Sure, appearing on reality television can be hazardous. Contestants risk humiliation, heartbreak, and HPV for love and money. But who knew reporting on reality television could be so scary? According to Steve Carbone—aka Reality Steve, the ultimate Bachelor/ette know-it-all—his opinion-laden, spoiler-filled blog (realitysteve.com) has made him some powerful enemies. Pilot Jake Pavelka from season 14? Carbone doesn’t think the two of them should be in the same room. Ever. And don’t get him started on ABC. He claims the network has a vendetta against him. They have sabotaged him in various ways, he says, including engineering his disappearance from the E! network’s The Bachelor: Then and Now, which aired last summer.
So how did the Orange County, California, native get started in this dangerous line of work? Well, he has a background in sports radio. He worked for The Ticket 1310 from 2006 through 2008. But even before that, he supplemented sports with Survivor.
“I always watched TV, but I never thought I would get into writing about it and caring about it,” he says, laughing.
The whole thing started innocently enough in 2003 with a little program called Joe Millionaire. “Everything essentially started with an e-mail,” he says. “I e-mailed my friends a recap every Tuesday morning, and they started forwarding it on to their friends.”
Once his gig at The Ticket ended, Carbone focused on his “real” job; he and his dad rep a couple of foreign linen companies. Luckily, the job comes with a flexible work-from-home schedule, which gives him plenty of time to attend to his website, which started out as a lark. It was just an excuse to blog his thoughts about the shows he watched. “For seven years, I didn’t make a penny from it,” he says. All that changed in 2009, when, during the 13th season of The Bachelor, he outlined the diabolical twist the show would take long before the season ended. For those living in a cave: Jason Mesnick chose former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Rycroft. They lived happily ever after until he dumped her for first runner-up Molly Malaney a few months later. On national television. Carbone blogged it all before it happened.
From then on, Carbone became the go-to guy for all things Bachelor. His site now regularly gets 400,000 to 500,000 visitors per week during any given season. He makes money from ads. He is considering a book deal. Life is good.
So you might think Carbone would be excited about Rycroft’s big win in D Magazine’s Top Reality Stars in Dallas contest. You would be wrong. “I had a feeling she was going to win,” he says. “She has turned into America’s sweetheart. I know that tons of women felt so sorry for her, and fans want to see good stuff happen for her.” So, he’s not a fan? “No,” he says. “When everything went down, I was a fan of hers, but I’ve heard plenty of things since that day that have really changed my mind.” And although Carbone clearly likes attention and Rycroft is a pro at getting it, this isn’t about sour grapes. “This is going to come across as jealous, but it’s not,” he says. “She’s not the sweetheart that everyone thinks she is.”
(For the record, he wanted to see ventriloquist Terry Fator win the whole thing. “He’s my favorite Vegas act,” he explains.)
As for the current season, Carbone thinks second-time-around Bachelor Brad Womack will choose someone, but less for romantic reasons than something more insidious: ABC will make him. “I will be very surprised if he finds a wife,” he reports. “I do think he’ll choose someone, but it will be for the show.” Whatever the case, expect Reality Steve to stay on the case. It’s a dangerous business, but someone has to do it.