Long before celebs routinely let us into their homes via social media, MTV took us inside the fridges, closets and garages of our favorite famous folks.

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Mariah Carey Cribs
Credit: MTV

Before celebrities routinely allowed home invasions via social media, America’s lookie-loos had Cribs. MTV’s addictive look at the mega-McMansions of the rich and garish gave us 19 glorious seasons of Lamborghini collections, pool grottoes, and Sub-Zeros stocked with Yoo-hoo.

Premiering 20 years ago on September 12, 2000, on MTV (who presumably had become bored of being the music video-playing platform it was designed to be), the series took us inside some of the most outlandish houses of the flashiest, least self-aware stars out there, as they boasted about their acreage and rooms where "the magic happens." The idea for Cribs was initially conceived by Nina L. Diaz, the show's creator (and currently the President and Chief Creative Officer of the Entertainment & Youth group, ViacomCBS) when she was working as a producer for the MTV News & Documentaries unit. "Social media did not exist – no Instagram or TikTok – and this pre-dated the rise of the celebreality genre," she told EW over email. "I was doing long-form music news pieces and documentaries, covering artists and celebrities in very structured interviews. As a fan first, I was always curious to explore more about these dynamic personalities and get to know them in more authentic and unfiltered ways. Back then, we didn’t have much access to peek behind the curtain and intimacy with our favorite artists. There was much more mystique surrounding celebrity images."

Eager to show audiences the "relatable and unvarnished" side to their fave celebs, Diaz decided the show should be host-less and feature "just the artist taking us through their crib – having a one on one conversation, direct with their fans." That way the audience could get to know who they were when the cameras were off, by introducing us to what they had in their fridge, their loved ones, and by "sharing the stories behind their most prized possessions that made them who they are."

At first celebrity reps were (understandably) nervous about the concept. "We were told that no one would ever entertain the idea of letting us into their homes," says Diaz. But her unshakable belief in the idea, ultimately saw the series embraced as a "fun new celebrity expression" that really excited fans. "Rapper-producer, hip hop impresario Jermaine Dupri totally got it and warmly welcomed us into his crib," shares Diaz. From there the producers started getting more and more artists — big names from the first season include, Master P, The Osbournes, NKOTB’s Joey McIntire, Gavin Rossdale, Wu-Tang Clan, Destiny's Child, Snoop Dogg, and Tommy Lee.

The subsequent 18 seasons saw famous face after famous face welcome cameras into their closets, fridges, and garages, and fully secured the show's position in the Reality TV Hall of Fame. "The first episode aired in September 2000 and by 2005, we had featured tours of Cribs of over 185 celebrities including musicians, actors, and athletes," says the creator. "Cribs launched the celebreality genre and it’s amazing to see its long-lasting cultural impact in everything from Housewives to Tik Tok Houses."

In this era of sheltering-in-place, and to celebrate the 20-year milestone, we honor the show’s greatest shelters-without-taste.

The dress code at the rapper’s sprawling five-bedroom dockside Miami mansion? Shirtless. The atmosphere? Rap-video festive—as in, let’s throw a champagne-soaked pool party for 600 of your nearest and wildest friends. The problem? Ja Rule didn’t own the house — it was a rental. The owner sued him for filming without permission when it appeared on Cribs. We’re sure he was hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hoodwinked, and lead astray into that one too.

Fiddy dubbed his 19-bedroom, six-kitchen retreat an “East Coast Playboy Mansion,” though “Charmless Convention Center” also works. The star’s compound was tricked out with casino lobby carpeting, a helipad, and fridges packed with Vitamin Water, but its real glory was an in-home strip club complete with poles and the “Gucci Room.” Just like Sister Parish designed for the Kennedy White House…

Call her Mariah Antoinette; the diva’s Tribeca beige/satin/marble penthouse had everything an empress could desire, like doors made of gold, a special lingerie closet, and a “Mermaid Room,” which was, well, we’re still not sure. After several wardrobe changes, Mariah unwound in a bubble bath with one of her pups, then pretended to put another in the dryer! Oh, Mimi! Let them eat cake!

DESTINY'S CHILD

The best reason to revisit the girl group's episode is mostly to experience an on-the-brink of mega fame Beyoncé as she Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams show the crew around far from the fanciest homes on the series. Ooo intercoms! Ah, how times change — but not on all fronts. We're informed early on that Williams doesn't actually live in the home that Bey and Rowland share with the former's parents and sister Solange (she's living in the garage, but is hoping for a fridge and microwave soon, so it's not quite as grim as it sounds?) and she barely gets a word in throughout the tour. It seems it was always her destiny to be Poor Michelle. Other highlights include a Reflection Room (basically a room where they keep all their plaques but Plaque Room doesn't have the same ring to it), a sink that tells fairytales, and a bag of Popeyes!

Tha Dogg House offered everything from the untouchable room of "unthouchablism" — think of it like your mom's good room where no shoes are allowed —  to a studio with the sign that read "this is not a kick-it spot" on the door. We admire the rules — gotta keep it neat and tidy, when the pimp's in the crib. Along the way, we met a Pontiac named Annie Mae and the rapper's kids and (kinda ugly?) dogs, and got to hear Dick Clark called "a real player." All in all, a great Crizzle.

RICHARD BRANSON 

The Virgin mogul spent $80,000,000 renovating his private island compound — all 74 acres of it. We imagine a considerable amount of the budget went on the numerous outdoor bathrooms. The episode even ends with Sir Rich taking an al-fresco, oceanside poop. We sh— you not.

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