Is This Why Extreme Cheapskates Got Canceled?

Most people welcome ideas on how to save money, which is probably why TLC's reality show Extreme Cheapskates was so popular in its first seasons. However, many viewers stopped tuning in to see how some people cut costs after the show's third season aired, leading to its cancelation in 2014. The reason? It most likely had to do with the eccentric people featured on the show, who took scrimping and saving to the extreme.

A review in The Hollywood Reporter said it was "not for weak stomachs," citing scenes featuring unusual habits such as not flushing toilets, dumpster diving for food, and reusing dental floss. That was only in the show's first season, and many viewers abandoned the series as those depicted took their frugality to even more extreme and disturbing levels. Since participants were supposedly compensated, according to The Tennessean, viewers also questioned how real this reality series was. 

Many viewers thought Extreme Cheapstakes was fake

One of the biggest criticisms of Extreme Cheapstakes was that it was allegedly faked. A Reddit user posted supposed proof in the form of side-by-side images of Christina Oster from Worst Cooks in America and Kia Campbridge from Extreme Cheapskates that appear to show the same person. One commenter noted, "A lot of reality show stars are actors." 

The website All The Frugal Ladies listed five reasons the series was "completely fake," including the argument most of the actions depicted were more expensive than the alternative. For example, one star drove to various restaurants to pick up ketchup packets to save on the cost of buying ketchup. "You know what's more expensive than a freaking ketchup bottle? The amount of money used to drive around for hours picking up ketchup packets," the website posted. On another site, BrokegirlRich, the writer claims she was contacted by producers, but her ideas for saving money were too boring for the show. "[A casting director] wanted me to sign up for a bunch of free online dating sites and start going out with guys so they would buy me dinner," she wrote. 

One episode featured Kate Hashimoto, who is seen dumpster diving for food, but a comment on the YouTube video for the episode claims, "TLC actually staged and scripted most of this ... Matt and Rose shown here aren't actually her friends because Matt and Rose are actors, which is why their introduction to each other is so awkward."

Some ideas shown on Extreme Cheapskates are unhealthy

Common Sense Media also pointed out Extreme Cheapstakes' content can be bad for your health and even unethical. For example, the O'Brien family was shown washing dishes in the same swimming pool their children had just gone swimming in (via YouTube). Another participant, Stephanie, is shown reusing clearly dirty water to cook for her family, leading one commenter on YouTube to say, "This is lowkey abuse. The amount of bacteria she's feeding her man and children, but can get her nails done? Disgusting!"

Some of the dental habits depicted on the show even led Advanced Dental Arts, P.A., in New Jersey, to write a post about proper dental hygiene, citing Extreme Cheapstakes as a reference. It could be in part because of one episode, in which a couple shares a toothbrush and dental floss (via YouTube). Regardless, most of what viewers saw on the series maybe should have come with a don't-try-this-at-home warning. 

Some Extreme Cheapskates episodes were too disturbing for viewers

Besides displaying unhealthy practices, some of the cost-saving methods depicted on Extreme Cheapstakes were downright disturbing to viewers. Take, for example, Vickie, a mother of five, who was shown taking her family along to find roadkill, which she later prepared and served for their dinner. One commenter on the YouTube video for the episode wrote, "This is child abuse. Those little kids need good nutrition."

According to Huffpost, millionaire Victoria Hunt is featured in an episode, and she claims she urinates in a jar rather than a toilet to save costs associated with flushing, but that's not all she does. She also dumpster dives as a means of foraging for food. Meanwhile, another self-made millionaire named Aimee is shown serving her friend a tuna sandwich, which isn't made from regular tuna — it's made from tuna-flavored cat food, which she claims saves her 30 cents a can (via YouTube). 

While strange and unusual acts can sometimes draw audiences, acts such as these might have driven viewers away. Even so, anyone who is curious can now watch old episodes of the series on discovery+