At one point in the mid-2000’s, no late night garbage viewing was complete without an episode or two of Cheaters. While it originally aired in most national markets on The CW Plus, Cheaters gained even more notoriety once it found a home on G4TV in 2006.
The premise was that an ostensibly spurned lover would contact the Cheaters team with suspicions that their significant other was being unfaithful. Cheaters would then send a private detective to tail the suspected cheater until enough evidence had been accumulated to confirm the initial suspicions. They would then present the footage (peppered with audio recordings of phone calls of the now-confirmed cheater caught lying about their whereabouts) to the cheatee, and then once they were sufficiently good and furious — sic ’em on the cheater and cheating accomplice and watch all hell break loose. It was a simple, yet effective formula. Kind of like your Jerry Springer crossed with Cops.
But what was going on behind the scenes? I recently went down the wormhole, and here are some discoveries that I made about the trashiest show of the aughts.
Joey Greco Wasn’t The Original Host
This was something I actually already knew, as I was a fan of Cheaters from early on. When the show debuted in 2000, the brainchild of a Dallas attorney named Bobby Goldstein, the original host was named Tommy Grand (née Habeeb). Tommy Grand was kind of a damp sponge of a host and lacked the smug, sanctimonious pizazz of Joey Greco, so he was replaced in 2002.
The Show Was Likely Staged More Than It Was Real
Before Greco even took over the three ring circus, early into the production of Cheaters, the Houston Press did an exposé on the series by interviewing participants who claimed to have been paid for their involvement on the show. At the time they wrote:
The show’s concept from the outset was a mixture of fact and fantasy, but somewhere along the road to national syndication, the temptation to use faux cheaters must have started looking sweet. Actors don’t need to be tailed by Gomez for weeks on end. They don’t present security risks, and they don’t need counseling. They also tend to be younger and better looking than real cheaters, who often will not consent to allow the show to air their faces.
It makes sense. Although it’s tempting to ignore, when it comes down to it Cheaters is about as formulaic as Full House. Every cheating assignment starts out as basically the suspected cheater meeting an unknown person, then they’re seen holding hands or some crap, then they intercept the lying phone call, and then finally they catch them in full-on intercourse — and of course the cheater is always conveniently on a date with the person they’re having an affair with when confronted.
The Stabbing Was Also Totally Staged
In a 2003 episode, during the most epic confrontation scene ever, Greco and friends track down a shirtless redneck accused of cheating on his girlfriend, who was out on a boat with his mistress at the time. Rather than wait until they came back to shore, the team rented a boat of their own and threw down some amateur coastguard action by pulling the boat over and climbing aboard, which led to the angry boyfriend stabbing Joey Greco in the ensuing scuffle.