It’s been an extremely fertile few weeks in feuds, thanks to Taylor Swift. The biggest stories – Kanye’s video, DJ Four Names, Katy Perry’s Twitter – have all involved her presence. Perhaps to balance all this, the Gossip Gods have delivered a low-rent celebrity feud courtesy of Jenny McCarthy and Tara Reid. It’s passive aggressive blonde-on-blonde crime (even if Jenny is technically a brunette right now), ripe with the kind of saccharine digs Tara Reid probably traded with Paris in the bathroom stall at Hyde in the early aughts.
On Friday, Tara was a guest on Jenny McCarthy’s Sirius radio show, Dirty, Sexy, Funny. I am not a Jenny McCarthy fan (in fact I wrote this piece about her anti-vaxx stance and it got me weeks of the most delightful hate mail) but I have to acknowledge her career hustle. I don’t think it’s easy for Jenny to get acting work but radio and reality TV is the perfect place for her type of personality (loud and sanctimonious).
As for Tara Reid… I feel semi-sorry for her even though when she was famous (in North America) she spent a lot of time in filming in Vancouver and had a reputation for being absolutely awful. She has managed to stay in European tabloids (which will never cease to amaze me) and has embraced the camp with the Sharknado franchise. She shows up for it, doing press and social media. It’s Tara Reid, the expectations aren’t exactly high; if she manages to not fall asleep or try to explain whale and shark cross-mating in an interview, her PR team considers it a win.
I listened to her exchange with Jenny McCarthy a few times, and it goes from awkward to bitchy real quick. Jenny asks Tara about her appearance on reality show Marriage Boot Camp, which Tara did not want to talk about. Jenny presses a teeny bit, but moves on to Sharknado after a few quick questions. By this time, Tara was testy, giving non-answers.
Then Jenny asks her about plastic surgery, which Tara says she’s talked about extensively and doesn’t want to comment on anymore. Jenny tries to course correct with some compliments and seems legitimately puzzled as to why Tara is shutting her down, and then Tara whispers off camera, half-answers one more question and says she’s leaving.
This is when Jenny escalates it (which must be the delightful power of having your own show – you can call someone out without worrying about getting fired). When Tara says she’s leaving, Jenny keeps speaking in her soothing radio voice while telling Tara, “I hope your knees get a little wobblier than they already are.”
You know why this stings? It’s so specific. The whole time Jenny is praising her about being so open with her surgeries and asking about getting in shape for Sharknado, clearly she was thinking, “Look at this broken-down hag.”
This is where the cringe comes from, because it’s terribly honest. Tara Reid’s body is one of the few in Hollywood that is subject to open mocking, but to have another celebrity essentially say to her face, “Do you know what everyone says about you behind your back? Hmm? They say that you're a homeschooled jungle freak that's a less hot version of me!” has to sting.
Tara claps back talking about Jenny’s tits and how they go to the same surgeon (UM, who would go to the same plastic surgeon as Tara Reid?) and Jenny is essentially responds with, “Ya, and?”
Jenny ends it with “Good luck on Sharknado 18.” Again, this is a pointed jab. It’s the kind of insult that you’d think up hours after having a confrontation with someone, when it’s 8 hours too late. So kudos to Jenny for being quick on her feet.
Jenny’s milking this on social media (as any media outlet would) and has been retweeting comments on the fight and making fun of their collective plastic surgeries because again, she’s not precious about her place in the celebrity eco-system. She’s a proud D.
Tune in for replay of @TheJennyMShow to hear why the only show we might ever be on together in the future will be Botched. Ch 109 8 pm EST— Jenny McCarthy (@JennyMcCarthy) July 15, 2016
Tara’s rep tried to paint this as bullying, but it’s not like Tara’s legion of fans are rallying around her, fist pumping for her body positivity and honesty. Whereas Jenny functions as the brassy post-Playboy-era, sex-positive “real” reality star, Tara provides schadenfreude. She’s a calcified relic from 2002, the name people whisper when a young starlet is starting to go off the rails, and the human version of a car crash tabloids still occasionally slow down to gawk at.
Jenny certainly won this fight but it’s not exactly a fair one. Tara is foggy and slurry, Jenny is sharp and energetic. Making it even more lopsided is Jenny’s years of experience battling science and logic – what chance did Tara have?
You can listen to the full interview here.