Podcast studio Wondery has set up “Harsh Reality,” a six-part investigative series on trans reality TV star Miriam Rivera’s controversial 2004 British reality dating show “There’s Something About Miriam.”
The series aims to unpack the true story of the show, starring Mexican model Rivera, which aired on Sky. Set in a villa in Ibiza, the series followed six men who competed for a cash prize and for the love of Rivera. The show — produced by Remy Blumenfeld’s Brighter Pictures, which later became Remarkable under Endemol Shine U.K. — revealed she was transgender, but only in the final episode.
The show, which was taped and due to air in November, 2003, was delayed when the six contestants, including the winner, filed a lawsuit alleging conspiracy to commit sexual assault, defamation, breach of contract and personal injury in the form of psychological and emotional damage. The contestants settled for an amount that was not disclosed and the show finally began airing in Feb. 2004.
Rivera was found dead at her apartment in Mexico in 2019.
The series is written by Agnes Borinsky and produced by Eleanor Biggs. Executive producers are Max O’Brien and Morgan M. Page for Novel and George Lavender, Marshall Lewy and Jen Sargent for Wondery. Trace Lysette, best known for her recurring role as Shea on Amazon series “Transparent,” serves as host.
Lysette said: “Like many trans women from the 90s era and before, Miriam was a woman ahead of her time; a diamond in the rough that the world couldn’t appreciate in the way she deserved. I had the pleasure of knowing Miriam through NYC nightlife and the ballroom scene. She was a part of the House of Xtravaganza when I was earning my stripes in the House of Angel in the early 00’s. She was always kind to me and I feel honored to help bring this podcast about her life to the listeners. I hope she can finally be celebrated and appreciated for the pioneer that she was.”
Wondery’s official synopsis for “Harsh Reality” reads: “It was supposed to be a reality show with a twist. In a sun-drenched villa in Ibiza, six hot guys compete for a cash prize and for the love of the beautiful and mysterious Miriam. It’s meant to be her big break: the moment she becomes the superstar she was born to be. But this is the era of ‘cruel reality TV’ and the show producers have a different goal: they want to surprise the men with the fact that Miriam is trans.”
“Harsh Reality” premieres on all podcast platforms on Nov. 29. To coincide with its launch, Wondery is working in partnership with TransLash, a national nonprofit that aims to “tell trans stories to save trans lives.”
Wondery’s credits include “Dr. Death,” “The Shrink Next Door,” “American Scandal” and “Business Wars.”