On the new E! limited series “For Real: The Story of Reality TV,” host Andy Cohen is taking a look at the history of the popular TV genre. The premiere episode took a hard look at E!’s former hit “The Girls Next Door” and its breakout star, Kendra Wilkinson.
The Playboy model enjoyed a lot of success both through that show and her spinoffs, “Kendra” on E! and “Kendra on Top” on WE tv. She also appeared on “Dancing With the Stars” season 12 alongside partner Louis Van Amstel.
But throughout it all, Wilkinson endured some terrible hardships, including battling postpartum depression, a cheating scandal, a failed marriage, a car accident and a hemorrhagic stroke. On “For Real,” she opened up about her experiences. Here is what she had to say:
Reality TV Caused Wilkinson a Lot of Heartache
During the fourth season on “Kendra on Top,” the family was rocked by scandal when it was alleged that Wilkinson’s husband, Hank Baskett, had an affair with model Ava Sabrina London while Wilkinson was pregnant with their second child, Alijah.
At the time, a source told People that Wilkinson “wanted to throw Hank out but couldn’t because she is healing [from her daughter’s delivery] and needs help with the kids.”
“She confronted Hank, [but] he denied it until he found out that the woman took a lie detector test and had to admit it,” said the source, adding, “She feels so stupid walking around like her life was so perfect and that her marriage was so solid. She feels like such a fool.”
Baskett later told People, “I messed up. I put myself in a bad situation … I didn’t engage in anything.”
Wilkinson said at the time, “I don’t say the word ‘cheat.’ I can say he was not loyal to me. I don’t care about the act. I care about how he reacted to it and how I was told by the media what happened. That scarred me.”
The pair went on to appear on “Marriage Boot Camp,” but they could not work things out and eventually divorced.
On “For Real,” Wilkinson said that “Kendra On Top” started out “as a comedy” but then “reality happened.”
“I was stuck, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know [if I should] turn the cameras off and run the other way or continue to do what I love to do,” said Wilkinson, adding, “I’m very open and unfiltered, which is good for TV, but it definitely caused a lot of heartache and a lot of problems.”
She also said that because she and Baskett have “so much love” for their children, they “chose to shut the cameras off during [their] divorce.”
“We both had to do a lot of healing,” she added.
Wilkinson Also Revealed the ‘Girls Next Door’ Were ‘Not Friends’
Before her breakout stardom, Wilkinson was one of the three stars of “The Girls Next Door,” the docu-series that took viewers inside Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion. Her co-stars were Playmates Bridget Marquardt and Holly Madison, and Wilkinson revealed on “For Real” that the three of them were not friends behind the scenes.
“On camera, you saw us together and it was the trio. But off-camera, we would just *POOF* disappear into our own little worlds. We just never bonded, we were not friends,” said Wilkinson.
The show’s creator and executive producer Kevin Burns also divulged that Marquardt in particular was very concerned with the amount of screentime each of the “girls” got and the fact that Wilkinson was the breakout star.
“Bridget early on would have a stopwatch and she would track how many screen minutes Kendra would get. I tried really hard to give each of the three girls equal time, but it drove them crazy that Kendra was the gift that kept on giving. Whenever you turned the camera on her, you were gonna get great television, and the other girls felt they had to work harder for it,” said Burns.
Wilkinson also laughed as she recalled how she initially balked at the idea of a reality show. “Just don’t film us looking like skanks, OK? And I’ll be good,” said Wilkinson of her initial reaction.
“For Real: The Story of Reality TV” is a seven-part series about the reality TV phenomenon. It airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. Eastern time on E!.
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