Reality Stars Reveal The Secrets Viewers Don’t Know
There’s nothing quite like turning on the TV and watching real people react to the crazy situations they find themselves in; who hasn’t checked in on Judge Judy when they’re home sick from work or school? Or maybe Survivor and Big Brother are more your style. Whatever the genre, most people enjoy watching reality TV from time to time, but it turns out there’s a secret….
Given the name “reality TV,” you’d think that these shows would be just that: real. However, not every reality show goes unscripted, no matter how much the network wants you to believe otherwise. The reality stars who’ve graced the television banded together to reveal the secrets viewers don’t know…and your favorite show just might be among the ones they call out.
Guiding You Through Conversation
One of the first production jobs I took was on a reality show TV pilot called “Life Begins at 40.” It was a show that followed the lives of a couple who put their dreams on hold for their kids, and the show helped them pick up where they left off after the kids left the nest. During segments where the couple was talking, the “director” of the show was behind the camera guiding them through the conversation….
They arrived at the house they were staying at, and the husband noticed the wife over packed. The director, off-camera, would tell the husband, “Wouldn’t you say your wife packs too much?” to which the husband replied, “Yeah, honey, you packed way too much!” The director then said, “Wouldn’t you say that she packed up your entire closet?” “Yeah, yeah, sweetie, did you pack the entire closet or something?” Reddit User: directinLA
A close friend of mine worked in casting for several shows. Most notably: Pawn Stars. She told me one night while we were drinking 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. She also said that Adam Richmond, the guy from Man vs. Food, got so sick and out of shape from all the stuff he ate all the time that he could no longer be insured. They changed the format of the show so that he would coach people in eating competitions instead. Reddit User: 50dkpMinus
On MTV in the 1990s
MTV did a reality special on my hometown in the early 1990s, profiling it as “the worst place in the world to spend spring break.” They came for two weeks with a comedian host and made fun of us constantly. For one episode, they wanted to showcase the town’s music scene, so they got a dozen 3rd graders to play Hot Cross Buns on recorders. I was one of those 3rd graders….
The comedian came on the day of and was super serious. He told us this was our big break and would be broadcast to a million people. Naturally, we responded by taking it very seriously and felt that we were representing our town. When the cameras started rolling, it was obvious that it was total rubbish. Then he gave us fake Ray Bans and t-shirts. Reddit User: ThisIsABadUsername1
Revealing the True Cupcake Wars
I worked for a bakery that was on, and won, Cupcake Wars. The premise of the show is to surprise the bakers with a few more often than not odd ingredients and see what they’re really made of. In reality, we found out the ingredients a few months before the show. Had we not known, there’s no doubt we’d have lost….
There are definitely people who thrive under pressure, both in performance and creativity, and they have better things to do with their time than crank out cupcakes for Food Network. Tell an unprepared contestant they have 40 minutes to make a delicious cupcake using tater tots, and nine times out of ten, you’ll have a middle-aged woman sobbing into her mixing bowl. Reddit User: -eDgAR-
Baking 1000 Cupcakes Takes Time
I worked on a baking show for several seasons. They do pretty much everything in advance, including baking the 1,000 cupcakes for the final challenge the day before, as well as building the display piece. It’s not about deception; it’s just about logistics. You have about 12 hours to make an episode, and we only have four ovens to use….
It would be impossible to make the show without cutting a few corners like that. They still have to execute one good batch per round, and very often they screw stuff up on the day that gets them sent home. As far as the “time doesn’t matter” aspect, you need to remember that these people are professionals, and usually, business owners that give up a lot of their time to do the show in the hopes that it’ll be good for business. Reddit User: bigfatbrains
Is Gordon Ramsay a Nice Guy?
I’ve worked in TV and film for a decade. Remember that show MTV Cribs? Most of the rappers’ houses were rented specifically for the shoot. Actors and sports stars were in their real houses for the most part. Gordon Ramsay is actually a pretty nice guy. The Hell’s Kitchen restaurant is a set in a soundstage. The customers are usually friends and invited guests of the show and its crew….
Most reality shows are scripted to an extent, and the cast is usually coached to say certain things during those interview style shots to help tell or shape a story. They are cut together and manipulated as needed to tell different stories. Most of the time, they’re talking about something totally different than what’s happening on screen. Reddit User: ragingduck
They All Hate Each Other for Real
I’ve worked in reality TV for four years and have worked on a ton of different shows. And honestly, how much is fabricated all depends on the show. Sometimes we just film a scene for an hour or two and paste stories together. But a lot of times we film, and the talent gives us what we need solely because that’s honest to god their life….
I’ve worked on mostly housewives-esque shows, and I’ve always said it like this. The drama is real. Their hate for each other is real. The weird stuff going on in their lives is real. But would you ever sit at a table over and over again with someone you truly hated? No. And that’s where the TV show comes in. It all works in some weird way. Reddit User: ElleBeats
He Has a Very High Standard
I worked on the VFX for Holmes Inspection, an HGTV show, which I think was pretty popular in Canada back in 2010/2011. Part of my job was to do set visits to take reference photos before, during, and after the renovations as well as talk to Mike and his crew to understand what was being done and why so we could properly create the visuals….
I will say that this show wasn’t fake. I mean stuff like the first time the homeowners meet Mike is a bit staged as they need to do it a few times to get the different camera angles, but the work done and the problems solved were real. If anything, Mike Holmes has really high standards, to the point that sometimes producers would leave out some of his criticism of work done. Reddit User: RB_Photo
Total Divas Are Deceiving
I work with the cast of Total Divas. I don’t want to get into super specific details, but in short, it’s 100% scripted, literally, beginning to end. There’s not a single storyline on that show that was not produced by a writing team. We aren’t allowed to film the other wrestlers backstage, so if you see a wrestler “spontaneously” coming up to talk to a cast member, it was scripted….
In the beginning, WWE asked us which girls to feature more or less, but as it’s progressed, the E! Network basically controls the “Total Divas” division, both on the reality show and in WWE shows. Scenes shot backstage are usually shot at WWE Live Events rather than “Raw” or “Smackdown.” They’re frequently filmed out of order, so sometimes the girls will be arguing over something that isn’t even scheduled to happen for another week. Reddit User: RandomThrowaway52
These Are Real People
I was in a show for a few seasons. Most drama is instigated by the producer. The conversations are usually forced. Limited time challenges are usually longer because the camera crew needs to set up shots. The personalities are usually exaggerated. These are real people. Some things are staged, but the talent really is that good. The things that are happening just off the frame are horrible and hilarious….
Keeping a straight face is super hard, especially during the cutaway interviews. If they were to make a show about the making of a reality show, I believe it would be the funniest show of all time. There’s a lot of throw-away B roll, and you get used to the camera and forget it’s there. Sometimes you say stupid stuff and then have to apologize profusely to the editor when you meet her. Reddit User: IamSoHandsome
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
I was a lifeline on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Most people probably wonder how this actually works, if we know, and whether we should be ready for a call or not. Just so you know, we were definitely prepped for the call. There were a total of five of us that were chosen as lifelines by the contestant, and there was no mention about googling….
In other words, we were not told that we couldn’t google things, and it was understood that in that 30-second window, we had to help them with the answer, so googling it was actually acceptable for the show. I know that I always wondered about this before I knew how it actually goes down. Better get someone with fast typing skills. Reddit User: Toastwaver
Hailing the Truth Cab
Just so everyone knows, Cash Cab is not completely random. It’s not how they make it seem on the television show. I know this because I was actually on it one time. How it happened was that they stopped me on the street and asked if I wanted to be on a show about the city. They then set up a phone interview to test subject knowledge….
I was then told by them to arrive at a location to film with a friend. When I got to the location they had specified earlier, they said a band was playing on a patio nearby, which happened then to be affecting their sound levels. They then hailed us a cab and said it would take us to the new location. Boom! The lights and cameras were on as soon as we got in. Reddit User: Nhxx
Under Oath at Divorce Court
Not sure if everyone has watched Divorce Court and seen all the drama that happens on there. It actually is all fake and set up; well, in the experience that my daughter had on the show. My daughter and her boyfriend were actually asked to be on Divorce Court even though they were not married at the time that it was being filmed….
The show’s producers then helped them to tailor their story, which obviously was completely made up since they were not getting a divorce because they weren’t married. They made up a story so that it was more interesting for the viewers. You get to see how much production goes into a show like this and how little truth there is to it all. Reddit User: Butta_Butta_Jam
It’s All About Being Prepared
So many people are obsessed with cooking reality shows, and there are like a million of them on TV. My mom actually happened to work with some of the chefs that were on shows like this; most specifically, they’ve been on Iron Chef. I asked her what they said it was like, and it was seriously far from reality and not what I was expecting….
The contestants on the show are actually notified of the category of the secret ingredient beforehand. So basically, they’re told whether it will be a protein, a vegetable, or a fruit. This is so they can plan out some general ideas because otherwise, you’d have an hour of people sitting there thinking about what to make in the end. Reddit User: Naburu
A Lot of Paperwork for a Little Money
The one time, I was on Let’s Make A Deal. It was a really fun thing to experience, and I even won some money. It was only $100, but still. So, on the show, they make this big deal of giving you the cash. Once they’ve done that, they then cut to a commercial break and guess what they do? They take the cash back from you….
Then, after the show, I had to fill out a huge packet of legal stuff. I couldn’t believe all the admin I had to do in order to receive the $100 that I had won on the show. Eventually, I finished up and went home, expecting to get my money pretty soon. It took the money a little over a month to arrive, and it was a check in the mail. Reddit User: kingbrassica
Helpful Hints on Jeopardy!
I was on Jeopardy! a few years ago. One of the contestant coordinators said, “We’re not going to tell you how to play the game, but the stats show that everyone ends up with more money if you start at the top of a category and go straight down” to discourage Daily Double hunting and random category-jumping like that one guy did last season….
It was helpful for them to talk to me about that kind of stuff. They don’t really influence how you play because, at the end of the day, that’s completely up to you. Reality television is fun, especially when it’s more of a game show format. I feel like this shows more reality than the shows you find on E! Entertainment and things like that. Reddit User: monkeyfighting_snake
In the Right Place at the Right Time
I was on Family Game Night after being on the right street at the right time in California. It’s funny how everything happens for a reason and then suddenly you’re on a game show that’s shown on TV. There are certain cards you aren’t supposed to pick because they have nothing behind them. And then it’s your time to pick a game….
They give you like six choices. In reality, they tell you there’s only two they have set up and ready to go. All of the answers and games are pre-planned. Most of the time, the family has already been on the vacation they won so they can show a picture the following week of them in their destination. It’s all smoke and mirrors, but it’s good fun. Reddit User: TheButtNinja
The Staged Singing Bee
I was on The Singing Bee. How the show works, for those of you who haven’t watched it: the show opens, and they look like they pick people out from the audience who happen to be singing the correct lyrics, which allows them to compete in the competition on stage. This isn’t exactly true when it comes down to it….
I was one of those people in the audience that was “randomly” picked out for having sung the correct lyrics. The truth of the matter is that I was preselected long before the show. They then flew me to Burbank before the show and placed me into the crowd, and I pretended to be surprised when I was selected to be on the show. Reddit User: gleenglass
The Wheel of Misfortune
When I was a teenager, I ended up being on Wheel of Fortune, which was just a few years ago actually. How it works is that they basically film a whole week’s worth of shows in a day. I suppose this is because of production stuff and maybe has something to do with the cost of filming the show, so better to just kind of get it over and done with….
Also, they would sometimes repeat rounds if it didn’t go ‘right’ the first time. I don’t know if you can consider that reality television then if they’re doing things over until they get the result that’s right for the show. It’s the same as when a reality show is “scripted” and the drama has all been pre-planned by the producers and directors of the show. Reddit User: socalcountrygirl
Screaming Our Heads Off
One of my really close friends was actually on that show What Not To Wear. Because I knew her, I was then invited to be part of the audience. This is the audience of people who are there to react to her big reveal. This is when she comes out from behind the curtain to show her friends and family her amazing new look….
She came out over and over again, but our cheering was apparently never enthusiastic enough for the producers of the show. After we did about ten takes of this, we were screaming our heads off as if we’d just seen her rise from the dead. That part was really fake. As for the make-over, I just thought she looked alright; it wasn’t as transformative as I thought it would be. Reddit User: seriousrepliesonly
About Your Story Instead of Singing
I’m not going to name and shame the show that I was on here, but I ended up making it through a few rounds for a well-known singing show. When you are going through the process, they really try and squeeze a sob story out of you, even if you don’t have one. I really didn’t have anything that bad happen to me in my life, but they needed something….
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, and if I’d ever experienced bullying. First off, this is probably the most difficult moment of my life, I just had to pay for petrol to get here and I haven’t experienced bullying. I wished the show was about your talent rather than your story. Reddit User: Jenny_thalia
Let’s Make a Deal
I’m not exactly a reality star, but I was on Let’s Make a Deal last summer. First, they told us to be wild, crazy, and exciting. They asked us ‘interview’ questions before we even went inside and told us they used that, and that they were constantly watching us in the audience to determine who to select for each deal. It’s all pre-planned in the end….
So much planning goes into these shows, and you never know exactly what happens behind the scenes. It really is all up to the producers of the show, and you don’t really have a say. If they want drama to go one way, they’ll make it happen; if they want someone to get a deal, that person will end up getting the deal regardless of what happens. Reddit User: KeyofRed
Choosing to Love It or List It
My aunt and uncle were on Love It or List It. The show had them record both endings. So they filmed a version where they chose to Love It, and they filmed one in which they decide to list the house. After this, it’s all up to the production team and the way they want to take that particular episode. The network chooses which one they want….
So how did the episode end with my aunt and uncle? They’re actually still in the house, and they truly do love it; that part wasn’t for show. But if you go and watch the episode that aired, the show makes it seem like they ended up listing it. I get that they have to figure out what will make for good television, and that was the ending they chose. Reddit User: xXGARR377Xx
Finding Your True Voice
I was a reality show contestant in a singing show. I was actually on this season of The Voice. A lot more goes into the auditioning process than people realize. You don’t just turn up, wait backstage, go on and perform, and then have someone turn their chair for you. Before entering, you have three auditions to get on the show in the first place….
You also have a recording session with the producer. So basically they’ve seen your face, it’s technically not a blind audition then, and they’ve heard your voice. Then, when you get to the TV part of it, finally, they also use the version you sang at the blind audition, but they auto-tune it. I’m very grateful for the opportunity, and it was interesting to go through the process. Reddit User: Rockitlikearedhead
An Unexplained Event
I was on the set of Ghost Hunters. They were filming this episode in Buffalo. You see in the episode that aired that they were investigating an upper level of the Buffalo Central Terminal. When they are busy “investigating,” they hear a disembodied voice say something. What they heard the voice saying was, “Get out!”
In this type of situation, it actually really worked in favor of the shoot. Was it actually a ghost? Of course, it wasn’t. It in actual fact was the property manager who was on the lower level at the time of filming. He was busy shouting at some homeless people to clear out. Everyone knew it was him, but it somehow made it in the show as an ‘unexplained’ event. Reddit User: 6cluoj
How to Judge Reality
I still can’t believe I did this, looking back on it, but I’ll admit it here: I was on Judge Judy. Like everyone probably assumes because of how dramatic the show is, it’s very heavily scripted. When I got there, I was basically told by the producers what would be my ‘defense,’ and I was also encouraged by them to argue with Judge Judy….
They told me that if I argued with her, it would make for really good TV because there would then be a lot of drama going down in the courtroom. Also, the courtroom isn’t a real courtroom. It’s just a set of a courtroom. The people in the room are also all just paid extras and aren’t really there to see an actual case. I ‘lost,’ but the show paid the winner. Reddit User: card_set
Reality Is Actually Boring
I’ve been a camera op in reality for about ten years now. People are usually pretty boring. If you want to see real reality, it’d bore you. Nothing would ever happen. What we do is put people in ridiculous scenarios and let their personalities come out as they grapple with it. We all know that the people on “Survivor” aren’t really stranded….
And typically, a single dude won’t date 25 women at once. But if you can suspend your disbelief about the situation they’re in, the show is really about the cast and their personalities and relationships. While a vast majority of reality TV is unscripted, there are many shows that we call “soft-scripted.” This means that we don’t tell them what to say, but we tell them what to talk about. Reddit User: bigfatbrains
The Toddlers and Tiaras Tantrums
I had a friend who worked on Toddlers and Tiaras. He said they didn’t do much in the shooting; if anything, the people there tended to overact and play to the camera too much. The only thing he admitted to doing was when people asked what time it was; they would tell them they had 30 minutes more than reality so that people were constantly rushing….
That said, he said that the editing made the show. Without it, it was boring and dull, but knowing when to put the flashes of temper tantrum kids and ham moms made everything work. When shooting, they would even earmark moments of the kids sneezing and snot flying or whatnot. It’s amazing how the editors work their magic behind the scenes. Reddit User: [redacted]
King of the Nerds
One of my friends was on King of the Nerds. Everything is cut and made to look about 100 times worse than it is. Some scenes and even voice recordings are used way out of order or put over an entirely different scene for humor or tension. Also, some scenes are recorded twice, which sucks when you have to be eliminated twice because they messed up recording it….
General reality show things. Otherwise, everyone is pretty cool. They all still hang out and seem like their own family. No one really has any animosity towards one another, and they mostly joined the show to have fun. It’s cool when people do stuff like this and get outside of their comfort zones and try something they wouldn’t normally. Reddit User: D4rk_N1nj4
MTV Back in 2003
I did an MTV reality show way back in 2003, and it was a decent experience. What surprised me was how much footage they shot for an hour-long show. We shot about four days a week for a month. The crew stayed with me on several occasions, and they were graduate students at the time. I’m pretty sure they didn’t get paid, but they did get credit for the graduate assignment….
MTV didn’t pay to put them up, so they stayed with me and my roommate a lot, and we were both college seniors at the time. The production crew was all good people; the scary thing for me was that since the filming occurred over such a long period, I inevitably said and did many stupid things that the audience would probably find funny and would have been embarrassing for me. Reddit User: michael123
Seen Taping Around Town
On House Hunters, the house is already bought before taping begins. They actually scout for the decoy houses. My boyfriend did some show in NY, and the name escapes me, but it had to do with wrangling wild animals. Production rented the animals, which all came with handlers, and rented the space they were ‘running wild’ in, which in this case was a mom and pop grocery store….
One of the animals was an ostrich, and apparently, it messed all over the produce department, and they did a half-hearted job cleaning it up. He swears they probably sold that produce the next day. On RHOBH, they cut between scenes and takes and literally stop talking and resume conversation once ‘action’ begins again. I’ve seen them taping around town several times. Reddit User: [redacted]
The Truth Behind X-Factor
I know someone who auditioned for The X Factor here in the UK, maybe five years ago now. Most early auditions take place before researchers and production assistants, while only the exceptionally good, laughably bad, plain weird, or those who have a real story are pushed through to Cowell and co. Anyone who is basically normal and with average talent gets weeded out right at the start….
There have been recent allegations that a number of rejected “normal” candidates can get shoved together to form brand new groups pretending they’ve been together forever, but my friend couldn’t substantiate this and didn’t want to speculate. I think it’s true, because this seems to lie in part behind the One Direction story. Reddit User: Eddie_Hitler
Not Doing the Job Properly
One of my cousins went on the show Matchmaker many years ago. It was a dating show that used to be filmed in Toronto. She said they were given scripts with things to say that would make for interesting TV and were encouraged to make out and get hot and heavy for the camera. I also had a friend that used to work on Brian Baumler’s home reno show….
He said Brian was horrible to everyone and only did work while the cameras were rolling. Basically, after they got the shots, they needed my friend and a few other workers left there to get everything done, and they had to work into the night most times. They did a lot of work to a poor standard because the production company only gave them a limited amount of time to finish filming the episode. Reddit User: [redacted]
Directing Reality Television
I’ve directed a couple of “reality” shows. In truth, the shows I’ve done are closer to unscripted, in the sense that there’s usually no script for the actors/talent to follow, but instead, we have an outline of how the episode will go. We know what every scene will be, where the drama will come from, what the big moments are, and where it ends….
As long as those things happen, there’s quite a bit of room for real moments to occur, and these are usually pretty great because the fake moments that we set up for the story can usually lead to some real moments between the talent. It’s fun when this happens and keeps it feeling fresh. We will feed talent lines, ask them to do things again, find ways to escalate the scene…anything that makes it more fun and engaging. Reddit User: rainbowsugar
Not Ready for the Clean-Up
My brother-in-law worked on The Block Australia. There was one morning where there were a lot of people standing across the road with brooms/mops just drinking coffee and having a smoke. After a number of hours, when it hit 12 o’clock-ish, the host of the show finally turned up. Had some makeup done, adjusted clothing, etc….
He called everyone over and had this big speech that went along the lines of: “This is the FINAL day, we have to clean everything and get these places prepared for auction, are we ready?!” Director then called “Cut,” and everybody walked back across the road casually and sat back down, back to their coffee and cigarettes. No one went in to clean any of the apartments that day. Reddit User: [redacted]
It Wasn’t 100% Fake
A friend of a friend was on a Dutch reality show. She’s a hairdresser, and the couple who the reality show is about wanted to come to her hair salon. Before the couple themselves came, the production team came in and talked about what she couldn’t say, that all advertising had to be removed, and how she had to answer some things….
She said the conversation wasn’t that weird, but sometimes they had to say things, and she couldn’t react. It wasn’t 100% fake, but it definitely wasn’t really genuine. Besides that, they also had to film some shots from different angles, so they had to walk in two times, for example. It was a weird experience, she said. I also know someone who worked on Geordie Shore; he said there were scenes where they had to make it worse than it actually was. Reddit User: mjohnk
Making the Show Exciting
I’ve worked behind the scenes on several reality shows. The company I work for does unscripted reality, and it really is unscripted. The most that producers ever really tell a person to do is to rephrase what they said in an interview. One of our shows was a “Pawn Stars” type show, and the transactions weren’t always real. Sometimes they would make the person enter and exit the scene twice to get the shot they wanted….
It’s always the truth that we use, but we portray it in a more understandable, aesthetically pleasing storyline. A lot of magic is done in the editing booth. I’ve sat down with editors and producers in post-production, and it’s amazing what they can do. By adding music and cutting clips exactly the way they want them, it makes the show exciting. Reddit User: RompiendoMal
Being Deceived on Television
I had multiple friends get on the House Hunter style shows. In the show, the individuals are shown houses and make a purchase decision at the end of the episode. But, in reality, it’s completely different from this. In reality, they had already purchased and begun to move into their new home before being contacted to appear on the show….
I got to appear in the “invite your friends over for a housewarming party” scene even though we had already celebrated the housewarming over two months prior. My friends said the worst part was having to see a house that was a better fit than the one they purchased. They had to find reasons not to like the better house. Reddit User: The_Anonymonster
Making Up a Sob Story
A friend of mine had entered America’s Got Talent, and she ended up actually going on the show. I spoke to her about her experience on the show, and it wasn’t what I expected from it. First off, she said that the producers had to tell her what songs she needed to sing, and they even had a winner picked out weeks before the final episode….
They also kicked her off the show for singing a song outside of her country genre, which is what she was known for, but this was a song that she was told to sing by the producers. Not only that, but they also made up a fake backstory for her to try to give her a sob story like all the other contestants on the show. I thought it was all genuine but little did I know…. Reddit User: haleyrose927
Helping Out With the Show
In high school, I worked A/V in our auditorium. While working a bodybuilder show/competition, part of an episode of MTV’s “Made” was filmed. The headliner of the show was someone big in the field, and he was also the “surprise” trainer for some guy on the MTV show wanting to bulk up or whatever. I’d never seen the show, so I didn’t really understand the premise at the time….
Anyway, after the bodybuilder competition ended, the MTV guys asked me to stick around so they could film the guy meeting the trainer for the first time. They gave me a CD and had me play a song as the trainer walked on-stage, at which point I also hit him with a spotlight. We did two takes. After that, I saw them outside the auditorium doing the “talking to the camera” shots. Reddit User: anyburger