One of the most popular genres on television these days is reality TV. Reality shows are everywhere, and have been huge starting with The Real World and especially since Survivor and American Idol first hit the airwaves. Of course, not much of what happens on reality TV, believe it or not, is actually, you know, real.
8No One is Real in “Reality” TV
This one you probably could have guessed, but believe it or not, the people and scenarios you see on reality television are almost never actually real.
Casting directors look for very specific types of people and, through coaching them and some clever editing, turn them into characters rather than real people. If you were to meet any of your favorite reality stars, you’d probably be stunned at how different they are in real life.
And it’s not just the people, but what they do. On Storage Wars, for example, producers have been known to plant items for the stars to find in the storage units they buy. And on shows like Jersey Shore, the people are idiots, but not nearly as moronic as the show would lead you to believe.
7Producers Decide Pretty Much Everything
Have you ever watched an episode of, say, Survivor and wondered why on earth those people go to a remote island dressed the way they are?
You’ve got hot women in little to no clothing, and guys wearing suit jackets, among other bizarre choices. Well, they don’t really have a say in the matter. The producers tell them what to wear, and even more amazingly, they often decide who advances in certain competition shows.
So half the time you’re watching a reality competition and you keep wondering why certain awful people keep sticking around, it’s because the producers have an enormous influence.
6Home Renovation Show Hosts Don’t Do Jack
Not too long ago, the website AVClub.com interviewed a couple whose home was renovated on the HGTV show Curb Appeal, and what was revealed was incredibly eye-opening.
One of the most shocking things is that, in addition to the work being particularly shoddy, the bubbly, friendly home renovation show hosts you always see barely do anything. According to that interview, host John Gidding would arrive for a few minutes, shoot for half an hour, and then immediately leave the set.
Obviously some hosts get their hands a little dirtier, but the friendly rapport you see between the hosts and the “lucky” recipients of a home makeover is pretty much all fabricated because, in a lot of cases, there’s little to no interaction.
5And it takes Weeks or Months to Film an Episode
That same interview also reveals something else pretty amazing: things don’t happen nearly as quickly as they appear. In most of those makeover shows, everything happens in a couple of days or a week at the very most.
However, in reality, the planning takes place weeks or even months in advance, and the actual labor can last a couple of weeks. It’s not just with home renovation shows, either. The hosts of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, for instance, admit that while the show insists that all of the home and personal makeovers take place in one day, they actually worked with the straight guys for three or four days.
Clever editing just makes it look like everything takes place in a hurry because it’s just more impressive to say something happened in a day and a half rather than a month.
4People Looking at Houses have Already Bought Them
People these days seem to love shows in which people buy houses, like House Hunters or Love It or List It. The folks on those shows will go look at a selection of homes and, after a dramatic commercial break, decide what house they want to buy, or in the case of Love It or List It, whether they want to sell their house or keep it.
But you know what? Those decisions have already been made before the cameras ever started rolling. On House Hunters, the people looking already own one of the homes they’re going to be touring, and they just go take a look at a couple of other places for kicks, basically.
On Love It or List It, in most cases, it’s the producers who tell them whether they are going to sell their home, and in some cases, the home is never on the market to begin with.
3Survivor Contestants Get Driven Everywhere on the Island
Survivor is a grueling game, and when you lose a competition, the cameras always show the tribe gathering their things for a long, exhausting hike to tribal council. It’s never clear exactly how long or far they have to trudge through the rain and jungles, but that’s maybe because they don’t actually hike anywhere.
Every time you see them getting ready to go to a challenge or a tribal council, what they don’t show you is that as soon as the cameras stop, they pile into vans and get driven absolutely anywhere on the island they need to go.
2“Secret” Ingredients in Cooking Competitions Are Never Secret
One of the most popular cooking competition shows around is Iron Chef, and one of the big draws is the fact that these amazing chefs have to come up with delicious meals at the drop of a hat, with no prior knowledge as to what secret ingredients they’ll be faced with. Except that’s not true at all.
Before they ever get into the Iron Chef kitchen, they are given a pretty good idea of what they’ll be dealing with, because producers tell them that the “secret” ingredient will be one of two or three things.
That way the chefs have plenty of time to prepare potential menu items in their heads. It’s still impressive, what they’re able to come up with, but it certainly takes something away from the whole thing knowing they aren’t creating these meals on the fly.
1Actors are Absolutely Everywhere
You would hope that when it comes to reality television, the people would at least be real, average people who luck into a spot on a competition show, or in some hidden camera shows, the horrible things they do are real and you’re right to hate them with a passion.
However, that’s unfortunately not always the case. Perhaps the worst perpetrator of filling its episodes with actors is the show Mystery Diners, which sets up hidden cameras so restaurant owners can spy on their trouble-making employees.
So basically, every horrible waiter or manager isn’t actually an employee of that restaurant, but an actor hired to come in and do some ridiculous things. Of course based on how terrible the actors are if you’ve ever seen the show this really shouldn’t surprise you that much.