Reality Show Violence Getting Too Real?

Stars of "Holly's World" and "Teen Mom" say there's a pressure to behave badly.

March 30, 3011—, 2011 -- A slap here, a table flip there, and if we're lucky, an all-out brawl -- violence was once just a scene-stealer on today's reality shows, but it now has become a part of some stars' real lives.

Stars from the hit MTV reality show "Teen Mom 2" are the latest to fall into controversy for fighting.

Janelle Evans, 19, was arrested Sunday after video surfaced of her punching another woman at her Oak Branch, N.C. hometown. She charged with simple assault and simple affray, ABC affiliate WWAY reported.

In the video, Evans can be seen attacking her former friend, Brittany Truett, as others can be heard urging them on in the background. Truett said the fight was over Evan's ex-boyfriend.

"She said she found out about it and called me a liar," Truett said. "I was upset, scared. Shocked."

She added that she thought being on "Teen Mom" was a catalyst for bringing on the fight.

"[Evans] used to be a really sweet girl. Outgoing, fun to be around," Truett said. "Since she got on the show, she has a big head. She's been angry at the world."

Evans' lawyer, Dustin Sullivan, said that his client had no comment on the video.

And Evans isn't the only "Teen Mom" star in legal trouble. Amber Portwood of Anderson, Ind., faces two felony charges of domestic abuse after video showed the 20-year-old attacking her on-again/off-again fiance while their young daughter was nearby. She pleaded not guilty.

Reality shows have been riddled with scenes of over-the-top anger that have erupted into violence, but those dramatic outbursts have turned into ratings gold.

In February, "Jersey Shore's" Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola and Ronnie Ortiz-Magro announced their relationship was over after a lover's quarrel on camera turned into Ortiz-Magro trashing Giancola's bedroom and screaming, "I hate you more than [beep] anybody I've ever hated in my entire [beep] life!"

Punches, and Table Flips Drive Ratings

Ortiz-Margo was also indicted on aggravated assault charges in December for allegedly knocking a man unconscious. He pleaded not guilty.

Last year, "Jersey Shore" aired a video of Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi being punched in the face by a man at a bar to promote its upcoming season. Not only did the video go viral online, it helped double the show's ratings from the previous season.

The Kardashian sisters are no strangers to violence either. On their recent reality show, "Kourtney and Kim Take New York," Scott Disick, Kourtney Kardashian's boyfriend and father of their young son Mason, was shown on camera getting into an alcohol-fueled fight at a nightclub. It led to the show's highest ratings.

Then there's that unforgettable scene from "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" last year, when the feisty Teresa Giudice flipped a table at a dinner party.

But the outbursts caught on tape don't always lead to the kind of fame these stars want, and the attention can lead to deadly actions. Ryan Jenkins, a former contestant on the VH1 reality show, "Megan Wants to Marry a Millionaire," was charged with killing his wife, Jasmine Foire, before committing suicide.

Stacey Kaiser is a psychologist who has appeared on reality TV shows, including "Celebrity Fit Club" and "Diet Tribe," and is the author of "How To Be a Grown Up." She said she is worried that people's perception of reality is altered when they watch these shows.

"Things that we used to look away from are things that we watch on television on a daily basis," she said. "It sends a message to viewers that its something that's socially acceptable to our society these days."

The producers of MTV's "Real World" have struck by their long-standing rule for the show's 25th season -- bad behavior will send participants home. That happened last season in "Real World: New Orleans," when cast member Ryan Leslie was sent home after being caught urinating on a fellow cast member's toothbrush and exhibiting other drunken behavior.

Former Playmate on Fueling Bad Behavior

Jayde Nicole, a former star on the MTV reality show "The Hills" and Bravo's "Holly's World" admitted she has made a good living by being bad on camera.

"Now that are so many reality shows out there, they have to step up their game," she said. "Make it more interesting, more dramatic and more outrageous just to capture people's attention. It's kind of just a 'wow' factor."

The 21-year-old Nicole, a former Playboy Playmate, said her nasty temper earned her the nickname, "bunny with fangs."

"I am forever marked the instigator who has all the sexy friends and stirs up trouble," she said.

Known for sparking up vicious fights on "The Hills," Nicole said looking back, she was embarrassed by her behavior, but that some of the blame had to lie with the show's producers.

"The producers have a big role in what's happening on the show," she said. "They create a lot of drama and they start a lot of the fights...they will say so and so said this about you behind your back, and she said she slept with your boyfriend. It's like high school."

Nicole added that she felt that she had to act out because if she didn't play into what the show's producers were doing, she wouldn't end up on camera.

"You could say no but they'll think you're being uncooperative and they will try to film without you," she said. "When you sign a contract for reality TV it's like you have sold your soul."

Former Playmate Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner's ex-girlfriend and now the star of Bravo's "Holly's World," said even though her show isn't set up to be violent, she had to succumb to bringing Nicole on board to boost ratings.

"I think being successful without caving into things like a violent moment you just have to have things that other people, the audience, can relate to in possibly a more glamorous setting than their life," she said.

Madison added that there still is a need for drama.

"I think cattiness is probably, definitely a happy medium," she said. "Something that doesn't involve anything illegal. It's like a soap opera. It keeps people tuning back for more."

Reality Casting Director on Choosing Characters

Finding people who are ready to pick a fight on camera is where Vinnie Potestivo comes in. He is a casting director for reality shows such as "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" and "Millionaire Matchmaker."

"I think that there is a sense of entitlement that a lot of people have," he said. "As a reality casting director, I hear a lot of times, 'I deserve a reality show, I deserve to be seen on these things.'"

Psychologist Stacy Kaiser said that the unusual situations that reality shows force their participants into can sometimes be detrimental to them.

"I like to parallel some of these reality shows to a caged tiger that is used to being in the wild," she said. "They're being watched all the time, they start to feel anxious, they start to feel aggressive and they begin to behave in ways that are way more extreme."