Best TV of the '00s: Scandals
Who doesn't like a little drama? We love it here at TV Squad. Of course, its usually the scripted kind that we obsess over, not the real-life variety. But it was hard to escape all of the behind-the-scenes scandals going on during the Aughts.
The backstage drama often spilled out onto the tube, in talk show interviews, reality series, and with the 24-hour news networks looking to fill time and boost their ratings. Needless to say, we had little trouble picking our top TV scandals of the '00s.
Grey's Anatomy's behind-the-scenes scandals
Isabelle says: Since the series premiered in March 2005, there has been almost as much drama on the show than there has been behind the scenes. It was scandal after scandal for the Grey's Anatomy cast once Isaiah Washington got the ball rolling by saying nasty things to then co-star T.R. Knight, an event that almost ended in a fight between Washington and Patrick Dempsey
Subsequent Grey's scandals and drama included: The Golden Globes fiasco, Washington being fired from the show, T.R. Knight having to confirm that he is gay due to Washington's comments, Katherine Heigl pulling her name from Emmy consideration due to lack of good storylines, the still on-going issue about whether or not Heigl will leave the show, T.R. Knight leaving the series, Brooke Smith leaving the series, etc., etc., etc. There has been so much drama off the set that ABC could even shoot a reality series set behind the scenes! As Grey's Anatomy Turns?
Tiger Woods (stepping out on his wife with seemingly every other woman on the planet)
John says: Yes, it's on everyone's minds right now. So, admittedly, it's easy pickings in this category. Still, consider that this mess involves not only the greatest athlete of the decade and one of the most dominant sports stars of his generation, but also the most talented performer in the history of his individual sport. Woods not only had the entire world at his disposal -- he earned it. Nothing was given to him. He won the money and the fame and endless opportunities and the beautiful wife and the family by working hard to become the best at his profession. And he seemingly threw it all away for some cheap sex with a series of interchangeable skanks. It's almost Shakespearean, but Shakespeare can't putt.
Jon & Kate disintegrate
Kona says: We've seen it happen countless times: The preacher who thinks homosexuals are an abomination-- unless they're in his bedroom; the morally strident Attorney General who becomes governor and gets caught with high-class call girls. It is not rare that people who are in the public eye aren't who they appear to be. However, it was not until Jon and Kate that we really saw a facade crumble so completely and absolutely, right in front of our eyes.
For several seasons of their TLC series, Jon & Kate Plus 8, the duo talked incessantly about their faith, about how divorce was not an option and how everything they were doing was for their kids. Then, slowly, things began to change. Kate got plastic surgery, Jon got hair plugs, the family kept on getting free vacations, and their lives seemed to revolve around the show, instead of the other way around. Then, in 2009, there were cheating accusations, yelling, crying, and countless tabloid covers. All of which will be very difficult to reconcile with their "all about the family" chants once the kids get old enough to ask what the hell happened to their childhoods.
Rosie O'Donnell on The View
Jason says: What Rosie O'Donnell did for The View in one year (September 2006-September 2007) is almost unprecedented. A show that was once mocked for being a bunch of women babbling about nothing, if people even knew what it was, suddenly became the home of intensely heated political discussions when she joined as moderator. Many were surprised that the "Queen of Nice" was expressing such passionate and sometimes controversial opinions on topics that actually mattered. O'Donnell single-handedly made the show both relevant and buzz-worthy with her outspoken views on then-President Bush, the war in Iraq, and "radical Christianity."
Her tenure seemed racked with controversy, from insulting the Chinese to taking on Donald Trump, accusing him of using the scandal around Miss USA Tara Connor to promote the pageant he owns. Her spars with conservative co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck culminated in the infamous "split-screen" argument between the two on May 23, 2007. There was rarely a day that went by that O'Donnell wasn't in the news for what she said or did while on the show, but her tumultuous run got the show taken much more seriously, and even more importantly, higher ratings.
The David Letterman extortion scandal
Danny says: Sex scandals and TV land are better bosom buddies than Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari. But the last person any drooling paparazzi had on their "To Invade Their Personal Privacy" list was the gap-toothed host of the Late Show. The sudden shock of the moment coupled with Dave's very careful and self-deprecating humorous admission that 48 Hours producer Robert Halderman tried to blackmail him by revealing his office romance with staffer Stephanie Burkett thrust (try not to picture any "inappropriate" images in your head while thinking about that word) Letterman and everyone around him into the spotlight.
It also helped Letterman edge out the competition in the ratings and give him one more thing to help the world laugh at himself about. Sure he got hammered by so-called moralists for sleeping around, but the audience stood behind him because given the gravity of the situation, he was the nice guy.
Anna Nicole Smith's death and investigation
Joel says: This was one of the most blatant cases where a not-very-newsworthy story dominated the 24-hour news networks for weeks on end, mainly out of a tabloid-like desire to break any news of any kind. We saw some of this in the pre-9/11 days -- Gary Condit in the Chandra Levy case -- but in the case of Anna Nicole, there was really no reason why this should have been a big deal. She was so messed up for so many years, her early demise was almost inevitable. Her celebrity was questionable at best; she was most talented at getting naked, marrying old billionaires and looking over-medicated.
So to see the case over her death and the custody of her young daughter take up so much air time when two wars were still raging and our economy was starting to collapse was disgusting, to say the least. Even the judge in the custody case looked more like he was conducting an audition for his own show than deciding the fate of a little girl.
The events surrounding Michael Jackson's death
Brad says: It's bad enough when a pop star dies young and drugs are involved. However, when one learns that it could be due to some unauthorized medical prescriptions, the media smells blood and goes into a frenzy. Hot off the controversies of the '90s, a celebrity that huge couldn't even die without causing a wave of scandal. I feel somewhat sorry for the man, who surrounded himself with various "yes" men who would pretty much do whatever it took to keep him upright and the income pouring in, including injections of Propofol and Lorazepam. We might not ever know exactly what happened, but I like to think of it as a lesson regarding going from a tough childhood to an insular and pampered adulthood.
Dave Chappelle leaves Chappelle's ShowNick says: The thing people seem to mention most about Dave Chappelle walking away from his hit show in 2004 is the money. He could have had $50 million if he stayed and worked his development deal with Comedy Central. The fact that he left that on the table, and went missing, only to turn up in South Africa, made a lot of people question his mental state. Turns out, he was probably more sane for handling things the way he did than if he had stayed, smiled nice and pretty for the camera, and collected his check.
Fans were interrupting his shows yelling "I'm Rick James, bitch." Sales, attention, and pressure were mounting. Then, while filming season three, he was taping a sketch where he performed in blackface, someone on the crew laughed in a way that unsettled Chappelle, and any intended irony melted away. If Chappelle had stayed, his live audiences would have gotten worse, and he could have been trapped in a business deal with money spent that he couldn't pay back, and the funny can disappear pretty quickly under conditions like that.
Jonathan says: The date was February 1, 2004. I'd just settled in with a large plate of nachos to watch the Superbowl XXXVIII half-time show but alas, this was not meant to go smoothly. Minutes into the performance, my jaw, along with the rest of collective America's, hit the floor when all of a sudden, Justin Timberlake busted out some funky move and the rest was history. His hand whacked Janet Jackson's costume causing her left boob to flop out for a few brief seconds, exposing her nipple... which had a cover on it. Conspiracy theories sprouted up everywhere ("Why was she wearing the nipple sticker if it was unintentional?"), the phrase "wardrobe malfunction" was born, and FCC fines became the broadcast networks' worst nightmare. The debate it launched on the topic of indecency was nothing the TV world had ever truly addressed in such an in-depth manner and Nipplegate's repercussions are still felt today.