On Tuesday (April 22), USA Network airs the Season 1 finale of its hit reality show “Chrisley Knows Best,” which has already been renewed for Season 2.
The half-hour show follows the adventures of Atlanta businessman Todd Chrisley, his five children (20-somethings Lindsie and Kyle; teens Chase and Savannah; and grade-schooler Grayson) and his wife, Julie, as they negotiate family events and parent-child conflicts — in which Todd has usually already declared himself the winner.
Fans have debated Todd Chrisley’s loving but tough parenting style and his sexuality (fueled by his personal style and his love of fashion), while news outlets have focused on the legal situation involving Kyle’s problems with drugs and the law, and his baby daughter, born out of wedlock (her birthday is the focus of the finale episode), and the high-living Chrisleys’ legal and financial ups and downs, including a sexual-harassment lawsuit that Chrisley says was dismissed, and a 2012 bankruptcy filling.
All this aside, viewers have embraced the show in sufficient numbers for USA to bring it back. So Zap2it got on the phone with Todd Chrisley to learn more about what makes him tick. Have a look …
On how he sees his relationship with his family:
“For me, I don’t put anything else in front of my children. I don’t put anything in front of my wife. The family that I create with my wife is something that will sustain us through what goes on in life. So, they have to be my primary focus.”
On surviving Julie’s breast-cancer diagnosis (he says the two were supporters of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which battles breast cancer, before they knew Julie had the disease):
“I get emotional about that still, because we just passed the two-year mark. … I read so many articles about women who’ve had similar to what Julie’s gone through, and were told that they were fine, and here they are a year later, two years later, and they’ve been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.
“So Julie literally was in her doctor’s appointment yesterday for her two-year checkup. We stay on top of it. We go every three months with her. Per what her doctor said, I have Julie’s body under surveillance. I can’t stand the thought of not waking up with this woman or not having her for the rest of my life.
“When we first got married, I used to think, I hope when it’s time for the Lord to take one of us, I hope that he takes me first, because I don’t want to die of a broken heart. But now, as I’ve gotten older, and we have children, and we have grandchildren now, I now have revised that instead to, ‘Lord, when the time comes, take her before me, so I know that I have taken care of her until her last day.’
“So the fear consumes me, when it comes to losing her. It’s still very emotional in my life.”
On his first marriage:
“Lindsie was conceived out of wedlock, and her mother and I got married. That was something that I did because I thought it was what I had to do. I’ve only been in love with one woman in my life, and that’s Julie. So, when that occurred, I married, because I was brought up to believe that when you have a child, it’s with a mom and a dad, and you raise them as a family.
“I tried to do that for six years, and it was probably the worst mistake I’ve ever made in my life. So, I would not encourage my children … of course, I don’t mean Lindsie was a mistake, because she was not, and I worship her. Getting married to her mother was a mistake.
“I was married for six years, and we went back and forth probably three times during those six years. I was 21 years old having Lindsie. I went through the divorce, and I got sole custody of Lindsie and Kyle, and I raised them for almost two years before I met Julie.
“When Julie came along, I was ready for her. I knew that I loved her from literally within the first few hours of meeting her. There was something inside of me that said, ‘This is who I’m supposed to walk through life with.'”
On his in-laws:
“Julie said her dad said, ‘If anyone can do this, you can do it, but this is not what we had planned for you.’ And Julie said, ‘It’s not what I had planned for myself, but I love him.’ Her dad was a Southern Baptist minister. He was probably not so kind at the idea of Julie dating a man who had gone through a divorce and had two children.
“But it didn’t take long for that to turn around, once they knew their daughter was committed. They became committed to her commitment, and they have been wonderful, wonderful in-laws. I could not have searched the world over to have found a better wife or to have found better in-laws or to have had better grandparents for my children.”
On his sometimes contentious relationship with teenage son Chase:
“Chase and I have a very strong bond, father-son relationship. Chase does not like when I tell him ‘No,’ or when I say that, ‘It’s not going to happen,’ but he always knows that the ‘No’ comes from a place of love.
“I call it in our home, recovery time. It only takes Chase about an hour in recovery time before he comes back and says, ‘I’m sorry, I know you’re right, but just because you’re right doesn’t mean I don’t want to do it.’ I said, ‘I understand that, just so you understand that just because you want to do it, it doesn’t mean you should do it.'”
On the controversy over his comment to Julie that he only wants his new department store — planned to open in the fall in Atlanta (a few years later than originally planned, according to his charity website) — to stock women’s sizes 4-6:
“My wife went through breast cancer; she had a hysterectomy; she was on Tamoxifen. She went from a six … she’s not a six anymore.
“That comment was taken out of context. It was a private joke between Julie and I that we had a conversation about that morning. She was trying to find something to wear, and I had said, ‘Well, wear this.’ She said, ‘I can’t wear that.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘I just can’t wear it.’ I said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘Because its a six!’ And I said, ‘Why do you have a closet full of sixes?’
“That was our conversation, and then we did an interview that day, and I thought it was a private joke between Julie and I. Where I said, ‘I guess my favorite size is a four to six,’ because that’s what Julie preferred to wear. So that’s why I said it.
“I had the best snarky comeback, and she was 100 percent right. She was a larger woman, and she came back and said, ‘Todd, I love your show, and I love you, but, sweetie, you need to understand that all credit cards are the same size.’ And I started laughing.
“I sent her a personal note, and it said, ‘First, let me say, I love you. Second, let me say that you are absolutely right. That comment was taken out of context, and if it offended you, I deeply apologize. I look forward to you swiping your one-size-all credit card.'”
Tomorrow, Chrisley discusses the rumors about his sexuality, and what happens when Grayson gets a “fresh smile.” Stay tuned.