See whether they’re still happy with their televised overhauls and what they look like today.
On Thursday’s new episode of “For Real: The Story of Reality TV,” Andy Cohen dove into the world of TV makeovers, highlighting shows like “The Swan,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” “Trading Spaces” and “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.”
Originally on the air from 2004-2005, Fox’s “The Swan” took so-called “ugly ducklings” and transformed them with full body plastic surgery makeovers. The women would be paired with a coach, surgeon, dentist, trainer and therapist — without looking at themselves in a mirror throughout the process — before finally seeing their reflection during a big reveal each episode.
The show was criticized at the time, but appearing on “For Real,” surgeon Dr. Terry Dubrow said they all had “very good intentions” making the series. “It’s sort of the real life version of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show,'” he joked.
“I knew that the word ‘The Swan’ was something that everyone in the world knew what it was, the story of the ugly duckling and that was the show,” explained creator and executive producer Nely Galan. “If you had 2-3 months to hit the reset button on your life and you had to get a little plastic surgery so you feel like you could go on a date, you do it.”
“Two days before the show came out, we got some review in USA Today or something and it said, ‘Who is the person that created this show and how could they do that?’ and I remember I started to cry,” she added. “My intention was so good.”
“I laugh now because so much of what we did it hair, makeup, extensions, everything we see on the Kardashians today,” she said with a laugh.
Season 1 contestant Kelly Alemi joined Cohen for an interview, which began with him asking for her reaction to critics saying women came out of the show looking “hideous.” The photo above shows her at the start of “The Swan,” after her makeover and, on the right, her now.
“I’d say everybody has an opinion,” she answered. “When I first saw myself, I was just in shock. When we saw ourselves initially in the mirror, we had to retake it because I was like, ‘That kinda does not look like me.’ They told me not to react like I did the first time, but I was happy with my makeover at the end of the show.”
Dubrow also revealed that during one of the big mirror moments, he started feeling sick — but it had nothing to do with the woman’s appearance. “The curtains open, they look themselves in the mirror and I remember turning off to the side and throwing up and one of the patients thought I was so grossed out by the result that she thought I vomited because of that,” he said. “It was because I had some food poisoning!”
Season 1 runner-up Cindy Ingle was also interviewed for the episode, where she was asked whether she still felt “chicka-bam” about her transformation. The photo above shows her right after her “Swan” makeover and, on the right, now.
“I do, yeah I do. I still feel chick-a-bam,” she said, before revealing she had to go back under the knife after the experience. “I unfortunately kind of did some damage. I was playing softball and I took a fly ball to my face … I kind of crushed my face and have reconstructive surgery done. My family had warned me that all this is expensive, don’t mess it up. I was confident.”
During the show, she had an eyebrow lift, raised cheekbones, a facelift, buckle fat removed, nose and boob job, tummy tuck and thigh lip. Ingle said she was “ecstatic” after the makeover.
“My little boys, at first they didn’t recognize me. But once I started talking, then they knew it was me. They were so happy for me,” she said. “I am [still] happy, I’ve lived some time overseas, lived in Italy for a while and sort of embraced Italian food — cheese, wine, bread — so I’m not what I was before I got there, but through ‘The Swan’ and having that confidence, I’m happy with the way I am.”
The show then turned its eye to “The Biggest Loser,” first interviewing Suzy and Matt Hoover, who got married after their time as contestants on the show.
Hoover said the weight started creeping back on for him after he returned to his normal life. Eventually, he “finally had success” with weight loss after having surgery. “The reason I chose to do it was because I felt like it would allow me the opportunity not to fail for a while,” he added. “You see all these winners, all the praise they get, but then why don’t they come back for reunion shows? Because they gained the weight back.”
Danny Cahill — who lost a total of 239 pounds on the show — also appeared. He can be seen above after completing his season and, on the right, now.
“191 I left the show, kept it off for 4-5 years and then slowly started gaining weight back and now I’m 350 pounds again,” said the 2009 contestant. “It’s been hard, it’s really hard. Only 3% of people who lose large amounts of weight, keep it off in the long run.”
He also pointed to a study done by the National Institutes of Health on him and a few other contestants, which found that their metabolisms had severely slowed after their rapid weight loss. While that’s somewhat expected, he explained, their metabolism never rebounded. “So that was shocking,” he added, saying he also did stop working out.
“For a while I was angry and then I was sad and then depressed and of course when you get a guy like me who has food issues, when we get sad and depressed, that’s what causes you to gain even more weight,” he said. “If somebody asked me, ‘Would I do it again?’ I absolutely would because of the positive that came out of it.”
He also recalled watching the show with his son after he filmed it, telling the boy that, “No matter what kind of pickle you get yourself in, all it takes is a change of mind to get yourself out.” He said he’s applying that to himself again now. “I’m in a pickle I’ve gained that weight back, I want to lose it, but I’m gonna do it in smaller steps, in a little bit longer time,” he added.
The episode also included a few interviews with “Celebrity Rehab” contestants Lisa D’Amato and Janice Dickinson — who both realized their substance abuse issues stemmed from childhood trauma during their time on the show.
“When I was on Celeb Rehab, it was very taboo. So if you went on Celeb Rehab, you are a garbage person, you are somebody that everyone frowns upon,” said D’Amato. “Drew and all the executive producers said, ‘Everything that you’ve mentioned about your childhood, I just want you to know straight off the bat that you’re very lucky that you’re alive.'”
“They told me your story can help others not go down a dark path,” she said, getting choked up. “I would never want anybody to go through what I’ve gone through, never.”
Though the show also has its critics and several of the stars who appeared on it have since died, Dicksinson praised the series for really getting her sober. “Addiction is a fatal disease,” added Dr. Drew. “There were many success stories, there were way more than average.”
“For Real: The Story of Reality TV” airs Thursdays on E!