74 Former Reality And Game Show Contestants Are Sharing Their Wildest Behind-The-Scenes Secrets And Stories

Let’s pause and think of all the precious time we shamelessly wasted watching reality shows. From The Bachelor and MasterChef to good old Fear Factor, Survivor Alone, from 90 Day Fiancé to Big Brother, American Idol, and X-Factor... okay, that’s enough.

The truth is that TV and the media have been very generous in showering us with some absurd, cringy, exciting, and totally captivating entertainment. No wonder our fellow reality TV aficionados will nod their heads if we say that we've always wanted to find out what’s happening behind the scenes.

So today, we are going to find out what people who participated in, worked at, or had something to do with a game or reality TV show in one way or another, have seen or witnessed. Thanks to these two (this and this!) Reddit threads, some secrets will be spilled today.


My family was the subject of an episode of Paranormal State on A&E. Although the paranormal stuff they captured all really happened, everything was put out of order and was heavily edited to make it more dramatic than it actually was. They pretty much made my family seem completely crazy (which we're not) by filming us without our knowing and dubbing certain scenes with different audio. All in all, it was an interesting experience but I'm not sure if I would want to do something like it again.

Image credits: nardhipples


A friend of mine was on that old MTV show Next. One guy, four girls. She was the first "date" off the bus. She's really pretty, and a super cool girl. She and the guy hit it off, and he offered her the second date or whatever. She accepted. But then the producers asked her to get back on the bus because they didn't get a good shot of her coming out of the bus originally.

She went back on, waited for "action". When she came off the second time, the guy yelled NEXT!!

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my cousin went on Canadian Idol, went all the way to the celebrity judges. the Judges liked her but the producers changed their minds. she didn't get to go on the show.

talk about a let down.

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I was once a referee for WWE. All of the wrestling you see is staged. All of it.

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Extreme Home Makeover redid a house in my neighborhood when I was in high school. The family had to move out a year or so later because they couldn’t afford to pay the upkeep and taxes on it

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Approximately 80% of reality shows are made in post production. Entire story lines are created literally from found footage mixed with what is called "frankenbites." Which is where interview lines are created from pieces of a bunch of different interviews, so we can make anyone say anything we want. Also, little fun fact, if a cast member is a d**k to the field producers while shooting, the editors will back up their team, and make that cast member look worse when it comes to editing.
SOURCE: I'm a reality TV editor

Image credits: Cigarettiquette


I dated a guy who worked on Paranormal State and he told me that 99% of the spooky sounds and whatnot are added in post

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An episode of Man vs Wild was partly shot in my town. The episode leads you to believe he is dropped in the middle of nowhere and takes a single path to find civilisation. In reality, there were many shooting locations for this episode all around the island, 100s of kilometres apart. If you are familiar with the countryside you can tell from the way the terrain changes that he's magically teleporting around the country.

The part they filmed in my town, Bear happens to come across a steep ravine that he must navigate through. In reality, this ravine is part of a commercially run canyon tour. I know this because my housemate worked for the company, and when we watched it she recognised everything. I could certainly find photos for comparison if anyone's interested.

Anyway, I still love Man vs Wild, Bear still does some crazy a*s stunts. I'm just now a little disillusioned with the whole process of the show. Whenever Bear happens to stumble upon a cave or lake or abandoned house or whatever, I now realise his location scouts actually probably stumbled upon it months ago before they even entered the area.

Image credits: mharray


Late to the game.

Was on a TV show called Shipwrecked in the UK.

It's like survivor, but for a teenage viewing audience, 90% of what was seen was genuine.
People assumed we lived in cushty hotels off camera, no we slept in sleeping bags on the beach or in the hut.

If it rained and we couldn't start a fire, we had raw and cold food.

Somw things were organised as in 'BuxtonB, can we go do an interview down on back beach and talk about X' but that was pretty much the extent to which it was directed, no scripts, it was all our own thoughts and conversations.

Image credits: BuxtonB


I was in a wedding TV show. They did the "surprise wedding reveal" was done take after take. There were paid extra dancers. There were tons of unpaid extras to fill the wedding and reception, all shot in one location but appeared different in the show. The extras were all obvious because they were white and the couple and actual wedding party were all black. The cake was fake, we did serve cake but from another cake, not the one they showed. The wedding was actually pretty cool and after midnight they got to play music they wanted to hear. It was very glamorous but not high quality, on t. The chairs seemed very high quality but in reality had glue showing and cheap Chinese jewels on em. But hey who would complain about a free wedding?!

Image credits: jhuskindle


I was almost on What Not to Wear and it was definitely a bit different than what you see on TV.

It started at a punk show outside LA. I'm an east coaster and we like to get in the mood for punk/metal/whatever shows, but apparently in Cali its jeans and plaid shirts all the way. I was dressed a little unusually but nothing crazy (imo). Was approached by a woman who said she worked for a reality show and thought I'd be great for it, could she get my info and send me the details.

I got an email the next day explaining it was for "What Not to Wear". Apparently the prize was a designer's warddrobe plus picking one prize worth up to $20k, but that I had to find a bunch of friends to pretend like they "turned me in" for having a sh**ty warddrobe and also had to let them destroy all of my clothes. She asked me to come in for an official audition and wear my most outlandish outfit.

I had a really hard time making the decision as to whether or not to audition. I have some self respect and doubted I would any more after filming something like that. Plus I'd be embarrassed in front of the entire nation and I'd have to destroy clothes that I love. Eventually I decided "f**k it, $20k is $20k" and showed up.

While some photographer was snapping photos of me, the head honcho producer lady happened to walk through. She took a look at me and dragged the photographer to the back. They came back a couple minutes later and she said, "I'm sorry you got dragged into this. I think you look great. You should just go home."

The whole thing was really bizarre.

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I was an extra in one of those shows that take a failing restaurant and bring in a celebrity to fix all of its problems. It was not a fun experience; three things that stand out:

* All of the restaurant's "problems", every one, were either made up or things that had been solved years ago but were re-created for the cameras.
* The celebrity host had an earpiece and most of his lines, especially when he got all fired up, were fed to him.
* If the Food Network promises you will get a free meal for two hours of shooting, what they mean is they might give you a granola bar for eight.

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A friend of mine tried out for American Idol and she said it always seemed like the people wait then they get their big shot in front of the TV judges. In reality it's a ton of steps, and hours of waiting, to go through loads of intermediate judges who decide if your either TV material, the insane or terrible people, or actually good enough to move on.

Image credits: I-[poop]-You-Not


My friend went on a dance show. He was the favourite to win so they asked him to sign a contract midway that said he will give 50% of all of his earnings from dance to the network. He'd already created a very successful dance school prior to appearing so he refused to sign the contract. He was evicted that week in a "surprise eviction". Joke was on the network though because ratings dropped after his eviction and now they hire him to do more work for the network than the actual winner.

Image credits: curry_in_my_beard


A girl in my town was on My Super Sweet 16. Not only did the party apparently SUCK, but all my friends that went said that everyone had to be breathalyzed upon entering the venue. Also they had to redo her entrance multiple times.

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Just remembered another one.... When I was in college in LA, Jay Leno came to my school to film a Jaywalking segment. It used to be one of my favorite segments - I loved laughing at all the idiots he would find.

Turns out everyone is carefully screened for how well they can act like a bimbo/moron. I went to a small school so I knew several of the people who were chosen. One was my next door neighbor and she was a PoliSci major. The topic was politics. She was actually pretty smart and clearly knew the answers but played dumb for the camera.

After realizing how fake it was, I can't even watch Jaywalking anymore. It is so stupid and all staged. People just act dumb so they can get on TV. I failed at acting dumb but got on TV anyway... by "casually walking past the camera wearing a pair of ridiculous rainbow socks."

Image credits: flouncindouchenozzle


The Kardashians film at a restaurant I used to work at. There's no reality to it whatsoever.

Their film crew gets there 4 hours early, and they make everyone sign waivers consenting to be on camera. They mic up the immediate wait staff, set up their equipment (boom mics, multiple cameras, lighting, etc.), and post security at the entrances. After that, the "stars" show up, usually about 2-3 hours late, order some food that they don't eat, and then leave 30 minutes later.

It's all coordinated days to weeks in advance with the owner and the GM.

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I was on a weight loss show. They touted healthy diet and exercise but this is not what I was told off camera. The "trainer" advised me to fast/dehydrate myself prior to weigh ins to have a lower weight. The producer told me to use the "chew and spit" method (chew the food and spit it out instead of swallowing) to manage eating. Although there was not an explicit script - they would ask questions or direct you in such a way that there was only one answer (the one they wanted). We had to film the fitness events multiple times - to get all the angles and shots they needed. Where possible they would keep you exhausted and hungry so that you were more likely to have dramatic breakdowns. The producers tried to get between me and my husband- for drama purposes only - it was such an issue that I refused to allow any of my family/spouse be interviewed any more. The producer would berate me about this - presumably to generate more drama. Not a good experience but certainly an enlightening one.

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I worked on one for a week in one of those fake Ghost Hunters shows, this was about 4 years ago. The hunters invited a psychic (not sure if that was what he called himself). This guy was a big a**hole, and thought he was the sh*t. Big ego. Anyway they were hunting in a haunted house, and this guy was doing a walk through before taping. He went into the whole routine. Cameras were not rolling, it was just for staging an getting acclimated. During this time I was at video village and could see/hear what was going on. He was in an upstairs room and began to feel a cool breeze. He made a big deal about it and insisted we start rolling. We did, and he went on and on about thou room temperature drops mean a spirit. He started asking crew if they felt the breeze as well, they did. Finally the first AD (who was sick of this guy's sh*t) told the guy that the breeze was coming from the open window in the other room. The psychic threw a fit and stormed out saying we were all amateur

Image credits: anon


Reality TV Experience #1

I was on a short-lived MTV program called "Your Friend, Andrew W.K." which was an "advice show" where you could write in a letter to Andrew W.K. and if he picked you then he would try to help you with your problem. My best friend and I were both picked and they put our stories together for one episode. Tom had Andrew come on his radio show as co-DJ and just rock out together. Andrew then came to my house and shot the s**t with me for a few hours of one-on-one motivational speaking about how not to be a shy guy.

Then the weird s**t... The producer (Nathan) kept throwing out these weird ideas and ultimately had this grand scheme (that never made the final cut, fortunately). He decided that Tom and I had to pretend to be almost-strangers; that I knew Tom because he was a radio star but that's about it. Nathan set up a scene after our one-on-one where Andrew was saying his goodbyes to me and that he was going back to hang out with Tom from the radio and I had to be like "Hey! I know Tom from the radio!" and Andrew followed up by inviting me to come with him to Tom's house where he would introduce us and make us friends and I would put on a rock concert for all of our friends who were now mysteriously there (we were allowed to invite some people to come meet Andrew). Needless to say, none of that happened.

Proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=al-oIlsULlk

Reality TV Experience #2

This past summer I was fortunate enough to know a person who knew a person who had a sister that was in the art department for Gordon Ramsey's production company that had a shoot for a hotel renovation show taking place in my state. I got to work as a PA (production assistant; or peon that does nearly everything but is just happy to be involved).

This hotel was an outdated joke. They did not renovate the entire hotel; just the dining room, three pre-chosen guest rooms and an area on the grounds used to house and care for pets. They didn't touch the hallways, the carpets or any of the nasty s**t anywhere else in the building.

Nearly everything came off-the-shelf from Target or IKEA.

Craft Service is AWESOME. There is always food or drink everywhere to partake of 24/7. And eating a meal of bacon-wrapped meatloaf prepared by Gordon was quite the experience!

The knick-knacks and everything "removed" from the hotel were just stashed in a corner in the basement.

When Gordon was "on-set" anyone not on the primary production crew had to vanish. I never even got to lay eyes on him as I worked overnight and he was *actually staying at a hotel 5 miles away.


i don't/haven't worked on one. but one was done on a bar near my house that was supposedly haunted.

Everything was based on falling/'flying' things (glasses falling off shelves. beverage hoses 'flying' off their places they're held). The crew 'proved' there were ghosts, by setting up a mock bar scene and putting salt around the bottom of all the glasses and left for the night with cameras.

Sure enough, the footage showed all the glasses/cups moving around. and the salt barriers were all disrupted. it was like 100% of the glasses had moved in some shape of form.

What the f**king show failed to mention is that the bar is literally under an overpass for a train, and at a train station. The 'moving' items are just because trains are coming by, and the building is about 50 ft from the train tracks.

Image credits: Rhinosaur24


I have a friend who used to frequently see filming of *Jersey Shore* live because he was from Jersey. He says that they have scripts hanging above the camera and it's not really real.

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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 'food porn' 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


I worked for a bakery that was on, and won, CupCake Wars. The premise of the show is to surprise the bakers with a few, more often than not, odd ingredients and see what they're really made of. In reality, we found out the ingredients a few months before the show. Had we not known, there's no doubt we'd have lost.
There are definitely people who thrive under pressure, both in performance and creativity, and they have better things to do with their time than crank out cupcakes for Food Network. Tell an unprepared contestant they have 40 minutes to make a delicious cupcake using tater tots and nine times out of ten you'll have a middle aged woman sobbing into her mixing bowl.

Image credits: Sallymoustacheride


I used to film a Cosmetic Surgery Makeover Program, so i cant speak from a production point of view. Yes we did motivate people to cheer on during reveals, and yes there was some direction, but a lot of the emotions that we got on camera were real. As someone mentioned once before, TV is expensive to make so there has to be some direction other than a "let's see what we can get" attitude. The first contact (ohh I've been chosen) part was mostly real, and the participants would really most of the time be surprised if they were nominated and they were not in on it in any way. The operations shot were real (can't forget the smell of burning human fat, but strangely enough the smelliest was laser eye surgery).


I was on one in Australia which was basically a Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares rip-off. They asked us what we thought was about the place and what we would like to improve. Then the host walked around describing the place, and what he thought was wrong with it, in almost exactly the same words. The restaurant staff did much of the reno over a few days, but they brought in professionals at the end, who worked their magic about 100 times faster to complete it in time.

At the reopening, they took people away from their usual jobs, and made them do stuff they would never do. The manager was only allowed to greet guests, the best waiter had to stay behind the bar, and the new girl was basically running the floor on a menu no one had ever seen before. When orders were taken, waiters were not allowed to put them through for an hour, so they could film people getting angry that meals were taking so long. They selected half the guests, and some were wannabe actors, who openly admitted to complaining about food to get their head on TV.

The crew were quite open about reality TV being completely fake. They tried to get me to knock all the salads off the bench and onto the floor during the middle of service, but I looked at them and said firmly, "That would never happen."

On a side note: I once went to a red carpet opening for a film called A Long Kiss Goodnight. I was standing at the front or the ropes, waiting for Geena Davis to pass. I was also standing next to a Channel 7 camera man, who told me to release the ropes and surge forward when the stars pass. This was supposedly for my own benefit, as I would be pushed from behind and injured otherwise. He just wanted me to run at Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson for some good footage.


My brother entered my family in a Disney+ family-style trivia game show as a joke. Two Skype interviews later, the joke became very real, and we were flown out to California on essentially the eve of the pandemic (March 11, 2020). The entire production was a nightmare. The producers had no idea what they were doing, the games didn’t really make any sense, and the questions were extremely hard. They made my family sound like pretentious, rich assholes, which couldn't be further from the truth. They made us each spend over $1,000 on 'outfit options' because we were told to provide our own clothes. I called one of the producers crying a week before we left because she told me to go shopping again, and as a broke college student, I genuinely couldn’t afford it."
The show was supposed to be a bracket-style, and since we won the first episode, we were going to have to go back and keep winning in order to win the grand prize, which was three days at a Disney park. Because of the pandemic, they kept pushing it back, then canceled it this past May. I’m so happy it was canceled. I spent the last year dreading having to film on a set where I felt uncomfortable and the producers treated us horribly. The best thing to come out of the experience was meeting the family we competed against. Their adult kids are about the same age as my brother and me, and since filming the first episode, we’ve talked to them every single day.


I had two friends that were on an episode of True Life. It was all extremely faked. I remember that one of the "themes" of their episode was that they were supposed to be poor so the crew made them hide their designer clothes and bags while they filmed. If one of them had a name brand purse it would usually be swapped out for a blank tote before filming began.


Sorta "reality TV" -- but I was interviewed for a segment on phone sex operators on Good Morning America, because my girlfriend is one. We agreed to do it if we were filmed in shadow and voices changed, and they interviewed us for 4 hours for the ten seconds we were on screen. We were quite positive and upbeat about it -- but then they used the only sentence I said which was remotely negative, and the voice-changing they did on me made me only sound sadder about her doing this as a second job; the thing I said would apply to any person who had to have a second job to make ends meet, but they edited it to sound like "we're so poor been reduced to *this*". Reality TV and fluff news aren't too far apart in how they do things.


In the Netherlands we had a tv-show called Move Like Michael Jackson. I wanted to do an audition but when I got there it turned out we had to do an improvisation in front of random judges. There were around 500 people that day and they'd call out 10 numbers to improvise in a room with those random judges. Only one of the 10 would go through and so I did :) Then I had to wait another 6 hours for my real audition and I went trough to the next round. I had to come back some weeks later and I had to dance against two others. I did the perfect MJ moves but a breakdancer, also the future winner, got through and I was out. I never understood why the show was called 'Move like Michael Jackson' and a breakdancer won.


I'm a production sound mixer based in LA and I frequently find myself on reality gigs. The pay is pretty good but the days are very long. Minimum work day will be 12 hours (the most I have done is 20 hours in a single day) with the only real break being a half hour to an hour lunch. This is pretty typical for most LA-based productions


America's Got Talent.

My group appeared in whatever season aired in 2009. We auditioned for producers in our home city of Chicago. We then were invited to attend the next round, in LA. We appeared there on the "Chicago" episode, which was filmed in LA, in front of an LA audience. The audience was instructed to cheer for specific Chicago area cities, etc. The episode plays as if they just pulled us off the streets.

They also instructed us back stage to argue with the judges. Try to convince them that we shouldn't have been "X"ed. They interviewed us about what we would do with the money if we won- would our small one room school house use it to buy computers? (I graduated a high school of 3700)

Finally, when we were "X"ed off the stage, and didn't appropriately argue with the judges, they had us walk off the stage three separate times, since we didn't look dejected enough. We're performers- it's our job to smile!

Since then I can't watch handle those shows. Nick Cannon, on the other hand, was a real sweetheart.


I've worked on a bunch of reality shows. Have you ever been watching a reality show and after a cut from one angle to another you think, 'Well, gosh...shouldn't a camera guy be standing right there? The previous angle one second before was from the exact direction I'm now looking directly in!' Well, that's because that's from another take after the crew has repositioned to run the scene again for coverage


Well, I've been in MasterChef. Two things that I remember well is the judges having a Platoon of stylers following them around so they have the exact same appearance between takes. There was this judge who has a curl over his forehead. There was a person specifically designated to make sure the curl was always there and always with the same shape. Another thing that stood out was that the timers were all fake. Usually they recorded all the sentences like "start, 5-4-3-2-1.., you have 10 Min" at the beginning or at the end, sometimes even while we were cooking. They recorded them when the light was Ok. Specially in the outside episodes. Ah, and also...nothing is a surprise. You get to practice your dish for a week or more before the episode. There are no "surprise ingredients". And, this may come as obvious, they train you in cooking good, but a big part of the training was food presentation. Sometimes your dish was moved around the plate by the personnel when your presentation was not Ok for the lighting or for whatever reason. Feel free to ask more if you want details


They did a home makeover show a couple towns over from where I used to live. When we heard about it, we went out to see them, watch them build it, and obviously see if we could see the 'stars' of the show. The area where they built this house wasn't the greatest area around. They were old houses built in the '60s and '70s on pretty large acre lots, but the area was awful and all the houses were in some state of disrepair. Crime was high, rent there was super cheap, and most was government-paid. We always wondered what they would do to secure the house considering the crime in the area."
The answer was...nothing. They slapped a $400,000 house with giant plate windows and sliding glass doors down in the middle of a high-crime neighborhood where the average house price was probably $60,000. Then they filmed exactly where all the new home tech and automation was, exactly how to get around the house from one room to the next, and aired it on national TV. A week after that show aired, it was all over the local news that the house was (surprise!) broken into and cleaned out. Every TV, every computer, everything.


I auditioned for "so you think you can dance". One thing that put me off was how much they encouraged us to yell and cuss at the judges and throw tantrums if they didn't like us. You know, for "good tv". We were way too tame, and Nigel got up at least 3 times between contestants to lecture us about being too nice and polite. Not sure why I was surprised though.


Not me, but a viral video goes around right now in germany. There is this TV show called supernanny. A woman goes to a family who needs help with the kids, helps them, and so on. This viral video shows the family AFTER the show. They say the supernanny came to there place in a few weeks only five times in a few weeks. All the other time the crew said the family should fight more. To make it more exciting. The family realised and wanted to stop the show. The crew said they signed up for the show and if they end it will cost them LOTS of money. So they said f**k it it just do what they say. Later, theire perfetly fine dog got ill. The supernanny came and said he died. After this messege they have never seen the dog again. Not even at its funeral.


Buddy of mine was on MTV's Room Raiders. He said it was all B.S. The winner was known ahead of time. He kept trying to do funny stuff, which this guy is one of the funniest f***s I've ever known, but they wouldn't let him fly like the peacock he is.


The experts that the Pawn Stars guys call in actually own the things that are being discussed. The people who come in looking to pawn things are paid actors.


My best friend was on a show a few years back which featured military members doing surprise homecomings. I was at her house helping keep the kids under control during filming and everyone in production was incredibly nice and authentic. There was hardly any scripting at all and pretty much everything was as it seemed in the episode.

The reveal at the end where the kids realized that their dad was home was completely authentic.


Haven't been on a show, but worked in TV. LIGHTING. Lighting takes forever. There are literally hours between takes. If there aren't then the lighting was setup beforehand. That means that the "stars" have to stand in a very specific location during those "impromptu" scenes. They aren't impromptu at all. I saw one episode of the Bachelor where the couple decided to make out/f**k in the shower. It was one of those tub showers with the curtain. Well the curtain was a translucent white with a purple tinted light behind so that the silhouettes could be seen in the act. This was the worst example of a staged scene I have ever seen in a reality show.

Image credits: threeironteeshot


I was on the reality tv show wife swap almost 5 years ago. I was 11 at the time and my mom got switched to Arizona. Anyway there are really no behind the scene secrets, most of it is manipulated in editing. To make things more dramatic and twist our words around. But a behind the scene thing that is awesome is they buy you pretty much any food you want xD

Image credits: anon


I auditioned for The Voice last year and it is a horribly long process. I was at the audition site for more than 5 hours. But the strangest part is that they put you into rooms by genre, even if you don't sing that genre. So an incredibly talented "pop" singer won't get in because they were placed in a "country" genre room. It's pretty odd.

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Not me, a friend (like most other people in here lol). She was on one of those survival shows where they take contestants out to deserts and mountains and s**t. She said it was about 80% scripted. Lot of misleading editing as well. Like they tell them what to do and when to do it and if they don't do it good enough for what the producers wanted they would redo it multiple times. She said they never even dared coming close to any real danger due to the obvious reasons. I remember watching one scene and she told me it wasnt even the same day of shooting as the other parts but it was made to seem so.

Reality TV is pretty much all scripted honestly.

Edit: Also watch the movie Quiz Show if you are interested. Pertains to what is in this thread and is a true story.

Image credits: anon


My cousin went on Judge Judy once (sued her ex-bf for something or other), and the producers told her things like, "Make sure you tell her right away if the other person is lying, don't wait until she asks you" and "Don't make eye contact with her, it makes her mad". Having seen the show, she knew better and ignored everything they said. She won, but not after being berated by Judge Judy for being a liar even though she had all the evidence needed.

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Was in a club when Breaking Amish: LA was being filmed in Vegas. Real bottom of the barrel reality TV.

Anyway, the producers gave them (the alleged Amish) tons of booze, and brought girls over to their table. The alleged Amish danced like f*****g idiots and at one point danced with one of the gogo-dancer type club employees. It was at the now-defuncted ACT at the Palazzo so there were tons of people dressed in shocking and very sexual suggestive outfits.

I'd love to give you juicy details, but it was not all that exciting. Signed a release to be on TV and never even bothered watching the episode to see if I made it into the show.

Image credits: 16semesters


I was on antiques Roadshow, which I suppose is a reality show of sorts.

It's actually pretty legit, but considering it's PBS that shouldn't be surprising. The main thing you don't realize is how long you wait in lines. Your ticket has a time on it to help control when you arrive so foot traffic isn't bad. You get there and wait for about an hour in line. At the front of the line you get your items checked (each person gets two) and these tickets direct you to the next line you need to stand in.

I had a watch and some art, so I had tickets for the time piece and Asian Art line.

After the first hour and a half of waiting, you wait in the main room. Basically how the set-up works is that there's a small circle of banners and tables in the middle of the room which obscure the outside where all of the lines are directed. Everything is filmed in the middle of that room. You go through the line and when you get to the front an appraiser looks at your item. If they like it they go and talk to the producer to see if they'll film it.

If they film you're taken to a small back room where they've got make up and might make adjustments to your clothing (like if you're wearing a branded shirt they'll make you change, but they actually advise you to wear neutral clothing if you're coming to the show). Then they do the interview after you sign the release.

If your item is valuable they actually have security escort you out to your car.

All in all it was pretty efficient and none of it seemed fake. It took a REALLY lone time (about five hours of mostly standing in lines).

Image credits: Xerodo


I don't know if any of you watched or remember the short lived reality show "My life is Liz" but I was on it as an extra for a couple episodes.

The first season followed her as an awkward teenager who despises preps and going to high school in Texas. The second season followed her when she moved to Brooklyn, New York to pursue art history in college. This is where I come in.

My private art school (Pratt Institute) surprisingly relished in the fact that MTV was going to be filming on campus and even allowed them to recruit extras from the student body. I think all they were thinking about was exposure... What I didn't know is that these extras were cast as her filler friends and the crew was only allowed permission to film OUTSIDE of academic buildings. The friends I had that got chosen let it completely consume them. I also knew Liz personally and every time she saw me she never remembered my name because I never had a speaking role.

Needless to say, I was really disappointed in how fake the show actually was. The majority of it was scripted and it was supposed to show what going to art school was really like. Their portrayal of it was completely unrealistic and the scenes of her in "class" were shot in a completely different location. It frustrated me to think teenagers were going to watch this and think "I want to move to New York and live a life like this"... No you don't because it is NOTHING like it is on TV.

Most extras didn't get compensated for their time either.

I'm glad I finally got to get this off my chest.

Image credits: origamiviolets


As many here have already stated, the "reality" part is pretty minimal. Very heavily scripted, the director would tell us to do things and if she didn't like what she got she'd have us do it again. Some notes of interest:

- They only had one camera, so for competitions they actually started each team at a different time so they could film us starting, then edited it together to look like it was all simultaneous. Same for finish times.

- The entire season was shot in 5 days, even tho episodes released weekly and they tried to make it look like a whole week had passed. One day they even had us bring a change of clothes so they could shoot 2 episodes.

- They were constantly trying to get us to badmouth the other teams, but everybody really liked eachother. Hours of B-Roll footage and they would only use the 5 seconds where you finally give up and say something kinda vaguely negative after they've been badgering you the whole interview.


I don't know if this counts as 'reality tv' but I was on Dr. Oz once. It was an episode about teen pregnancy and one of the producers advertised on a message board I used to go on, I thought it would be fun so I agreed to be on the show.

Basically they wanted me to talk about my experience with teenage pregnancy, and what I thought the impact of '16 and Pregnant' and 'Teen Mom' had on me.

At that time there was a ton of media coverage about the girls from 'Teen Mom' and 'Teen Mom 2', and a lot people were beginning to say that this was the cause of so many young girls getting pregnant, because they wanted to be famous. My point in going on the show was that I thought it irresponsible to blame a TV show for something as serious as teenage pregnancy, and that it gave parents an easy way to get out of dealing with the situation at hand 'My daughter must have gotten pregnant because of this TV show! It has nothing to do with anything else in her life at all!' (Obviously there are a ton of contributing factors and going into denial about it really isn't helpful)

So the producer and a camera man came to my house and interviewed me for like 4 hours for the b-reel (the stuff they show before your segment), a lot of the time re-wording and asking me the same question over and over again until I guess they got the response they wanted without out right telling me what to say. In the end it was about 2 minutes of footage in which I look like I'm completely bashing the TV shows and blame them for my getting pregnant.

They actually edited out anything intelligent I said, and then PUT IT INTO DR. OZ'S LINES!!! I literally saw my opinions being used against me, it was very bizarre.

So they had me on stage with Maci, Kailyn, and Leah from Teen Mom and for the first part of the segment I was totally dumbfounded and completely nervous, I didn't really defend my position well at all in my opinion until after the 'commercial break'. The second half of the segment was what I was really proud of and I got it together enough to clearly articulate what I was going to say, then when the show aired they completely edited out the second half.

Another sh**ty thing was that they tried to give me lines, and the producer kept coming in the room I was getting ready in, repeating the lines over and over to me. When I was so nervous in the first half of the show I ended up spitting out something stupid about prom that they kept telling me, I then found out that all the 'Teen Moms' had a copy of the lines that I was supposed to say, and Maci absolutely owned me on stage over the prom comment, it was really embarrassing. Idk if thats normal but I thought it was kinda f****d up that they knew 'exactly' what I was going to say and I was totally in the dark about what they were going to say.

Dr. Oz was also a super douche and threw a tantrum at his producers because the 'Teen Moms' babies weren't behaving on set when the cameras were rolling.


Had a friend who was a runner on the Biggest Loser. He told me that camera operators hated filming in the gym because of the stink. The trainers would make the contestants work out until they puked, so there were buckets of sick everywhere.
Also, the contestants were all hooking up with each other every night.


My friend's dad was on Extreme Makeover Home Edition. He said that Ty, as well as the other main cast members didn't help at all. They showed up for their shots and left. I guess that can be expected though.


Probably too late.... But oh well.. I was in a live audience for the x-factor, and yes, even the audience is staged... They told us when to clap or "boo" the judges, and when we did something wrong this guy would come out and absolutely scream at us to shut up while the host was talking or what not... They also said Imagine Dragons would be playing live and I was fricken stoked! Of course they weren't... They were pre recorded and they just played the footage on the huge screen, and forced us too woo and scream and to "play along"... Huge let down.


I'm a bit late to the party, but my mother and sister were on the MTV show "Date My Mom". They won. Obviously every house in that show is not their real house as we're about 5 hours from LA. My mom was a bit displeased that she didn't just get to have lunch but go run around on a track, my sister however, was very pleased as the show took her for a shopping trip around LA and to lunch while my mom was filming.

In the end, she won some money for "winning" the date which never happened, got paid extra for kissing the guy. In my sisters mind "$200 bucks to kiss that guy was worth it". Also, she got the camera guys phone number and went home few hundred dollars richer and with some extra s**t.


I did a tour in the Portland Shanghai tunnels. Our host told us that one ghost show put dirt on the floor and squeezed against the brick walls of a completely open, finished basement to give the illusion of narrow, decrepit tunnels


I dated a nice girl once who had an ex boyfriend whose ex-con step-father was a guest on a ghost hunter show. It was an episode about a haunted / cursed car in southie MA. At the end of the episode they made it seem like they destroyed the car in a trash compactor, but in reality the car was never destroyed and remains in the guys yard to this day. So, for this reason, I imagine there is a lot of fake situations created on these shows. If I recall, they paid him $10,000 for his story and time.

The guy turned out to have various personality disorders and believed his car talked to him and prevented him from ever finding work, but honestly I think he just made it up as an excuse not to work, doubled down, and some how he ended up on this show


I used to work I'm reality tv: (edit: I used to work IN reality tv, ooooops)

- Almost everything is planned ahead of time, tv is expensive to make and no one has the time or money to make an entire show of real moments

- Some shows are more "real" than others. Cop follow shows are usually pretty authentic. Anything with celebrities is probably all fake.

- Most dramatic phone conversations are fake (I did voice over once as a nurse calling with bad news)

- If you want a free wedding sign up for a wedding show with a host. They have a reputation to uphold so they are invested in giving you a good event and you could get a lot of free stuff out of it.


I met someone on a plane once who was on House Hunters. After she purchased her new house, the show came and taped her viewing that house. Then they took her to two other houses to make it seem like she was going to pick between the three. In reality, she had bought a house before they even taped the show


When I was a kid, I was on a home makeover show. The entire time I was on camera, I was being told what to do. I was definitely more of an alternative kid, but they put me in this preppy little skirt and braids and told me to be super overexcited about everything. I will say though, the reveal is very authentic. I LOVED what they did


Extreme Home Makeover came to our area and redid a fire station and, I think, a local high school that was f**ked up during Hurricane Rita. My brother is a firefighter and also well-versed in construction. He said the fire station was not functional at all. Half the sinks weren’t even hooked up, light switches and plugs were just attached to the wall and non-functioning. Then they couldn’t use the station at first because the fire alarm system didn’t work, and the building itself wasn’t up to fire code. The high school was just as bad


I have been to Carlo's Bakery (the bakery from cake boss). While there we learned that the "wedding" they were filming in Italy was completely faked, and they never actually got married. Kind of ruined the whole experience for me.


I was on Trading Spouses as a kid. The woman that was "our new mommy" was at least 3x as crazy as portrayed in the show. She laid on the sidewalk because "This house is like a prison!"


I was a semifinalist on the voice. I don't know if this counts, but the amount of emotional weight that comes with being on a reality show is huge.

It's been two years since it aired and still every conversation I have has the weird air of "what are you doing NOW?!"
I had a woman ask me why I was working a job, had someone yell at me at a party for not saying I was on a TV show and making her "look dumb" (she was a bit strange).
I've basically had to apologise and make excuses for why I'm not as successful as that show made it out that I SHOULD be.

The biggest lie is I am not "successful" in the way the show makes the audience feel the artist are or "Should be". It was an enormous amount of pressure and I became pretty depressed.

edit: my name is Lindsey Pavao, S2


I did a competitive eating reality show and all the eating was real but everything else was fake and staged


My ex-girlfriend starred on an episode of a popular reality TV show, and she had to sign a contract that stated that in order to get paid she had to complete certain "dramatic feats" within the show. So the producers gave her a checklist of tasks she needed to achieve by a certain deadline. When I was being filmed with her, they would tell us what to talk about and have us read some lines off camera. They would give us a topic and a beginning sentence and then they would just have us make up dialogue as we went. And then they would prompt us with another sentence, and then we had to follow that. The whole show was pretty damn scripted. They made us b******t a fight.


I was once profiled on show where they interviewed me on camera, and also shot a lot of 'B-roll' - shots of me doing stuff. First of all the interviewer lady couldn't have cared less about me until the word "Action!", then she was all concerned-looking and acting like she was my best friend. Camera off, back to business. Then for the b-roll, they made me do all kinds of things to look sad, even though I was not sad at all. They made me (well, not like forced me, but you know, wanted me to) wring my hands and look off into the distance. They actually said, "Now wring your hands and look off into the distance." It was clear I was a p**n in their production plans. Didn't care for the experience.


I used to work at an ice cream store. One night the store got a phone call from an MTV producer asking if they could come by and film in about 15 minutes. They didn't say what they were filming or why, just asking if they could come film. We were curious so we said yes. About 15 minutes later two young women walked in with a camera, a head set and a clipboard. They were filming an episode of 16 and Pregnant. We had to turn off all the music and TVs in the store and then the camera women filmed all around the store before telling the girl they were filming and her friend to come in. When the two girls walked in they stopped them almost immediately and told them they didn't get the shot and to go back out. They went back outside, the camera women moved to a new spot and yelled for the girls to come back in. It was really awkward for us employees as we had to keep saying things over and over again. The girls got their food, sat down in and the producers were telling the girls what to say and what questions to ask each other. They stayed there for almost three hours. When the girls got up to leave, the producers told them they needed to film more at the girls boyfriends house that night and to head there.

After the girls left, we talked to the producers as we filled out forms for MTV. They said that MTV films around 90 girls a "season" and they pick the 12 most drama filled/most interesting girls. They even stop filming girls if they don't think it will be worth their time. The girl from my town was cut half way through filming. While filming, MTV pays for EVERYTHING.

It was really interesting.


They filmed an episode of MTV's True Life in my school and I was friends with two of the kids that got picked to be on it. Talking to them they said they had a pretty authentic time shooting. The only thing they had problems with was how often they had to walk through door frames. The crew was never content how the kids on the show would walk through a door.

So one day I watch the one kid walk in through the front doors of the school 11 times.


I did security for a few shows and other than the fact that a lot of it is completely staged and they do retake after retake. I remember doing Americas next top model and for 2 hours they had to wait for something to get set up and all the models were in the same room and not one spoke and this was a few weeks in so they des new each other there is no reality in reality tv that's the real secret.


I've done 2 cake challenges on FN. They paused the clock to make sure we could all get done. The first time they said, "we never do this but we are going to pause the clock for a while" then they said the same thing next challenge.

We also were told to go look at people's kitchens, talk smack to them, see if we could borrow things we didn't need... In the end, both shows were edited far from reality.


Sort of related. I went to a taping of the Price Is Right back in the Bob Barker era and I was amazed at how small the studio is. Obviously they build each game set when it is time to film that game and then break it down to make room for the next game but the size of the stage reminded me of my elementary school's multi-purpose room stage. Basically it is smaller than you would think.


My friend was on judge Judy. He said they paid him to fly out. They settled the case before filming. In the settlement he had to pay $3000. But they paid it for him. They direct the entire court scene to make it dramatic.


I was in a hotel where they were filming top model, and was I found odd was that they did multiple takes for most things that were to appear natural. But you can sort of see it when you watch these types of shows. They often appear to have multiple cameras, when in fact they have one.

My wife is presently on a reality show related to her job. Every time I visit her at work, I have a camera in my face. They follow them around for months and come up with 40 20-minute episodes.

One secret is that there is no dramatic background music playing in reality when something dramatic happens. Also, TV makes normal things look way cooler than they really are-- like just driving across town.


It sucks because paperwork has been signed so most things could be considered damaging to the show and they could sue me for millions, so here is some minor secrets.

Hole in the wall - That water is cold as f**k, felt like I had a mini heart attack every time my fatass hit the water. Also, we didn't find out our team name until 30 seconds before running out on stage.

Solitary 2.0 - The truest show ive ever been on. 24 hour surveillance, very little food and sleep, nonstop horrible times. Easily one of the best and worst experiences of my life.

Rock Band 2 - The Stars - The ending the showed went differently, while filming I was given a different reason for being eliminated, but was not a big deal, still eliminated either way. Also, it was nerve wracking, as we didn't know what song we were gonna do, it was using new instruments, in front of a large crew, hense my lower than normal scores.

MTV - True life "I'm a Backyard Wrestler" - What they filmed was pretty much how it went down, however I think people reacted a little crazier than they would have since the cameras were on them.

American Ninja Warrior - That course is f*****g difficult, I had no chance in hell of beating the first round.