Kitchen Nightmares: Amy's Baking Company
Bakers so not-nice, Gordon Ramsay featured them twice! After five seasons of rats, mold, frozen food, sour personalities, and shouting matches, the foul-mouthed chef waved the white flag when faced with irascible Scottsdale, Ariz., business owners Amy and Samy Bouzaglo. The story continued beyond Ramsay’s involvement, though, as the couple lashed out against haters on social media and were later caught on camera threatening a customer with a knife.
The Biggest Loser: Rachel Frederickson
NBC’s weight-loss show is known for its aggressive (though rarely long-lasting) approach to diet and exercise, but no contestant has raised eyebrows quite so much as Frederickson, who lost 155 pounds (nearly 60 percent of her body weight) to take the title and the $250,000 prize. Though she claimed she’d lost the weight by healthy means, viewers were shocked at the sight of the then-24-year-old’s gaunt figure, which had gone from a size 20 to a size 0.
The Swan: Lorrie Arias
How many people can say they left a makeover show looking like their own daughter? Still, not only did Arias not win the controversial contest, this Swan had an incredibly unhappy ending. After $300,000 in cosmetic surgeries, Arias claimed the radical physical transformation left her with bipolar disorder, lupus, and depression, reducing her to a virtual prisoner in her own home. ”I am agoraphobic, on medication and unable to enjoy life,” Lorrie told the New York Post. ”I had the most surgeries of any Swan in the history of the show and it has all gone to absolute s—. I am a 300-pound mess of a person who is afraid to go outside.”
Trading Spaces: ''Room Made of Straw''
Oh, Hildi Santo-Tomas, you delightful wackadoodle. The interior designer was skeptical that children would be tempted to chew on the ”custom” hay wall treatment she prescribed for this particular renovation. The homeowners of a brand new, patchy barn living room were presumably skeptical about Santo-Tomas’s credentials. After a reported 17 hours of manual labor at TLC’s expense, the hay had been permanently removed.
America's Next Top Model: Shei Phan
Tyra Banks’ trademark Top Model Ty-overs have been infamously hit-or-miss (ahem, clown weave), but it took the model-mogul 21 cycles to go full Cruella de Vil. In case the two-tone blonde/black hair wasn’t enough, Tyra insisted on dyed-to-match eyebrows—an aesthetic pièce de résistance seemingly designed to enure Phan would look like an actual insane person for the foreseeable future.
Bar Rescue: Zanzibar Billiards
Jon Taffer has a habit of getting in the faces of the bar owners he’s there to ”rescue,” but it’s rare that Taffer’s consultants fly off the handle. But that’s just what chef Brian Duffy did when Denver’s Ami Benari called him ”fat boy” after a particularly stressful service. The heated exchange led to an apology from Benari and the birth of Stars & Stripes Badass Billiards. Though Benari ultimately didn’t keep Taffer’s new name for his joint, Zanzibar bounced back from its massive losses without a scratch (on the pool tables or the show’s participants).
Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: ''Championship Make Better: Boston Red Sox''
An unusual five-on-five makeover for the Queer Eye guys, Carson Kressey still considers the gang’s 2005 turn gussying up Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, and Doug Mirabelli among his favorite makeovers ever. Unsurprisingly, most of the guys were not pleased with the back waxes they received along the way to the final reveal. But, for taking on Wolfman Damon before the Yankees made him tidy up, we salute you Fab Five.
I Want a Famous Face: Mike and Matt
Acne-afflicted, brunette twins who want to look like Brad Pitt? ”Sure!” said MTV’s one-and-done 2004?05 series. ”Why not?” For what it’s worth, we’re pretty confident they never had a shot at fooling Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie, but the matching nose jobs, chin implants, and porcelain veneers (plus cheek implants for Mike) certainly gave them a passing resemblance to Kato Kaelin. For what that’s worth.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: ''The Joplin Families''
Ty Pennington’s series had a well-documented history of ridiculous, elaborate, impossibly expensive renovations that inadvertently ran the very same disadvantaged families it hoped to help into bankruptcy. For the series’ final episode, though, Pennington & Co. constructed seven homes in seven days for families affected by the catastrophic 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo.—a project of remarkable scope.
What Not to Wear: Michelle
With just a few tweaks, the series turned a timid dog lover into a bona fide glamazon. ”Some people thought this episode was faked, that Michelle was really a model disguised as a Plain Jane. But Michelle honestly had no idea how pretty she was,” recalled co-host Clinton Kelly to EW. ”She probably could have walked out of the studio and booked a few modeling gigs.”
Pimp My Ride: ''Justin's Toyota Rav4'' (1997)
Because every man needs a fondue fountain in his compact SUV. Wait, what?
Extreme Makeover: Kimberly Rodriguez
Before her surgery, the Jersey City, N.J., native claimed, ”I don’t know how to smile.” The teeth she did have jutted at all angles, causing Dr. Bill Dorfman to deem Kimberly’s life-long dental struggle ”the most extreme case we’ve had to date.” Eight procedures later—the extraction of six front teeth, lip and gum repositioning, bridges for 10 teeth, a root canal, and partial denture and porcelain veneer implants, plus a nose job and lower eyelid lift—Kimberly shed tears of joy as a huge smile spread across her new face.
Honorable Mention: Botched: ''Girls Gone Wildd''
Reconstruction specialists Dr. Terry Dubrow and Dr. Paul Nassif ultimately chose not to honor Lacy Wildd’s request to augment her super-boobs to an unheard-of size QQQ, but that doesn’t mean Dr. Terry didn’t have plenty of fun examining Lacy’s LLL bustline, which she had to reinforce with pig skin to support her breasts’ 42-pound weight.