The Prince of Darkness has been tricked by a television remote control. To do justice to Ozzy Osbourne, sitting on the edge of his floral antique sofa in Beverly Hills, it’s an outrageously unwieldy device.
He grabs the thing with both hands and bangs his fist on it, but he still doesn’t know how to get the TV to show him anything other than the weather in Afghanistan (“2000 degrees and cloudy,” he wheezes) . “I am a very simple man. You have to be computer literate to turn the damn TV on and off,” Ozzy groans. “I pushed that one button and the shower started. I go: ‘What is this? Where am I man?’”
That’s how we found Ozzy Osbourne in the opening episode of MTV’s The Osbournes. It premiered on March 5, 2002 and changed the shape of reality television forever, and Ozzy’s slapstick battles against the big remote set the harsh, swearing tone. The mundane was elevated to rock ‘n’ roll farce and its success was unprecedented.
While the series had a surprisingly short run — just four seasons over the course of three years — it had an outsized impact on pop culture. The first show of its kind to win an Emmy paved the way for Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie The simple life in 2003 and society-devouring behemoth Keeping up with the Kardashians, which followed in 2007. In 2019, SiriusXM reporter Jess Cagle told matriarch Sharon Osbourne, “Without you, you know, there wouldn’t be any Kardashians. Without you there would be nothing, Sharon Osbourne!” “It really was Ozzy,” she contradicted. “He was the one in the public eye. He was the celebrity and he’s the one who took all the risks. Not us, the kids and I, but he was taking a big risk. I think it paid off for Ozzy because people saw how funny he was. He’s just hysterical and a teddy bear.”
In 2002, Ozzy Osbourne didn’t seem like an obvious bet for reality TV. The cocaine-dozing, bat-eating heavy metal savage first rose to fame in the ’70s as the frontman of Black Sabbath. A successful solo career followed, but around the turn of the century his star began to fade. Ozzy was in danger of becoming little more than a nostalgia act. But thanks the osbournes, It was introduced to a new generation who might not have realized that the show’s theme song was Ozzy’s own 1980 single “Crazy Train,” though it was covered by crooner Pat Boone in cheesy big-band style. It wasn’t until 2003, after the series had made him a household name again, that Ozzy had his first UK No. 1 hit. The song owed its existence and success The Osbornes: it was a cover of Black Sabbath’s Changes, performed with his teenage daughter Kelly, who launched her own briefly successful music career after the show.
Last year talked about the armchair expert Podcast, Kelly – who was 17 when the show began – described how naïve the family had been when it came to handing over their entire lives to MTV producers. “You have to remember that no one has ever done what we’ve done before,” she said. “When we did it, we didn’t know either. We didn’t know what they would and wouldn’t use because they were filming everything. All.”
She went on to explain that she had a camera in her bedroom. Because the cameras were constantly filming, she had to cover it every time she changed clothes, a position that it seems hard to believe the producers thought it acceptable to fit a young girl in. “I remember the night before [the first episode] On the air, my mom took us to Venice Beach, we watched the drum circle and we were like, ‘Did we just make the biggest mistake we’ve ever made in our lives?'” she said. “Then the next day everything changed. It was like Beatlemania, except The Osbournes… I didn’t think anyone would ever take care of me. It was a show about my dad and I was just in the family.”
On the contrary, the show made them all stars, including Kelly’s younger brother Jack, who was 16 when the first season aired. Speaking of mind wide open Last year on the podcast, Jack outlined how difficult it was to flash into the limelight.
“Fame is torture, and as a child… [being] in this hugely successful show happened rather by accident,” he said. “Even before the show I was struggling with depression a lot, and then when the show started I sort of fell into drugs and alcohol. And it was pretty aggressive. I often joke that I’ve gotten into a good, healthy Oxycontin habit.” Jack ended up in rehab when he was just 17 years old. “I’ve been sober since then, but it took a lot of self-work.”
There was one family member who had the foresight to see how earth-shattering the experience could be: eldest sister Aimee, then 18. She never appeared on the show and narrated The Independent in 2015: “Back then I still felt like I was trying to figure out who I was in the chaos of family life, so why on earth would I want to portray that on TV? I wanted to protect myself, my parents, my siblings too. You were very young, very impressionable.” Appearing on a chat show The conversation In 2020, Sharon said she understood Aimee’s reservations. “It was chaos,” she said. “We had about 30 crew members, 24 hours a day. The house wasn’t a home anymore, it was a studio, so I can understand why she didn’t like it.”
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The Osbournes may have been hell for the family, but it went gold for ratings. The show was never on the verge of incidents, some of the life and death variety. In the second season, Sharon beat cancer and in the third, Ozzy was recovering from a quad bike accident that nearly killed him. However, it was often the monotony that made for the most captivating moments. In one memorable episode, the family fought with their dogs pooping all over the house. “I don’t take dog shit, I’m a rock star!” Ozzy exclaimed. An MTV producer came up with the idea of hiring a dog therapist. Ozzy wasn’t thrilled. “You don’t need to hire a dog therapist,” he protested. “You just have to get up at 7 a.m. and open the damn door!”
While MTV has already had success with reality shows like the real world and Nativity Scenes, The Osbournes surpassed them all. It quickly became not only the highest-rated show in the network’s 20-year history, but also the most-watched show of any cable network, averaging 5.3 million viewers for the first season and peaking at more than 7.2 million viewers for the finale . It didn’t end because of falling ratings, but because the family just couldn’t take it anymore. “The success that this TV show brought us was too great,” said Ozzy NME in 2020. “I’m not upset that I did it, but I wouldn’t do it again. People said, ‘Aren’t you worried about losing your fans?’ I said, ‘I’m not worried about losing my fans — I’m worried about losing my f***ing sanity.'”
Last year, rumors circulated that Sharon was planning to revive the show. The financial incentive is clear, with a reported $20 million payday — but it’s unlikely a sequel could ever have the same impact as the original. It was new then to see a real family on TV; Nowadays it couldn’t be more commonplace, from the friendly domesticity of glasses box to Kardashian’s newly revamped show, which is now simply titled The Kardashians. The Osbournes changed television not because they were weird and outlandish, but because they were ordinary. With all the extravagant trappings of their Beverly Hills mansion, this was one Brummie family who yelled and cursed but ended up getting along. We could all understand Ozzy’s desperate judgment about his household. “I love you all, I love you more than life itself,” he told them in episode one. “But you’re all fucking crazy.”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/television/tv-news/the-osbournes-at-20-how-the-rowdy-reality-series-changed-tv-forever-from-dog-poo-drama-to-family-feuds-41411845.html From dog poop drama to family feuds, The Osbournes at 20: How the rowdy reality series changed TV forever