Miami Dolphin Richie Incognito is exactly the kind of guy you might expect to be a bully: a big, strong dude with a lot of aggression and an equal helping of entitlement — and a lot of people in the NFL patting him on the back for expressing it in the most Hulk-like way imaginable.
While his work on the field may have earned him a reputation as the dirtiest player in the league (the kind of prize they’re giving out for alleged eye-gouging these days), it’s his off-the-field antics that are getting him in hot water — most notably, his texts and voicemails to fellow Dolphins player Jonathan Martin, in which he uses racial slurs against his teammate and threatens violence against both Martin and members of his family.
Incognito admits to playing pranks on Martin, but has blamed his reprehensible behavior on an idiotic sense of humor and an unwritten “boys will be boys” code of ethics that extends well off the field. While it may seem clear to outsiders that Incognito is a nightmare in both his professional and personal lives, for football players like him, who receive head trauma with the same regularity that most people take showers, it might be difficult to spot the difference between good-natured teasing and outright assclownery.
But the NFL isn’t the only workplace where the norms of behavior are so warped that abusive, insidious threats could go unnoticed. Here are five places–televised nonetheless– with massive scandals, lawsuits and even criminal charges just waiting to happen.
1. NBC’s The Biggest Loser: Jillian Michaels and her band of ultra-fit friends help turn the morbidly obese into the oddly veiny almost overnight, but the heavily armed trainer’s mission is clear: to scream at you until you’re afraid of your fridge, your bed, chairs, and doing pretty much anything other than running with kettlebells. Who would even notice if she threw a few obscenities into her tirades every once in a while? (Click here to check availability via FilmOn in your area.)
2. Oxygen’s The Bad Girls Club: Let’s be clear: most, if not all, of what happens on this show is straight-up assault, but even Bad Girls feel the sting of a bitch who’s gone too far. If you rip their weaves out, do their scalps not bleed? If you poison their Patron, do they not die?
3. British Parliament: The shouting! The accents! The one guy who didn’t get the memo about wearing a navy suit! We love how the feigned politeness can carry such obvious spite, but we’re pretty sure the aggressive finger pointing and projected spittle from the speakers mouths would get half the House of Lords sent to anger management training if it were America.
4. Bravo’s The Real Housewives: This show is essentially a bully-off, although few ever identify it as such. Whether it’s girls in New Jersey accusing one another of being prostitutes, the girls in Beverly Hills accusing each other of husband stealing, or the girls in Orange County accusing one another of being gold-diggers, there’s almost no level to which these women won’t sink in pursuit of paychecks and Pinot.
5. E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians: Do we consider building an empire on your daughter’s back (har, har) bullying yet?
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