Lights, camera, now look annoyed!
It’s common knowledge that reality shows take some liberties with their portrayal of “real people” in each episode, constructing the best story they can out of the footage they shoot. But sometimes this process goes to an extreme, and these Redditors saw it first-hand.
[Sources listed at the end of the article.]
My best friend was on *ahem* a certain teen pregnancy show in the US. Now I don’t know if this is always the case, but none of the drama on her episode was fabricated, it was all real. However at one point, they did ask her to reenact a conversation that she had had with her mother off-camera.
The funny part is, they had her reenact it about a week after giving birth so she was no longer pregnant. To hide that, she wore a big sweatshirt and held a teddy bear in front of her tummy so you couldn’t tell the difference.
There was a tornado a few towns over several years ago. My buddy’s dad was telling us about how his neighbor got a brand new house built by one of those home makeover shows. He said the crew would film some construction with the celebrity home designer for a few hours during the day, and then 30 uncredited construction workers would bust out all the real work overnight.
I was on set for a filming of a paranormal detective-type show in Buffalo. On the show, they are investigating an upper level of the Buffalo Central Terminal after closing time when they hear a “disembodied” voice say “You need to leave!” over and over again.
I looked down. It was the property manager on a lower level yelling at some stragglers to clear out. Everyone in the crew knew it was him, but it somehow made it in the show as an “unexplained” event.
My mate was on a reality show about tattoo artists. Basically they get people in with tattoos they regret and make a design they don’t tell them about, tattoo it on and cover the old one up and “surprise” them at the end.
He said they filmed the “big surprise reveal” like 5 times because he wasn’t surprised enough.
Not me but my cousin: She was on a cooking show featuring a certain angry celebrity chef and said that they would film for over 10 hours each day, then the contestants would go to sleep around 11pm only to get woken up at 2am to film again, just to make them more irritable.
The producers would purposely bring up topics to create drama within the chefs. They took a bunch of takes when they answered the door in the beginning a couple times to make them seem “more surprised.” They portrayed my cousin as the “classic hot blonde.” It was certainly more of a reality TV show then a cooking show…
I had a friend a while ago go and audition for one of the big talent competition shows, and he was a very, very good singer.
Anyway, he went and auditioned, and went through some stuff, and they told him that, while he was good, but they usually take people that are either absolutely amazing, or absolutely terrible, and he didn’t fit into either of those categories.
A guy recently did a Reddit AMA about being on a certain reality show about car customization, hosted by a certain rapper.
Everything done to the car was cosmetic, while they didn’t fix the broken-down mechanics of the car whatsoever. I believe he said his car didn’t run before the show and didn’t run after. Basically, a polished piece of junk.
I was on a European version of a very well-known survival reality show where we went to an island and had to survive for 2 weeks. Whatever was seen on camera was what actually happening.
The only fake thing is that we got some food to maintain a somewhat healthy diet. That was nice.
My boss was on [a certain business-related reality TV show] as a guest judge. In the episode, one of the contestants sprained his ankle and got injured. My boss was nice and all concerned, but they edited in a shot of her laughing, that was actually laughing at someone’s joke from earlier.
The filming session for that scene was 10 hours long. They edited it down to about 5 minutes. With that much footage, you can edit it into just about anything you want.
I interviewed for a certain reality show about giving people with a disastrous fashion sense a makeover.
It started at a punk concert I attended. I’d just moved to the west coast and didn’t get the memo that everyone would be wearing a plaid shirt and jeans so I was in full on punk regalia. So this woman approaches me and says she likes my outfit and that she works for a fashion show that she’d like me to be on, and asks for my contact info so she can follow up afterwards.
Later on I get an email from her and find out it was [insert name of show]. Obviously this made me feel terrible since I felt like my outfit looked pretty nice. I battled a lot internally about whether or not I should enter. They told me I would get a prize of my choosing worth $20,000 plus an entire new wardrobe of fashion designer clothing, but the trade off is that it would be really degrading and probably ruin my self esteem, plus they would destroy all of my “alternative” clothing. They said I would have to get all of my friends and family on board so they could have interventions to tell me how bad all my clothes are.
Eventually I decided money is money and went into the audition (I also decided I was going to hide all my favorite clothes so they couldn’t destroy them). A casting director was asking me some questions when the show’s director walked in and dragged him out of the room. She came back in a minute later and told me she thought my outfit looked great, that she had no idea how I had ended up there but that I was welcome to recommend any other poorly dressed friends to the show.
I guess in the end it was a confidence boost but $20,000 prize would have been pretty sweet.
Here in Holland there was a Dutch version of that famous car customization show. A player on a football (soccer) team that my team played against had his car ”pimped” but the car didn’t even make it home. He had to call the car repair service on his way back from the studio…
I was on an Australian reality cooking show, where the premise of the show was that the celebrity chef would meet someone at the supermarket and then cook dinner for them.
On my episode I volunteered at an Aquarium. The story in this episode was the chef met my boss at the supermarket, then cooked all the aquarium volunteers a nice surprise dinner.
Of course this was all pre arranged. There was no meeting by chance. We all knew what was happening so for the scene we all got surprised in the shark tank, we knew what was happening and did 7 takes of fake surprise.
The celebrity chef cooked nothing. He went in for a few takes and an actual chef cooked all the food while the celebrity chef stood outside having a smoke break. The food was average, basically local grocery store quality, chicken parmigian and profiteroles.
I think I drew the short straw there in terms of reality show perks, just a crappy meal. Others get like new cars or renovation makeovers. Oh well.
I was featured on a daytime talk show when I was about 7, when they had this special reality segment where they did a big makeover for me and my siblings. The premise they created was that we were “nightmare children” and my poor mum just wanted us to look smart for an upcoming christening.
The main part I remember was them telling us to jump in the mud and shout “no!” when our mum asked us to stop. Normally we wouldn’t have dared so I remember that being fun! Oh and my sister ruined her hair three times before going on stage so they made us hold her hands so she couldn’t touch it.
While at a bar in NYC, someone approached my dad and his buddy asking if they wanted to be on a gourmet cooking show. Naturally, they agreed and asked if I (14 y/o at the time) could join. The promoter said of course, gave them the location, and told them to tell me not to eat a big lunch as this would be a large multi-course meal at an upscale restaurant.
I skipped lunch that day after a rough lunchtime soccer match, and left school early to meet my father and his friend. We arrived in a strange part of Manhattan — near the Hudson, in a rather dead part of the city. We got a call from the producer saying “sorry man! Wrong location! We’re sending a car to pick you up immediately.”
We hopped into a taxi and… BOOM, “You’re on [insert name of taxi game show]!” the bald-headed host declared as lights flashed above our heads.
We lost the game, got kicked out of the car in Chelsea, and ended up spending our own money on food and a taxi home.
My uncle was on a pawn shop reality show attempting to sell something. The item wasn’t even his. He knew a guy who worked on the show, who offered him to go on the show and pretend he was the seller.
My sister’s friend’s family was on a reality show about families looking to buy a house several years ago, and everything about it was staged.
They had already decided on the house before the show even started filming, and the other two “options” that the couple was “considering” were found afterwards. They filmed a bunch of fake conversations between the family members to make it seem like they were still making up their minds.
The thing is, this was a Spanish-speaking family and every member struggled heavily with English. The conversation scenes were obviously forced, as the family was just stumbling their way through scripted English sentences and it was obvious that they would have been having the conversation in Spanish if they were on their own.
I was on a very famous “confrontational”-type talk show where couples fight it out. The episode never aired but the entire thing was fake. They even asked me to find friends to complete the storyline of a double love triangle.
Coolest part of it all was when they literally asked me if I wanted a fake doctor’s note or a fake death certificate made out in a fake family member’s name in order to get me out of work. They literally had a guy on staff whose only job was to get people out of work so they could attend filming.
When I was in university about 7 years ago we got an email inviting us to take part in a home makeover reality show here in the UK. It’s a show where a person’s family calls in a team of experts to totally re-furnish their house while they’re away from home for the day. The audience at home are led to believe that all of the work is done within 60 minutes, and they make a point to start their countdown on camera and rush everyone in to meet their deadline.
About 10 of us joined the makeover team at around 8am on the day and were given flat-pack furniture to make outside the house before they started the makeover. The crew had a skip outside where they threw all of this poor unsuspecting guy’s furniture, only to be replaced with this cheap stuff that was only available to him via sponsorship of the program. (They list all of the new furniture’s manufacturers in the credits at the end of the show.)
They also masked off all of the skirting boards and light switches ready for painting before we were let loose inside. We were let into the house as a member of the crew who declared the start of our 60 minutes. After 30 minutes of frantic, patchy wall-painting and carrying lamps, uncomfortable seating, and chip board coffee tables into the house we were told to vacate.
We then had lunch in the street while the experts went in to clean up our mess and then did it all again for another strict 30 minutes.
After we were finished and the official 60 minutes were over, there was another period of professionals tidying and filling in our shoddy decorating before we all gathered outside and waited for the man to come home from work. He would find that all of his furniture had been smashed into a skip outside his house and replaced with stuff that may look good on camera for a couple of seconds during a quick sequence, but would be very disappointing to live with.
But the man didn’t know that, so he was happy, and I think we left the set as more experienced, well rounded students with an insight into TV production.
Several years ago, my cousin went in for a tattoo at the shop that is featured on a well-known reality show set in Las Vegas.
It was an ‘off’ filming day, so NONE of the artists from the show were in. He got his tattoo started, and they asked him to come back in a few weeks when it was healed up to schedule an appointment to finish it. When he showed up, filming for the season was finished. The shop was closed, cleaned out, and the space was for sale.
My Dad was on a pawn shop-style reality show, specifically about guys selling vintage comics.
He didn’t want to sell the item, just wanted to show it off. He had some off-the-cuff dialogue with cast live on camera. Did two takes. No script. They did ask him to come up with a “reason” to sell the item, which was based on truth.
I was on set with him as a background extra. It was pretty cool to be there, but I had to stay in the same place for an hour and a half reading the same crappy comic book they gave me. They aren’t allowed to show any stuff by the major comics publishers unless it’s an item someone brings into the store. The crew spends about 15 mins “hiding” all the items from those publishers in the store before shooting a segment.
Overall, loved the experience.
My cousin was involved in filming for a certain dating show about one man with many women competing to marry him *cough* and said they film many scenes in several different ways.
For example, they might film the guy and one of the women cuddling while walking, and then do another take where they say, “stop cuddling and look annoyed at each other,” and so on. It’s all for editing purposes later on.
I guess that’s part of the dramatization but yeah…
Not me, but a good friend of mine was on that reality show about a certain very famous hotel-owning rich girl celebrity. My friend was new to LA and was trying to be an actress (she succeeded by the way). She said everyone there was SUPER fake nice and doing the bratty LA dbutant “get to know you” kind of voice. All over the top personalities. And the producers got everyone drunk to get them going right off the bat.
While my friend is a really good actress, she didn’t have the high-pitched fake airhead routine down. As the first episode is finishing up, its becoming clear she is the odd one out in a group of like 20 girls. She just wasn’t plastic enough.
After a couple interviews and a group challenge thing, the producers say they are taking everyone to go meet [rich girl celebrity]. They put my friend and 2 other contestants in one limo, and everyone else in two other limos. When she got out of the limo, she was at the airport and they were sending her home after the first episode. The other two limos went to go meet [rich girl celebrity] and finish the show. It was one of her first LA experiences and a good lesson learned about how fake “Hollywood” can be.
My younger brother was a side character on a reality show about a family that raised a rare breed of pigs, since he was friends with the family. It was all fake. My brother grew up in town and literally had never worked on a farm before shooting, and was introduced as someone who helped out a lot.
They let one of the pigs out on purpose to catch it while being filmed, and the one that “escaped” used a fake name that sounded better. He said most of what happened was done for the cameras, and they replaced him with another weird (and fake) side character for the next episode. I’m pretty sure the only thing that was real were their names.
My friend was on a reality show about teenagers who want to transform into their dream career choice. It was actually pretty genuine, except she didn’t have anything she genuinely wanted to be “made” into and just chose something she thought sounded interesting. She did work really hard at it during the show, though.
The show wanted her to act like the outcast of her siblings, and portrayed them as mean people when they aren’t (and like they always leave her out when in reality they’re all very close), but aside from that it was mostly all real.
I do recall one day I didn’t know they were shooting, and I’m friends with her siblings as well so I accidentally walked into the room they were filming in to ask her what she was doing. The producers wanted me to sign a form and come in again asking her the same question, but this time have her explain her progress to me. I felt bad for ruining their shot, but said no because I didn’t want to be on TV.
My brother was on a well-known British talent show. There are several rounds before the televised rounds, so all those rubbish acts you see on TV have been picked by producers to go through.
I’ve also been in the audience of a couple of these shows and they make you do loads of fake cheering, dancing and clapping before the show starts so they can cut it in to the actual show. 90% of the cheering you see/hear on the televised shows have been added in post-production.
I was on an episode of a reality show about wives who swap places, you know the one… One of the wives was a burlesque dancer, so her new husband had to MC a variety show of which she was the headliner. I was the juggler in that act. Full disclosure, I’m pretty sure all tape with me on it is on the cutting room floor.
Anywho, pretty darn fake. The people are real, and lots of their interactions are real. But a TON of scenarios are staged. “Ok, now we’re going to plan the show, but make sure Wally (new husband) takes over.” He’d never done anything in showbiz before, so naturally we tried to help him. But the director kept telling us that he was in charge and he needed to be doing the planning. I caught a moment of a personal interview as well. Honest answers, but very much being steered by the camera crew and director.
During the show, the crew said they needed to get “sound levels” so they had people sit quietly, clap politely, clap, clap loudly, etc. I’m fairly certain that was so they could have clips showing a range of responses. In the end, the whole show bit got about 4 seconds of time on screen. Waste of 2 days. No pay.
Back when I was a teen our family was on a small segment on a UK daytime talk show. There was some staging stuff, like there were just three guys on the crew plus the presenter so we’d repeat some things to get extra angles in. And yes when people “arrive” at your house they’ve already been there a good hour setting up.
One thing that sticks with me was a bit where we’d all hop in the car, and then get chastised as it’s healthier to walk to the shop. So we got out and filmed walking down the street. Then the cameras stop and we all bundle back in our cars and drive 20 mins to the closest Tesco to film us arriving there from our “walk.”
Not as glamorous as folks on other reality shows I guess, but even on the smaller shows and segments it made me realize just how “scripted” most reality shows are.