Reality TV Insiders Share What It's Really Like Behind The Scenes

Most of us can probably guess that a lot of reality TV is, well, pretty fake. But without going behind the scenes, you'll never know how the sausage is made, so to speak.

This r/AskReddit thread for former reality TV contestants gives us a glimpse behind the curtain.

*Miami Ink*

"I was on Miami Ink. The only parts that were staged were the entrances and exits to the shop. I had to do them a few times because the crowds surrounding the shop. I had to wear the same clothes twice to look like I did the tattoo in two session but the reality it was three eight hour sessions.

"Otherwise it was a really cool experience. Everyone in the shop was the same as in tv. Maybe a little forced drama for tv's sake but great experience. The work was great and behind the scenes staff were great."


*Hell's Kitchen*

"Obligatory not me but my cousin: She was on Hell's Kitchen and said that they would film for over 10 hours on a day, then would go to sleep around 11pm only to get woken up at 2am to film again to make them more irritable.

"The producers would purposely bring up topics to create drama within the chefs. They re-tapped when they answered the door in the beginning a couple 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 then a cooking show..."



"My friend was on Made. It was actually pretty genuine, except she didn't have anything she genuinely wanted to be 'made' into and just chose something she thought sounded interesting. She did work really hard at it during the show, though.

"The show wanted her to act like the outcast of her siblings, and portrayed them as a bit bitchy when they aren't (and like they always leave her out when in reality they're all very close), but aside from that it was mostly all real."



"A husband and wife that I know, who run a historic park in Kansas, had the Diggers TV show come to their park and film a show. They said they spent a few hours doing some shots for the TV show, then broke out the rest of the team and did an actual archeological survey.

"They didn't expect them to find much since the site had been picked over for decades, but they ended up finding quite a lot of artifacts."


*Comic Book Men*

"My Dad was on Comic Book Men. (Basically Pawn Stars for comics, set in NJ)

"He didn't want to sell the item, just wanted to show it off. Off the cuff dialogue with cast live on camera. Did two takes. No script. They did ask him to come up with a 'reason' to sell the item, which was based on truth.

"I was on set with him as background. It was pretty cool to be there, but I had to stay in the same place for an hour and a half reading the same crappy DC comic. They aren't allowed to show any Marvel stuff unless it's an item someone brings into the store. The crew spends about 15 mins 'hiding' all the Marvel items in the store before shooting a segment."


*The X Factor*

"My brother was on 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 in to the actual show. 90% of the cheering you see/hear on the televised shows have been added in post production."


*America's Got Talent*

"My wife was on America's Got Talent. She was a dancer for her friend's act. She said they lived in a tent for 4 days in the parking lot. She had a very positive experience.

"She said she met a lot of cool people and that it did feel genuine for the one episode she was on. Her friend made it through that round but got eliminated the following week."



"I was on a European version of Survivor where we went to an island and had to survive for 2 weeks. Whatever was seen on camera was what actually happening.

"The only fake thing is that we got some food to maintain a somewhat healthy diet."


*Surprise Chef*

"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 knew what was happening and did 7 takes of fake surprise."


*Wife Swap*

"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, pretty darn 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 (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."


*16 and Pregnant*

"Not me, but my best friend was on 16 & 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 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."


*Love It or List It*

"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 done by subcontractors. The entire staff works until 1 or 2 am the night before filming to get the house ready. Most of the stuff they put in for design purposes was taken back after the shoot because it wasn't part of the homeowner's budget.

"We got blacklisted from several stores because we would buy thousands of dollars of stuff and take it back after we shot."


*The Bachelor*

"My cousin was involved in filming for The Bachelor (not a contestant) and said they film many scenes in several different ways.

"For example they might film them cuddling while walking and then walking while looking annoyed and so on.

"Not that fake but yeah..."


*Canadian Idol*

"I tried out for Canadian Idol. Reading the contract they made us sign, it literally stated that the producers could override the fan votes if needed to make sure the person they wanted to win, would win. So yeah.

"I still tried out. I was not the next Canadian Idol."


*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."



"I have several friends that were on the first season of Moonshiner (Discovery Channel). It is totally fake. I mean, they do make moonshine, but what you see on the show is not what it's like in real life.

"Most of them are licensed to sell alcohol, and do sell it locally at the package stores, the others only make a little to have for themselves and a few friends (more to keep up a family tradition than anything else).

"But the producers had them set up stills in the woods, and even told them what to wear to make it look more 'back woods, redneck, good ol'boys' than anybody in this area has looked in 50 years.

"Most of us sat there , with the guys that were being filmed, watching the episodes and laughing at all the people that probably think this stuff is real, while drinking store bought beer."


*Ghost Hunters*

"I was on set for a filming go [sic] 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."


Morning shows

Unsplash | Sam McGhee

"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 mum 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 mum 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."



"Several years ago, my cousin went in for a tattoo at the shop from Inked. The one in Vegas. It was an 'off' filming day, so NONE of the artists from the show were in. He got his tattoo started, and they asked him to come back in a few weeks when it was healed up to schedule an appointment to finish it.

"When he showed up, filming for the season was finished. The shop was closed, cleaned out, and the space was for sale."


*The Jerry Springer Show*

"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.

"Coolest part of it all was when they literally asked me if I wanted a fake doctors note or a fake death certificate made out in a fake family members 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 filming."


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