77 People From Reality TV Share How Fake It All Was And How It Has Changed Them

Whether you love it or hate it, reality TV is a guilty pleasure many of us share. The absurdity, the superficial humor, the glimpse into someone else’s life—it’s hard not to be entertained. Yet, you can’t help but wonder why shows that are supposed to reflect real-life are so intriguing in the first place?

Well, many of them are not at all how they seem to be on our screens. “People who were on reality family shows as kids, how much of it was real and how much was fiction?” one user raised a question on Ask Reddit. Whether it’s manufacturing drama, taking quotes out of context, or manipulating the contestants and asking them to lie, hundreds of responses started flooding in.

We have selected some of the most eye-opening answers from the thread. So continue scrolling, upvote the ones that stood out the most and let us know what you think in the comments below.


Yup, a close friend was on MTVs True Life about having crippling social anxiety disorder (the episode was about different fears people had).

We were a big circle of friends since elementary, we always knew he was sorta socially awkward and battled with the way he looked (he was super insecure and self conscious about his looks) and he admittedly got teased the most by the more "alphas" of the group (the most insecure) but we loved and embraced him and made sure he knew that and that he was equals with us.

Anyway, they filmed us all for a couple weeks in high school hanging out (this was back in 2001 btw), going out, etc. He was crushing on a girl we knew, in fact she was part of the larger social circle anyway, and so they convinced him to ask for her number - I guess this was gonna be the storyline they needed. He already had it since we were all one big friend group but they "needed something for the story".

That was like "the big goal" for his arc. So he asks one night while we were at the movie theater. She gave it to him, all's good.

They went on one date but didn't amount to anything, but they remained friends just as they were before.

Fast forward to airing, and I don't know if you remember at the end of each episode they have just text on a black screen with like, the final update....

The text for his final update read "Despite finally building the courage to ask for her number... She gave him a fake number". He spiraled after that and it fucked him up way more than he was before, he turned to drugs to cope (since he was basically humiliated on mtv with hundreds of millions of viewers).

He unfortunately passed away from a drug overdose a few years later. Miss you goomba!

Edit: "coincidentally" mtv has done everything they can to wipe that episode off the internet and pretend it never existed. We've never been able to find it and a few of us are very google-fu inclined and resourceful with internet-archival retrieval, but it's nowhere to be found... Every other ep is available though. They know they fucked up...

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There was a family in our neighborhood who was on a show. One day, when accompanied by the camera crew, one of the daughters suddenly threw a screaming fit in public, which was totally unusual for her. When the mom was asked later what the f**k had happened, she said for a tantrum, you get 200 bucks extra.

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My parents were 'dinner guests' in an episode of Nanny 911, and they said literally everything was staged. I don’t remember all of the details, but they said the directors had a 'code word' they would say to the kids when they were supposed to start acting all crazy. And then once the scene was done, the kids would be perfectly normal.

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A class mate of mine was on my country's Next Top Model. Before getting into the show she was asked what kind of hair she would never want to get, so that the producers know about it and not make her have it during the makeover episode. My classmate had long blonde hair which she really loved, so she said she doesn't want them to cut her hair off and that she also hated strange unnatural colors like blue, pink etc.

Fast forward to the makeover episode. The hairstyling team comes in and finds her hair unfitting for a model, so she needs to get a makeover and guess what? Her makeover obviously consists of a pixie cut and green hair to make her look like a "punk fairy".

My class mate cried throughout the entire process, so I guess the producers got the drama they wanted out of this.

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I worked with a junk removal company for an episode of hoarders and it was actually 99% REAL. The only thing that they would set up a couple times was if they opened a box and found something interesting off camera they would re-open it on camera and act like they just found it.

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I knew a girl who was on a tiny-home show with her mom. They had already bought the tiny home, and the show set things up as if they were looking at a bunch of others and picked that one.

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I was on a dog training show when I was 8-ish. The whole thing was basically bogus. The 'trainer' came to our house for maybe 30 minutes tops and gave us extremely basic advice. The producers then told us we had to get changed and pretend that he was visiting us three months after he gave us the advice, and how it had made our life better, yada yada yada. It's so dumb because our puppy was clearly the same age in the 'before' and 'three months after' shots, and my family aren't actors, so our reactions were really fake.

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I was on Wife Swap when I was 10 years old. My family had to switch with a farming family and we were supposed to be the ‘city family’ even though my family and I lived in the suburbs. There were plenty of quotes taken out of context as you’d expect. They also incited plenty of drama. I was framed as addicted to video games so they took my xbox and gameboy color for the week. A few days in one of the crew members came in with my gameboy and said “look I found this” and handed it to me. It shouldn’t be surprising that they sent the woman staying in our house into my room to ‘catch me in the act’.

To be honest not much has really changed in my life except getting snapchats of my 10 year old face when my friends catch the reruns. I’m open to any questions if anyone is curious.

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I worked with 2 people who were on Teen Mom (grandmother and granddaughter, obv the granddaughter was the Teen Mom)... they told me that the directors would intentionally set up stuff that would cause drama and then start filming. For example, the directors had them go out to lunch and told the grandmother something she didn't know yet and filmed their argument for drama, knowing she would get upset that the granddaughter hadn't told her before (even though she was planning to). Really dumb, unnecessary drama for TV, but apparently the baby got tons of scholarships and support from the show which is why they did it in the first place, so they said it was worth it.

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My family was on Dr. Phil maybe 15 or so years ago. They definitely dug up as much drama as possible and didn't bring any of it up until we were onstage. It was actually very traumatic for all of us. They picked us all up in separate SUVs the evening before filming and took us to a very nice, expensive hotel for the night. We weren't allowed to leave the hotel and were picked up by the SUVs in the morning — I'm assuming so we couldn't really speak to each other or chicken out. In the end, everything just felt so much worse. Fifteen years later and everything is a million times better, but definitely no thanks to the show.

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My aunt’s family was on Nanny 911. They have 10 kids, so it was a great family for the show to manipulate. When we all finally saw the show, it gave me a lot of insight into how heavily manipulated it actually is. They made a situation where my cousin went on a bike ride seem like she was missing and was purposely not coming back to the house, which wasn’t true. They made my uncle seem like an awful dad. He actually ended up getting emails and such with awful threats after the show aired because of how badly they portrayed him.

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A good friend of mine was on one of the 'wife swapping' shows, and it was 100% fake. The producers decided that since his family was part Asian, they should do martial arts together and had them learn some basic Tai Chi stuff for a scene, even though none of them were martial artists at all.

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I knew someone on Wife Swap. Her husband cheated with the 'swapped' wife, leading to a very real divorce. The show ruined her life for a long time.

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I guess this is not really related. But an interesting story

My friend went to Hollywood on American Idol a few years ago. She told me they kept trying to get her to mess up her lines and ask for a redo “for the camera”. She refused and sang it the right way, but was sent home that day. To this day she is convinced that she was sent home because she refused to add drama to her scene

She then said after she was let go, all the interview questions were like “how does it feel to know you let down your family and friends who supported you so much in your dream”. Just really trying to get people to cry She said the whole thing was the worst experience ever


A girl I went to school with was on My Super Sweet 16. She was always quiet but well liked, and the kids on that show were usually monsters, so we were curious how the episode would paint her. There was one scene where she was checking in on a vendor, and they said something might not be finished in time for the party. She didn't have a meltdown or anything, but she said something dramatic, like, 'Oh no! That's going to ruin my whole birthday party!' After the episode aired, her friends who were with her said they did a couple of takes because her first reaction was like, 'Oh, that sucks. Thanks for letting me know.'

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I was in an episode of MTV's True Life. The whole thing was fabricated, and they painted my (now ex-) girlfriend's family to seem like they didn't like me at all, when they absolutely loved me. When we weren't giving them enough drama, they told us we had to amp it up or they'd cut our segment.

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My dad was asked to be on an episode of TLC's My Strange Addiction. He runs kind of a niche (small) business. And they were like, 'Hey, you're addicted to this, right?' And he was like, 'Um, no.' It was a honeybee business. They were hoping he was addicted to bee stings.

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My family and I were on House Hunters. In reality, the entire thing was staged — like, literally every detail. We had already owned the home for six months when our Realtor was contacted by HGTV. Neither of the other two homes was even for sale. Every scene was shot several times. The 'three-month' follow-up just showed us in different clothes in our actual home and was shot the same weekend. Bizarre experience. I haven’t been able to look at reality TV the same way since!

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I was friends with a guy whose brother was on the show 16 & pregnant. He & his at the time girlfriend were featured. They made him out to be a bad guy but he wasn't anything like the way he was made out on tv. I had hung out with them years before and during filming.

He had his stupid moments but is an overall good guy. She had talked about being on the show before they did the deed (red flag 1) and when the kids were born she took them and run away on a few occasions. Once claiming he could see the babies and when he flew to see them, she never showed up to pick him up. He was left stranded in a different state.

So when you watch those shows it may not always be as it seems. It can be entertaining but don't take what you see as fact. They start a lot of drama just for the audience at the cost of the individuals.

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My friend was on the show “Cheaters”... where you supposedly write into the show if you suspect your partner is cheating, and they “investigate” and then show you the evidence all dramatically.

Well, my friend was supposed to be the guy that the wife was cheating with. He told me he could get paid $200 to pretend to have sex with the curtains open (to be “caught”) or to REALLY have sex with her for $600.

Anyway, he’s 600 bucks richer now.


I was a competing Realtor on Million Dollar Listing for an episode. I am not, nor have I ever been, a Realtor.

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I was a production assistant (read: lackey) on a reality TV pilot about "Soccer Moms." The premise is they find a housewife, give her whatever her dream job is for a week, and then at the end of the week ask if she wants to keep the job. During the week they create family drama, set it up as working vs. loving your husband and kids, and put the mom in ridiculous situations at her new "job." It's allllllllll manufactured, the same way as all these shows. The executive producer will be set up in the backyard feeding questions to the director and cameramen. They set up fake conflicts constantly. She "chose" her family, and hopefully they all got therapy afterward.


One of my neighbors was on a house disaster renovation show, and it was a mixed bag. I think the crew hired by the show actually did very competent structural renovations and repairs, but the 'designer' had super-niche tastes, so the family ended up repainting everything and throwing out all the decor to get the house ready for resale after having to act super happy for the cameras.

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My ex's brother was on MTV's Room Raiders. It's a show where a boy or girl gets to snoop around in three potential partners' rooms to see if they like them based on their possessions. Terrible concept. The young lady looking around the room had zero personality, and all the 'interesting' or 'embarrassing' things that were found were planted. I mean, come on...who the fuck has a tiny comb for their pubes as a teenager?

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Not me, but I bumped into someone who was on Property Brothers. According to them, the two brothers were only ever on site for the filming. They threw out/hauled away all their furniture, and what it was replaced with was very pretty but hard and uncomfortable, bad quality (like had to be replaced within a year), and impractical for the family. Plus, the family could not get anything back from before the makeover that they wanted.

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MTV's Made went to my high school the year after I graduated and made two episodes. One was about a guy I knew really well. His whole storyline was about how he’d never even been on a date before, when he’d actually dated my sister for two years before filming, and she was pretty crushed by it. All the end goals that they made seem like a huge momentous deal were actually super casual school events that anyone could sign up for, and all the special industry guests the celebrity mentor brought in were just townies that happened to own some small business in the area that was semi-related to the goal.

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Canadian Idol—-Producers tell you which songs to sing. First they make you sing in line, if you’re really bad or really good you’re put through to the producers.

My friend made it through (honestly an incredible singer.) she had been singing one song the whole time and made it to the judges. She sang her song that got her that far, which was My Hero by Foo Fighters. Then, before she goes the judges the producers say she’s going to sing “Creep” by Radiohead as Foo Fighters aren’t on the list of approved songs.

So she sings Creep, doesn’t impress the judges and doesn’t make it through. We then watch the show when it’s aired, these motherfuckers edited her into the opening and said: “the good, the bad and the just plain creepy!!” And showed her singing Creep—-she was this gothic girl who didn’t fit in with the usual pop star image, she was so humiliated she never sang again.

Also, Ben Mulroney is one of the worst human beings I’ve ever met.

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A woman I know ran a rescue center for small animals and TV company approached her about doing an episode of their show.

She would take animals from people who bought pets but decided they didn't want to take care of them, like rabbits after Easter, pet hamsters, rats and Guinea pig's.

They pitched it as some animal charity documentary but really it was one of those shows about hoarders and they wanted to make her look nuts for having lots of animals.


I was on Wife Swap when I was 11 or 12. The show gets hours of footage for two weeks and then puts it into a one-hour episode. So you can imagine they can try to make the narrative whatever they want. They really try to emphasize what makes your family different and often exaggerate or encourage the participants to exaggerate. With only one or two cameras, you often enter the same 'scene' multiple times, so we actually met the swapped wife for the 'first' time three times to get different angles.


A wedding that I was a bridesmaid in was aired on Say Yes to the Dress. They filmed our initial reaction to the bride walking out several times. They wanted us to scream and cry. I'll be honest, the whole thing was incredibly fake and rubbed me the wrong way. Pretty on par for the type of person the bride is, though. I don't talk to her anymore.

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I knew a guy pretty well who was on Millionaire Matchmaker. Spoiler: He was not a millionaire. He drove a nice car and owned his own business but lived in an apartment with a roommate. They filmed him in his apartment parking garage pretending all the nice cars were his. He was always about the smoke and mirrors for self-promotion, and it worked. Never seen anyone so unashamed to lie and cheat

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My friend was on an episode of cheaters. The entire thing was completely staged. She met her “boyfriend” the day they started shooting.


Not a "family" show per se, but my high school was asked to be on a reality TV show called If You Really Knew Me, which was about high school cliques. I think we were also asked to be on a show about our journalism club, too. Our school turned down all the gigs because the teachers thought it would paint us all in a bad light (they were prob right lol). Us kids were originally pretty bummed, but after we watched some of the MTV reality shows about other high schoolers, we realized they were right and it would probably document us doing embarrassing crap with artificial drama.

I also knew a "geek" who was on Beauty and the Geek. Everyone was told to play up their parts, so the geeks had to develop geekier mannerisms and hobbies, and the beauties were forced to say stupid things. The romances were real, but that's just what happens when you bring together a group of young people together lol, and the producers played it up to continue the drama.


I was on the Long Island medium in 2013. Theresa came to my house to do a private reading and it was voted on as one of the best readings of the season.

Problem issss....she’s full of shit. The production crew were awesome folks and not to mention I was borderline blacked out drunk at 3 in the afternoon for the reading but you wouldn’t be able to tell watching it.

The episode was called “Diving right in” and she addressed my fathers passing in 2010. She pulled on my heartstrings and I cried my eyes out.

I’m 18 months sober now


An acquaintance of mine was filming for Don't tell the Bride. The show pulled out when they refused to cooperate. The husband to be had all these ideas his wife would love but the production crew said it had to be a 50 Shades of Grey theme wedding. It was popular at the time and she worked in the sexual wellbeing industry. He said no so they found another couple to cooperate with their insane ideas.

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I was on Wife Swap when I was 13 or so, and they made up more than half of it. They make it so there's a nice family and a bad family. They made us the bad family of 10 living in a house bus. Anything they can't make look bad, they don't put on the show. They act nice and all but make you look like a fool on TV. I remember my mum coming back home crying and stressed out.


My friend was on a nanny show. They apparently took his birds out of the house to film and had them in a trailer, and they froze to death. When they brought them back, they all realized they were not the same birds.

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When I was in Korea they wanted to film me (some random white guy) eating their traditional foods. They filmed my reaction but I really liked the food a lot. They had me re-take it and pretend it was too spicy and gross so they could show that foreigners can’t handle it.


So, not technically a big well known reality show.. but there used to be a “home makeover” show that had 5 different designers that would get their own episode on a rotational basis, and my mom was one of them.

For one of her episodes, she actually did a makeover of our own house as she was selling it. She made my brother and I stay with her for the week of filming (parents are divorced), which I thought was weird, but whatever. She roped my teen brother into making some art for the show, so he got his little bit of fame, and I just hid in my room the whole week.

I remember I thought I had caught my mom alone, and we had a conversation where I expressed how uncomfortable I felt with people in our home, and why did I have to stay that week at her house, as there was no “arrangement” ever on which house my brother and I stayed at. Anyways, some camera guy snuck up on us and filmed the whole thing (without me knowing), and then asked me if I could repeat myself, but be more “mad” at my mom. I felt so violated.

Also the fact there were four mid-20 year olds hanging out right outside my bedroom the whole week (I was 16/17), and that was just so fucking creepy now that I think about it years later.

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My uncle was on one of those million-dollar reality shows in LA. He absolutely was not a millionaire, just had a slight claim to fame making furniture out of airplane parts for rich people in the area. He already had a home he was quite happy with but was invited by a producer friend to basically tour three different staged houses, 'pick' one, then have a barbecue at said house with his friends at the end.


A friend of a friend's Mustang was in South Beach Tow.

The business (Tremont Towing I think) is a legitimate towing business.

One of the director's came up to him and told him that his car was being towed for some infraction (it was the friend's fault entirely so the towing business was in the right). But before the car would be towed, he was told that if he agreed to be in a scene, they'll have everything set up for his "grand entrance" and if he acted all surprised / make a spat and go crazy, they'll just give him back the car at the pound.

He didn't agree to it because he didn't want his face shown on TV, and the director was cool with it. The friend did allow the car to be in the scene though. Well on the flip of a switch, suddenly 2 actors came out of nowhere (a couple) and they filmed the scene. You had these 2 people freaking out about a Mustang being towed that wasn't really theirs...

He thought the whole thing was hilarious.

Thankfully even though he didn't agree to be in the scene, apparently he was so chill with the entire thing and with the crew that they just gave him his car back.

He calls it a win.


I was on Kiesha's Perfect Dress, a spin off of Say Yes to the Dress. My cousin was looking for her wedding dress. They would have her come out multiple times in the same dress to get different takes of our reactions. Would tell us to say mean things of we didnt like the dress.

I was one of the people who they did the one on one interview with and they pretty much made me seem obsessed with my cousins breasts looking large in the dress because I cracked one joke in the interview about her being flat chested.

She did end up buying her wedding dress from the show however and it was very beautiful.


I went to a taping of Lets Make a Deal. A woman chose a curtain and won a car. Awesome right? Nope. The producers stopped the filming and said hey that’s not supposed to be behind that curtain. They did a reshoot after about 30 minutes of changing the curtain. They made her choose curtain 2 for this shoot (she chose 3 with the car) and behind that was the bad prize. Also, Wayne Brady is a massive massive jerk. I used to love him.


I was on the dating show “Elimidate”. It was setup to the point that the producers did their best to create drama by pushing questions like: “XYZ was really acting like an ass that last round. Tell us about what an ass XYZ is.” I felt the final show edits were pretty accurate to the real life events though.

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A little off topic but similar :

Jupiter Entertainment reenacts true stories for shows like For My Man, Vengeance, Fatal Attraction, Homicide Hunters, etc. Much of the acting is filmed with no sound because the voice-over will be explaining the story.

They have filmed many shows at my house. I usually hide in a corner of the kitchen & watch them film. I swear it's more entertaining the the shows!

One scene had 2 men arguing over a woman. They really got into it with sweat & spittle flying. Then the woman walks down my hallway & confronts them. It's a big scary screaming fight.Thing is, you don't know what they are really saying.

Let me tell you, we were all nearly crying with laughter. It sounded something like this...

"What do you think your doing with my woman?" "What do ya mean your woman! I came here to eat some pizza!" "Well I'll stuff this pizza up your __ ____and you'll like it!" " I hate pizza and you can't make me! Besides that woman is preggers with my baby & we're gonna name it pizza!" "You can't do that because MY name is pizza you stupid pretty boy!" "I know I'm pretty! Do you want to go for pizza when this is over?" Woman walks up... "What the hell is the matter with you guys? My poor pizza baby has its feelings hurt because you don't like it!" "That baby's father is taco bell & not me! You're gonna have a burrito, not a pizza!" "Waaaaaa! You are so mean! Can we have salad for dinner break? Oh wait, how about poke bowl? There's a great place just a couple minutes from here!" "I think that's a great idea because I hate pizza! "

....and so on.

Vicious on camera, hilarious in real life!


Some kid in a neighboring school district was on 'My Super Sweet Sixteen'. He was one of the few boys on the show (I think it was season 1) so he got ridiculed and bullied pretty bad. His parents moved him down to Florida for the rest of high school.


Not me but a childhood friend. He lived in a nice big house down the street, and then a reality show was filmed there. The teenage son got drunk, caused a traffic accident and got into a fight. The show followed the family as they dealt with the aftermath. Except this entire family was actors, filming in my friends house.


Friend of mine was on “Don’t tell the bride” the one where the Husband gets like 12 grand and has to plan every aspect of a wedding without the brides involvement. Typically the weddings end up being some selfish bullshit all about the husband which the wife sometimes ends up enjoying. My buddy said when they went in to the initial planning sessions with the shows crew him and his missus were separated and grilled about their first, second, third all the down to like ninth or tenth choice of weddings. Any ideas which matched the other persons were instantly thrown out, as was his top three ideas. Basically they forced him to come up with about ten different plans for a wedding and pick the one they believed she’d like the least, just for drama. They only went on the show because they were super short on money and hoped that they’d get a decent wedding on the shows dime. They ended up having another wedding they funded themselves a few years later because the one they were forced into on the show was so shitty.

I was also working as a shift manager for Burger King when they filmed an episode of “back to the floor” a show about high up managers coming back to work a couple days as a basic staff member in their company. The dude involved was super chill, but the production staff wouldn’t give us any real time to work with him, so it fucked us over on that shift because we basically had a “dead” station in the kitchen. They also filmed a montage of him running a closing shift and they did a “will get the restaurant cleaned up and closed down in time” theme. They ended the montage with us all turning the lights off and leaving with a cry if “success” from the manager, then the film crew f**ked off and we had to go back into the restaurant and finish the job...


About 15+ years ago, My husband and I had our townhome done on Clean Sweep. We get along REALLY well and they were constantly trying to find something that would cause tension, or drama between us. We’re just not like that, though. We’re just a couple of aging punks that like kitschy stuff. Our place was still relatively new, we had just bought it 6 months before and it was pretty decent, just had one catch-all room of junk and boxes that we hadn’t yet sorted. But it was their first season and they needed guests. We were just quirky enough, I guess.

The redesign was ok, and we still like the living room mural. But to this day I’m still pissed about the shitty paint job on our staircase handrail. When we bought our home, it was a beat up mess from previous owners and we really worked hard to improve it. My husband and I spent a whole day scraping off old paint on the rail, sanding it, priming it, and then painting it a fresh white. The TV show had painted it a horrid bright green and it wasn’t even dry yet when they did the reveal. It had paint bumps and blisters and wrinkles on it. They also used gloss white paint on my brand new coffee table, TV stand, and bookcase - which were already finished in the colour that I liked. We eventually had to get rid of them and buy new ones.

But wait! There’s more! On the day we had to sort things out to keep, trash, or donate, it was about 100 degrees F outside. We had to sort on the back parking of our townhouse, which is blacktop. My husband gets migraines from heat sensitivity and brightness. They refused to let him wear sunglasses. Guess what happens? Heat sickness, migraine, then vomiting. We had to stop filming and get him to our local hotel room so he could recover in a dark, air conditioned room.

Now we have 2 kids and the place is still decent but totally different and lots of toys etc everywhere. Months later, we get a tax notice that we owe $1700 from the “gift” of the remodel. Yay. Older and wiser now, will never do something like that again.


Friends were on a home remodeling show with their kids that didn’t take off. If was half game show. They had to compete in Price is Right kind of games to win things for the house. Only they filmed that part after the remodeling work was done. The show predetermined what they’d win.

They were supposed to help with the remodel as well. They only did what was filmed. The kids were disappointed because they wanted to demo everything. All the work was done by contractors. The hosts/decorator just showed up for filming and barely talked to them. The cute chatting and get to know you part was mostly scripted. The family is very arty and colorful but they were wearing polos and khakis on the show.

Over all they loved the experience. The contractors didn’t have to do major structural work so there was nothing crazy to go wrong. They did fake some problem for drama, but I don’t remember what.

The take away from them was the whole show was fake but they enjoyed the experience. The crew and contractors were nice and they became friends. They had their house professionally updated and decorated in a week. They sold a year later and it absolutely helped their resale value.

They were picked because they met the producer walking through their neighborhood scouting locations close to the production office in LA.

I don’t think it ever aired. The video I saw looked like it was still being edited.


Back in the late 90s my friend attended a taping of Jerry Springer. They pulled him out of the line, offered him some cash and put him in some phony scenario on he show.


A friend of mine was on a show called Love Island. Once he left I didn't ask for many details but he said that basically every minute of the show is scripted and there was a single scene they had to shoot about 6 times.


Not me, but I know Matt James (Bachelor) from my old job. He's a pretty cool and laid back guy. Definitely not a mama's boy like the show made him out to be. I feel bad about his experience on that show.


About a thousand years ago, Fox had a reality series called American Gladiator, which was a little bit similar to those ninja warrior obstacle course shows.

Anyway, being a lowly PR intern, I was sent to the convention center in (major Midwestern city) because American Gladiator was holding auditions and they needed bodies to help.

So there were basically a bunch of different fitness tests and people who scored above a certain cut point got sent long even further in the process.

I saw some pretty well trained athletes coming through there. There was this one guy though who had DRESSED for the part but was not remotely athletic. But he had this Sammy Hagar surfer fitness look about him. He runs his set for me—a fellow intern and I were basically timing 50-yard dashes.

I spot one of the producers watching the lines of people waiting to run their dash and they spotted this Sammy Hagar lookalike. The producer pulls me aside and says, “Hey, you see that guy who looks a little h it like Sammy Hagar? Whatever he scores, send him through.”

He ran with a guy who was super in shape and missed the cut score by like one second. Sammy Hagar was a good 3-4 seconds behind and everyone on lone lost their minds when they saw me reject the actual athlete and send along the guy who would look good on TV.

I have never trusted a reality show since then. That was about 1990/91. They’ve always been bullshit.

And to that athlete dude: sorry man but you’d have looked stupid; it wasn’t about athleticism at all.


I have a friend who was on one of those home makeover shows in the mid 2000s with her mom. She said it was awful. They created all this drama between her and her mom for a side narrative and actually trashed their house for the “before” shots to make the makeover look more extreme.


I was on wifeswap when I was 11 or 12. The show gets hours of footage for 2 weeks and then puts in into a 1 hour episode. So you can imagine they can try to make the narrative whatever they want. They really try to emphasize what makes your family different and often exaggerate or encourage the participants to exaggerate. Due to only 1 or 2 cameras you often enter the same “scene” multiple times, so we actually met the swapped wife for the “first” time 3 times to get different angles.

They also often push the mom to make new rules based on the narrative they want to tell, and ask you questions that could fit that narrative. My family for example was portrayed as uneducated hicks that didn’t take work seriously. It always left a bad taste in my mouth and I think it hurt a lot of my self confidence in high school. They also hired people to take care of the kids off set and the guy we had was borderline abusive and threatened to throw us in the snow banks when we weren’t quiet and often got too physical. There was little to no oversight on this.


MTV’s “Made” came to our high school to turn two girls into each other. One was portrayed as this artsy starlet who did musicals and show choir, and the other was portrayed as this sporty, fit, athletic girl.

The reality was both girls were into sports and the performing arts.


Not as a kid, but a few years ago I was on an episode of True Life, they spent about 5 weeks with me in total filming stuff, they hired a therapist for the episode because my real therapist couldn’t be on it because of her office rules, then after filming was over for awhile I dyed my hair and then they contacted me wanting me to do some post interview shots and because my hair was a different color they bought a bunch of those temporary hair color sprays and basically spray painted my hair and brought me to a producer’s house and had me stand in different areas and talk about what had gone on and my feelings for what I had “just done”. I had no memory of what we had filmed, nor any memory of what I’d been feeling when we had filmed, so they had to remind me of everything and basically say “would you say this?” “I guess” “no literally, say it.”

Also I had several conversations with producers about how they needed drama and needed me to have something to overcome so they ended up fabricating some drama between me and my mom. It was really dumb and I guess now that episode is on Paramount+ according to my Instagram inbox lol.


My friend's parents were on World's Strictest Parents. They came to my house on the 4th of July, and when they showed our house on TV, it was a huge mansion rather than our actual house. The camera crew also told the visiting 'bad kids' to steal alcohol from our house.

Image credits: iceninja98


I've said this before, but my friends family was on wife swap. My friends mom was the 'villain.' The other mom was presented as a total saint. What they didn't show is the woman was suppose to muck the horse barn, feed the chickens and something else farm related. She refused & had a terrible crying fit. They have an incredibly nice barn & set up. At the end the woman budgeted how the money was to be spent. On tv the amount didn't add up. IRL she gave money for them to hire a 'horse mucker'


I knew a girl whose sister was on Bad Girls Club Season 9; her name is Falen.

She said that being on the show was emotionally & physically exhausting; they would intentionally not feed them and give them a ton of alcohol instead so the girls were hangry & incredibly drunk. They got almost no privacy & the producers would intentionally stir up drama (telling girls lies about other girls, ect.) and then just let the fuse go off.

It was interesting to watch the season too because Falen and I are both the children of East African immigrants (which is how I met her sister) and our immigrant community in the US is very religious, judgemental and tightknit. Honestly it was cool for me as a teenager to know someone who was also East African but comfortable with drinking & cursing on TV. Falen was definitely very messy on the show, but it's a form of freedom and I appreciated that.


My uncle and his family were on an episode of Wife Swap. We were invited over for a family holiday dinner. It was a very weird experience; we signed our souls away in paperwork before being cued to enter their house (I was in about one second of the episode, walking in their doorway). Uncle hated the experience because they coerced him toward certain behavior and made my sweet little cousin out to be a demanding, spoiled brat, which she was very much not.

Image credits: C_Taarg


My friend was on an episode of Supernanny. He told me that everything was already planned out and staged. At the end, he got to meet his NBA idol Dwyane Wade and came into school the next day with Wade-branded clothes and shoes. I remember them showing him beating Wade in a one-on-one basketball game. If that isn’t scripted, then I don’t know what is.

Image credits: grizramen


Ooh I finally have a response! My boyfriend and I filmed the pilot for a show (it’s in production currently and is supposed to be picked up by _____) The show features us and another couple going on cheap dates with a fixed budget. The couple with the best cheap date wins an expensive date package

There were a lot of weird moments. When engaging with the host, she kept messing up her lines and would sometimes say something several times before getting it right, and we had to react like she didn’t spend 3 minutes stuttering. None of the conversations with her were natural, because she would pause to reword her lines a lot while we sat there with a frozen smile on.

We were prompted what to say frequently, and did a lot of re-takes. It took all day to film “two hours.”

Everything had to be set up. EVERYTHING. We were mic’d at each location change, business owners had to agree to us popping up.

Sometimes we’d say something and the director would ask us to repeat it. The cameras are hard to ignore, especially when at any second the director would say “Talk about ____ but in full statements.”

It was fun though, I really liked talking to the sound guy about his experiences. He was telling some industry horror stories. Also me and my boyfriend lost, so we went to a bar and laughed about it.


I was kind of on one. For one episode. I used to live with a couple of friends of mine who owned their own remodeling business. They were contacted by HGTV to be on a show about flipping houses.

Basically, the hosts of the show knew absolutely nothing. The hosts would have my friends show them what tools to use and how to use them for a shot, and then the cameras would roll and the hosts would act like they were doing all of the work. It was all fake, though the work was really done by my friends and the house was really sold. Last I heard, the family still lives there.


I know someone who was on breaking amish as a side character. It had scripted storylines.


My wife was hired as a home school teacher on wife swap. Since the Mom home schooled they want another home schooling Mom to step in and teach. It is all manufactured. They tell the kids to act up. My wife kept getting in trouble cause she kept turning her mic off and wouldn’t play their game. She got like 3 seconds of screen time because she taught and did not play into the reality show bullshit.


Our house was on a makeover show just before we moved in(previous owners were foster parents and had been nominated by a former foster kid who didn’t know they were moving). They did the kitchen/diner and made it open plan with a lounge area, it was really lovely. Except it’s completely ruined those types of programs for me. We were left with loads of work to do. Basically they only do the parts that are going to be shown in the after footage so the floor wasn’t fitted properly, some sides of the cupboards hadn’t been painted etc.


Extreme Makeover: Home Edition came to our neighborhood once. The family lived a few streets away. This woman was always NASTY. Miserable to be around, petty about people parking in front of her house, yelling at us anytime a Wiffle ball or Frisbee ended up in her yard, shouting at neighbors about being too loud while having a party. She was a Karen ahead of her time! When she got picked for the show, the neighborhood was floored. The show made her out to be a saint among heathens, which we all expected, but knowing the real her, it was just so damn frustrating for all of us.

Image credits: 10thunderpigs


Worked on a show like this. Saw all the raw footage. It was hundreds of hours of footage turned into a 43 minute show, so of course by omission you are not getting the full story. But I would say the first 85% of the show was more or less "real." The kids would act up, the parents were overwhelmed, etc. When the parents were sat down and the star explained what she was seeing, the emotions and feedback were real. What was not real in certain weeks was the wrap up. In each episode, the problems were resolved, but that was not often the case.

Also, the solution was always the same, and the problem was ALWAYS the parent. It was eye opening. I'm convinced now, if a kid acts up, it's the parent's fault. The parent might be a nice person, sincerely mean well, but don't possess the skills and discipline it takes to be a good parent. The solution was always 1) be consistent, that means individually and as parents... 2) give the child structure, let them know what they will be doing that day, being a good parent is not about giving your child complete freedom to do whatever they want, it bores and frustrates them... 3) give them little rewards for doing the right thing, even if it's just a sticker or drawing a little happy face on the calendar or something, don't take their good behavior for granted... 4) Listen to them! Don't act like they don't know what REAL problems are, what REAL suffering is. If they are feeling sad and frustrated, acknowledge that it is real and let them talk. Don't interrupt them to offer a pat solution or to tell them they're being ridiculous. Most of the time, the kids just need to vent.

So all that stuff was real. A lot of times the parents thought they were victims, unlucky to simply have been given kids who weren't perfect robots, and you could tell the problems would reappear after the taping stopped. But on the show, it always ended with everybody in the family coming around. Happy ever after.


I was on set for an episode of Married at First Sight recently, they were filming a scene at my workplace. There were a few guests that had appeared in reality shows before who claimed that the reality shows they had been on were heavily scripted, but this one didn’t seem to be.

Some people were asking the producers about what would happen during filming, and the producers kept saying they didn’t know, and that they just kinda start the cameras and see what happens. The couple seemed to get along really well, didn’t look like there was much drama. The crew was pretty picky about how the room was setup, and what was in the background of the shot, but other than they weren’t too controlling.

If anything my biggest complaint with the crew was punctuality. They told some guests to get there earlier than they were scheduled to get there themselves, and then they showed up 40 minutes later than scheduled anyway. I heard that this is pretty normal for tv crews tho.


A friend of mine was on the biggest loser. He said a lot of the drama isn't so much staged but the events get painted in a certain way. For example during one on one interviews they got him to describe something in a way that blamed someone else. They also would film a "weekly" weigh in, and then do another one 2 days later and the coaches would be angry they hadn't lost much weight. Then they would have another one 10 days later and talk about how hard they had been working


Back in 2005 my parents re-did my sister’s room to look like a horse’s stable - we lived on a few acres and had two horses and she was ‘horse girl’. My mom sent photos to a Home & Crafts magazine and ended up getting into a special edition about cool kids’ rooms.

A few weeks later we got a call from ABC wanting us to be on Wife Swap. We weren’t super serious about being on the show, but they offered us $50k so we at least heard them out.

They interviewed my mom and dad over the phone, who got the sense that they had taken us for a super redneck family and we’re hoping to swap us with a city family or something along those lines. In reality we’re a pretty normal group. My dad is a pharmacist, my mom drove a Lexus at the time and would probably have loved a few weeks of city life.

They interviewed my sister as well - I never talked to them. I was sick when my family did the initial photoshoot for the magazine and the WifeSwap folks weren’t to interested in me.

All in all we could tell they were just looking for extreme people from different walks of life to churn as much drama as possible. They didn’t find that with my mom and we didn’t make the ‘cut’. Pretty glad we didn’t end up going through with it!


Not during childhood, but a few years ago I was buying my first house and leaving my family farm in West Virginia. Thought it would be neat to try to get on House Hunters. Filled out the application and got an email and phone call the next week.

Of course you are already in the process of buying the home when you film, so they know you are approved for the loan and etc. Which I knew this, still seemed fun.

So anyways the lady called from California, she seemed nice enough but all business. Asked who would tour the house with me and I said my brother (I was unmarried and he would do well on TV). She asked if my brother liked the house I was buying, I said yes. She said that didn't work, she wanted him to try to talk me out of it since it was from the 1870s and he would try to get me to buy something more modern.

They also wanted me to look at other houses and offered to pay only $500 I think. I decided it wasn't worth it, making fake drama and having my whole small town thinking I'm dishonest, for 15 minutes of fame.


My family and our home were on that show "This Old House" in the late '90s. Norm Abrahms was the host, and they picked our house because of my dad's collection of Shaker furniture. The idea was that we gave him a tour of the house (while being filmed) and then he demonstrated to the camera how to make furniture like our.

Everything was 100% genuine. Norm and the crew were kind and super respectful to all of us. No second takes. When he explained to the camera how to build replicas of the Shaker furniture, it became apparent that he was a master woodworker. Before he left we all took photos together and he signed some stuff. It was a really special day.

That was right when reality TV was starting to pick up steam. MTV's The Real World was big at the time. I don't think Survivor had come out yet. That was the show that opened the floodgates.


When my sister was 13 she was invited onto a TV show in Hong Kong that followed kids/teens living a day in the life of a particular occupation. She was asked to work in a bakery.

On the day of the shoot she was up and ready super early, but the crew arrived 2 hours late. They later edited this to look like my sister had slept in.

At the bakery, they specifically asked her to swap out sugar for salt, and knock over a stand of baked bread, all for the camera. In both instances she questioned why they wanted her to do this and they said “It’s just for the camera.”

She was portrayed like a really incapable teenager, all for the drama, and from that day (I was 11) I knew never to believe what happens on reality shows.


My aunt was all set up for an episode of Super Nanny for my two cousins (both girls, one teenager and the other almost-teen at the time, the younger being the main force behind most of the craziness). But, the older one found out and told the younger, and sat her down for a few episodes to show her what was coming. Everything suddenly got so peaceful, two pleasant from pleasant home.

A few days later, the producers called my aunt to schedule the filming. And she told them she'd still love to do it, but they had complained turned their behavior around, so they might not get a show out of it. So, it was canceled, but that bit of news never made it to the younger one, so she continued operating under the impending Super Nanny threat for a long time....like too long. For another few years, it was like threatening a child with calling Santa Claus for bad behavior, and it was equally effective. Sweet girl, but not the brightest.