How the 10 Most Famous Reality Shows Are Actually Made
Everybody knows that reality shows have nothing to do with reality. They have a prepared script, prepared participants who provoke conflict, and of course, great editing. All these things make the lives of the participants look like a cohesive TV series and millions of viewers can’t stop watching!
Bright Side decided to check which aspects of these 10 popular reality shows weren’t actually true. We have to admit that we were amazed: some of the shows turned out to be almost completely true!
Pimp My Ride
“Pimp My Ride” was one of the coolest reality shows of the 2000s where guys turned old cars into fantastic cars with TVs inside and huge speakers in the trunk. But in 2015, Huffington Post held an interview with the participants of the project and found out that in fact, it wasn’t all as great as it appeared to be on the air. They said:
- “The cars were in garages for about 6 months on average instead of several weeks as it was presented to us.”
- “They tuned the cars only for show: first, they didn’t fix the internal parts, second, most of the cool things they put on the cars were removed right after shooting (mostly because of safety precautions because installing a monitor on a door handle to watch a movie while opening the door is a really strange idea).”
- “Rusty cars, completely broken parts — most of these problems were made up by producers at the beginning of the show in order to demonstrate how big the transformation was.”
“I know that I’m quite overweight but they went too far. According to the script, there were supposed to be sweets all over my car, allegedly in case I would get hungry. But I never had any sweets in my car, it was made especially for the show. In the trunk, they installed a cotton candy machine. I think they liked this idea and they just used a fat guy to implement it in real life.”Seth Martino
- “The final parts of the episodes were often shot many times. The producers said, ’Come on! We tried! Give us more emotion.’”
- The only person all the participants had very good memories of was Xzibit. As one of the participants remembered, “He was always relaxed, funny, and supported all ideas.”
One of the most popular shows on TV looks a lot like a fairy tale. Well, in fact, it is a fairy tale, we’ll try to explain.
- First, there is an audition: some of the girls are invited for ratings, for example, famous models or bloggers. Another aspect is non-standard looking people: unusual appearances, professions, an extravagant image, a difficult life, and so on.
“I auditioned for The Bachelor and didn’t get picked to be a contestant because they said I wasn’t pretty enough and didn’t have an interesting life story! They were obviously only letting attractive, interesting people on the show!”Reddit User
- The shooting process continues 24 hours per day, so a lot is not shown on air. The material is compiled in a way that makes it look more dramatic.
“During my exit interview, a producer asked, ‘Don’t you miss your family?’ and I just lost it,” she says. “So as I’m talking about my family and how I miss them, I’m then asked about how I feel about Ben. I’m crying, and it appears that I’m devastated that Ben didn’t choose me.”Jamie Otis, participant of "The Bachelor"
“My friend’s sister made it pretty far on Juan Pablo’s season. We would hang out at her watch parties afterward. She said the producers DO have a lot to do with almost everything (not a shocker) and she basically says she just went on for all the free potential traveling. Not for Juan...obviously.”Bsatts, Reddit
You would probably agree that Survivor looks the most realistic compared to other reality shows. It is. But there are some things you should know:
- According to the participants, the producers often talked to them before the voting in order to offer them hypothetical ways the story could go. “What if this participant leaves today? What if you said that?” These questions planted ideas into the participants’ minds and sometimes made them make different decisions. This is a manipulation, but on the other hand, they didn’t intervene directly.
- The shooting crew helped the participants, but the stories are all about cameramen lending their lighters (but on the show, it looked like they got fire thanks to glasses and sunlight), or a journalist sharing candy. Not more than that.
- The theories about a hotel where the participants allegedly stayed are not true. There were hotels but only for the crew and usually on the neighboring island. On the island with the participants, there were only 5 people: 2 cameramen, 2 journalists, and a doctor.
Conclusion: Judging by the stories of all the organizers and participants, the show was very real and difficult. Many of the participants lost a lot of weight which is more proof that everything happened for real.
The Voice is a show where there is no need to attract popular people or make fake conflict. However, there are some things that you should know.
“A friend of mine made it to the blind auditions and was eliminated. He wanted to sing a certain song for the audition that airs on TV, but NBC didn’t have the rights to it, so they gave him a song that was honestly out of his league. Then when he didn’t get picked, the judges turned around and told him the song was too ambitious. His family and friends that came (the ones you see in the back room with Carson) only saw him very briefly during that taping, then he was taken back to the hotel the contestants stay at. It’s not surprising, NBC has a very successful show on its hands, and will mold it as they please. He got a lot of press out of it though and has managed to stay living off of his music career, so it’s not all bad.”heatsensitive, Reddit
And here is some information about coaches. If you’ve always wondered how such famous people can spend so much time on a show, here is the answer:
“We coached with her a few times and then the majority of our growth was left to us on our own. In addition, of course, to the vocal coaches and producers.”Ddendyl Hoyt
Man vs Wild
Man vs. Wild is a UK show hosted by Bear Grylls as he survives really tough conditions. Here is what the show’s Assistant Director says about the production of the show and the difficulties the camera crew had to deal with:
“We had proper food packed with us, but I would occasionally try some stuff Bear had — like live fish or the rocks in Mexico.
We would try to control the risk where possible, though. We shot Bear walking along the edge of a 600-foot cliff in Copper Canyon, and Simon was following him with the camera, but could not see the edge because his eye was on the eyepiece and the camera was obscuring his field of vision toward the cliff. So we had our mountaineering safety guy, Dave (the other unsung hero of the series) put a harness on Simon and keep a hand on him at all times, ready to pull him back if he looked like he was getting too close.
I suppose the only ’cheats’ per se were that whenever Bear had to do something dangerous, like jumping off a waterfall, we’d thoroughly check it out first, testing the depth, checking for hidden obstacles underwater, etc. before letting him jump off.”KenTheExAD, Assistant Director
America’s Next Top Model
The most unusual aspect of the show is Tyra Banks. Let’s talk about the things that she managed to achieve.
“My sister was on there for a few episodes as well (Kathryn, cycle 12, forever branded ‘The crazy pen girl’) Tyra humiliated her, but apparently pulled her aside afterward and gave her a half apology/half ‘that’s showbiz’ explanation. My sister also said that her entire staff LOATHED her because of her outbreaks.”lady_jaye
“Any girl who has been on ANTM can back me up. No one wants to take us serious as models. I am sure the show lost its credibility in producing a top model somewhere between making 3 cycles a year and posing on roller coasters.”Cycle 7 winner CariDee English
And it’s really true: the show of one of the most popular top models in the world didn’t produce the next America’s top model. Out of 24 cycles, only 3 participants became famous: CariDee English who became a speaker for The National Psoriasis Foundation; Yaya DaCosta who played Whitney Houston on screen, and Analeigh Tipton who also became a Hollywood actress. But none of them became models.
Tyra commented on it this way, “On my show, I didn’t just make models, I made personalities. So, when I was sitting there in my character and I was fiercely criticizing the girls’ photos, I was trying to train them.”
Well, okay. But everyone expected to see professional top models in the end!
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
“I helped audition people, I got the contestants to sign their paperwork after they were done on the show, we had people who took a test 30 times but never passed.
One of my dad’s friends auditioned one time. He was a smart guy but he didn’t pass the test. He was sooooo mad. He refused to accept it and called my dad to yell at him. It put a strain on their friendship and I don’t think they talk anymore. Most people fail and refuse to accept it.
Charles Barkley and Spike Lee made me trash a dressing room one time. I spent two days setting it up and they destroyed it in 3 minutes. They weren’t being mean, just having fun. It was pretty fun. Tyra Banks was terrible.”TheNotorious HAM, worked as an assistant
What Not to Wear
This was one of the first reality shows about “fashion help” where the participants’ old clothes were thrown away and they were given a credit card with a lot of money to buy new clothes. Here is what the participants of the program shared:
“They gave all my things to Goodwill. I had a few things that were my grandmother’s. I kept them.”Erock346, Reddit
“The other interesting thing is that the $5,000 is YOUR money. You pay the tax on it so you don’t have to actually spend all of it. You could buy a belt and be like, ’Okay, peace out, I’m done shopping.’ They can’t make you spend your money. (Of course, then there is no show so it’s a trade-off...)
I was super lucky, or maybe this is the norm, but one of the producers told me the first day to NOT spend all $5,000 and set aside some of the money for taxes. As you are shopping, someone else has control of your money. It isn’t like you are walking around with 5,000 in your pocket so it is difficult to know how much you have spent and when to stop. I constantly checked in on where I was moneywise!
And finally, the other thing NO ONE sees on air is that a huge chunk of your money goes toward tailoring. Literally EVERYTHING you buy is later tailored to you. At the end of the week the seamstress comes to your hotel room, you try everything on, she pins and marks it all and a few days later everything is all returned to you with the perfect fit. You pay for that service out of your $5,000 as well as any accessories and shoes.”Joannati, participant of the project
The point of this reality show is simple: 2 teams of chefs compete against each other supervised by Gordon Ramsay. He screams and criticizes everyone.
Regular people take part in the show because of the pressure and the surprises from the crew like when the ingredients are switched, it’s almost impossible to stop watching. And according to one of the cameramen, this is all true.
“The way the show is devised made it so we didn’t have to stage things. Quite frankly, it would be too difficult for us and I doubt any of the contestants could pull it off convincingly. Actors they were not.
The trick was simple: cast hotheads, turn up the heat, give them only a little rest then sit back and watch the fireworks.”John Douglas, camera operator
By the way, during the second season, one of the producers noticed that at the beginning of the show, only 4 participants were smokers. And by the end of it, there were 10 smokers among them. Isn’t this proof of the atmosphere of the show?
Keeping Up With the Kardashians
This is the reality show that made the Kardashians the most famous family in the world. Journalist Mariah Smith discovered the principles of how this show works.
Let’s take a closer look. In season 11, in one of the episodes, there are 3 plots:
- A-Plot was Kris Jenner’s birthday party planning
- B-Plot was Kim’s birthday party
- C-Plot was Lamar Odom’s overdose
The stories are shown so that everything works like a movie, so there is a beginning, a development, and an end. But there are continuity errors. The events of one episode are supposed to happen at almost the same time, but in the same episode, you can see (now things might become a little confusing) Kris’s boyfriend presenting her a car for her birthday. But the scene was shot in August even though Kris’s birthday is in November.
So, the August episode is not about the birthday and it was only included in this episode just because it made the plot stronger. So, some episodes may actually be written by scriptwriters in order to make the scenes more powerful.
Bonus: Britain’s Psychic Challenge and other similar shows
As it turns out, shows like Britain’s Psychic Challenge often have invited actors to play psychics. Below is a situation that happened in the Russian version of the show.
The participant and winner of season 15, Julia Vang amazed the viewers with her amazing abilities. But few people know in 2009, Julia starred in a comedy movie. Earlier, in 2006, she took part in a different TV show where she played the role of a popular Russian singer’s lover. So, in the past, she was an actress and then suddenly became a psychic. However, there may be a simpler explanation: she is still an actress pretending to be a psychic.
Maybe you have your own opinion or your own stories about these shows? Tell us in the comment section below.
Preview photo credit Man vs. Wild