The Surreal Life

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The Surreal Life
Former logo
Created by
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes65
Executive producers
  • Cris Abrego
  • Mark Cronin
Running timeapprox. 44 min. (2004)
Production companies
  • 51 Minds Entertainment
  • Brass Ring Productions
  • Go Sick Productions
  • Mindless Entertainment
  • Renegade 83 Productions
Original release
ReleaseJanuary 9, 2003 (2003-01-09) –
The Surreal Life: Fame Games

The Surreal Life is an American reality television series that records a group of celebrities as they live together in Glen Campbell's former mansion[1] in the Hollywood Hills for two weeks. The format of the show resembles that of The Real World and Road Rules, in that the cameras not only record the castmates' participation in group activities assigned to them, but also their interpersonal relationships and conflicts. The series is also likened to The Challenge in that previously known individuals from separate origins of entertainment are brought together into one cast. The show's first two seasons aired on The WB, and subsequent seasons were shown on VH1.

On September 13, 2023, it was reported that the series would move to MTV for its eighth season.

Production history[edit]

The Surreal Life creators, Cris Abrego, Mark Cronin, and Rick Telles, met with their agents (Chris Coelen and Sara Chazen at UTA[2]) who pitched the idea to them as a possible reality show concept and suggested the title "Surreal World" (after MTV's The Real World). The name was later changed to Surreal Life to avoid legal issues.[3]


Season 1[edit]

The first season of The Surreal Life began airing on January 9, 2003, and starred Gabrielle Carteris, MC Hammer, Corey Feldman, Emmanuel Lewis, Jerri Manthey, Vince Neil, and Brande Roderick. Throughout the two-week production, the cast participated in a Survivor-inspired camping trip, a trip to Las Vegas, and a drama-creating Corey Feldman, who married his girlfriend in the season finale. Mindy Cohn was scheduled to be a cast member, but dropped out before taping began.[4][5] Robin Givens was also offered a slot on the cast, but declined.[6]

Season 2[edit]

The second season of The Surreal Life began airing on January 11, 2004, and starred Traci Bingham, Trishelle Cannatella, Erik Estrada, Tammy Faye Messner, Ron Jeremy, and Vanilla Ice.[7] Some episode plots involved Ron Jeremy's topless porn-star pool party and Tammy Faye's book signing with members of the gay and transgender community. In one episode, the cast works at a local retro diner under the management, Vanilla Ice hoists Gary Coleman above the deep fryer, and insists on having the former child star say his catchphrase, "What'chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" in public after Coleman's Strokes co-star Todd Bridges shows up. These acts led the former sitcom star to "fire" Ice and then quit. The season also introduced "Dirty Laundry," The Surreal Life talk show hosted by Sally Jessy Raphael. Raphael focused on Cannatella, making several unflattering remarks about her drinking problem, including that she acted "like a slut." Other moments included a surprise stop at the Desert Shadows Inn, a nudist resort (from which Tammy Faye fled in tears), and the production of a children's play.[citation needed]

Season 3[edit]

The third season of The Surreal Life began airing on September 5, 2004, and starred Charo, Dave Coulier, Flavor Flav, Jordan Knight, Brigitte Nielsen, and Ryan Starr.[8][9] Memorable moments included Date Night, an agonizing recording session for the group to produce an original song, and Flavor's insistence that he drive the group's RV despite not having a license. Flavor also caused a brief disconnection with the cast, when it was revealed during "Dirty Laundry" that he had hit The Surreal Life puppy. The Surreal Life puppy, now age 11, lives in Long Beach, California, after being given to friends of Dave Coulier after the show. The puppy's name is Winger after the Detroit Red Wings. Throughout the two weeks, Nielsen and Flav began a relationship which would have a dramatic influence on VH1's programming over the next five years, as it indirectly spawned 14 spinoffs and sequels to date. The romance first continued in Strange Love and snowballed from there, after the success of the Flavor of Love series.[citation needed]

Season 4[edit]

The fourth season of The Surreal Life began airing on January 9, 2005, and starred Da Brat, Adrianne Curry, Christopher Knight, Chyna, Marcus Schenkenberg, Verne Troyer, and Jane Wiedlin. Notable moments included conflict between Da Brat and Wiedlin that stemmed from comments made by Da Brat about Wiedlin that were shown during "Dirty Laundry," and the strained relationship between Chyna and her now-ex-boyfriend Sean Waltman. More memorable moments included Troyer getting drunk on the first day and urinating[10] in the weight room, and Wiedlin getting upset about the group being asked to brand a cow.[citation needed] Like the season prior, another romance-themed spin-off, My Fair Brady, was developed around the romantic escapades of Curry and Knight.[citation needed]

Season 5[edit]

The fifth season of The Surreal Life began airing on July 10, 2005, and starred Caprice Bourret, Jose Canseco, Sandy "Pepa" Denton, Janice Dickinson, Carey Hart, Omarosa Manigault, and Bronson Pinchot. This season played up on the show's namesake surreality by having the house decorated with a circus/carnival theme and the cast was given circus-style taglines during the introduction. This was enhanced with the introduction of a three-legged dog named Lucky. An ongoing feud between Manigault and Dickinson was a key focus point in the season, which ended with Dickinson leaving the house during the final dinner.[citation needed]

Season 6[edit]

The sixth season of The Surreal Life began airing on March 19, 2006, and starred Alexis Arquette, C.C. DeVille, Steve Harwell, Sherman Hemsley, Maven Huffman, Tawny Kitaen, and Andrea Lowell. Florence Henderson ("Dr. Flo") assisted the cast as the house therapist. Throughout the two weeks, the cast shot a music video, produced and broadcast a live news program, booked and hosted their own talk-show pilots, and participated in a "battle of the bands" competition. During the talk-show episode, Marla Gibbs makes a cameo appearance with Hemsley, and the two recreate their retorts and putdowns as Florence and George from The Jeffersons. Arquette brings the transgender community increased visibility and awareness with her appearance in the series. And, struggling with memory and enunciation problems that grow worse, Kitaen is inexplicably left crawling on the floor of a closet by the final episode.[citation needed]

Season 7[edit]

Announced in July 2021, the seventh season starred August Alsina, CJ Perry, Dennis Rodman, Frankie Muniz, Kim Coles, Manny MUA, Stormy Daniels, and Tamar Braxton living together and competing in a series of challenges.[11]

Season 8[edit]

On September 13, 2023, it was reported that the series would move to MTV for its eighth season, and would star Macy Gray, Chet Hanks, Ally Brooke, O.T. Genasis, Kim Zolciak, Josie Canseco and Johnny Weir, with production scheduled to start this month.[12] On September 18, 2023, Tyler Posey shared that he would also be part of the cast.


Series overview[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
18January 9, 2003 (2003-01-09)February 20, 2003 (2003-02-20)The WB
26January 11, 2004 (2004-01-11)February 22, 2004 (2004-02-22)
312September 5, 2004 (2004-09-05)December 5, 2004 (2004-12-05)VH1
412January 9, 2005 (2005-01-09)May 1, 2005 (2005-05-01)
512July 10, 2005 (2005-07-10)October 9, 2005 (2005-10-09)
69March 19, 2006 (2006-03-19)May 14, 2006 (2006-05-14)
76October 24, 2022 (2022-10-24)November 21, 2022 (2022-11-21)

Season 1 (2003)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal air date
11"A Surreal Beginning"January 9, 2003 (2003-01-09)
33"Stars Under the Stars"January 16, 2003 (2003-01-16)
44"Backyard Talent Show"January 22, 2003 (2003-01-22)
55"Sincity to Saved"January 30, 2003 (2003-01-30)
66"Brande Needs a Man"February 6, 2003 (2003-02-06)
77"Softball/Pre-Wedding Jitters"February 13, 2003 (2003-02-13)
88"Corey's Wedding"February 20, 2003 (2003-02-20)

Season 2 (2004)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal air date
91"Can't We All Just Get Along"January 11, 2004 (2004-01-11)
102"Mel's Dinner"January 18, 2004 (2004-01-18)
113"The Children's Play"January 25, 2004 (2004-01-25)
124"The Good, the Bad, & the Porn Stars"February 8, 2004 (2004-02-08)
135"Live Naked Celebrities!"February 15, 2004 (2004-02-15)
146"Dirty Laundry"February 22, 2004 (2004-02-22)

Season 3 (2004)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal air date
151"Six Degrees of Irritation"September 5, 2004 (2004-09-05)
162"Strange Love"September 12, 2004 (2004-09-12)
173"Battle of the Bands"September 19, 2004 (2004-09-19)
184"Highway to Hell"September 26, 2004 (2004-09-26)
195"Surf School"October 3, 2004 (2004-10-03)
206"Making the Single, Part 1"October 10, 2004 (2004-10-10)
217"Making the Single, Part 2"October 17, 2004 (2004-10-17)
228"Haunted Hospital"October 24, 2004 (2004-10-24)
239"Dirty Laundry"October 31, 2004 (2004-10-31)
2410"Last Supper & Goodbyes"November 7, 2004 (2004-11-07)
2511"Best & Worst"November 14, 2004 (2004-11-14)
2612"Lost Moments"December 5, 2004 (2004-12-05)

Season 4 (2005)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal air date
271"The Surreal Seven"January 9, 2005 (2005-01-09)
282"The Kids Are All Wrong"January 16, 2005 (2005-01-16)
293"Horses, Dwarves & Bears, Oh My!"January 23, 2005 (2005-01-23)
304"Three Crushes"January 30, 2005 (2005-01-30)
315"Celebrity Pitch Fest"February 13, 2005 (2005-02-13)
326"I'm With Cupid"February 20, 2005 (2005-02-20)
337"Seven Celebrities of Death, Part 1"March 6, 2005 (2005-03-06)
348"Seven Celebrities of Death, Part 2"March 27, 2005 (2005-03-27)
359"Dirty Laundry"April 3, 2005 (2005-04-03)
3610"Get Out!!"April 17, 2005 (2005-04-17)
3711"Burning Questions"April 24, 2005 (2005-04-24)
3812"Reunion Show"May 1, 2005 (2005-05-01)

Season 5 (2005)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal air date
391"No Way It's Jose"July 10, 2005 (2005-07-10)
402"Sunshine Strikers"July 17, 2005 (2005-07-17)
413"Take It Off!"July 24, 2005 (2005-07-24)
424"Backyard Make-Over Surreal Edition"July 31, 2005 (2005-07-31)
435"Moto-Crossdressers"August 14, 2005 (2005-08-14)
446"Vegas Dead Ringers"August 21, 2005 (2005-08-21)
457"Voted Out Of Vegas"September 4, 2005 (2005-09-04)
468"The Knife Incident, Part 1"September 11, 2005 (2005-09-11)
479"The Knife Incident, Part 2"September 18, 2005 (2005-09-18)
4810"Dirty Laundry, Part 1"September 25, 2005 (2005-09-25)
4911"Dirty Laundry, Part 2"October 2, 2005 (2005-10-02)
5012"The Last Straw"October 9, 2005 (2005-10-09)

Season 6 (2006)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal air date
511"Movin' On In"March 19, 2006 (2006-03-19)
522"Makin' The Video"March 26, 2006 (2006-03-26)
533"Action News, Part 1"April 2, 2006 (2006-04-02)
544"Action News, Part 2"April 9, 2006 (2006-04-09)
555"Tawny Takes On Flo, Part 1"April 16, 2006 (2006-04-16)
566"Tawny Takes On Flo, Part 2"April 23, 2006 (2006-04-23)
577"Battle Of The 80's Hair Bands"April 30, 2006 (2006-04-30)
588"Flo's Final Word"May 7, 2006 (2006-05-07)
599"Check-out is at Noon"May 14, 2006 (2006-05-14)

Season 7 (2022)[edit]

No. in
TitleOriginal air date
601"Welcome to The Surreal Life"October 24, 2022 (2022-10-24)
612"A Surreal Life Family BBQ"October 24, 2022 (2022-10-24)
623"How Did We Get Here?"October 31, 2022 (2022-10-31)
634"A Second Chance For Dennis"November 14, 2022 (2022-11-14)
645"Surreal Theater"November 21, 2022 (2022-11-21)
656"Rollercoaster Ride"November 21, 2022 (2022-11-21)

Home media[edit]

Seasons one, two, and five were released in the U.S., but have since been discontinued. All six seasons have been released on DVD in Australia by Shock Records.

Season Release dates Discs
Region 1 Region 0
1 & 2 1 December 2004[13] 3
1 1 November 2008[14][15] 2
2 10 January 2009[16] 2
3 10 January 2009[17] 3
4 14 March 2009[18] 3
5 18 September 2005[19] 12 June 2009[20][21] 3
6 14 August 2009[22] 2


The Surreal Life is one of VH1's most spun-off shows, with a complex web of reality series which have had spin-off shows themselves.[23] The first spin-off from The Surreal Life was Strange Love, starring Flavor Flav and Brigitte Nielsen, both of season three. It premiered in January 2005 and ran for 11 episodes. The second spin-off, My Fair Brady, starred Adrianne Curry and Christopher Knight. It ran its first season in 2005, concluding with the couple's engagement. The second season debuted in the spring 2006, concluding with a wedding. The third season premiered on January 20, 2008, and detailed the newlyweds' lives as they prepared to expand their family.

The Surreal Life: Fame Games reunited cast members of the original Surreal Life series in a competition for cash and prizes.

Pepa received her own two shows stemming from her popularity on VH1. She teamed up with her old partner Cheryl "Salt" James for The Salt-N-Pepa Show, which showcased the two distinct personalities clash on many issues from their break-up as a group in the 1990s to their current reformation. The series spanned two seasons. In 2010, Pepa also received her own show on VH1 that documented her search for her Mr. Right entitled "Let's Talk About Pep."

Of Love series[edit]

Strange Love itself produced a spin-off show, titled Flavor of Love, which lasted for three seasons, ending with Flav's announcement that he had found his one true love. Due to the show's great success, it spawned a successful franchise with Rock of Love with Bret Michaels.

Contestant dating shows[edit]

Some contestants went on to star in their own dating show spinoffs. The first was Flavor of Love's Tiffany Pollard, a.k.a. New York, with I Love New York (two seasons). Three of her suitors got their own show: Brothers Kamal "Chance" and Ahmad "Real" Givens starred in Real Chance of Love (two seasons) and Frank "The Entertainer" Maresca starred in Frank the Entertainer in a Basement Affair.

Game shows[edit]

Contestants from Flavor of Love, Rock of Love with Bret Michaels, and Real Chance of Love were offered to participate in Charm School, which lasted three seasons, with the premise of bettering themselves and a chance at a cash prize.

Contestants from Flavor of Love, Rock of Love, I Love New York, Real Chance of Love, For the Love of Ray J, Rock of Love Bus, Daisy of Love, and Megan Wants a Millionaire were allowed to take part in I Love Money, a Survivor elimination-style show held in a Mexican mansion. Four seasons were produced but the third never aired due to the involvement of Ryan Jenkins.

Unscripted shows[edit]

Contestants New York, Real and Chance later starred in additional unscripted shows. New York Goes to Hollywood followed Pollard's attempt at becoming an actress, New York Goes to Work saw Tiffany Pollard perform various jobs as voted by the viewers on a weekly basis, and Real and Chance: The Legend Hunters followed the Givens brothers in their quest to find legendary monsters such as Bigfoot.


  1. ^ Bailey, Sarah (10 August 2005). "Peek inside houses that reality built". USA Today. p. D.3. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  2. ^ Adalian, Josef (2001-12-14). "UTA TV focus the real deal". Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  3. ^ Schneider, Michael (2002-09-27). "'Surreal's' appeal". Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  4. ^ Susman, Gary (27 September 2002). "Here are the celebrity housemates of "Surreal Life"". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  5. ^ Hernandez, Greg (11 March 2008). "Mindy Cohn: Greg catches up with Natalie from "The Facts of Life"". Archived from the original on 28 August 2009. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  6. ^ Coleridge, Daniel R. (10 January 2003). "The Surreal Life Secrets Revealed!". Retrieved 1 May 2010.
  7. ^ Amatangelo, Amy (9 January 2004). "Television; Stir crazy; WB's 'The Surreal Life' houses another group of loopy celebs". Boston Herald. p. E31.
  8. ^ Amatangelo, Amy (5 September 2004). "Stars fall as VH1 takes 'Surreal Life' off WB's hands". Boston Herald. p. 037.
  9. ^ "Ape Culture - Surreal Life 2004 Fall Season Review". Ape Culture. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  10. ^ Huff, Richard (7 January 2005). "Mini Me Commits Foul No. 1". New York Daily News. p. 122. Archived from the original on 2011-08-05. Retrieved 15 Aug 2010.
  11. ^ White, Peter (July 22, 2021). "'The Surreal Life': VH1 Brings Back Classic Reality Series". Deadline Hollywood.
  12. ^ Aniftos, Rania (September 13, 2013). "Ally Brooke, Macy Gray, Chet Hanks & More Join MTV's 'The Surreal Life' Cast". Billboard.
  13. ^ Lambert, David (9 January 2005). "The Surreal Life - 2 Seasons on one inexpensive DVD set!". TVShowsOnDVD. Archived from the original on 26 February 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  14. ^ "The Surreal Life - Series 1". Shock Records. Retrieved 13 March 2010.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Miller, Craig (2008-11-09). "Abba dabba doozy". Sunday Tasmanian. p. 26.
  16. ^ "The Surreal Life - Series 2". Shock Records. Retrieved 13 March 2010.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "The Surreal Life - Series 3". Shock Records. Retrieved 13 March 2010.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "The Surreal Life - Series 4". Shock Records. Retrieved 13 March 2010.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Lambert, David (21 September 2005). "The Surreal Life - Cross-Dressing Canseco? Omarosa vs. a Knife-Wielding Janice? Box Art & Details for 5th Season DVDs!". TVShowsOnDVD. Archived from the original on 3 June 2010. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  20. ^ "The Surreal Life - Series 5". Shock Records. Retrieved 13 March 2010.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "DVD Reviews". Herald Sun. 2009-06-13. p. 33. ISSN 1038-3433.
  22. ^ "The Surreal Life - Series 2". Shock Records. Retrieved 13 March 2010.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ Lawrence, Christopher (2 August 2009). "'Surreal Life' outbreak spreads with new VH1 show". The Las Vegas Review-Journal. p. 3J. Retrieved 18 July 2010.

External links[edit]