Quite a while back, I rounded up some behind-the-scenes stories from people who experienced how fake reality TV really is. In the comments, the BuzzFeed Community shared even more experiences of their own.
Here are 14 of their most interesting answers:
Note: These stories have not been verified. Users are supposedly speaking from their own experiences.
1."I was on the show WifeSwap, and it’s all crazy scripted!"
"NOTHING was real!"
2."Made it to the finals of The Real World San Francisco. I was an Illinois frat rat undergrad, and they wanted to know if I would come out on camera. I said no, and that was the end of that."
"Also made it to the finals of Big Brother 2."
3."The TLC show My Big Fat Fabulous Life filmed at the shoe store where my husband worked. He refused to sign a waiver (didn’t want to be on TV), and while he was working with his client, a producer told him he needed to be quiet while they filmed. He told them they were at his place of employment, so they needed to quiet down while he was trying to work. They [allegedly] paid his coworker to ask [Whitney Thorne] out on a date, paid for the date, and offered to fly him to California to film additional scenes for the show."
"He had a girlfriend and was never interested in the 'star.' I watched the episodes featuring the store and the 'date' and thought it was hilarious that she was making fun of how cheesy shoe salesmen are when the entire thing was staged for the show."
4."I was cast on Average Joe in 2003 after a PA stopped me on the street and begged me to go to the interview because he had a quota and was going to lose his job."
"I went to a hotel conference room in Midtown, and there were a bunch of muscle guys/frat boys who said 'dude' a lot...and me (who's NOT a muscle guy/frat boy).
I filled out a 100-question survey and then taped an interview with the producers who 'loved my energy.' I unexpectedly got selected and was sent a contract and a plane ticket to LA. I informed them that I couldn’t do the show because I had just been promoted and couldn’t leave town for a month to shoot.
They then told me that they could guarantee that I could leave any time I wanted and that they wouldn’t make me look stupid when they edited my exit. I never did the show."
5."I was on a TLC Extreme show. It was entirely set up and staged by the producers."
"What you just watched was completely fake to get viewers to watch."
6."When my brother lived in America for a year, he ended up on a Kitchen Nightmares type of show. He was told to cook a meal for the host to try, and he was coached to say that the meal was shit, bland, etc. They made up lies about roaches and rats being in the kitchen, but my brother later told us that he'd not seen a single pest at all in his time working there."
"The restaurant was doing very well, according to my brother, and the drama and problems that they presented during the episode were all scripted."
7."My sister auditioned for American Idol multiple times. You have to get through two rounds of producers before you get to the judges. They pick the really good and the really bad on purpose."
"Pop Stars (if anyone remembers that show) was more legit."
8."My cousin went on American Idol, and she apparently went on a day where they just were NOT in the mood. She said people were literally going in and out like a revolving door. When her number got called, she went in, sang for maybe five seconds, and was shut down and escorted out. No banter, no funny talk, nothing they do for the cameras."
"She and several others hung around after to see if anyone got chosen, and no one did. Only thing that made it to film was two guys and a girl who were horrible that day."
9."I tried out for America's Next Top Model. They had a whole bunch of girls line up chest to back against three walls, and we were all so squished — worse than sardines. The girl behind me tried to block me from being seen by Tyra, who was on the computer screen."
"[She was the] only one girl chosen. She didn’t make it on the show. I was mad I was blocked, but it was for the best."
10."Judge Judy is not exactly real. Yes, the cases and her decisions are real and binding. But it's arbitration, not a court of law."
"She's a retired judge, not a practicing one."
11."I went to high school and college with a guy who tried out for The Real World back in the early ‘00s. I believe he would’ve been on the Las Vegas season. He got pretty far in the process and did several phone and video interviews with whoever was in charge. They didn’t end up picking him, but he said that he could tell by the way they talked to him in the interviews that he would’ve been the 'ignorant small-town guy.'"
"Yes, we’re from a small town, but he’s anything but ignorant, so I’m kinda glad it didn’t work out for him.'
12."A couple I know were on a major Aussie reality show, My Kitchen Rules. They said the season they were on was edited pretty reasonably, but a couple of fun tidbits they told me: The show made out like all the dinner parties were in their real homes, but most of them were actually in short-stay rentals that they were just pretending to live in because most contestants didn’t have a house suitable for filming."
"This couple got sent to a butchers an hour away to film their meat shopping because their actual local butcher didn’t have the right lighting for the film crew. Production made them pretend on camera that it was their local butcher and they knew each other by name.
One 'couple' had actually broken up by the time filming started, but they pretended to still be in a relationship because they didn’t want to miss out on doing the show. On the other hand, another team was a lesbian couple who everyone pretended were 'friends' for the show because one of them was a school teacher in a conservative area and was worried about her job being threatened by it. (They did later come out as a couple in a TV interview.)
The filming days were incredibly LONG and pretty boring behind the scenes. They’d also wait right until the end of the day to film their confessional interviews, and keep probing the increasingly exhausted contestants to say something juicy until they gave in because they wanted to go to bed."
13."I auditioned for MTV's Say What Karaoke. The audition process felt like the cattle calls for musical theater I had experienced, except for one thing: we were all in a huge room together, and your ‘audition’ was in a three-sided cubical facing a camera. You couldn’t hear yourself, and we were all locked in the room for the whole day. No snacks or water, and if you left, you weren’t allowed back in."
"Didn’t make it on the show, but they called us back to be audience members for filming. Filming was long and they bribed us to stay energized with high-ish end prizes. I still have the Donna Karen evening purse I got tossed for faking excitement."
14.And finally: "While I prefer not to say which one, [I was on an] 'improve yourself' type of show. I got picked for my sob story, and they one million percent played it up. [There was] lots and lots of filming not used, multiple takes. and feeding you dialogue and actions to fit the storyline."
"I don't regret it, though, 'cuz it did actually improve my life. I know firsthand how inflated it is, but I still watch reality TV anyway. Yeah, some of the secrets suck, but what can I say? They gotta make it interesting, or people won't watch.
Have you ever been on reality TV or auditioned for a reality show? What was it like? What did you find most surprising about how fake — or real! — it was? Let us know in the comments!
Note: Some responses have been edited for length/clarity.