How real is reality TV? Not much, it turns out.
The following people dish on what really happens behind the scenes on reality TV shows like The Bachelor, House Hunters, Ghost Hunters, What Not to Wear, Hell’s Kitchen, and more!
50. The Manager’s Secret Act
I was on set for a filming of Ghost Hunters in Buffalo. On the show, they are “investigating” an upper level of the Buffalo Central Terminal when they hear a “disembodied” voice say, “Get out!”
It was the property manager on a lower level yelling at some homeless people to clear out. Everyone knew it was him, but it somehow made it in the show as an “unexplained” event.
49. My Mom’s Hypnosis Power
I was on an episode of “Extreme Guide to Parenting”. My mom is a hypnotherapist for a living and so they “interviewed” my brothers and me about getting “hypnotized” to do chores and get good grades. They had us say things like: “My mom uses neuro-linguistic programming to make us do things” and that she hypnotizes us on a daily basis. I was 14 and I had to pretend that I had a crush on this boy and my mom taught me how to “hypnotize him to like me.”
All the parts with me in it were cut out, thank God, but my twin brothers got a decent amount of airtime. All of it was scripted. It was basically a publicity stunt on my mom’s part to get more business. I don’t blame her, it worked pretty effectively and we got a $5,000 check for letting them use our house to film.
48. Silly Acts In, Professional Out
In 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 which often includes the funniest, weirdest, brattiest people, and they 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 the show isn’t exactly fake so much as it’s slanted. The point is a lot that goes on behind the scenes when selecting people to audition, and it’s not solely based on talent alone.
47. Surprise! It’s Cash Cab!
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 years old 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, and left school early to meet my father and his friend.
We arrived in the said location. 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 cash cab!” the bald-headed host declared as lights flashed above our heads. So we lost, got kicked out in Chelsea, and ended up spending our own money on food and a taxi home. Very upsetting.
46. You Should Act Like You’re Happy
When I was in university about seven years ago we got an email inviting us to take part in 60 Minute Makeover (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 is 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 8 a.m. on the day and were given flat-pack furniture to make outside the house before they started the makeover. The crew had a waste container 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 also masked off all of the baseboards and light switches to be ready for painting before we were let loose inside. We were let into the house as a member of the ITV crew declared the start of our 60 minutes.
After 30 minutes of frantic, patchy wall painting, carrying lamps, uncomfortable seating and hardboard 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 this man would have to act happy about his makeover.
45. Do Anything; Just Get Them Out Of Work
I was on Jerry Springer. 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.
The coolest part of it all was when they 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 the filming.
44. Alcohol Fueled Disorientation
A friend of mine was on The Bachelor. This was years ago and she ended up being one of the last four girls. She said they were constantly fed drinks, were put on a strict sleep schedule where they were literally put to bed and woken up. Also, there were no clocks anywhere, so all the girls were in a constant state of tipsy disorientation. She said she had no idea what day it was or what time of day it was. That alone will mess someone up, especially after weeks and weeks like that. Then throw in constant drinking and zero contact with the outside world it begins to feel cruel. On top of this, she said producers would plant emotions and ideas in the girls’ heads. In their disoriented state, the producers would go up to them and say stuff like, “Wow that was really mean of (that girl) to say (all that stuff) about you. You must be really mad at her.” There were no “chance” encounters where the guy is sitting on the couch and the girl goes up to talk to him; all of that is staged. Even their conversations were re-shot over and over if the reactions weren’t right or their wording was off.
She said she hardly saw the guy and basically spent all day either in makeup/hair or hanging out with the other girls. The show centers around the guy, but when he goes on 4-hour dates with one girl, that leaves 15 other girls with each other. And if he just went with Girl A, she has to wait for him to go on dates with Girl B, then Girl C, etc. before Girl A even gets to see him again. The girls spend exponentially more time and get to know each other way more than any single one of them gets to know the guy. The entire thing was completely controlled and she said no one really knew the guy because none of their interactions were real.
43. Magic Fix For The Show
I live in Waco and my company is contracted by Magnolia Home. They have a show on HGTV called Fixer Upper. They are probably some of the fakest, most inconsiderate people I’ve ever run across. One of my best friends’ mom was on the show. They fixed her house just enough to show it— didn’t finish the plumbing, electrical, floors, kitchen or paint. They just made their show and moved on. My friend’s mom sued and won $110,000 judgment all went to finishing her house.
I’m on a job with them and they only show up for what needed for television. The minimal amount possible. And their business in downtown Waco is extremely overpriced but people heard in there like cattle to the slaughter. It makes me so mad. I always wanted to vent about these people.
42. All Because Of The Spider Leg
Back when I was a kid, there was this segment of the kids’ channel that involved a crew walking around asking kids questions about educational stuff. So one day after swimming, my bro and I bumped into those guys and they asked us if a spider had 8 or 12 legs. We both replied 8. I was told to say 12, as it would be more “entertaining” and also because I was the younger one (I was like 7).
Anyway, the segment aired, and a bunch of kids watched it in my tuition center and thought I was dumb for saying 12. I remember sulking the whole day as my brother was trying to tell them it was scripted, but the kids were having none of it.
41. Where Is The Love?
I went on a show called The Year Of Making Love, where we filled in an exam to scientifically match us up with our ideal partner. It studied our likes, dislikes and what we looked for in a partner.
We all had to drive up to Birmingham or some place, and there were 1,000 people— 500 women, 500 men. Split into genders, we sat on each side of a hall, when numbers would be called up and a man and woman would walk onto a stage, meet and walk off down the aisle. My one didn’t show up.
40. Vacation In The Basement
My family won a kitchen makeover from the Martha Stewart show. They said they sent us on vacation for the last week of construction but in reality, we stayed home and ate in our basement the whole time. They filmed us driving up the street, had us change our shirts and then filmed us “getting back from the airport.”
I can’t complain though; the kitchen was nice. Just to be clear, we were never promised a vacation. We were aware it was just something they were telling the audience because it sounded much nicer than “we made them eat in their basement.” It actually wasn’t bad eating in our basement for a while but I can understand how that sounds bad.
39. Cheer The Loudest!
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.
38. It’s Best To Fail It Like Nobody Does
I went to a filming of the American Ninja Warrior. They filmed all night with over 100 competitors, running the course back to back for around seven hours. The only ones cheering like on the show were family members on the sideline; everyone else was kind of quietly observing. It was impossible to figure out who would make the show and wounded up on the cutting room floor.
After watching the actual show on air, even completing the course didn’t guarantee that your run would be shown. The best bet to making it on air was to fail on the course in a way that nobody else had. Also, remember that time that video of a “naked” guy running around on the course? It was planned and fake; the “streaker” is one of the testers of the course, so he knew exactly how to do it, and he wore underwear.
37. It’s An Emotional Pill
I have an acquaintance who was on The Bachelor. I’ll call her Jane. Every morning, the directors would give the girls a pill to “protect them from the herp.” However, Jane has had experience with that particular type of pill and doubted that’s what they were being given.
So she stashed one and brought it back to her local doctor’s office to find out what it is. Turns out they give the girls estrogen pills every morning, which explains why they’re all so ridiculously emotional.
36. We Should’ve Won!
I was on a cake competition show. The judges recorded two 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.
35. More Drama, More Views
My godbrother was on the Monsters Inside Me. It turns out that the show is doctored up. They came to interview my brother and his family members, but ended up taking an acute interest in the divorce of his parents more than they did his incredible survival story.
When the episode aired, they ended up skipping some of the most fascinating parts of his experience and focusing much more on how his illness brought his parents back together which it didn’t. Both of his parents did show up in the hospital, of course, but it was along with each of their new significant others. I have no idea why the writers of the show thought that his parents’ divorce was more interesting than the actual story. Weird.
34. A Different Time inside
I was an “extra” on Hell’s Kitchen, which basically means I was a restaurant customer. It’s not a real restaurant: no one pays for food, they provide free soda and wine and also offer free taxis to/from your home in case you drink too much and need to return the next day to pick up your car.
The only things that surprised me were the way they “manipulate” time. We were there for lunch, with “dinner service” starting at noon — but inside the restaurant, all the clocks were set to 6 p.m. and it was “dinner.” The service is made to look incredibly short on TV, but to feed the entire restaurant took them over three hours. Everything that went on inside the kitchen did appear to be real, including Ramsey yelling at people. He would leave the kitchen for long periods of time, however, while the contestants were cooking.
33. From Two Weeks To Two Days
I was on Holmes on Homes in the second season; we had our weird cement floor replaced with granite. The crew were very nice and almost everything was “authentic” with two exceptions— the work took about two and a half weeks and they presented it as being a two-day job.
Also, Holmes didn’t do much work on our place — not for lack of ability but simply because he was busy as hell; his crew were great and he chipped in and led where he could. We paid for materials but the labor was free.
32. “Choose” The House We’d Already Bought
When my wife and I were looking to buy a home in Michigan, our agent told us we had the opportunity to be on House Hunters if we wanted to. We talked to some person from the show, and they told us the basic process: we’d buy whatever home we wanted, then they would film us there before we moved in, as though we were just looking at the place as well as looking at two other “prospective” places that they had selected. Then we’d ultimately “choose” the house we’d already bought and live happily ever after.
We watched a few episodes (or I did, my wife already liked the show) and I convinced my wife of how stupid they would likely make us look, so we passed. But it is real in the fact that we DID buy that house. So there’s that.
31. When All You Got Was A Cheap Meal
I was on an Australian reality called Surprise Chef. 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 did seven 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 CC stood outside chain-smoking. The food was average, basically local RSL quality, chicken parmigiana, and profiteroles. I think I drew the short straw of things you get in a reality show, a cheap meal. Others get like cars or renovation makeovers.
30. When You Hear Stop, Say NO!
I was on “This Morning” when I was about 7 and they did a big makeover for me and my siblings. The premise they created was that we were a nightmare and my poor mom 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 mom 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.
29. The Pointing Shots
I was on What Not To Wear – AMA. I will say the hours were really long and they don’t make you throw everything away. Also, Clinton Kelly was one of the nicest people I have ever met. He went above and beyond to help me get clothes that worked, even staying on off-camera at the 15th hour of a day to get the right pants. Stacy was nice too.
The weirdest things were the up close re-shoots. If you pointed at anything while being filmed, they’d come in afterward and do an up close of your hand doing the motion. We learned towards the end to just stop pointing.
28. Be The Judge
My dad sued my mom and they both ended up on Judge Joe Brown (because Judge Judy said no). My dad is a scumbag. He dodged child support payments for close to eight years and didn’t contact me or my sister during that time (from when I was 5 to 13). When I was 13, he popped back up out of the blue and wanted to visit, but he lived in the Ozarks and we lived in New England. So he flies out for a couple of days and we visit, don’t really hit it off, and he goes back home. A few months later we get a letter from some producers in LA saying my dad called the number for Judge Judy and filed a lawsuit against my mom, demanding she reimburse him for the money he spent to visit us. It says Judge Judy turned it down, but that they had a new show yet to air called Judge Joe Brown they wanted my parents to appear on it. It also said my mom could file a countersuit against my dad. So, being SUPER-PEEVED, she did, for everything from school tuition, to books, to dentist bills, to my sister’s speech therapy, food, school supplies, clothes, freaking everything for eight years: it came out to like $150,000. So, the filming date is scheduled, and it happens to fall on my first day of high school. My mom decides that’s too important a day to miss, so I’m cut from the trip. They fly out, get put up free in a nice hotel, free meals, spend a while in hair and makeup, then start filming.
Within three minutes, the judge boots my sister from the room— says that a little girl doesn’t need to see her parents fight in public (good man). The judge listens to both my dad and my mom. My dad’s reason for suing was that my mom lived too far away. Judge Joe asks who decided to move to the Ozarks and calls my dad a moron. He listens to my mom list off all the nonsense my dad skated on. Then Judge Joe says if he could, he’d give her every dime she asked for, but the limit is $5,000 and she’s getting it all (the show’s production company/insurance pays out the “settlements,” and everyone signs papers saying they won’t re-file the same complaints in a real court). Judge Joe tells my dad he should be ashamed. My mom calls my dad a deadbeat on national television, crossing that off her bucket list. Both she and my sister got a bonus $300 appearance fee and cards from a bunch of people who book extras/background for soap operas and stuff. Then they spent the next day at Universal Studios, the same day as the MTV Movie Awards, so they got to watch all the limos arrive and some of the red carpet for that. Then on the flight back they ran into some soap opera actors from General Hospital, which is my mom’s favorite; a good trip for her.
27. Fake Baby Bump
Not me, but my best friend was on 16 and Pregnant. Now I don’t know if this is always the case, but none of the drama on her episode was fabricated. However, at one point, they did ask her to reenact a conversation that she 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.
26. Money Is Money Until…
I was interviewed for What Not To Wear. It started when I was at a punk show on the West Coast. I’d just moved to the West Coast and didn’t get the memo that everyone would be wearing a plaid shirt and jeans (on the East Coast, you dress punk for a punk show), so I was in full-on 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 information so she can follow up afterward. Later on, I get an email from her and find out it was What Not To Wear. Obviously, this made me feel like complete trash 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 an intervention 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 filmographer was asking me some questions when the 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 a $20,000 prize would have been pretty sweet.
25. Making Her Look Bad
My boss was on a certain reality TV show as a guest judge. In the episode, one of the contestants got injured. My boss was nice and all concerned, but they edited in a shot of her laughing, which 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 five minutes. With that much footage, you can edit it into just about anything you want.
I thought it also might be worth stating that these reality shows hire scriptwriters. But people misunderstand this. They don’t actually hand contestants scripts. The staff, especially the editing staff uses it to build a story out of the hundreds of hours of footage they take. I imagine they have a direction they want to head in before they interview contestants, and then they build the story however they want to out of what actually happens.
Mythbusters always claimed that their experiments are real and that the hosts wrote their own dialogue. But beyond that, it’s staged for TV. In the “Tastes Like Chicken” episode they go to a butcher shop in SF to buy a bunch of exotic meat. Well, I wanted to eat that meat too so I go there to buy some.
When I get there the meat is totally ordinary and they have no idea why I’m asking about the rare meats. Then I tell them I saw them sell the meat on Mythbusters and they said oh yeah that was staged; they brought in their own meat to film that. Mythbusters is not 100% real.
23. Oops! Too Late!
My cousin was there with her ex-husband. One of the things they were arguing over was a car he left in her trailer’s driveway. In reality, they were getting along just fine but just wanted the limo ride and cash for appearing.
I was pretty young so I don’t remember all the details, but all I remember is flipping through the channels with my dad and backtracking when I saw her face and name. We watched in silent horror for a minute when my dad asked me not to share this with anyone but I was already on the phone with my best friend telling her to put on channel 5.
22. When It Becomes Boring, Drama Comes In!
I’m a tour guide in the mountains here in Canada and we currently have a program being filmed in town. Essentially the idea is that 12 random people all have to run different areas of a hostel. (Kitchen, laundry, entertainment, etc). Anyway, on each of the episodes, the “staff” all go out and do something around the town, be it going to a bar or in my case, on a 4×4 tour.
I was leading the tour for their safety but they brought in some macho guy with ripped camo pants to be the “on-screen” guide, while I was about 20 meters ahead leading him. After that, we were made to stop because the producers decided it was time for a dramatic scene. One of the guys was to say something offensive to one of the girls and she would throw a drink in his face. We were there for about 40 minutes while this poor gelled up guy had a bottle of water filled up and thrown in his face, after which he would dry off and the scene would be repeated. Good times.
21. Some Things Are Taken Off, Some Are Placed Back On
A course broke in Ninja Warrior while someone was on the obstacle and he fell in the water. They made him take off his clothes so they could dry them while they fixed the obstacle. Later they faked it so he just jumps down from the obstacle and continued the rest of the course.
Also, they paused the last stage so they could rest mid-course. One of the contestants dislocated his finger. They put it back during the pause. Too bad; it would have made the show awesome because he finished the first part with a dislocated finger.
20. Planting Items
I worked at a storage facility and we hosted “Storage Wars” one time and it was all staged. People who default on their storage units do not have thousands of dollars in goods stored in there. More often then not it was practically empty or trash. They planted so many items to “discover”; not sure how the bidders actually make money.
We had a regular group of guys that would come to our auctions and when they saw the Storage Wars crew they all left. They are notorious for buying every bin just so they can plant stuff and film.
19. You Don’t Like The Host? Okay, You’re Out!
I worked with a woman who made it to one of the last rounds in American Idol. She didn’t like the way J-Lo treated her, and I guess she kept threatening J-Lo. So they kicked her off and edited her out of the season.
It was the season that Phillip Phillips won, and the reason it was a shorter season. She showed us the American Idol e-mails to prove it, and she had an incredible voice. One of the funniest people I’ve ever met too. So no, not rigged. But don’t upset J-Lo.
18. Forced To Treat It Like A Life And Death Situation
I was on a reality ambulance TV show when I was an EMT. The patients were real and their medical conditions were real. Everything else about the show was fake. In the morning when the camera crew got there, they filmed us driving lights and sirens around the parking lot. Then we did personal interviews where they let us talk about moving bariatric patients and how we felt about our jobs. Then they made us say a bunch of stuff that we normally would never say like “Without us, these patients would die,” etc. They used these clips of the stuff they made us say and spliced it into the real stuff we said.
Our actual ambulance transport seen in the TV show was 100% planned and scripted. The patient wanted to go to the ER and have some decubitus ulcers looked at; however, this patient was diabetic and had a high blood sugar of 400 having just eaten and taken insulin. We were forced to treat it like a life or death situation and then they used our earlier footage of saying things were life and death and our driving around the parking lot lights and sirens to make it seem like we were fighting for her life. In reality, in about 30 minutes her sugar was going to go back down to normal and life would be good. The whole experience actually really turned me off to reality TV and made me realize how fake everything is.
17. The Cheaters Cheated On Us!
A friend of mine was on Cheaters. None of it is real; he met some girl at the bar a few nights before they were on the show. She had just met a producer of the show, who told her if she had a guy to do it with they would make an episode. My friend said sure. So they made an episode.
Everything is staged, and my buddy’s acting is amongst the worst in the world. Really classic episode though. Someone gets slammed on the hood of a truck at a gas station during the confrontation (all staged).
16. The “Cooking” Show
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 “foodporn” 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.
Also, producers speak to contestants off-screen telling them the type of performance they expect and they are given scripts beforehand so they know exactly when to look surprised when the drama kicks in.
15. Risking Investments
I worked on a show on HGTV where people would buy a house and flip it. The drama is not real. One episode they flooded a house on purpose and blamed it on a leaky pipe.
What is real is the risk of losing money. I worked on the show because I work in real estate with his investors, and this guy lost money or broke even on many of the properties. They don’t show the full cost of rehabs, or that they have to pay interest on the money they are borrowing to fund the deal, and filming REALLY slows things down.
14. Ghost Dusters
I was a guide at Fort Niagara when Ghost Hunters shot an episode there and claimed to see an apparition out of the window of the bakery in the French Castle. Turns out it’s a double pane window and due to the imperfections in the glass, it made their own reflection appear distorted as I was able to replicate it the next day.
It’s not that weird things haven’t been witnessed there but I’ve never heard anything I couldn’t blame on the old buildings creaking. Although the lead guide is a former science teacher and a major skeptic, he took a photograph that showed those orbs you see a lot in supposed ghost photos; however, in reality, it’s just dust motes.
13. Two Days Filming, 4 Seconds On Screen
I was on an episode of Wife Swap. 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, it’s pretty 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 (the new husband) takes over.” He’d never done anything 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 four seconds of time on screen. Waste of two days with no pay.
12. It Was All Real Until…
My family runs a bunch of storage facilities in Southern California, which is where they film the majority of shows like “Storage Wars” and “Auction Hunters.” The first year or so it was all real, but then we were getting 50-100 people showing up at all our auctions to try and be on the shows. Auctions on storage units in California have to be publicly announced in the paper a week or so before the auction happens, so people would see that and know when and where to go. It became such a disaster (and people bidding hundreds of dollars on units where there was nothing in them) that it became a problem for the people running the shows, too.
They ended up having to stage the auctions and “hide” expensive antiques in the units. If you look at the background folk in a lot of the auctions it’s often the same people, a.k.a. me and some of my family members, other storage staff members, and friends of people who worked on the show.
11. They Ended Up Blacklisted From Several Stores
I worked on Love It Or List It. The reactions at the time of the reveal of the house were meant to be real and they actually sign a contract saying they won’t go in the house before renovations are complete. 99% of the work isn’t done by the people shown doing the work on TV; it’s actually done by subcontractors.
The entire staff works until 1 or 2 a.m. the night before filming to get the house ready. Most of the stuff they put in for design purposes are taken back after the shoot because it wasn’t part of the homeowners’ budget. We got blacklisted from several stores because we would buy thousands of dollars of stuff and take it back after we shot.
10. They’re Looking For Hot Girls To Run A What?
I have a friend who signed up to audition for a 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 show).
9. A Soul-Draining Experience
The show is called Restaurant Takeover in Canada. The premise of the show is like Kitchen Nightmares, only worse. Failing restaurant, not enough business, family-run, blah decor, food is mediocre, etc. A celebrity chef along with an interior designer/contractor comes in and they check the place out, including food. They proceed to fix the place in terms of the menu and the interior/exterior aesthetic, owners are happy, the end. I work as a cook and have for eight years and a chef of mine calls me up seeing if I needed some extra cash, which I did. Without even asking about it, I agreed to it and then he explained— instant regrets. The episode I worked on had a celebrity chef picked already and I was just the one to prepare everything that was to be shown and filmed. I was never actually on film, I was never even credited. I was even paid late; they said it would be two weeks check in the mail and it ended up being three. The celebrity chef didn’t do anything to help me; he spent most of his time, honestly, having makeup redone and flirting with the ladies on set, the owner of the restaurant included.
Anyway, all the food on the episode was prepared by me and even then, only to the point where it “looked” correct. No need to taste anything. I didn’t even have salt and pepper. The worst part is half the things I prepped wasn’t even used. It was annoying because you would think it was easy since they didn’t care about the actual flavor of the food, only the looks. Heck no, they were giving me ridiculous time constraints because they were rushing filming and were doing things so haphazardly. It just makes everything on these kinds of shows seem fake. I should have never done it. Being a passionate cook and then doing this filming thing just drains the soul ever so slightly.
8. The Suing Game
I was the defendant on a Judge Judy episode in high school. Long story short, a valet messed up my car by taking a dip in the road hard. The valet owner got in a scuffle with my friend’s family and sued me in proxy for physical attack/damage to his belongings/car (all made up!!!) and so I counter-sued for damages to my car.
The case was real and the payout was also real. The judge saw through his BS very quickly. However, the money came from the show’s pocket and not the plaintiff. Whoever loses actually still gets paid to be on the show so it’s so bad in that sense it’s not “true” justice.
7. The Sound Guy Is The Ghost
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 two groups and when one team is “adjusting their settings” the other team is “detecting ghosts.” So simple and you get twice the footage.
Also, one time in a screening when the hunters were reviewing evidence, a producer whispered to me “See that ghost shape behind the door? Yeah, that’s the sound guy.”
6. Pawn Revealed
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 pawnshop for the purposes of the show.
5. The Thing Is, They Don’t Speak English
My sister’s friend’s family was on House Hunters 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 Latino family, and every member struggled heavily with English. The conversation scenes were obviously forced, as these people were 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. The issue was so bad that I’m surprised they even aired the episode.
4. The Bratty Queen
My high school was on a couple of episodes of MTV’s Made. The girl wanted to become more popular and the prom queen. MTV put on a ton of different events in her name to encourage us to vote for her.
What MTV didn’t show was that the reason she was unpopular wasn’t because she was overweight or in the band or anything, though both were true. She was unpopular because she was a giant brat…like insanely rude and witchy. Needless to say, she did not become prom queen. To their credit, the show didn’t try to re-shoot it to make it look like she won or anything.
3. How Fake Hollywood Can Be
Not me, but a good friend of mine was on the Paris Hilton Needs a New Best Friend show or whatever. She 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 débutant 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, it’s becoming clear she is the odd one out in a group of like 20 girls. She just wasn’t plastic enough.
After a couple of interviews and a group challenge thing, the producers say they are taking everyone to go meet Paris. They put my friend and two 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 Paris and finish the show. It was one of her first LA experiences and a good lesson learned about how fake “Hollywood” can be.
2. More Like A Reality Show Than A Cooking Show
My cousin was on Hell’s Kitchen and she said that they would film for over 10 hours on a day, then would go to sleep around 11 p.m. only to get woken up at 2 a.m. to film again to make them more irritable. The producers would purposely bring up topics to create drama within the chefs.
They re-taped when they answered the door at the beginning a couple of 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 than a cooking show…
1. The Faking Factor
My brother was on The X Factor UK. 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 The Voice and X Factor and they make you do loads of fake cheering, dancing and clapping before the show starts so they can cut it into the actual show. 90% of the cheering you see/hear on the televised shows have been added in post-production.