Remember back in 2002, when Crystal Lake's Jim Verraros was on this new show called "American Idol"? And the following year, Wheaton's Kelly Jo Kuharski was a finalist on "The Bachelor"?
They were among the first in a decade full of suburban people featured on reality TV. Casting directors clearly love the suburbs, and we've provided them with American Idols, Biggest Losers, Survivors, Top Models, Bachelors, Bachelorettes and more.
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Other reality shows with suburban starsOver the years, people from the suburbs (either originally or currently) have been cast on reality TV shows, including:
"Real Housewives of Orange County"
"Beauty and the Geek"
"Dancing with the Stars"
"Make Me a Supermodel"
"The Glee Project"
"How Do I Look?"
This summer is no exception. In fact, over the last several weeks you could see a Buffalo Grove "Millionaire" living on just a few bucks a day, a Batavia chef trying to shed some pounds and lots of locals seeking love. And if that was all a little too, um, G-rated, you could watch a Bartlett woman on a cable show that basically revolves around women in skintight clothing partying and fighting with each other in Mexico.
Here are some of the suburbanites who have been on reality TV this summer:
• "Bachelor Pad" -- Michael "Stag" Stagliano, of Vernon Hills
• "The Bachelorette" -- Chris Bukowski of Bartlett (also on "Bachelor Pad")
• "Breaking Pointe" -- Katie Martin of Grayslake
• "Love in the Wild" -- Tara Locke of Arlington Heights
• The already-canceled "3" -- Rachel Harley of Schaumburg (featured in this column last month)
• "Secret Millionaire" -- Steve Kaplan of Buffalo Grove
• "Fat Chef" -- Jen Bucko Lamplough of Batavia
• And, perhaps most colorfully, "Bad Girls Club Mexico" -- Ashley Dye of Bartlett
We chatted recently with Dye, one of three women from the Chicago area (the others are Chicagoans Erika Jordan and Rima Mellal) cast in season nine of "Bad Girls Club," the party-girls-gone-wild reality series that airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on Oxygen.
Nicknamed "Barbie," "Blondie" and "Bro-be" ("because I say 'bro' a lot") by her castmates, Dye is teased for her ditziness, such as when she calculates that five times five equals 10. While drunk -- which on this show, the women often are -- Dye frequently stumbles on her high heels and talks to plants.
"I had a plant who was my friend," said Dye, 22, who occasionally waitresses at Westwood Tavern in Schaumburg. "I'm kinda of the dumb blond for sure. I'm not the smartest cookie."
Even if it's a gimmick to further her modeling career, the "dumb blond" bit is working. Dye -- dubbed by the show "the Platinum Partygirl" -- is being splashed across the Oxygen cable network this summer. On clips, Dye's shown in a hair-pulling fight and some in-your-face shouting matches.
Since the show debuted last month (and frequently replays), Dye's been paid to make club appearances, is doing more modeling and intends to use her national TV exposure to move her career beyond waitressing.
"I want to try and do more things," said the Bartlett High School alumnus. "I've got photo shoots coming up ... and I want to make my own vodka drink. I have so many ideas I want to do."
When "Bad Girls Club" first aired in 2006, a New York Times review called it "a great argument for bringing back programming with actors." Critics condemn its negative messages and woman-on-woman violence. But it's been such a popular series, it's generated spinoff shows, a mobile phone app and a line of merchandise that includes $15 glue-on fingernail prints.
Dye even tattooed the show's logo behind her ear.
She likens herself to Snooki, the "Jersey Shore" star.
"We're kinda the same. I like walking around in onesies," Dye said. "I dress kinda like her. I like to party and just not get into all the drama."
Dye says she hasn't talked to her mom since the show aired, but her dad finds the show "hilarious" and "closes his eyes for the makeout parts."
Filming in a Cabo San Lucas mansion, swimming with dolphins and having roommates for the first time in her life were among the highlights of the experience, Dye said.
"Everything was really fun for me," she said. "I could have had better Mexican food, though. I'm not going to lie."
• Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are always looking for suburban people in showbiz. If you know of someone who would make a good feature, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com