The biggest scandals to ever hit VH1

VH1 was originally supposed to be MTV for older people. Of course, this was back when MTV was actually music television. VH1 played all the slightly less cool popular music, and eventually they started mixing it up with Best Of countdowns and fun facts in Pop Up Video. When they began dipping their toes in TV shows, it was music-related stuff and documentaries.

At some point, all that went out the window. Now VH1 is home to some of the trashiest reality shows on television. While plenty of them are hugely popular, others are a nothing but a sad blip before being replaced with the next group of cast members willing to do anything to be on TV. And when that's the kind of talent pool you're pulling from, there are going to be scandals. Whether it's problems with individual stars, or the concept of the show itself, or even the fans, VH1 has seen its share of controversy.

"Celebrity Rehab" didn't care about the addicts

Rehab is no joke. By the time someone enters a treatment facility they are desperate to get help. All of which made VH1's Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew particularly gross.

In 2010, former child star Leif Garrett agreed to be on the show's fourth season. He was looking for help with his heroin addiction but had already managed to get sober for a bit on his own. According to Billboard, he informed producers he was clean, but they told him that they "really [had] to get footage of [him] using." Since it doesn't take much to make an addict relapse, he was "easily talked into" getting the shots they needed.

A VH1 vice president denied all that. What they can't deny, though, was how many participants on the show went on to early deaths. Jeff Conaway, who played Kenickie in Grease, died of a painkiller overdose three years after Dr. Drew tried to help him. Joey Kovar died of opiate intoxication two years after appearing on the show. The Hollywood Reporter says when Rehab alum Mindy McCready killed herself in 2013, it brought the body count to five, and Dr. Drew swore all these deaths were not his or the show's fault. But people weren't having it. Singer Richard Marx compared Drew to Dr. Kevorkian. Some said Celebrity Rehab exploited vulnerable people for entertainment. Dr. Drew was angry about the accusations and thankfully ended the show that year.

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A murderer starred on "Megan Wants a Millionaire" and "I Love Money 3"

VH1 followed the standard Bachelor formula with Megan Wants a Millionaire, with the caveat that the male contestants had to have the bank account to qualify. But People says only three episodes of the series had aired when it suddenly got pulled from the schedule, for the disturbing reason that one of the suitors had just murdered his wife.

Ryan Jenkins was single when he participated in the dating show, but almost immediately after becoming one of the last guys eliminated, he met Jasmine Fiore and married her just two days later. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the rushed marriage deteriorated, and Jenkins "slowly lost his grip on reality." He killed his wife on August 15, 2009, strangling her and stuffing her body in a suitcase, then in the garbage. He removed Fiore's fingers and teeth, according to Variety, to make identification difficult. Murderpedia reports she had to be identified by the serial numbers on her breast implants. Jenkins fled to Canada and hung himself before he could be apprehended.

The future murderer hadn't just starred on Megan, though. The network liked him so much they had cast him on I Love Money 3, which had yet to air. That also ended up being canceled. VH1 got some heat for missing the fact that this guy was a psycho and had an assault charge on his record. But other contestants said they had extensive background checks, so it's not clear how the network missed something so obvious.

"Sorority Sisters" appalled everyone

The Washington Post's headline wasn't subtle: "Why black America hates VH1's 'Sorority Sisters.'" While black women had appeared on plenty of trashy reality shows on the network before, this one was "the straw that broke the camel's back" and brought "a simmering anger to a full boil."

The problems? These sororities were meant to be an uplifting part of the college experience for black students, they were founded at historically black institutions, and the show premiered in 2014, right in the middle of the Black Lives Matter protests. It didn't help the women on the show had already graduated, so their sororities were used merely as a way of "separating them into warring social groups." Critics said the show was a "complete misrepresentation" of what went on in these sororities. NBC News called it "salacious" with cast members who were "catty and combative."

Court House News reports 51 advertisers pulled out of Sorority Sisters in the month before it was canceled. More than half the stars ended up being expelled from their sororities. One sued, saying the sorority did nothing to protect her from internet backlash. She said if people gave it a chance, they would have seen charity work, church choirs, wedding planning, and people pursuing their dreams (as well as "occasionally arguing").

While VH1 initially stood by the show, once they pulled it they scrubbed it completely from their website. Yeah! Maybe people will just forget.

"Music Behind Bars" made a killer a star

In theory, it was a beautiful idea: a show about inmates making music, even though they were incarcerated. The triumph of the human spirit — proof that people will still create, still find beauty, even if they're in a cage. After all, it's better than sitting around making shanks all day. Or it is, as long as you didn't know one of their victims.

According to Billboard, the mother of a murdered teenage girl was casually flipping channels in 2002 when she saw her daughter's killer on TV, jamming and having a good time in a promo for Music Behind Bars. Christopher Bissey was a convicted double murderer, and now he was also a reality star. Other victims also came forward and complained the show "glamorized violent criminals." The Pennsylvania House of Representative passed a resolution asking VH1 to donate the profits to a victims advocacy group, and the governor promised other victims would be informed in advance so no one else ended up "unexpectedly seeing the inmate who has caused them so much pain."

Of course, whenever there was something to get outraged about in the 2000s, Bill O'Reilly had to jump onboard. The Washington Post reports he railed against Music Behind Bars three times in one week on The O'Reilly Factor. NBC and CNN followed suit. VH1 and Music's creator defended the show, saying the programs help rehabilitate offenders, the show "in no way glorifies prison life," and the inmates didn't look like rock stars, but "pathetic."

"Black Ink Crew" kept getting hit with lawsuits

VH1's Black Ink Crew is a "wild tattoo reality show," according to Radar Online, but it got too out of hand for one cast member in 2012. Alexandra Estevez filed a $3 million lawsuit against VH1's parent company, alleging one of her coworkers had given her a drink with a date rape drug in it. While the allegations evolved a bit, Estevez eventually claimed tattoo artist Richard Duncan poured her and another woman what they thought was Red Bull, but it actually had some kind of drug in it. Estevez said despite only having two drinks, she "blanked out" shortly after that. She was also angry the edited footage showed her appearing promiscuous and that subsequent episodes made her look like a liar.

The lawsuit got heated, with the company firing back that Estevez had reached "bald legal conclusions." The tattoo shop owner went to TMZ to call Estevez a drunk and a slut. In the end, the judge threw out the suit because there wasn't enough evidence it was the producers' fault.

But there was more drama to come. A woman sued the tattoo studio in 2015, claiming she got an infection after getting inked there. The New York Post says while the lawsuit was still ongoing, the store owner was shown on Black Ink bragging that they'd won, and the shop "ain't giving no f*cking infected tattoo." A lawyer tried to claim he'd been talking about a completely different lawsuit, since apparently, there were plenty to choose from.

"Love and Hip Hop" spinoff cast members like to attack each other

The cast members of various iterations of VH1's Love & Hip Hop franchise have run into a lot of issues over the years. In 2014, Yung Berg, a star of the Hollywood spinoff, found himself in the unemployment line after attacking his costar/girlfriend Masika Tucker, according to the Hollywood Gossip. The couple were at a hotel in Manhattan when Berg "grabbed Masika by her neck, threw her to the ground, dragged her by the hair, and punched her in the face," all in front of witnesses. Someone called the cops, and Berg was charged with criminal obstruction of breathing, although he eventually got a plea deal that kept him out of jail. But less than a month after that case was resolved, Berg was hit with a lawsuit claiming he owed almost $100,000 in back child support, which was unfortunate for his bank account, since VH1 had already fired him.

It wasn't the only time a Love & Hip Hop star was accused of attacking a castmate. In 2019, NBC News reported Remy Ma, of the reality show's New York version, allegedly punched her costar Brittney Taylor in the face while at a benefit concert. Taylor went to the cops the next day with bruising around her right eye. However, Ma swore that by the time the alleged attack took place, she was home nursing her 4-month-old daughter so she couldn't have had anything to do with it. At time of writing, the case was still ongoing.

"Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta" has plenty of problems of its own

Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta couldn't let the spinoff versions grab all the scandalous headlines. In 2018, star Tommie Lee was at one of her children's middle schools when she allegedly grabbed the child by the hair and bashed their head into a metal locker, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She was also said to slap the child's hands with her purse strap and curse at them. Lee was arrested and ordered to stay away from the poor kid, but didn't, so she got arrested a second time. She found herself facing charges of aggravated assault, child cruelty, battery, aggravated stalking, and disrupting a public school. Still, VH1 couldn't have been that surprised, considering when she joined the show, Lee claimed she had already been arrested more than two dozen times. But it definitely didn't help her most recent case when she showed up to court so drunk she tested more than twice the legal limit, reports Page Six.

Rolling Out says Lee's Atlanta costar Stevie J had "suffered through endless scandals" ever since he joined the show, mostly involving the women in his life. In 2018, he headed to jail over his failure to pay a whopping $1.3 million in child support. Oddly, Stevie claimed that he didn't really owe that money because two of his children were on VH1 with him and they got paid for that. Apparently, that counted toward child support somehow. He said the drama was merely an attempt to extort him.

A "Hit the Floor" star's husband killed her in a murder-suicide

The scripted series Hit the Floor was about a fake basketball team and the drama surrounding it, especially the cheerleaders. Stephanie Moseley, a successful backup dancer for artists like Usher, Britney Spears, and Chris Brown, had a part on the show. But along with her flourishing career, she also had a terrible husband.

Moseley married rapper Earl Hayes in 2008, according to TMZ, but they separated in 2012 when he accused her of having an affair with singer Trey Songz. The couple eventually got back together, but Hayes couldn't let the alleged infidelity go, with a friend saying he "never got over it" and would bring up Songz all the time. Hayes also started accusing his wife of having affairs with multiple other famous men.

While friends simply thought their marriage wasn't perfect, it was about to get homicidal. Boxer Floyd Mayweather was FaceTiming with Hayes when the rapper "flew into a rage," shot Moseley, and then turned the gun on himself. Mayweather saw the slaying, but it was neighbors who called the cops and a SWAT team busted down the door.

People reports the network released a statement saying, "We are incredibly saddened to hear the news of the passing of Stephanie Moseley. VH1 and the entire Hit the Floor family send our thoughts and condolences to her family and friends at this difficult time." The murder didn't interrupt production of the show, though, and it continued for a few more years.

"Ev And Ocho" was canceled because of domestic violence

It should have been the happiest time of Chad Johnson's life. He'd just gotten married to Evelyn Lozada. He was signed to the Miami Dolphins and filming a VH1 reality show. Oh, and he was no longer going by the ridiculous last name "Ochocinco." But domestic violence can really throw a wrench in things.

When Johnson participated in Dancing with the Stars, MTV says his professional partner called him "the most amazing, soft, gentle man in the world." Lozada, star of another VH1 reality show, Basketball Wives, might say otherwise. In 2012, only a month after they got married, Lozada found a receipt for condoms in Johnson's car while they were driving home from dinner, according to NFL.com. This led to a "heated argument," and Johnson head-butted his wife. She ended up at the hospital, and he ended up in jail.

VH1 was obviously in an awkward position, since their show Ev and Ocho, meant to "chronicle the couple's romance," was about to air. But abusive relationships don't make for great TV. Deadline reports the network released a statement saying, "Due to the unfortunate events over the weekend and the seriousness of the allegations, VH1 is pulling the series Ev and Ocho from its schedule and has no current plans of airing it." There would never be a point in airing it in the future, since the couple divorced a month later, just 67 days after getting married. Johnson was also cut from the Dolphins.

The "RuPaul's Drag Race" fandom has been accused of racism

While the show is wholesome fun, the fandom surrounding RuPaul's Drag Race has gotten a lot of headlines for being a bit racist.

For example, the winner of Season 10, Aquaria, cohosted the live stream of the Season 11 casting special. In the live chat accompanying it, fans were free to express their thoughts, and Aquaria was quick to point out how unacceptable some of them were. According to Digital Spy, in a tweet after the show, she said the chat was "very telling" that "the fans of this show are extremely racist." Vanity Fair says Aquaria had already addressed racism in her own fans, when they went online and attacked The Vixen (a black competitor) with racist comments after the two queens got in an argument on the show.

In 2018, Billboard reports former contestant Bob the Drag Queen posted a tweet that went viral, showing that (at the time) not a single black queen from the show other than RuPaul had a million followers on the social network, while lots of the white queens did. And she knew exactly where to lay the blame, saying, "It's not the show. It's the fandom."

An article on Slate highlighted anecdotal evidence that white queens on the show are allowed to put in less effort and still get praise, while black queens are often expected to fit into a certain mold and get hate if they try to break out of it. Weird — you'd think drag fans would be open-minded.

"Dating Naked" showed a little too much skin for some people

It's not that surprising a show called Dating Naked would face some controversy. But you'd think the editors would at least be super careful when blurring out the naughty bits of participants. There was a slip-up, however, in the show's third episode, according to the New York Post, and Jessie Nizewitz (pictured) sued VH1's parent company for $10 million in 2014. Deadline described the mistake as a one-second "exposure." It occurred when Nizewitz performed a "WWE-style wrestling move" on her date while being "egged on" by producers, who assured her over and over again that no one would see anything. When her shot aired, she was horrified, her family was angry with her, and, worst of all, her new relationship with a perfect man ended. The lawsuit was eventually thrown out, not because VH1 didn't screw up (they admitted they did), but because Nizewitz's contract clearly stated she shouldn't believe anything the producers told her unless it was in writing.

It took a couple years for the purity brigade to get angry with the show, though. AdAge says it was 2016 before the Parents Television Council advocacy group, whose mission is to "protect children and families from graphic sex, violence and profanity in the media, because of their proven long-term harmful effects," discovered Dating Naked and was appalled. They managed to get three sponsors to tell VH1 to stop running their ads during the program, and the show was canceled in 2017.