When good TV goes bad: how Blue’s Antony Costa closed the door on MTV Cribs

Once an insight into Mariah and Missy’s mansions, the show soon turned into tours of four-bed semis, complete with Spurs posters on the bedroom door

Think back to the innocent times of the early 00s. Back then, Snapchat and Instagram Stories didn’t exist, so the only way that celebs could display the ostentatious and tacky ways they’d decided to decorate their million-dollar mansions was to invite a camera crew from MTV Cribs into their homes.

And it was fascinating. It didn’t matter that every week the episode played out in exactly the same format: a suspiciously tidy fridge; A-list mates coincidentally hanging around; musical instruments placed strategically around the house so the celeb could pick them up for an “impromptu” jam; the “hilarious” part at the end where the star throws the film-makers off the property. Viewers just couldn’t get enough of the formula. Because, back then, it was the only way to see how stars really lived.

MTV somehow managed to get huge names to give what was essentially a guided tour of their property to potential burglars every single week. Missy Elliott slept in a race-car bed. Fat Joe licked the bottom of his trainers to prove he only ever wore them once. Beyoncé gave us a tour of her Arabian Nights-themed bedroom (“with these really cool clouds painted on the ceiling!”) and revealed that little sister Solange lived in the garage. And Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains told us he slaughtered his own cows and stored the meat in a huge fridge that stood right in the middle of his living room. Week after week, everyone would open the bedroom door and say: “This is where the magic happens!” The biggest names in music and celebrity let cameras on to their properties and MTV edited this unparalleled access down to a snappy seven minutes.

The most iconic episode was the hour-long special tour of Mariah Carey’s New York apartment in 2002. You know the one: Mariah goes on the treadmill in her home gym in heels. She refuses to show the camera crew a piano once owned by Marilyn Monroe and won’t explain why. She shows off her spare bedroom, which is literally covered in butterfly print, from the bed to the walls to the curtains. And then she gets in the bath in front of the camera crew, wrapped in a towel. The show is the most rewatched and replayed episode ever, according to MTV.

Then it started going downhill. They ran out of amazing mansions. Steve-O from Jackass’s house looked worse than a student flat – it was covered in beer cans and he slept on a mattress on the floor. A-list names and celebs struggled to live up to the hype. The rapper 50 Cent had to admit he didn’t actually own the three Ferraris on his drive; he’d just rented them. JoJo revealed the suspiciously empty house she’d taken cameras around was actually her uncle’s holiday house. Robbie Williams pretended he lived in Jane Seymour’s mansion. The true rock bottom, however, was when Blue appeared on the show and Antony Costa sheepishly showed the crew around his mum and dad’s four-bed semi, complete with Spurs posters Blu-Tacked to the bedroom door. It was over. We’d seen behind the curtain and it was a bit too real. Blue: you ruined this for everyone.


Issy Sampson

The GuardianTramp

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