When season two of USA network’s ‘real-life family comedy’ Chrisley Knows Best premiered last week a record 2.3million tuned in to watch.
With his acid one-liners, camp demeanor and ruthless micro-management of his wife and children Todd Chrisley, 45, ‘self-made multi-millionaire’ and Patriarch of Perfection has proved television gold.
He is presented as the man with everything money can buy and a picture perfect family to boot: his ex-pageant queen wife, Julie, his beautiful blonde-haired children Lindsie, 25, Chase, 18, Savannah, 16 and Grayson, 8, his adorable grandchild 2-year-old Chloe and lovable matriarch Nanny Faye, 70.
This is the set-up from which, ‘laugh-out-loud drama unfolds’
Now you see him: Kyle was on the first season of Chrisley Knows best, but he's been kicked off the show
Now you don't: Kyle Chrisley will not appear on Season 2 of the hit reality show with Lindsie, Savannah, Todd, Grayson, Chase and Julie
But one family member isn't laughing - Chrisley's eldest son, Kyle, 23. Because, as much as he is depicted at all, it is as the one real blot on his father's otherwise perfect life, Chloe's drug addict, dead-beat father. And he's had enough.
Now, in an exclusive interview with MailOnline, Kyle has blasted Chrisley's 'fairy-tale' existence as a sham, dismissed the show as a fake and described his father as bankrupt, toxic and a snake who has shut him out of his own child's life.
He has told how he has turned his own life around after he was ruthlessly dropped from the show.
And he has revealed that today - clean, sober and with the support of wife-of-six months, Lexi, 23 - he is fighting a court-battle to get his child back, sever all legal ties to his father and forge a real life and family of his own.
He said, ‘My dad showed no interest in Chloe at all until the show and until it was pointed out that having a mixed race child and getting her and all that would be good for his demographic.
‘He didn’t want to see her before then. He said he wanted nothing to do with her.
‘This show has been nothing but bad for me. At this point he’s ruined me and he’s ruined the other three kids he’s had who are spoiled.
Doting dad: That's Kyle, not Todd, who his son describes as bankrupt, toxic and a snake
Grayson, Julie, Kyle's daughter Chloe and Todd leave after an appearance on TheToday Show last week
‘But I’m not taking a chance on him ruining my daughter. I’m not taking a chance on him being part of my daughter’s life and with Todd Chrisley everything is extreme - it’s all or nothing. So it has to be nothing.
‘We’re fighting this through court and I think that in two to three months we should have Chloe with us.’
He said, ‘Chloe will turn two on November 10 and I don’t even have an invite to her party, my own daughter’s birthday party. I don’t even have an address for where she is.
‘All I know is that they’re in California. I was told by text two weeks after they all left that they’re leasing a place there. I texted him yesterday to ask for an address, he said I could give anything to my grandmother to pass on.
‘I don’t know where they’re living. But they’ll have to start shooting the next season and Lord knows where they’ll live when they do.’
Chrisley’s 30,000 sq ft home in Alpharetta, Georgia was as much a part of the show as the preening patriarch.
But Season 2 opened with Chrisley and Julie’s surprising decision to ‘downsize’ to a more modest 12,000 square foot abode.
Side by side on a plush sofa Chrisley and Julie explained what had brought them to this decision.
According to Todd: ‘Chase and Savannah are of college age…this is our polite way of suggesting they move on.’
According to Julie leaving their extravagant home was ‘bitter-sweet.’ She said, ‘There were a lot of memories there. But I was ready for change.’
Shut out: 'Chloe will turn two on November 10 and I don’t even have an invite to her party, my own daughter’s birthday party. I don’t even have an address for where she is,' says Kyle
House of horrors: Teresa Terry, who was married to Chrisley and is Kyle's mother says she was a battered wife
What they and producers at USA failed to mention is that, ready or not, change had been forced upon them.
Chrisley is embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings with a debt to the tune of $49million. Documents seen by MailOnline show that the bank was ready to foreclose on the palatial family home.
Laughing in disbelief, Kyle said, ‘They tried to say it was “downsizing”?!’ They had to short-sell that house to stop the bank taking it.
‘They sold if for nothing, for $2.6million, just to cover what he owed on it.’
Since the end of the last season Chrisley’s dire financial straits have become publicly known.
Earlier in the year it was reported that Nanny Faye, Chrisley’s mother, was set to lose the house in which she lived as a result.
Instead, Kyle said, ‘She’s the one who pays the bills right now. She earns $10,000 a month as a care-giver.
Kyles allges, ‘He [Chrisley] said he bought that house outright, cash. Well if he did he must have refinanced it because I’ve never seen a mortgage so high and my grandmother pays that, not him.’
According to Kyle he has yet to have access to the $28,000 he and his siblings received from the first season. A sum from which Kyle claims Chrisley took $5000 by way of ‘management fee.’
But, just as Kyle has been seamlessly and wordlessly removed from the family biographies on the show’s website, his father’s financial problems seem not to exist in the ‘reality’ of his TV life.
Kyle said, ‘The whole thing is fake. He micromanages everything so if you say something and he doesn’t like it he’ll say, “Stop” and tell you what to say and you’ll do it again.’
Bride of Chrisleystein: Todd's first wife Teresa Terry says she knows how dark the reality behind Chrisley Knows Best really is. Teresa was 19 and Todd was 21 when she became pregnant with daughter Lindsie and the couple married
The most recent episode showed the family’s Father’s Day preparations. Chrisley’s children posed for a photograph - all but Kyle who was not there and was barely mentioned.
When he mentiuoned, it was by Chrisely who explained, ‘My eldest son Kyle has had some difficulty in his life which is unfortunately as a result of Kyle doing drugs. We still struggle with this. We’ve been dealing with this since 2009.
‘Does it bother me now as much as it did then? Yes it does bother me. How do you deal with that?’
He added, ‘Kyle is not interacting with his family on a daily basis so right now Chloe has to be with us.
‘It’s heart-breaking and it’s compounded now that we have a granddaughter.’
Speaking from the neat apartment in Chamblee, Atlanta, that he shares with Lexi today, Kyle admitted that his past has been checkered with drug and drink problems.
He has, he said, ‘been in and out of rehab probably 20 times in my life.’ But he is adamant that his problems are in the past and angry at his father’s continued depiction of him as a user, unfit to be a parent.
He said, ‘I have been clean now for more than a year. I’ve taken tests. Every one is clean - urine which is instant and hair follicle which goes back six months.’
But for Kyle, his father’s refusal to acknowledge just how far his eldest son has come, is all about control and the complex emotional and legal ties that binds them together and stand between him and custody of Chloe.
He explained, ‘Five years ago he took out a legal guardianship on me. And five years ago I do believe that if he wouldn’t have got it I would probably be in the ground by now because I was that bad on drugs.
‘I was 130lbs - I’m 180lbs today - I looked like I was starving. I could have died plenty times.’
But, he continued, ‘At that same time I don’t see how any sort of judge could have signed off on the guardianship that he got.
Behind the smiles: Teresa Terry and Todd hold daughter Lindsie and son Kyle. Everything had to be perfect, says Teresa. 'I had two small kids and there could be no toys out, everything had to be picture perfect like a show-room'
‘At 18 it should have been a medical guardianship so if they see me on drugs or relapsing or having mental health issues you can intervene and send me to a treatment facility.
‘But no, he got a guardianship and every box you can mark he marked it. Can’t sign a legal document, can’t contract to get married, can’t do this, can’t do that. And so I have monitored custody of Chloe but he can do what he likes really. I see her for 30 or 40 minutes with everyone there. He puts a curfew on that she has to be back by 6 o’clock. Or he just ups and goes to California with her.’
Technically Chrisley could apply to have the marriage to Lexi annulled under the terms of his guardianship. When the couple married on April 16 this year they did so without his permission. But so far he has not done so. It would be hard to see why any father would want to distance the woman who is clearly such a positive influence in his son’s life.
According to Kyle, Chrisley pulls the legal strings tight simply because he can and whatever genuine concern he may have had for his son’s safety has long since been surpassed by a refusal to allow him to recover and move on.
He said, ‘My dad is all about control. He’s vindictive and manipulative. He’s a snake and if there’s a snake in the grass you don’t know but hell it’ll bite you when you go by.’
The picture Kyle paints of his father is a very different one from the ultimately caring, if overbearing, patriarch on screen.
But it is not a world away from the one shared by his mother, Teresa Terry, 43, when she broke her silence of 20 years and spoke to MailOnline.
She is another figure from Chrisley’s life who didn’t really fit with in the court of Chrisley and was airbrushed out of history when the family was introduced to the public in season one. She is mother to both Lindsie and Kyle.
Teresa’s seven-year marriage to Chrisley ended in an acrimonious divorce which saw her bring a domestic violence case against Chrisley.
Blended: Lindsie and Kyle chill with their younger step siblings from Teresa's second marriage. Kyle remains close with Teresa but Lindsie, who has been super spoiled by her dad, is distant from her mother
In court documents his ex-wife accused him of ‘waging a campaign of mental and physical abuse’ against her. He was accused of stripping her naked and ‘battering her’ with a closed fist. And when she left him she claimed he hired a detective to track her down with her new lover, now husband of many years, and left her ‘fearing for her life.’
Kyle does not live in fear of his father so much as a state of frustration and anger.
There are things in his life of which Kyle is not proud he admitted. Chloe, he said, was the product of a one-night stand with her mother, Angela Johnson, and the two did not as has been reported have any sort of longer term relationship.
At the beginning of last year it was reported that he had attacked Angela, threatened her with a knife and attempted to kidnap the child.
Today he vehemently denies the allegations which did not result in any charges being brought.
Angela is not a presence in her daughter’s life anymore. Neither Kyle nor Lexi know for sure what arrangement she and Chrisley came to when he and Kyle fought for custody.
According to Kyle she got a second hand Toyota Prius, with 200,000miles on the clock but he is not clear what she gave up in exchange.
He said, ‘I was on drugs at the time [she was conceived]. I was on meth. At my worst I would do it all day every day. It was my life.’
He has relapsed once since reconnecting with Lexi, an old high school friend whose best friend is dating Kyle’s best friend.
Happy note: Kyle and Lexi have recorded several songs and posted them online. Many - particularly the second song ‘Shame on You’ - are an exorcism of his feelings over his father
Lexi said, ‘I just said, “No way.” I’m not being around that.’
Kyle said, ‘You can’t get clean for someone else. Or at least you can but it won’t last.’ But with Lexi and Chloe he has found reason to get better for himself.
Together with Lexi he has started writing music - the guitar has always been a sort of therapy to him he said.
They have recorded several songs and posted them online. Many - particularly the second song ‘Shame on You’ - are an exorcism of his feelings over his father.
He said, ‘When my dad heard that he called my mom up and said, “ Have you heard this? Can you believe what he’s written about you?”
‘I was writing about him.’
More than ever, Kyle said, ‘I want to move on with my life. Lexi and me, we’re looking to better ourselves. Get the hell away from him.’
Lexi added, ‘Kyle’s got to step away from Todd and he’s got to let that happen and let him heal.
‘And we had to find something that Kyle loved and that’s just what his personality is. If that’s his downfall I could care less. I want him to do what he loves and be who he is and not walking in a shadow or try to be something he’s not. He’s happiest playing guitar and writing his music.’
Life with Lexi, with his daughter, with a child of their own in time and their little dog, Milo, is what Kyle hopes for.
He said, ‘I am an addict. I’ll be one till the day I die. But I’m in recovery and I want to move on.
‘I like simple things, I like a rural life. I don’t care for all the things my dad supposedly had. But I do care to get back my child and get on with a life of my own.’
When MailOnline approached USA network for comment, the network declined but forwarded our request onto Chrisley’s personal publicist.
Without knowing the actual circumstances of the interview Chrisley immediately took to Twitter with claims that his son’s story had even bought and that MailOnline ‘preyed’ on Kyle.
No money or payment of any kind was exchanged in return for this interview, nor was it solicited by MailOnline who were approached by the couple eager to tell their side of the story.
Chrisley also stated on Twitter ‘hopefully we will locate Kyle soon’ intimating that his son had gone ‘missing.’ According to Kyle he and his father have been in text communication as recently as Tuesday of this week when Kyle asked for his father’s California address and his father did not reveal it.
MailOnline also spoke with Kyle’s mother, Teresa, who visited her son at home only last week. She said, ‘Kyle has been to his grandmother's house on several occasions. Kyle’s attorney knows where he is. Kyle is not missing.
'Todd wants Kyle to be under his thumb and Kyle doesn’t want to be anymore. He wants to make something of himself.’
She added that while Kyle has had mental health issues for which he has sought help he has not been taking medication for four months and is 'better than ever.’
Listen to Kyle and Lexi's music at www.facebook.com/Lexikylemusicref=aymt_homepage_panel%C2%A0