Everything old is new again. VH1 is combining the current TV reboot trend with the ever-growing embrace of '90s nostalgia for the (seemingly inevitable) revival of always ridiculous reality show The Surreal Life. As fans remember, the series takes a group of celebrities — often with eccentric and unique personalities — and sets everyone together in the same house for two weeks of challenges both planned and unforeseen. Similar to shows like CBS' hit Big Brother or MTV's The Real World — which saw its own reboot of sorts this year — the fun is really in seeing how the housemates interact and get along with each other. (Or how they don't.)
The Surreal Life originally ran for six seasons, premiering in 2003 on The WB before eventually moving to VH1. Celebrities from the original run included rapper MC Hammer, former MLB star Jose Canseco and Austin Powers actor Verne Troyer, whose drunken urination on everything in the house quickly became an iconic moment for the series. The Surreal Life reboot is set to premiere on VH1 in the fall, though no specific date has been announced, and the cast boasts the same caliber of celebrities with strong personalities - Dennis Rodman is in the headline, after all - which should make for some pretty entertaining TV. Let's check out the The Surreal Life cast members, and where you've seen them all before.
Dennis Rodman is as much known for his flamboyant personality as he is for his talent on the basketball court. The antics of the NBA bad boy, who has long sported numerous piercings and tattoos along with an ever-changing hair color, was most recently featured on the Chicago Bulls docu-series The Last Dance. Over the years, he also had high-profile romances with Madonna and actress Carmen Electra, and even became a professional wrestler, fighting with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. Possibly the most unexpected of Rodman's actions was the friendship he struck up with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Lives don't get much more surreal than Rodman's.
Adult film star and director Stormy Daniels was in the news a lot a few years ago after accusing former President Donald Trump and his attorney of paying her $130,000 to keep quiet about an affair that allegedly occurred in 2006. Daniels also once considered a run for the U.S. Senate in her home state of Louisiana, as one does, and outside the world of politics, she has made small appearances in the films Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, as well as an episode of Party Down.
August Alsina is an R&B artist whose third studio album, The Product III: State of Emergency, was released in 2020. But more so than for his music, Alsina became a household name the same year after he detailed the affair he had with Jada Pinkett Smith. The singer particularly raised eyebrows by saying that Will Smith had given his blessing for the relationship to continue, and while the Smiths at first denied that the "entanglement" occurred, Pinkett Smith later admitted to starting a relationship with Alsina while she and the Fresh Prince were separated. Smith continued to deny that he gave permission, so it's presumed that topic will come up at least once on The Surreal Life.
Tamar Braxton, the R&B singer and younger sister of Toni Braxton, is no stranger to reality TV. She was featured with her sisters on WE's Braxton Family Values, and obviously fronted the spinoff Tamar & Vince. She's also been on RuPaul's Drag Race, Dancing with the Stars (which she had to leave due to health problems) and on Season 2 of Celebrity Big Brother, which led Braxton's former housemate Joey Lawrence to be less than complimentary of the eventual winner. The singer has hit some tough times in the past year, as she addressed an apparent suicide attempt in July 2020, and had a restraining order filed against her by her boyfriend a few months later. But here's hoping that she's feeling better before going into this volcano.
Frankie Muniz is best known for playing the title role in Malcolm in the Middle, but Muniz has done quite a lot in the 15 years since that series ended. Muniz has competed on Dancing With the Stars and has made guest appearances, often as himself, in shows including Arrested Development and Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, and earned lots of kind words for his killer appearance on The Rookie earlier in 2021. The new dad is also a race car driver, and he's spoken openly about the concussions and mini-strokes he's suffered that have contributed to some pretty severe memory loss.
Kim Coles, who was part of the original cast of the classic sitcom In Living Color, is also joining The Surreal Life cast for its reboot. Coles also played Synclaire James-Jones on Living Single, a series that needs a revival like few others, and recently appeared on an episode of HBO's stellar A Black Lady Sketch Show. The comedian has appeared on the celebrity panels of a number of game shows over the years, including Pyramid, To Tell the Truth and Hollywood Squares. She also has history with VH1, competing on Celebrity Fit Club in 2005.
CJ Perry is better known to professional wrestling fans as Lana, who was released (in pretty brutal fashion) from the WWE this summer after eight years with the wrestling promotion. But Perry is also a singer and actress who appeared in the movies Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2. Perry is married to fellow professional wrestler Miro (formerly Rusev in the WWE), who left the WWE for AEW in 2020. She has appeared on the wrestling reality shows Total Divas and Total Bellas, so The Surreal Life should be easy-peasy.
Manny MUA is a makeup artist and beauty blogger who came to fame via his popular YouTube channel. His makeup tutorials led to him becoming the first male brand ambassador for Maybelline, and he now has his own makeup line called Lunar Beauty. I'm particularly excited to see what makeup tips Manny MUA and Dennis Rodman will be exchanging! Manny MUA also recently partnered with President Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci for a town hall to clarify rumors about the COVID vaccinations.
The fun of The Surreal Life's original run came in big part from the wide spectrum of personalities of the celebrities living together, and the chemistry that formed between some of the co-stars led to quite a few spinoff series for VH1. Strange Love starred former housemates Flavor Flav and Brigitte Nielsen, while My Fair Brady gave us a look at the continued relationship between Christopher Knight and Adrianne Curry. What bonds will be formed in the revived version of The Surreal Life, and could they lead to even more reality series? (Say, from Manny and Rodman?) We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime be sure to check out our 2021 Fall TV schedule to see what else is coming soon.