Whether they are appearing on The Bachelor, Teen Mom, or Vanderpump Rules, reality TV stars often find themselves caught up in lies. Sometimes, they are the ones doing the lying, right to the camera, even though they must know they’ll eventually be caught, and called out. Sometimes, they are the ones being lied to. And sometimes, they feel driven to expose their castmates lies on screen.
What does it feel like to lie, having done so knowing, even in the back of your mind, that you could be publicly outed? What is it like to experience that fallout? Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s difficult to get reality TV stars to talk about this. While reporting on the psychology behind why people lie on camera for the recent issue of VICE magazine, I found it extremely challenging to get anyone on the record: a dozen normally spotlight-hungry Housewives, Vanderpump Rules stars, and lesser known reality players all ignored or denied my requests. Their publicists were especially disinclined to make their clients available to discuss such a topic. No one, it turns out, likes to be thought of as a liar, even if it comes with infamy.
A few brave souls, however, were willing to talk to me about what it’s like to witness their castmates lying on camera. While some reality shows are less driven by “who said what and when and how and to whom”—such as a programs like, say, Shark Tank, or American Idol—others mine most of their drama from the claims of castmates, which means the validity of those statements often make up the majority of a given season’s plot lines. (See, among many examples, this season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, in which who was involved with a highly controversial returning of an adopted dog to a shelter has become THE topic of conversation.) The following women from The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Real Housewives have all dealt with their peers’ dishonesty and experienced the sweet schadenfreude of seeing their lies exposed on screen. Here, they share their experiences from their respective shows.
Kirpa Sudick, contestant on The Bachelor Season 23
Sudick is a 26-year-old dental hygienist from California who competed for Colton Underwood’s heart on the most recent season of The Bachelor. (You may remember her as the one who had a mysterious bandage on her face during one episode—it turns out she fell while trying to take a selfie on a rocky beach in Thailand.) Though she did not end up with Underwood in the end, she did play a crucial role in developing the plot this season by offering her opinion that a couple of the other women, namely Caelynn Miller-Keyes and Cassie Randolph, Underwood’s ultimate choice, were not being forthcoming about their true intentions for coming on the show. According to Sudick and fellow contestants Tayshia Adams and Katie Morton, Miller-Keyes and Randolph discussed what would happen if one of them “won” the show and decided that the other one should then be the next Bachelorette. This kind of open strategizing is a big no-no in the Bachelor world, and when Sudick brought it up on camera, she immediately threw the alleged plotters’ credibility into question.
Sudick agreed to talk about her decision to call out her fellow contestants after clearing my interview questions with Warner Bros.’ legal team. (Bachelor contestants sign notoriously strict contracts that prevent them from doing a variety of things, which sometimes includes being interviewed about the show without authorization.) “I just wanted to look out for him because we had developed our relationship, and I felt like he trusted me,” Sudick said of her decision to bring up Miller-Keyes and Randolph’s statements with Underwood. “When he came to me and asked for my input, I just wanted to have his back and look out for him and make sure that he inspected each and every relationship and just made sure that he was making the right choice.”
She said she was glad the behind-the-scenes conversation came to light on camera “because not everything gets to be heard or seen.” (The alleged Bachelorette conversation between Miller-Keyes and Randolph happened while the women were on a bus in Singapore and was not filmed.)
Should she be lucky enough to be cast on the vacation-themed spinoff Bachelor In Paradise this coming season, Sudick said she would have no problem revealing other lies on camera. “I'm just always gonna stay true to myself, and if I see or hear something, I don't have any problem bringing it up,” she said.
Margaret Josephs, star of The Real Housewives of New Jersey
Josephs, 56, is a designer with a line of clothing and accessories called The Macbeth Collection. She is also now a reality TV veteran, having appeared on the last three seasons of The Real Housewives of New Jersey. On this past season, she clashed with her now former friend and castmate Danielle Staub, who is known for being less than truthful on the show. Last season, Staub claimed that castmate Dolores Catania made negative comments about the other women behind their backs, throwing the entire cast into a tailspin; Catania maintains that Staub made everything up. Josephs got the ultimate vindication during one episode this season when she caught Staub in a similar lie on camera.
The background is a little convoluted, so bear with me: This season, Staub told castmates Teresa Giudice and Melissa Gorga that Josephs told her not to trust them. Why did Staub do this? It’s not exactly clear, but she was mad at Josephs, and she is a known agent of chaos on the Housewives. When the women confronted Staub about what she said at a cast party, it became abundantly clear that she lied, and Josephs got to witness it all.
“It felt amazing because, you know, I knew what was true,” Josephs told me. “Danielle just twisted words all together, and she is famous for doing that…She really had to admit it wasn’t said.” When Staub was finally exposed on camera, “it felt great,” Josephs said, laughing. “I knew it would come through and I would get my day in the sun.”
“We're lucky when it's caught on camera,” she added. “And the camera really catches everything. So it's perfect. I love it.”
Rachel Lindsay, star of The Bachelorette Season 13
Lindsay, 33, was an attorney for most of her career, so she approached the men on her season of The Bachelorette, which aired in 2017, with a critical eye. Before she became the first black lead of the franchise, Lindsay had appeared on Nick Viall’s season of The Bachelor. Thus, she was intimately familiar with the franchise and knew that some of the men on her season would probably be untruthful with her. She was prepared to out them if necessary. “Coming on a TV show when we were blocked from our phones, and television, and the internet, it's even easier for you to hide who you are to whoever the lead is,” she told me. “So I definitely came to expect it, and tried to follow my gut, and just use logic to sift through who I thought was doing that.”
In an early episode, it was revealed on camera that contestant DeMario Jackson was lying about having a girlfriend at home. (Another big no-no in the Bachelor world.) The alleged girlfriend, Lexie, showed up, and Lindsay was forced to deal with the dishonesty on screen.
“During that moment, I was very upset that I was put in a situation to have to deal with that, and I was mad at everybody. And you see it, because I was thinking, This is my reputation and I'm gonna have to deal with some Jerry Springer-type drama on the show,” she said. “I was just upset with everybody. I didn't want to diminish my reputation to have to deal with this situation.”
Once Lexie arrived on set, where the potential life partners were filming a basketball-themed date in a gym, Lindsay questioned a stuttering Jackson about his relationship status. “I’m listening to what you’re saying, and I want you to understand that you don’t make sense,” she said to Jackson. “Okay,” he responded glumly.
Ultimately, Lindsay determined that Jackson was lying, and that he had been in a relationship with Lexie up until he started filming The Bachelorette. “It was quite evident from the babbling and the stammering that he was trying to get his story together, when Lexie was coming with all the facts and all the receipts…. It’s almost like a case, you know?” Their relationship, at that point, was doomed: “I believe I verbally cursed him out, and then I sent him home.”
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