The impression that reality television is a world of pop-culture glamour and imminent fame (albeit of the 15-minute, “Access Hollywood” variety) has rarely been squashed so dramatically as it was by Brianne Burrowes’ recent appearance on MTV’s “Miss Seventeen.” The Polson homegirl and UM journalism student applied for her dose of reality TV because the thought of being a cover girl for the influential teen magazine was a lifelong dream. But amid the glare of the cameras, the hustle of New York City and the pressure of competing against 16 other girls for the coveted prize, Burrowes, 20, had an Emmy-worthy meltdown on Monday night’s episode before quitting the show mid-season.
Either through the magic of editing or due to the cattiness of the house, Burrowes was made into the show’s token nutcase from the start. Every reality show has one—think Omarosa in “The Apprentice” or Puck in “The Real World”—and Burrowes fit the bill as an allegedly hyper-controlling, overly-competitive, ultra-dramatic stalker type. In the first two episodes, Burrowes got herself called “scary” and “crazy” by fellow competitors, and was chastised by Seventeen editor and series judge Atoosa Rubenstein for turning a team-based contest into a personal love note to the editor. Nonetheless, Burrowes survived two rounds of cuts and was one of nine remaining contestants when she completely lost it backstage at a taping of MTV’s “TRL.”
The seemingly benign assignment to report on “TRL” turned into a cat-fight as Burrowes (shaken after being heckled by strangers while trying to interview those waiting to get into the show—not to mention accidentally touching one woman’s breast during a chaotic Q&A) got into a shouting match with her competitors over the sanctity of the competition.
“For me, this is my future,” said Burrowes, questioning the motives of those around her. “This is my job.”
Amid tears and more yelling she added, “You’re all, like, whatever. You guys are so immature it’s not even funny…I deserve a byline [in Seventeen], and they don’t!…Ever since this started you’ve done nothing but try and make me look bad…I don’t want to be affiliated with a house of liars.” And so on.
Burrowes ended her affiliation with the show by calling together the rest of the contestants and announcing that she’d quit. “I’ve had a feeling in my gut that this isn’t right for me,” she said, perhaps preempting an inevitable cut.
Ironically, Burrowes’ team won the “TRL” competition, and the entire team—including Burrowes—will get bylines in an upcoming issue.
Welcome back, Brianne—we hear they’re hiring at the Entertainer.