If you were a teenager in the early to mid-2000s, you no doubt remember everyone in school stumbling around and yelling, "SHARON!" Why is that? Well, because former Black Sabbath vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and his family were on television almost everywhere and almost all the time.
I will admit that I watched The Osbournes (2002-2005) as a teenager and I actually own the two seasons on DVD. Like it or not, a majority of the episodes are pretty hilarious even if it's just because of how ridiculous some of the situations were and the language. However, there were always rumors that the episodes were staged and/or scripted and the abundance of cursing was done to make the show funnier. With the latest season of MTV's Teen Mom OG breaking the wall between cast members and the camera crews I wanted to re-watch the seasons of The Osbournes. The reason behind it was to really take a look at how these shows are filmed now that we've seen the behind-the-scenes tricks MTV uses to make their reality shows fun to watch.
What was the deal with The Osbournes anyway?
Basically, Ozzy's wife and manager Sharon agreed to terms with MTV to create a reality show based on the lives of the couple and two of their three children, Kelly and Jack, as they relocated into a new house in Beverly Hills, CA.
I think the idea of the concept was to show that these badass, so-called "evil" rock musicians aren't at home worshiping Satan or sacrificing animals. In a majority of the episodes you find Ozzy trying to figure out how to work the television, Sharon in bed cuddling with the dogs, and Kelly and Jack fighting or having somewhat heated sibling banter. In other words, it was a pretty normal family despite the fact that they were rich and famous.
You did see random appearances from Ozzy's eldest son, Louis, from a previous marriage but you never see the fifth member of Sharon and Ozzy's family without her face blurred out. The so-called unseen daughter, Aimee, chose not to participate in the show citing privacy reasons and the simple fact that she didn't want to be famous. However, you do hear her name mentioned fairly often and will see a random blurred face walking around from time to time.
Was the show actually successful or just socially popular?
Believe it or not, the MTV show did manage to win a Primetime Emmy Award in 2002 for Oustanding Reality Program. The first season also holds the highest ratings of any series in MTV history. There are even whispers of a revival season that will air on VH1 sometime this year or next year.
Was The Osbournes scripted?
Probably not, at least not fully. This show was one of the first reality series that MTV produced outside of their Real World/Road Rules element. I don't think Ozzy, Sharon, Kelly, Jack, or any other cast members featured were ever given scripts but they no doubt had producers sitting in the house bringing up subjects for them to talk about and encouraging certain arguments to escalate just to get great footage.
We have now seen this model with Teen Mom OG as they broke the wall down. You hear the cast talking with producers, scouting locations, setting schedules, rehearsing walking into a restaurant, etc.. It's by no means 100% spontaneous but that doesn't mean it's fully scripted. That's really something for the viewer to judge at this point. I think in the case of The Osbournes, and Ozzy in particular, they most likely would ask him a question and just film his response and keep it despite how nonsensical it was.
Another great tool utilized is editing. Especially in the first season, you will see hairstyles fluctuate, animals fluctuate, weather change and then change back, and much much more. I have no doubt that the crews filmed as much as possible and then simply spliced and placed it together just to create semi-coherent episodes. A good example of this is in season one with the episode, 'Won't You Be My Neighbor." During the neighbor fight, which was the best of the whole series, you see random appearances from pro skater Jason Dill. However, Jason isn't full introduced until four episodes later with "No Vagrancy." Perfect example of splicing events that happened in the same week to make it seem like they happened weeks apart. This is done with just about every reality show that has ever hit the airwaves.
What was the price of fame?
This is pretty open for debate. Each member that appeared on camera has had a pretty decent amount of storms follow them after the cameras wrapped filming.
Unfortunately, all it really did was peg Ozzy as a bigger burnout alcoholic than he already was in the public eye. Seeing him sometimes get lost in his own house, telling his kids to fuck off, and stumbling on words so badly sometimes he couldn't even get a coherent sentence out was both a blessing and a curse on his image. It made him funny and likeable, but you have to realize that the guy was drunk or stoned in just about each episode to deal with having his privacy invaded by cameras. Ozzy has continually struggled through addiction in the years after the show went off the air, but he has also continued to tour and has recently worked on reviving the Ozzfest Tour which was retired shortly after The Osbournes went off the air.
As we saw in the second season, Kelly evolved from a typical teenage girl and ventured into the music world and had a pretty promising career ahead of her. However, drug and alcohol abuse along with a rather toxic attitude towards the media and what it actually takes to be famous plagued her in the years following the show and she essentially destroyed it before it fully got off the ground. She also had unnecessarily public media battles regarding her weight and appearance which resulted in numerous substance abuse relapses. After being in and out of rehab multiple times, and making the top three in Dancing with the Stars, Kelly landed a job with E! in 2010 as a co-anchor for Fashion Police where she remained until earlier this year. Kelly remains unmarried and has devoted time and money towards charities such as The Salvation Army, the Give a Damn campaign, and The Prince's Trust.
Jack made his debut on the show as an oddball, overweight 15-year old who regularly drank and smoked weed and it pretty much stayed that way in the years following the show. During both seasons we saw Jack scouting talent for Epic Records and his goal at the time was to breathe music like his father. Jack also ran into drug and alcohol addiction and first entered rehab at the age of 18 after being admitted to a psych ward for an OxyContin addiction. After that rehab stint, Jack was moved to a Malibu treatment facility at the age of 20 after attempting suicide via prescription medication. In his recovery, he surprised many people by losing weight and becoming a fitness advocate, author, filmmaker, television host, and continuous reality show member. Like his sister, he also competed and made the top 3 on Dancing with the Stars in 2013, shortly after he was sadly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Jack married in 2012 and he and his wife have two children.
Sharon is probably the most successful in the post-show era. Despite being diagnosed with colon cancer during the second season, Sharon went on to become a judge on Britain's The X-Factor, was a judge on America's Got Talent as well as a host on the daytime talk show, The Talk. She's also been hired as a spokesperson for the Atkins Diet and continues to manage musicians with her agency, Sharon Osbourne Management. She's just not too recognizable anymore because she's had a ridiculous amount of plastic surgery.
Aside from the four main cast members, we saw a decent amount of supporting cast including Sharon's assistant and nanny, Melinda, and their unofficially adopted son, Robert Marcato. Aside from both Kelly and Jack, mostly Jack, verballiy abusing Melinda most of the time, she was a trusted friend of the family who seemed to fade into the background after the show ended. However, Robert became a bit controversial. He was the son of a close family friend and attended school with Kelly and the unseen Osbourne daughter, Aimee, and after his mother died of cancer the family decided to unofficially adopt him. Soon after being taken in, Sharon removed him their home due to psychotic and destructive behavior and sent him to the East Coast to live with his father. If you type his name into Google the last news on him was that he was unemployed and roaming around in Rhode Island and New Jersey. Several sources claim that he never heard or received assistance from the family after being removed from their home and Sharon has made it quite clear that they never officially adopted him.
Along with their personal struggles, the family has made it known that the show did damage them as a family. Due to filming schedules and wanting to showcase their lives more than live them, the family was separated more than they would have liked and personal struggles and issues were showcased when they should have remained more private. It also painted images of them that weren't 100% accurate to who they were as people. Sharon and Ozzy both have gone far enough to say in recent interviews that the show was the worst decision they've ever made.
I personally don't dislike The Osbournes. Like I've said, for what it was worth it was an enjoyable show and influenced by producers or not, the family was definitely entertaining. You see them go through struggles, like addiction and cancer, like any family in the world can go through and it was approached in a human way. Not in a, we're different because we're famous way. I think for the culture that existed in the early to mid 2000's it worked just fine.