The Top Reality Television Stars of Dallas

The city's favorite boob-tube personalities clashed in a winner-take-all tournament. Here is what happened.

Melissa Rycroft. illustration by David Junkin

The Champ

Melissa Rycroft was dumped in front of millions of people. But living well—and on television—is the best revenge.

I never liked Melissa Rycroft. Readers of my recaps on our FrontBurner blog will remember that I hated everything about Season 13 of The Bachelor. And that included Melissa. I laughed at her horrible taste in clothes. I lambasted her habit of jumping in Jason’s arms and wrapping her legs around him when a simple handshake would have sufficed. I mocked her for thinking that she was ready to leave her life in Dallas, move to Seattle, and become a mother and wife after appearing on a game show. She is pert and earnest and bubbly. She is a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, for God’s sake. In short, she’s everything I am not.

And then she got dumped.

Actually, before that, she “won.” Fans of the show will remember that Bachelor Jason chose her because, as he said, “Melissa makes me feel like she really, truly needs me.” And that’s when we began to feel a little uneasy. It’s never good when a man chooses a woman because she seems fragile. Maybe he sensed that she needed a strong man in her life. Perhaps he deduced that Melissa’s willingness to move to Seattle was a sign that things weren’t so great with her own family. Whatever the case, he proposed. The jubilant couple jumped in a swimming pool (fully clothed) and lived happily ever after.

For a minute, anyway. Until Jason, along with the powers at ABC, opted to dump Melissa in the “After the Final Rose” episode. He tried to explain how things had changed. Apparently, life was different once he’d moved out of the Los Angeles mansion and been forced to return to his crappy digs in Seattle. Things were less fun with the absence of cameras, helicopters, and BMW SUVs. Turned out “real life” was a whole lot less glamorous than those fancy group dates. So it was over. He wanted to break up. But Jason didn’t leave it at that. He also wanted to tell Melissa all about the new, amazing lady in his life—a lady she knew, by the way, because that new someone special was the show’s runner-up, Molly Malaney.

That night, every woman who has ever been unceremoniously dumped became a fan of Melissa’s. That is to say: every woman became a fan of Melissa’s.

Jason and Molly ended up getting married—on television, no less—but Melissa got the last laugh. Guess where she does her job these days? On television. She is unequivocally the most successful reality star in the history of reality stars. Millions of people subjected themselves to the horrible program Dancing With the Stars in order to incur standard text message expenses on her behalf. (She and her partner came in third place.) We smiled when she was named one of People magazine’s “World’s Most Beautiful People” in 2009. And we even managed to hold our tongue when she was hired to cover fashion as a special correspondent for Good Morning America. (But seriously. Where does she shop? Someone help her.) She has hosted the Bachelor spinoff Bachelor Pad. She has interviewed celebrities on Entertainment Tonight. In short, unlike any other reality star (sorry, Kate Gosselin), she’s legit.

As if that’s not enough, our girl Melissa is married—and not to a stranger she met on television. She wed Tye Strickland, the man she dated here in Dallas before the Bachelor nightmare began. This February, the couple will have their first baby. By March or April, you just know she’ll have those six-pack abs back. As if all that’s not enough, she beat out 31 other local reality stars—with more than 130,000 votes in a matter of weeks—to handily win D Magazine’s Top Reality Stars in Dallas contest.

So all that’s a long way of saying: burn on you, Jason. Burn on you.  —LAURA KOSTELNY