22 People Who Spilled the Tea on What Really Happens on Reality Shows
Reality TV could be more relevant than we think. It can catapult people into extreme fame and influence (i.e., the Kardashians), and it can affect the cultural landscape of a country. But just how authentic reality shows are is often up for debate. And these behind-the-scenes revelations from people — actual contestants and cast members included — may affect the way we view these programs going forward.
- I had a friend on Beauty and the Geek. He arrives, and the producers look through his suitcase, and tell him, “You can’t wear any of this.” All the contestants are actually dressed down at the beginning of the series, to make them appear more geeky. When he got his “makeover,” all he did was wear his normal clothes again. © Nihil_am_I / Reddit
- I met a family who was on House Hunters International when they moved to Barcelona. They complained about having to move all of their stuff out of the house so that the show’s design people could come in and make it look like it was on the market. They also had to go back to the airport and pretend like they had just gotten off a flight and were seeing Barcelona for the first time. © MetropolitanVanuatu / Reddit
- My friend was on What Not to Wear, and I was in the audience of people who were there to react when she came out from behind the curtain with her new look. She came out over and over again, but our cheering was never enthusiastic enough for the producers. After about 10 takes, we were screaming our heads off, totally hysterical, as if we’d just seen her rise from the dead. So that part was fake. I thought she just looked alright. © seriousrepliesonly / Reddit
- I was on The Voice. And I can tell you that there is a lot of scripting there. Before entering, you have 3 auditions and a recording session with the producer. So they’ve seen your face (blind audition?) and they’ve heard your voice.
On TV, they use the version you sang at the blind audition, but they autotune it. The interview before the blind audition is also recorded weeks before, but you have to pretend it’s on the day itself. Voting seems pretty real and not scripted. © Rockitlikearedhead / Reddit
- “[In Below Deck,] If we’re moving from one part to the next — let’s say we’re on a night out, and we’re moving from the yacht to a restaurant — we might get iced for a second. That means no more talking to each other, because the cameras have to move positions.” — Bosun Eddie Lucas, a cast member from Below Deck
- “The questions, the answers, the back and forth [in Shark Tank] — it’s all real. Sure, some of it is edited to be a bit dramatic. But it’s legit. And not easy. If you mess up, you mess up. If it goes off course, tough luck. No do-overs.
My Q&A was well over an hour. That gets trimmed to 5–10 min for TV. So some details are left out and certain points are emphasized, but the narrative is right on. The only exception was the preview, which made us look like we got clobbered.” — Dave Vasen, former contestant on Shark Tank
- My aunt and uncle were on Love It Or List It. They had them record both endings, and the network chose which one they thought was best. They are still in the house, and they love it, but the show says they listed it. © **GARR377** / Reddit
- My sister and her boyfriend were on Cheaters. That show is entirely made up. They gave them fake names and fake jobs, and the girl he was “cheating” with was an actress that they use all the time (they can do that because her face is blurred out as if she wouldn’t sign a release). © ImNoScientician / Reddit
- My brother was on The Bachelorette, a top 2 contestant. 99% of it isn’t scripted. He went on the show with 0 expectations. Next thing we know, he’s Top 4, and The Bachelorette filming crew is in my house doing a home visit. And then he comes home 2 weeks later with his heart broken. He legitimately fell in love, legitimately had his heart broken, 100% real.
I will say this, though, it is VERY producer-driven. Producers will ask the contestants the questions that they want answers to and will create drama for themselves to have filmed. To top it off, they are EXTREMELY good at editing, to the degree that they take clips of audio that could have been recorded weeks apart and put them together to create seemingly real conversations. © jviall / Reddit
- I worked as a fake contestant on a game show, it was my job to screw up various contestants as much as I could. Before each episode shoot, they would tell me the challenges and ask me to practice being terrible at them. © Ghalian / Reddit
- My mom was a producer on Judge Judy and no one loses on that show. The show finds your case, flies you out to Los Angeles, and gets you a hotel, all on the show’s dime. But get this, the show pays the judgements. So if she says you owe the other person $5,000, the show pays them, not you. © Unknown user / Reddit
- I was in a reality show. While we filmed the main action, the producers were constantly trying to instigate drama. I’d have a relatively straightforward conversation with someone else on the show, and afterward, the camera guys would immediately get in my face and start asking leading questions. Things like, “Don’t you hate what they said?” or “How bad do you hate what they said?” or “Why do you think you hate what they said?”
Even if you tried to deny that you hated anything, they’d edit you saying “hate” with the person’s name and, voilà, instant drama. They really, really wanted a good friend and me to seem like rivals. So for 2 hours, they separately asked us every question they could to pit us against each other. Until they finally resorted to telling us exactly what to say. © AAAH_IM_ON_FIRE / Reddit
- I had a friend on Cash In The Attic in the United Kingdom. The idea is that some antique dealers will scout around in your attic / garage / shed, and “find” valuable items to sell. They found nothing in my friend’s house, so they pulled some paintings and a vase out of the van, “found” them, then asked him to go and get changed, so they could film a segment from “after the sale.” It all seems like a complete waste of time, aside from the couple of hundred quid they gave him. © PM_Me_Rude_Haiku / Reddit
- On Project Runway, “They don’t let you go home. You all travel in a pack even if you are the first person voted off. You’re there for 5 or 6 weeks. They separate you, and you go down to the basement and stay down there for 12 to 14 hours. So the people who watch the show can’t tell who is off the show.” — Bert Keeter, a former contestant on Project Runway
- My dad was in a commercial and an acting class with one of the guys in Millionaire Matchmaker. Most of those dudes are not actually millionaires! © I_AM_A_B***K_AMA / Reddit
- I was on a cake competition show. The judges recorded 2 takes for every comment, one positive and one negative, so the editors could put it together however they wanted. They rolled the clock back an hour so everyone else could finish. We had over 3 months to plan our “spontaneous” cake.
Oh yeah, and while we won by the judges’ vote... a producer decided one of the other cakes would film better for the big reveal, so we didn’t win even though we should have. © henfrigate / Reddit
- I won Food Network Star Season 7 fair and square. No shenanigans whatsoever. Maybe a little creative “nudging” during the narrative interviews to create a cleaner story, but nothing that changed the course of the competition. Every cooking competition was legit. © TheSandwichKing / Reddit
- My brother-in-law was on MasterChef Ireland. He said it was very scripted on the judges’ side — they would taste the food, leave, come up with what they were going to say, come back, and reshoot. All the food was sitting for about 2 hours before they actually tasted it. © acrav13 / Reddit
- Knew someone on Say Yes to the Dress. It wasn’t scripted, but they controlled the outcome, forcing people to say “Yes” (when really, they didn’t want the dress). And adding drama by asking the contestants to say what they didn’t like about it.
When someone says, “Yes,” they don’t have to buy the dress (no they don’t win them as a prize), but they get something weird, like 16% off if they want to buy it. The person I knew “said Yes,” but didn’t buy the dress. © turkturkelton / Reddit
- A close friend of mine worked in casting for several shows. Most notably: Pawn Stars. She told me that around 90% of the time, the people bringing items into the shop were NOT the true owners.
They would scour the internet for people selling interesting things, and then hit them up to see if they wanted to bring it on the show. If the true owners were total duds and not suitable for camera work, they would pay them a few bucks to take the item and have a trained actor bring it to the pawn shop for the purposes of the show. © 50dkpMinus / Reddit
- My mom has worked with some chefs that have been on Iron Chef. The contestants are notified of the category of the secret ingredient beforehand, like protein, veggie, fruit, so they can plan out some general ideas.
However, the reveal IS the first time they see the actual ingredient. Also, the time limit is only for a set amount of dishes, and they get extra time to make enough for all the judges after. The judging is completely real and unscripted. © Naburu / Reddit
- I was on Biggest Loser. They had the story for the season written before they cast any of us. They take the 1–2 weeks of footage, edit, and manipulate the footage to tell the story they want, regardless of what happened.
We signed a 40+ page contract giving them permission to do whatever they wanted with it — a whole page was dedicated to the variety of ways they could lie to us! It was a fun experience, but I don’t believe for a moment that what I see on a reality show is what actually happened. © Nuttster / Reddit