On last night’s episode of Celebrity Apprentice, former New York Yankees slugger Darryl Strawberry made Donald Trump’s job much easier by telling him that he wanted to go home. (Don’t worry, Trump still got to utter the infamous “you’re fired,” though it was severely anti-climactic). When questioned by Trump, Strawberry attempted to play the martyr, offering to go home so undeserving project manager Michael Johnson would be spared. Trump and the rest of the contestants, especially Johnson himself, seemed confused, surprised, and less-than-confident that Strawberry was telling the truth, rather than just being tired, lazy, and completely uninterested in show.
The loss of Strawberry doesn’t appear to be that big of a loss to the reality TV staple. (But walking away from a chance to donate to his autism charity left fellow contestant Holly Robinson Peete fuming). EW’s Dalton Ross says it best: “Good riddance. Better someone useless and unentertaining, like Darryl, go than someone useless and hilarious, like Blago. See ya, Darryl, wouldn’t want to be ya. (Seriously, I really wouldn’t.).” Strawberry’s departure does, however, beg the question: What did he think he was getting himself into? What was he expecting (if anything) from joining the show?
Of course Strawberry is not the first celebrity or reality star to voluntary leave during filming. The Real World has witnessed numerous cast members leave due to conflicts with the housemates or problems back at home. On America’s Next Top Model, three contestants have walked away from the chance of a lifetime: Cassandra Jean during cycle 5, Ebony Morgan during cycle 9, and Kimberly Rydzewski during cycle 10. And who can forget the disaster that was I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!? Viewers fell victim to watching Heidi and Spencer Pratt dramatically quit, only to be treated with the infinitely more ridiculous Return of the Heidi. (She ultimately finished in sixth place.) This show was filmed in the jungle, which makes pampered celebs’ desire to get the hell out of there much more believable and even understandable (comedian Frances Callier and actor Stephen Baldwin quit as well), whereas those who opt out of the swank Real World digs and a show that lacks competition or rigorous challenges often leave us scratching our heads.
The most epic swan song from a reality quitter belongs to Irene McGee from The Real World: Seattle. During her 1998 season, we watched her struggle with Lyme Disease and being uncomfortable with the house, her roommates, and the entire experience in general. (McGee later claimed she had left due to ethical objections with the way the show was filmed.) When she announced she was leaving, she was met with perplexed yet not terribly saddened expressions from the others. Maybe this lack of sympathy is what prompted her to push Stephen’s buttons for one last time? On her way out she called him a homosexual, and what happened next has been immortalized in reality television history, commonly known as “the slap heard round the world.”
What do you think about Darryl Strawberry’s request to be fired from Celebrity Apprentice? Who’s your most memorable reality TV quitter? Don’t you think these contestants should just suck it up and stick it out?