There’s a scene in the early episodes of Stan-exclusive series UnREAL, Lifetime’s smash TV show about the producers of a Bachelor-style reality TV show, where one of the contestants Anna learns that her father’s died and the show’s producers tried to keep it from her. So, she legs it.
Still in her ballgown, she steals a golf buggy and escapes from the show, only to have producers chase after her and bring her back, with a tear-strewn face and dirty feet. Understandable, no? Her dad just died. Yet later, the producer Rachel (for her own, ethically dubious reasons) cuts the footage to make it look like Anna went ‘crazy’ and started attacking other contestants of her own free will.
The point is: reality television is (often) anything but.
There’s a classic Reddit thread that went berserk with insiders spilling the deets on which reality TV shows are real, and which are 100% faked.
Redditor chet11 asked: “People who have been on reality TV shows, what’s rigged and what’s not?” We’ve cobbled together some of the most intriguing answers below.
CASH IN THE ATTACK
I had a friend on ‘Cash In The Attic’ in the UK. The idea is that some antique dealers and so on will scout around in your attic/garage/shed and ‘find’ valuable items to sell.
They found precisely fuck all 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.
I have a friend who signed up to audition for a reality TV show that she thought was ‘The Bachelorette’, or something similar. I guess its standard practice to not give the actual name of the show, and just say, ‘We need good looking, energetic young women for blah blah blah.’
So she got called back, went through a few different interviews and a screen test. Finally, they tell her that the concept is that she will be running a Pawn Shop with another woman. She is a dental assistant with no experience remotely related to the Pawn business.
‘Pawn Queens’ ended up being on for two seasons and they gave her a backstory about how/why she got interested in the pawn business. Not exactly SHOCKING, but it was pretty interesting to see that they basically looked for hot girls first, then put them into a proven concept (Pawn Stars-type reality TV show).
LOVE IT OR LIST IT
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.
THE VOICE? BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT?
Sob stories on singing shows – it’s not the contestant’s fault!
I made it through a few rounds for a well known singing show and they BEG you for sob stories. On my very first application form, I was asked about the most difficult moment in my life, what obstacles I’d overcome to be there, had I ever experienced bullying, etc.
They pretty much make you tell them a sob story. So I wrote all about my heartbreak when I ran out of coffee.
‘Britain’s Got Talent’: There are several hidden rounds with producers before you get to the main stage with the judges. My cousin is a very talented musician and got to the last round before the ‘auditions’, but they said he didn’t have the right image. They select the most watchable acts and usually try and avoid any act that’s too ‘professional’, in case they bow out and get a recording contract outside of the show’s format – this is just concerning musicians, at least. So not fake as such, but slanted.
My cousin was on a Toronto dating show called ‘Matchmaker’ many years ago. She said it was completely scripted and she met her ‘blind date’ before filming so the producers could go over the script with them. They were given a list of ridiculous and racy questions to ask each other and encouraged to make out if they actually liked each other or to cause a scene and be dramatic if they didn’t really click.
SAY YES TO THE DRESS
Probably no one on Reddit watches it, but ‘Say Yes to the Dress’. It’s real. One sister and a few friends have gotten their dresses there, and while they didn’t appear on the show (you get asked when you make your appointment), their experiences were the exact same as TV.
Yes, the consultants really are that personable. Yes, you sit where the show is filmed. Yes, the people on the show really work there. No, they won’t show you anything outside your budget, and yes, they really do bend over backwards to find you discounts if you need one (like on the show.)
I know there are probably cheaper places to buy a wedding dress, but Kleinfeld’s is gorgeous and exactly like it is on SYTTD. The only thing that might be “faked” is if girls/their family are told to be super picky about the dress for ~dramatic effect~.
Fuck most of TLC’s other shows though.
THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE-OFF?
Everything. Every single thing is fake. 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 three 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.
In the very first episode of ‘Top Chef’ they ever filmed, Tom Colicchio flipped out because the dishes the contestants had cooked were getting cold while the film crew took ‘food porn’ shots of them. From then on, all the contestants have to prepare two dishes. One for the judges to sample, and one for the cameras to pan over and show the audience.
Not surprising, Ghost hunting shows are fake…
What is surprising is how they do it: see those fancy instruments they carry that no one has ever heard of? They’re actually remotes, TO EACH OTHER!
All you gotta do is split into 2 groups and when one team is “adjusting their settings” the other team is ‘detecting ghosts.’ So simple and you get twice the footage.
Edit: Also, one time in a screening when the hunters were reviewing evidence, a producer whispered to me “see that Ghost shape behind the door? Ya, that’s the sound guy.”
Throwaway for obvious reasons. I was on Love Island last year. It’s a popular reality TV show in the UK, this year’s is actually on at the moment. I guess people assume some is staged and rigged but you have NO idea how much. We were literally given scripts of arguments to have, things to say. You know when you see them having sex under the covers, not happening. We would have to imitate this 5-10 times each time and the producers would choose the most realistic one.
There is whole parts of the ‘villa’ that you don’t even see. Multiple camera rooms. Ever wondered how the islanders never clean but it always gets cleaned? There is literally cleaners, waiters etc in there the whole time.
Only about 6 hours a day and night are filmed. There is a director there saying cut and everything. You know the £50,000 grand prize for the winner? Doesn’t compare the £75,000 we got for being in the villa, regardless if we were there for 6 days or 6 weeks. When we got out we had meetings and I had over 600 brands queuing up to work with me. Now I’m a nobody and you wouldn’t even recognise my name.
Relationships aren’t real, there is agreements that is 100% for show. Things are never how you seem. Also we are shown the episodes everyday, there is no ‘will be cool to see what i look like on tv when i get out’. There is also outside contact, that is just bullshit. My jaw literally dropped on my 4th day when they showed us the show live on TV because of how different it was to reality.