Contestants, Crew And Audience Members Reveal Whether Reality TV Is Fake Or Real

Published 1 year ago

If you’re as secretly hooked on reality TV as we are then you’ve probably heard that most of it is staged for the cameras. However, have you ever wondered just how much is actually real and how much is fake?  Which famous shows have heavily scripted segments versus which have a non-intrusive camera crew present? The following revealing posts by contestants, crew or audience members of such shows, give us a glimpse behind the scenes into the world of reality TV.

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Image source: Knowing_nate, Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader

When I was a kid, I was on Are you Smarter Than a Fifth Grader. All the answers the kids give are 100% genuine. One of the girls on the show with me is the smartest person I have ever met.


Image source: Nihil_am_I, Beauty and the Geek

I had a friend on Beauty and the Geek recently, and this is just one of the many examples he gave. He arrives, and the producers look through his suit case, and told him “you can’t wear any of this”

All the contestants are actually dressed down at the beginning of the series, to make them appear more geeky. When he got his “makeover”, all he did was wear his normal clothes again.


I was a production assistant on an episode of America’s Supernanny. I can confidently say that *nothing* was scripted. Deborah genuinely cared about helping the families. There was no coaching by the producer and the entire crew went to great lengths to be as non-intrusive as possible while shooting.

Image source: JonathanTsunami


Image source: anon

Not a contestant, but I worked on the set of “America’s Got Talent”.

It was my first reality TV project, I worked with a camera crew. My first days of shooting were the audition process, people with random talents coming in to show off and get recognized.

I learned listening to the radios, that there’s essentially two classes of contestants. Green cards, the talent they think could win, and Red cards people who aren’t good at all and are generally just there because someone thought they were weird.

The odd thing is, if Red cards didn’t show up, they would take Green cards and re-edit their interviews or steer the interviews in a direction that made them look crazy.

I did the season 7 episode set in St. Louis and I remembered there was a contestant who was an older woman who played the drums, she was energetic and friendly and they recut her stuff to make her look insane. She gets to play for the judges who then just demean and mock her, it broke my heart.

Some of it’s not scripted, some of it is just made up in the editing room.


Image source: Rockitlikearedhead, The Voice Global

I was in The Voice this season. And i can tell you that there is a lot of scripting there. Before entering you have three auditions and a recording session with the producer. So they saw your face (blind audition?) and they heard your voice. On tv they use the version you sang at the blind audition, but they autotune it. The interview before the blind audition is also recorded weeks before. you have to pretend it’s on the day itself.
Interviews are almost always set up. When we had rehearsels it was mostly three days apart from eachother and we had to wear the same clothes so it would look like the same day.

voting seems pretty real and not scripted.


Image source: okaygeorgia, A&E

My dad was on Hoarders. To be more clear, he wasn’t actually the Hoarder. It was the season finale for season 5 (I think) and the lady’s home was so bad, the producers of the show couldn’t let her stay. However, the show obviously didnt have the budget to buy her a new home. They came to my dad, hoping they could buy one cheap from him and my dad ended up donating one of his reposessed homes to the lady. I teared up watching.

Surprisingly it’s all very real. I mean, of course editors work their magic but all in all, those people really do have hoarding problems.

Edit: By “couldn’t let her stay” I mean that the house had actual holes in it once they removed all the stuff. It wasn’t a safe environment to call home.


Image source: amazem, A&E

Storage wars probably wins the “scripted” prize.


My mom was a producer on judge Judy and no one loses on that show. The show finds your case, flies you out to la and gets you a hotel all on the shows dime. But get this the show pays the judgements. So if she says you owe the other person 5k, the show pays them, not you.

Image source: anon


Image source: anon, Judge Judy

Really late, but I was on Judge Judy back in 2010.

I was the defendant. While it isn’t necessarily scripted, the producers are really good at getting you to say what they want.

Oh, and the audience is all paid actors. They bring multiple changes of clothes and sit there all day. They’re paid to laugh or boo on cue.


Image source: annieisawesome, MTV Catfish

A friend of mine applied to be on Catfish- the show where they track down people on facebook- because her online friend of several years would never meet up with her. Apparently They have to get permission from the person they are tracking down to be on the show, so the Catfish people know the whole time who it is they’re looking for.


Image source: blaineNIKE, A&E

My dad’s buddy was on Storage Wars: Texas. He was presented on the show as an expert on western wear. My dad’s friend is a Cavender’s (a western wear store) manager, he’s not an expert on anything. The producers of the show had him read from a scrip and it took 4 hours of filming to create a 4 minute segment.


Image source: Qasim786,

I have posted this before, but it seems very fitting here;

There is a popular show in England called ‘The Apprentice’ one of the most popular shows in th UK at it’s peak. Essentially, it is a bunch of idiots running around the city, carrying out various tasks while making dumb mistake along the way – it involves going from shop to shop, trying to sell your product that you made to random people and companies and one team tries to sell more then the other – I LOVE IT. Anyway, my dad owns a restaurant chain, and the people from The Apprentice called him up, GAVE HIM MONEY, and said ‘x and y will enter your building, listen to what they have to say, try to bargain with them, then buy their product for this price, then we will give you £x amount of money’ When my dad told me, I was shocked – turns out almost all purchases are fixed! I dont watch it anymore…


Image source: Naburu,

My mom has worked with some chefs that have been on Iron Chef. They are notified of the category of the secret ingredient before hand, like protein, veggie, fruit so they can plan out some general ideas.

However the reveal IS the first time they see the actual ingredient. Also the time limit is only for a set amount of dishes and they get extra time to make enough for all the judges after. The judging is completely real and unscripted.


My best friend in high school was in a long term relationship with Gene Simmons’ daughter, Sophie, right about the time they started filming **”Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels.”** Since he didn’t really want to be a part of the show, they literally wrote him out after a few episodes. Some highlights:

-To make his exit seem less abrupt, they created a subplot about Gene not approving of the relationship. There was one shot in particular of my friend and Sophie making out on a trampoline outside, then cut to Gene looking out of a window and shaking his head. That window didn’t even look out into the right yard, it was on the other side of the house!

-The family took a road trip to go skiing, which my friend was invited to. However, since he had been written out of the show, he had to sit in the way back and hide for nearly the whole duration of the drive up.

-Scenes weren’t scripted, however each family member was given an “arc” for their character and placed strategically in rooms together to fight/scheme/laugh etc. according to what the writers needed. If the producers didn’t like how a conversation went, the family would be asked to “do it over.”

Image source: 40dollarsharkblimp


Image source: galdanna, MTV’s Teen Mom

MTV “16 & Pregnant” season 1 favorites Tyler and Caitlyn (that adopted out their baby) are from my area. They went to the local “alternative ed” high school, and on the show were “Prom King and Queen.” The only thing is, our district wouldn’t let them film at school, and the alt-ed site does NOT have prom. The entire thing was staged!


Image source: Twistntle,

I saw my friend on “Cops” being chased down and arrested, I asked him about it, he said it was all scripted.


Image source: BadLuckBrian13, Bachelor Fantake

My tennis coach had a friend who was a sound guy for The Bachelor. He said that they have a huge table with all sorts of alcoholic beverages and the producers ‘encourage’ all the women to drink to their hearts content right before filming. This is why they are edgy/emotional all the time. Not because they are emotional wrecks (although according to him some of them really are, as the producers purposefully throw in a couple of them to start the drama and s**t) but mostly it’s just because they are drunk. Because there are a few psychos, it just takes a while lot of alcohol to get the drama going. Of course then the editors can go in and make it seem like their is no alcohol at all.

The women that inevitably quits because it’s not true love or whatever her reasons, are actually the ones that usually refuse the alcohol. Therefore they can see through all this s**t that makes that show fake.


Image source: ImNoScientician,

My sister and her boyfriend were on Cheaters. That show is entirely made up. They gave them fake names, fake jobs, the girl he was “cheating” with was an actress that they use all the time (they can do that because her face is blurred out as if she didn’t sign a release). There isn’t one part of that show that has anything to do with reality.


Image source: anon, gnepphoto

Most of it is scripted. 2 of my 3 roommates do production for reality TV. The projects are real. The “actors” will be told to do or say something, but their own words are real. The story is fake though. For example, one of the real housewives had a fake job as a realtor. On big brother, my friend was told to wake up one day and go trash the kitchen and be angry without being given any reason. Things like that are “scripted”. The hosts follow scripts obviously.


I have a friend who worked for the French version of Survivor (Koh-Lanta). Nothing is scripted, but there are some things and points that skew the “true” experience: for example, the cameramen usually point the area where the immunity idol is hidden with their camera, and the contestants just have to look where they point.

Also it’s all in the editing: some quotes can be taken out of their context, some challenges look tense and close while a team actually won by a landslide, and even though voting out someone might be undecided before the tribal council, the vote turns out to be unanimous in the end.

TL;DR: In French Survivor, nothing is scripted, but some stuff can help contestants and editing adds more drama and suspense.

By the way, there was a 25-year old contestant who died last year, on the first day of filming. Heart failure (nothing was detected in health exams), season cancelled.

Image source: Linkinito

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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