KEEP THEIR HOMES.

      Cracked.com's claim:
      "Sure, the show's producers may cover all the construction costs, but the lucky homeowners are left on their own to figure out how in the name of Warren Buffett's gilded butt hairs they're going to cover the utility bills and property taxes that have skyrocketed as a result of their extreme home makeover. One family, which had a new home specifically designed to help their developmentally challenged son, was forced to put the house on the market after just a little over a year because they simply couldn't afford what it cost in both time and money to maintain a palatial four-bedroom estate while trying to raise three children, one of whom has special needs... Another couple fell behind on the $405,000 loan they had to take out just to keep their utilities connected in the million-dollar mansion built for them by the show... and were forced to sell the house and auction off most of its contents."

      The truth:
      There have been about 200 families who have been given new homes by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

      What the Cracked author fails to mention is that Endemol USA, the production company who makes the show, does several things behind the scenes to stop the families from being lumped with large tax and utility bills, including exploiting legal loopholes, providing them with energy-efficient heating systems and setting up a fund to cover the costs of maintaining their new, larger homes. 

      Though there are multiple stories online suggesting that the families featured on the show have trouble keeping up with the payments on their new homes, they all seem to point to the same ten cases:

      -The Hebert Family, whose home was foreclosed on after they took out a loan against it (source).
      -The Holmes Family, whose home was almost foreclosed on before a lawyer stepped in and saved it pro bono (source).
      -The Cerda Family, who sold their home after struggling to keep up with bill payments (source).
      -The SImpson Family, who sold their home as their "family dynamic changed" (source).
      -The Hassall Family, who sold their home after struggling to keep up with bills. (source).
      -The Okvath Family, who sold their home after taking out a loan against it to keep up with bills (source).
      -The Harper Family, who lost their home to foreclosure after "mismanaging donated funds" (source).
      -The Harvey Family, who lost their home to foreclosure after taking out a second mortgage (source).
      -The Wofford Family, who almost lost their home but were able to keep it with help from the local community (source).
      -The Marrerro family, who briefly tried to sell their house after struggling with bills. (source).

      It's debatable just how "depressing" (to use Cracked's word) some of these stories are, as they're essentially stories about struggling families being given gigantic, free houses to sell at a profit. But that's beside the point, which is that the families listed above make up about 5 percent of the people who have appeared on the show. To run that under the headline "The People on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Can't Afford to Keep Their Homes" would be like me writing an article called "Every Single Contestant on Celebrity Apprentice Is Gary Busey".

      CLAIM #4: OPRAH MAKES PEOPLE PAY FOR THEIR FREE CARS.

      Cracked.com's claim: 
      "(Oprah) gave away 276 brand new cars to members of her studio audience... Unfortunately, receiving a luxury item as a prize on a television show doesn't exempt you from having to pay the accompanying taxes... Which is the precise situation faced by everyone who has ever been given a car by Oprah Winfrey."

      The truth: this is half true.

      Oprah has done two car giveaways, one in 2004 and one in 2010. The recipients of Oprah's free cars in 2004 did have to pay $7,000 in taxes on the "free" cars, and there was a huge backlash. As a result of this, when she gave away cars in 2010, Volkswagen paid the taxes.

      So, it's incorrect for them to say "Oprah makes people pay for their free cars," as she no longer does. A more accurate statement would have been, "Oprah once made people pay for their free cars." It's also incorrect for them to say that paying the taxes is "the precise situation faced by everyone who has ever been given a car by Oprah Winfrey". A more accurate statement would have been "This is the precise situation faced by about half of the people who have ever been given cars by Oprah Winfrey."

      The author of the post also claims that "Oprah's official comment" on the whole car taxes thing was, "and why should I have paid for them....?" What a cunt! I can't believe O would say that. Oh wait, never mind, that's bullshit, too. Here's the quote they took out of context;

      "For all the people who say, 'Oh, you didn't personally pay for the cars yourself,' which I heard, I say, 'Well, I could have, and what difference does it make, if they get the cars? And why should I have paid for them if Pontiac was willing to do so?'"

      She wasn't talking about the car taxes at all, she was talking about the cars themselves. Which is totally different.

      CLAIM #5: STORAGE WARS CAPITALISES ON PEOPLE'S MISFORTUNE (AND IS PROBABLY STAGED).

      Cracked.com's claim:
      "Originally the show's producers intended to delve into the background of each locker featured on Storage Wars, but unsurprisingly, all the information they uncovered was pure, unmitigated misery. The reason these abandoned treasures are abandoned is that the original owners of the units failed to make their rent payments. This is because they could no longer afford them due to unemployment, homelessness (hence putting all their belongings in a storage locker), divorce, or illness, or because they had freaking died and were therefore no longer able to pay. But don't worry, because according to former Storage Warrior Dave Hester, the show is all rigged anyway. Hester claims that all of the valuable items found inside the lockers are actually planted there by the show's producers... He also insists that all of the auctions are staged, meaning every 'bidding war' you witness on the show is actually entirely scripted."

      The truth:
      Sure, this one actually sounds about right. But isn't all reality TV staged and exploitative? Whatever, they can have this one. 

      To conclude:
      Obviously, this throws EVERYTHING that appears on Cracked.com into question. And I will never be able to read their website in good faith again. How will I know if the countries listed on their "5 Most Secretly Badass Countries" list really are the most badass? Or if the comebacks on their "5 Wittiest Comebacks in the History of Trash Talk" are, in fact, the wittiest? I guess I'll just have to start getting my information elsewhere.

      Follow Jamie on Twitter: @JLCT

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      Topics: cracked.com, bullshit, oprah, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Kitchen Nightmares, Biggest Loser, storage wars

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