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Reality Show Stars Tell All: What It’s Like Behind The Scenes

Extreme, to Say the Least

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One star from Extreme Guide to Parenting reveals the double purpose of her family’s participation in the show. “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 goodness, but my twin brothers got a decent amount of airtime,” She claims that the entirety of the show was scripted for two purposes: entertain viewers and serve as a publicity stunt for her mother to get more business. She says it was clever of her mother to participate as their family received $5,000 for letting them use their home as a set. Apparently, the whole episode wasn’t a complete lie: “Everything my mom said was true to a degree, and she has hypnotized me in the past, but hypnotherapy is not what everyone thinks it is,”. She clarifies that hynotherapy is more about giving people control rather than taking it away and the point is not mind control. Still, she says filming was a fun memory for the family and their family didn’t seem as chaotic as other families they saw on the show.

Judge Judy Turned Them Away, So Judge Joe Brown Took Them On

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When infamous Judge Judy turned away one couple fighting over child custody, Judge Joe Brown took their case on his show. One child of the couple reports, “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 8 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 (in Missouri) and we lived in New England. So, he flew out for a couple days and we visited, didn’t really hit it off, and he went 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,”. When Judy turned them down, a new show called Judge Joe Brown seemed appealing. In the end, Judge Brown encouraged this poster’s mother to sue for additional expenses for her children for the past eight years, totaling nearly $150,000.

The poster reports that because the filming date was set on the first day of high school, mom decided that was more important than the show. However, the rest of the family enjoyed the trip: “they flew out, got put up in a nice hotel, and given good meals (all for free), spent some time in hair and makeup and then started filming,”. During the actual filming, however, things got tough: “within 3 minutes, the judge removed my sister from the room. He said that a little girl didn’t need to see her parents fight in public (good man). The judge listened to both my dad and my mom. My dad’s reason for suing was that my mom lived too far away,”. From there, Judge Joe had valuable input: “he asked who decided to move to the Ozarks, and called my dad a moron. He listened to my mom list off all the stuff my dad had 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),”. The poster reports that Judge Joe told dad that he should be ashamed and mom got to call him a “deadbeat dad”. But the fun didn’t stop there: “both she and my sister got a bonus $300 appearance fee and cards from a bunch of people who book extras and backgrounds 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. All in all, it was a good trip for her,”. This families reality show experience wasn’t too bad after all.

The Bachelor: Drama Central

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Most who have seen The Bachelor have questioned how genuine the actions and feelings on the show really are. One poster tells all, reporting: “A friend of mine was on The Bachelor. This was years ago, she ended up being one of the last four girls,”. Her friend reported that the girls, “were constantly fed drinks” and were even “put to bed and woken up” on a strict sleeping schedule for the weeks of filming. Further, her friend said that there were no clocks on set so participants were in a disoriented state pretty much around the clock without contact with the outside world.

There’s more: “On top of all of this, she said the producers would plant emotions and ideas in the girl’s 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,”. To say the least, the entire story is staged. The poster reports that there were “no ‘chance’encounters where the guy is sitting on the couch and the girl goes up to talk to him…”. If something went wrong, conversations would be reshot until their reactions lined up with the story. As for time on set, she reported, “they spent the majority of their time in makeup/hair or hanging out with the other girls, and that they hardly saw the guy,” despite the fact that the show revolves around the one male participant. This makes sense, considering he can’t go on 4 hour long dates with each girl and also entertain the others.

In the end, the girls ended up getting know each other much better than the guy since they had such limited time with him and none of their interactions were genuine.


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One poster confessed that they participated on a Jerry Spring episode which never aired. They report that the entire thing was fake: “They even asked me to find friends to complete the storyline of a double love triangle,”. Not all was bleak for this poster, finding comedy in that “they literally 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,”. Apparently, there is a guy on staff whose sole purpose is getting people out of work to film on the show,”.

House Hunters

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One poster reveals what it’s really like to be on House Hunters: “”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,”.

So, essentially, the whole thing is faked. After watching the show, the coupld realized that the directors would make them look stupid and for the $500 they were offering for their participation, it just wasn’t worth it. To quote the poster, “my main recollection was that the amount was nowhere near the going rate for my dignity.”

What Not To Wear: How They Actually Treat You

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One poster was unexpectedly invited to star on What Not To Wear. She says that it all started when she attended a punk show on the West Coast in full on punk attire. She didn’t get the memo that everyone in California dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans unlike on the East Coast, where people dress punk for such shows. According to her, “This woman approaches me at the show and says she likes my outfit and that she works for a fashion show and that I’d be a great contender for the show, she asks for my contact information so she can follow up with me,”. Later, she received an email from her just to find out that it was an invitation for What Not to Wear. She says it was really hurtful because she liked her outfit at the show and it took a lot of thinking before she consented to go on the show. The tipping point was “a prize of my choosing worth $20,000 plus an entire new wardrobe of designer clothing, but the trade off is that it would be degrading and probably ruin my self-esteem, plus they would destroy all of my ‘alternative’ clothing,”. Plus, “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, she was convinced but decided to hide away all her favorite clothes so that they couldn’t destroy them.

However, when she arrived for the interview, she was in for a surprise. “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 and that she had no idea how I had ended up on the show, but that I was welcome to recommend any other poorly dressed friends to the show,”. She says it would have been nice to have the prize but it ended up being a confidence boost.

A Big Swap on Wife Swap

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This poster was on an episode of Wife Swap where one of the wives was a burlesque dancer, her husband was the MC on the variety show, and I did a juggling act. He reports, “it’s pretty fake. The people are real, and lots of their interactions are real, but a TON of scenarios are staged,”. After 2 unpaid days of filming, the whole show bit got about 4 seconds of time in the episode.

Actually 16 and Pregnant

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This poster’s best friend starred on 16 and Pregnant. According to her, the drama in her story was not fabricated. However, she reports that at one point, “they did ask her to reenact a conversation that she had 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,”.

She did point out that the show was invasive, like most reality TV. Her friend knew that the show would expose her personal business to millions but as a young, broke, pregnant girl, most would oblige.

Not So Real Reality Ambulance Show

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One EMT was not impressed by a reality ambulance TV show he participated in. While he claims, “The patients were real and their medical conditions were real,” he admits, “everything else about the show was fake,”.

He recounts how most shots were staged, like them driving around in parking lots with their lights on and sharing dramatized fake personal stories. He reports, “the crew 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 scripted things they had us say, and edited those clips it into the unscripted stuff we said,”. The actual transport on the show was apparently 100% staged: “The patient wanted to go to the ER and have some decubitus ulcers looked at; However, this patient being diabetic, 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,”. He says that in reality, it was not an emergency at all and “in about 30 minutes her sugar was going to go back down to normal and life would be good,”. Understandably, the experience turned him off of realtiy TV after realizing how fake everything is.

How Producers Flip The Script

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This poster worked on more than one reality TV shows and gives us a breakdown: “This is what I learned:

1)  Each show has a team of ‘Story Producers’ who stand behind the cameramen with walkie talkies telling them to get specific shots. As the reality is happening, the story producers are there to make sure they’re getting the shots they need to make whatever story for the episode. It’s really hard to make something that didn’t happen, but it’s not too hard to change an emotion, or a mood, within what happened. Like when a woman doesn’t like seeing the guy kiss the other woman – just use some out of context shots and boom! You have your shott.

2) Things are taken out of context, by a lot, but mostly everything that people say on a show is what they said. Sometimes if the editor is good they can ‘frankenbite,’ which means they can take specific words to make a new sentence. This is rare because it’s pretty hard to do, and you have to find a place to put it, so it’s usually off camera and subtitled.

3) The story producers will often talk crap on other people in the reality show in private interviews to get reactions out of contestants. ‘Did you hear that so and so said this about you?’ Drinking also helps fuel drama. And they cast people who are going to be dramatic anyway.

4) Producers will also select people to be on the show. Like Pawn Stars, the producers select which customers get to be on the show. With Hardcore Pawn, it’s the same thing, but more for a dramatic event rather than someone who has something interesting.

5) If it’s a game show or any show where you win money, the federal government sends a representative to make sure the game is fair,”

So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. Apparently, there are laws against rigged game shows.

How Cash Cab Contestants Are Chosen

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This family got jipped into starring on Cash Cab. He reports that his dad and his friend were invited to go on a gourmet cooking show one day while at the bar. He was with them and, while only 14, got invited too. The promoter gave him instructions of where to meet and not to eat a big lunch since there would be a multi-course meal at an upscale restaurant. On the day of the meeting, the poster remembers skipping lunch and leaving school early only to be guided to a strange part of Manhattan near the Hudson. The producer called and sent them a taxi to pick them up and to their great astonishment, they were met with lights and cameras. The bald-headed host completed his filming and after they lost and got kicked out in Chelsea, had to spend their own money for food and a ride home. How disappointing!

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In the British show, 60 Minute Makeover, a person’s family calls experts to refurbish their home while they’re away. I got invited while in university and expected to take part in an the hour-long extravaganza. Lo and behold, 10 people were on the makeover team and spent from 8 am to the evening participating in filming.

According to the poster, this is how it went down:

“About 10 of us joined the makeover team at around 8 AM 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 soon as a member of the ITV crew declared the start of our 60 minutes. After 30 minutes of frantic, patchy wall painting, carrying lamps,  placing 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 and cleaned up our mess, and did it all over 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 crammed into a bin 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, and this man would have to “act” happy about his makeover,”.

How disappointing!

Those Storage Shows Aren’t What You Think Macintosh HD:Users:mackenziesullivanold:Desktop:Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 16.32.45.png

One poster gives us the inside scoop on shows like Storage Wars and Auction Hunters, mostly filmed in Southern California where her family runs a bunch of storage facilities. According to her, “The first couple seasons were 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 reality shows, too. They ended up having to stage the auctions and ‘hiding’ expensive antiques in the units.

If you look at the background folk in a lot of the auctions, it’s often the same people, AKA me and some of my family members, other storage staff members, and friends of people who worked on the show.”

Hot Girl to “Running” A Pawn Shop

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Interestingly, some reality shows scam others for potential talent. According to this poster, her friend signed up to audition for what she thought was the Bachelorette or something similar. Eventually she found out it was not what she thought it was when the producers shared that, “the show’s concept is that she’ll be running a pawn shop with another woman,”. As a dental assistant, she had no pawn experience but the producers gave her an elaborate backstory to explain her interest in the pawn business. This poster found it quite interesting that they looked for hot, energetic females first, then put them on something like Pawn Queens.