99 Reality TV Show Secrets, As Shared By These Internet Users

We’re going to let you in on a little secret, dear Pandas—just promise not to tell anyone. We absolutely love reality TV shows. The tension. The drama. The larger-than-life characters. We know it's mostly all fake and dramatized. But it’s all a lot of fun if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief for a little while.

We’ve collected some of the most interesting insights about reality TV shows from former contestants and audience members who spilled the tea in these two r/AskReddit threads here and here. They revealed what’s actually scripted and what, surprisingly, is genuine. Scroll down to check out their stories.

Bored Panda reached out to entertainment, pop culture, and lifestyle expert Mike Sington who was kind enough to walk us through why we enjoy reality TV so much and why it is so scripted. Read on for our full interview with him.


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.

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

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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.

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Entertainment expert Mike, Hollywood's Ultimate Insider, explained to Bored Panda that reality TV shows are popular for two main reasons.

"The first is we like to imagine what it’s like to live a wealthy and luxurious lifestyle. It’s fascinating for us to peek behind the scenes and see how rich people live, and imagine ourselves living such a life," he said.

"The second main reason is watching the constant drama and turmoil between the characters on reality TV actually makes us feel good about our own lives. We realize a quiet, and what some may call boring, life is really not so bad after all. Watching the drama of reality TV creates positive feelings about ourselves," Mike pointed out that these shows give us perspective.


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.

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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.

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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.

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The entertainment expert stressed the fact that reality TV isn't actually very real at all.

"Every show has a team of producers, writers, editors, and casting directors behind it. The casting directors are looking for people that will create drama, the producers and writers are crafting storylines to create conflict and drama, and the editors cut out all the boring parts, and only present the viewers with what’s compelling," Mike shared how everything works.

"The scripting and editing are necessary for good TV, or viewers would be completely bored, and would tune out quickly. No one wants to watch boring lives on TV, we’re craving drama and excitement. Good reality provides that."


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!

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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.

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Storage wars probably wins the "scripted" prize.

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Even if we like to consider ourselves the protagonists of our own stories, the fact of the matter is that real life is rarely as dramatic as what we see on TV. There definitely are Important Events and Heroic Fights Against Evil, yes. But they’re rare. Usually, it’s all about Washing the Mountain of Dishes that You Ignored for a Week and Surviving Until the Weekend (Part 128).

If we were in charge of creating a reel of our own daily lives, the odds are that we’d edit out huge portions of what we feel might bore our audience. Instead, we’d probably focus on the spiciest gossip and conversations, throw in some epic arguments, and show off how cool we are by doing a montage of us mountain climbing, painting, and dancing in the rain. We instinctively know that our audience wants to be entertained, so we’d do our best to make them happy.

Keeping in mind how we’re likely to edit our own lives if they were ever turned into a movie or show, it’s no wonder that reality TV shows aren’t 100% real. The crew needs to focus on the most important events (often, drama), so they might edit out all the calm, casual, and friendly chats between the contestants.


My dads company sponsored an episode of extreme makeover home edition. He was telling me how they wanted to look around, but all they did was film. Those pan shots of the crowd? He said that they made them do it like 5 times to get it right. Ty and the crew may move 2 pieces of furniture each at the most and that's it. The families and such I heard were real tho, which is cool but the show itself is relatively staged.

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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.

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My dad was in a commercial and an acting class with one of the guys in Millionaire Matchmaker.

Most of those dudes, not actually millionaires!

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Meanwhile, drama often doesn’t just appear out of thin air. Scripting certain events can help the show crew create structure because they control at least some aspects of what happens. It might not mean that the entire show is ‘fake,’ but it would be naive to think that it’s all free-form. 

Besides, not everyone might act naturally in front of the camera either way. They might feel pressured to act more interestingly. So they might construct a character for themselves. Both to help them stay cool under pressure and to be more memorable in the eyes of the audience and the jury.

In other words, some contestants might script their own characters… or the producers will most likely give them a nudge or two to behave a certain way. It really all depends on each project.


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.

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All the Amish reality shows are FAKE!!! My cousin's fiancé works as a producer for Amish Mafia (which is the worst of all "reality" TV) and he's constantly trying to get people to 'rent' their houses out to production so that the show can set up their skits there. You see my grandmother's house on the show, my aunt's house and my cousin and her fiance's house. All they did at my grandmother's house was shave some guy's face in the backyard.

Also there's a new show that's coming out called Amish Haunting or something. All the skits are fake and I even pitched some of my own stories to the producers (I write paranormal fiction.) we'll see if they decide to use any of my stuff.

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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.

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As we’ve recently covered here on Bored Panda, the audience is generally willing to suspend their disbelief for the sake of enjoying the story. However, things need to happen logically and there needs to be internal consistency within the framework of the show or film itself.

So, for instance, when we turn on a reality TV show, we subconsciously expect that some things might not be completely genuine. We might see some creative editing to create more tension than there actually was. Or the producers might stoke or create arguments to move the ‘plot’ forward. If it’s all done skillfully, we’ll simply enjoy the illusion of reality. However, if we can recognize that someone’s messing with reality, we might be upset because our immersion in the scenario has been broken. It’s all in the details!


I was once featured on the Food Network show, "Food 911". I said that I liked the food after I ate it at the end of the episode. I didn't like the food.

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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.

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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.

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According to ‘Social,’ nearly 4 in 10 people watch some form of reality TV. However, not everyone’s comfortable sharing that fact with others. For instance, 34% of Australians who watch reality TV lie about the fact!

Meanwhile, ‘Statista’ points out that a whopping 61% of Americans believe that what actors in reality TV shows say is mostly scripted. 18% think that everything’s mostly unscripted.

If you’re in the mood to dig up some more juicy secrets about how ‘real’ reality TV is, take a peek at Bored Panda’s earlier feature right over here.


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...

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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.


I work for a hit survival reality show on Discovery and it isn't scripted at all. From what I hear in the industry were one of the last to adhere to REALity. Most of the time we find it adds to the drama when everything is real, plus it makes the editors jobs less stressful since they don't have to manufacture scenes. But it also helps that the contestants are naked and stranded together for 21 days..

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I always found it interesting on Miami Ink that people who just came in from the streets had their microphone packs already wired up and a convenient sob story cued up.

I also found it pretty amazing that the outside of the shop wasn't packed full of fans of the show.

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I've always wondered how in shows like Hell's Kitchen and Masterchef (all cooking competitions for that matter) they flash to interviews with contestants giving real time feelings when you know it was recorded afterwards.

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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.

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They filmed an episode of Made at my high school. They would flat out go up to kids in the hall and go "Hey, can you say this into the microphone?" There was a lot of other stuff, too. But the long and short of it was that, yeah, pretty much all of it was fake.

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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.


Literally every f*****g aspect of it. I was helping to run and organize a cosplay convention about four years ago and an American Reality TV producer showed up wanting to film the whole thing. We were excited at first, yay our convention is on TV. It very quickly turned into a f*****g nightmare.

They interfered with every single function in the convention. They told us to kick out people dressed as Marvel characters because they didn't want to promote anything Marvel based. They told us to shut down the maid café because the producer said "It's too pedo for our viewers". They told us to turn fat people away at the door because they said there were too many fatties getting in the way of their cameras. They actually ordered the judges of the costume competition to pick winners that the show's main characters revolved around.

BTW the main characters were scripted to bejeezus. They had scripts, cues, practiced blocking for the camera, the works. There was all this petty b******t housewives-style infighting that was totally staged and was nothing at all like what we wanted.

Finally we wound up throwing them the f**k out. They threatened to sue but we never actually signed a contract so f**k'em . Of course people told us we were idiots, "You could have been on TV!"

You know what? ***F**K TV.***

(I know you're thinking of 'Heroes of Cosplay' but this was before them. This production company was independent and not affiliated with Space Channel or SciFi and last we heard no longer existed because we attempted to sue them. We are however forever jilted of reality TV and any production company will not find themselves very welcome.)

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A relative of mine was on Jerry Springer. The story, fight on stage, and the breakaway props were fake, but his nipple rings and the womans giant boobs he shoved his face into were all too real.

Also on the show Moonshiners, many of the people featured on the show actually were moonshiners (some friends of my in-laws) but had already served their jailtime many years prior and the show was just a recreation of some of their accounts. The locations they featured were often times real, but intentionally misreported as to where they actually were on the map.

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I was on Cake Boss for their Spider-man's anniversary episode. Answered a casting call for Cosplayers since I Cosplay as Black Cat, but personally knew nothing about the guy who actually ordered the cake. Only a few people got a piece of the actual cake. Most of us got basic store cakes just to ensure it looked like everyone got a piece of the cake they showed.

Regardless that I didn't get a "real" piece, the Spider-man cake was amazing with working parts and all these crazy special effects on it and an impressive amount of sculpted marvel characters. They told us to make sure to act really excited/impressed when the cake came out, but I don't think many of us had to fake that.

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A local radio presenter was on The Biggest Loser and according to him the first weigh in happens after a few weeks of working out while the second one happens after a a week. which is why every season the first weigh in has them all losing 5 - 10kg while they only lose 1 or 2 at the second.
The only thing that really disappoints me about the Biggest Loser is the length of time between the weigh-ins. Have you ever wondered how the contestants manage to lose a staggering 12 kilos in a single week? We don't. In my series a weekly weigh-in was NEVER filmed after just one week of working out. In fact the longest gap from one weigh-in to the next was three and a half weeks. That's 25 days between weigh-ins, not seven. That "week" I lost more than nine kilos. I had to stand on the scales and was asked to say the line, "wow, it's a great result, I've worked really hard this week". The producers made sure that we never gave this secret away, because if we did, it created a nightmare for them in the editing suite. The shortest gap from weigh-in to weigh-in during our series was 16 days. That's a fact. The thing is, overweight people get inspired by watching the Biggest Loser. They get off the couch and they hit the gym. But after a week in the real world, some people might only lose 1kg so they feel like they've failed and they give up.

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I was on It Takes a Thief. We had a really positive experience but it was largely staged. They did try to trick us into accidentally allowing a burglar in, but in the end they sent us out of the house while the "robbery" took place.


My little sister was on The Sing Off 3 yes ago. They would tell her group to "mess up, pretend you forgot the words" then they filmed the leader when they messed up and asked her to yell and get mad/roll eyes... Before we knew this when I was watching, the show portrayed her as nasty.... Now that I know they wanted that I feel bad for her. Also on say Week 4 of the show in real life - they would tell the group they needed more footage of Week 2s song/dance. The group would have to try and think back to that, inevitably messing up a little, and those were the scenes used when they were "having trouble learning the song". Very fake.


They shot an episode of MADE at my high school (a show where they "MAKE" someone into something they've always wanted to be "made" into. )

Well the girl at my hs wanted to be made into this hip hop dancer. The finale of it was to perform at our high schools end of the year talent show that was all the craze and drew out tons of people in the years past.

That was the first and last year we had a talent show. It was made for just the show.


I was on alaska state troopers. Getting my ticket and everything was real. They just cut a 2 hour traffic stop to 6 minutes to make me look a lot worse. They asked if us if anybody wanted to sign a release to show their face. Nobody did, but people could still recognize me because of my voice. Lots of splainin to do


My wife is a realtor and she was on one of those TLC home buying shows. It was 100% fake. The people had been living in the house they "choose" for 6 months before the show even contacted my wife. All they did was find two other houses on the market and pretend to go look at them. When it was time to "look" at their house the TV crew just moved their furniture from room to room so it looked vacant. Then they moved it all back, changed clothes and shot the "6 months later" shot for the end of the show. It was all pretty funny to see.


Former reality TV employee here (production assistant, camera assist, camera op) I worked for E!, MTV, and Disney on several shows. From the lowest to the highest in ratings. It's almost entirely faked, or worse instigated. An example is I worked on bridezillas for quite a few episodes and they would provoke these people/guide circumstance to the shows favor or flat out make it up. We had to do a re shoot on one episode because sound was ruined and we re created the entire episode. The expiration these people endure is tremendous. I quite to become a beer rep because I couldn't handle how morally awful all the people were


My brother partecipated to pimp my ride a lot of time ago, I was there when they filmed; the interviews were a little bit scripted, but when they showed him the finished bike, it was the first time he ever saw the final product, so the reaction was genuine.


I can tell you that North Woods Law is as real as it gets.

People really are that dumb up here.


Amish mafia its COMPLETELY fake, many episodes were filmed on my cousins farm. It's all scripted.


A former co worker was on VH1's Tough Love couples. By the time I met him he was already divorced from the women he was on the show with. He told me that they were constantly being encouraged to drink and that they would always want to interview him at like 3am when he was trying to go to bed. They would also make a point to tell him that his wife had said something in her interview. What he found out later was they would misconstrue what she said to try and get a reaction out of him.


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.


Knew someone on Say Yes To The Dress. It wasn't scripted but they controlled the outcome, forcing people to say yes (when really they didnt want the dress) and adding drama by asking the contestants to say what they didn't like about the dress. When someone says yes they don't have to buy the dress (no they dont win them as a prize) but they get something weird like 16% off if they want to buy it. The person I knew said yes but didnt buy the dress.


My cousin recently tried out for the role of a "bad" tattoo artist who gave someone a s****y tattoo on a show called Tattoo Nightmares. She's never given a tattoo, so that might help you have an idea.


My sister was on a show called "house hunters international" and the entire thing is fake. The idea of the show is they help someone find a new house to live in. Instead they wait til you find a place by yourself and after take you to different places that were "up for grabs."


I was a carpenter on Bravos 1st season of their design show Top Design back in 2007. I did the whole season, minus the finale. I was basically the designers assistant, helped build their design, paint, make furniture, even some design and materials choices. Even if my designer, Andrea, a really cool architect from LA, made it to the finale, I was traveling then so wouldn't have been there.

Regarding OPs question, none of the show was scripted, we all just really ran with it. Producers never told us "pick a fight" or " do this, try that" nothing. It was all straight up. When the clock ran out, paint brushes down and compressors off. It was a pretty awesome experience, overall. Long days and tons of hard work. We figured out 4x8 sheets of MDF (medium density fiberboard, kinda like plywood) was the best value, as we could make almost anything from it, beds, tables, trim etc. We'd buy 30-40 sheets each at, HD then have to load them into a moving van, then load them into the Pacific Design Center. Each sheet is 90lbs or so! Anyway, lots of work, tons of fun and made some great friends with whom I still keep in touch with today.


I worked on House Hunters International a few years back, which I now regret as I can't enjoy that genre of show anymore.

Basically of the three homes the couple 'viewed', the one they ended up choosing on air was the house they had already bought six months prior. The other homes were picked by a location scout, in this instance at least, because the realtor was super chill about having a film crew invade for the day.

Also, the majority of the furniture/props etc that the couple complained about whilst touring the other two 'possible' choices, were placed in the house by the crew.

*le sigh*


I was in a hotel lobby in London where Top Model was being filmed. They performed multiple takes of everything, and the 'girls' were coached on what to say, where to stand- everything.

I hesitate to even call it an open secret.

My wife is on a fire department reality show-- it is a bit more like cops, except with the fire dept. While it is not scripted, days of filming end up compressed into the 20-some minutes of actual viewing time, and events are often stitched together out of sequence, and they reuse all sorts of standard footage (of the fire station, driving the streets, etc). But this is reality TV without 'contestants.'

TV is designed to sell advertising (attract viewers)-- not adhere to standards of 'reality.'

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My close friend's mom owns a cupcake shop that won, one season of Cupcake Wars on TLC. There was a scene where she "accidentally" set the entire kitchen on fire, but the entire thing was planned, and a response crew was already set to control the "blaze"


House Hunters isn't real :( usually the homeowners already have their house in escarot (spelling? sorry) and are just pretending to look at other houses.


These two videos examine how set up [Jersey Shore](http://youtu.be/qhtOXWuzNgw?t=1m9s) and [American Idol](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlAPEPvryyE) are.

Really unless the show is just examining one element of something or is a social experiment in itself, it's scripted. A show can't just air a series of events, that'd be boring, uneven and would just feel like watching reels of pointless footage. Nobody would continually watch a 24/7 stream of, well, anything.

A narrative has to be created to keep people watching and keep people tuning in next time. So these networks deliberately create stories from the event/group/contest so there's *something* to watch.

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I live in the same town as Duck Dynasty. It's 90% fake. Willie is a prima donna a*****e and the mom expects everyone in town to kiss her a*s. They also get a lot of locals to play characters. And the big house they show in the opening? That isn't even in the same town. It might not even be in the same parish.

My dad is a chief for the Fire Department and was on one of the most recent episodes. The producers wanted the Robinsons to drive the fire truck and the Chief said, "F**k no!" Also, it was made to look like those guys hang out at the fire station all the time. They never gave a s**t about the department until the producers wanted them too.


My brother was on The Bachelorette, a top 2 contestant. 99% of it isn't scripted. I am very much like my brother which tells me that he does not do acting and isn't cavalier in the slightest with his feelings and all. It was weird because going into the show no one in the family really had much respect for the show, cause it's reality tv and "who could possibly fall in love in just 3 months??" He went on the show with 0 expectations and thought he'd meet some great guys and a great girl but probably get kicked off within the first couple of weeks. Next thing we know, he's top four and and The Bachelorette filming crew is in my house doing a home visit, and then he comes home 2 weeks later with his heart broken. He legitimately fell in love, legitimately had his heart broken, 100% real. The circumstances are obviously bizarre, but the contestants learn to ignore all of the cameras and microphones which is why they open up so much on national tv.

I will say this though, while almost none of it is scripted, it is VERY producer-driven. Producers will ask the contestants the questions that they want answers to, and will create drama for themselves to have filmed. To top it off, they are EXTREMELY good at editing, to the degree that they take clips of audio that could have been recorded weeks apart and put them together to create seemingly real conversations, and 99% of the people watching don't catch it.

tl;dr: Brother was on The Bachelorette. Made top 2. Fell in love, got heart broken. 100% real to him.


Brad, the drummer of Korean band Busker Busker, had an interview with Noisey about Superstar K (Korean version of American Idol).

Basically everything was scripted from start to finish. Who would finish, who would drop off in which week, etc. Above that all contestants were offered plastic surgery. Brad's band Busker Busker were scripted to lose pretty early on but then took off with the Korean audience so the writers of the show had to change the script. Eventually they finished second, after the band which was scripted to win from the start of the show.


I applied for a.. popular singing show.. one year and made it through a few rounds!

The tables on the first day are divided into 3 groups: tables that take people who can sing, tables that only take people who CANNOT sing, and tables that only take people with interesting stories. I heard a girl absolutely kill it and get turned down -- wrong type of table.

That being said, the auditions are so stressful and long, and those people you see at the judges table who suck? They've been through a lot of rounds already and have been told over and over again how good they are. That confusion and disappointment is very very real on tv. It's tragic.


My sister auditioned for wheel of fortune and was almost on the show. They have some strange rules for the contestants. They aren't supposed to solve the puzzle right when they know the answer. Also, apparently pat has a foot pedal that can stop the wheel.


I was on an episode of Bar Rescue. The show is totally scripted. The bar was/is closed down even after they did repairs on it. I was shown several times and the producers come up to you and tell you what to say. The producers fed me the line. The bar had been closed down a couple years before they went to the bar. Based on the questions they asked you could tell that they were trying get multiple story lines out of it just in case one didn't work out.


When it comes to Music reality shows [the voice, Idol, x factor etc] this is how it goes down:
You audition for producers. Once, twice, maybe three times. Thousands of people come to the open auditions, it's not feasible to have them ALL go in front of the celeb judges.
In The Voice, you can actually send a video through, which I think is great. The waiting around for shows like X Factor is absolute s**t.

If you're awesome/terrible/have a great backstory they'll keep filtering you through the layers.
That's why it's so cruel when the awful singers get through to Judges audition. Because they've gone through 2 or 3 producer auditions. They get their hopes up high, only to have the celeb judges tell them they're s**t. That's why they're often so hugely upset.


You know Ellen Degeneres? Yea well she's full of s**t. My mom went on her show to see the featured guest (don't remember who) and the producers informed them that the only purpose they were there was to get a good audience feedback for editing purposes for the ACTUAL show that will be televised. Basically Ellen had to half-a*s her routine (she was also in a s****y mood but who cares right? they won't use that recorded material) and it was up to the audience to constantly cheer and clap so they could edit good material for the final recording.

TL;DR Ellen has 2 different audiences at 2 different times for one show, one for good editing material, and one for a featured guest/ the real deal.

edit: Oh yea, b***h didn't even dance when my mom was there.


My sisters dance competitively and at one of their competitions, the show "Dance Moms" was being filmed. They said that they made the girls in the show do their dance numbers about five times and had separate judges just for the stars of the show. Such a shocker that a show as quality as "Dance Moms" is scripted.


I was on So You Think You Can Dance. Not much is scripted. They just take a lot of "crowd cheering" shots so they have plenty of material. But we were all pumped and enthusiastic anyway.

They interview you if you get to a certain point and a lot of contestants had mixed reviews on it. The interviews consist of questions to get any info out of you and see if there's a "tv worthy" story there. Some of the contestants obviously wanted to be on TV and were more than willing to share every detail, but a lot of others didn't see it as appropriate and wanted to keep their privacy until they made it further onto the show.


Restaurant Impossible is pretty Legit and not too scripted. My family had done electrical work for one of the episodes and said its pretty much how you see it


I had a friend that was on Beauty and the Geek. He said that it wasn't scripted, just edited to the point that it didn't actually portray reality any more. By putting the contestants in certain situations and with careful editing, unscripted footage can be shaped in to whatever story line the producer is going after.


I had a friend on the Real World (one of the first ones). He said it wasn't so much scripted, but out of 72 hours of footage they find the worst hour that they can edit out to air.


I worked on set for a game show that was filming on location. I was part of the prep crew who touched up the set after it arrived and was assembled. The panels were not all on the "wheel" yet so I got a good look at the interior. At the base of the shaft for the wheel was a large motor (about the size of one used in a washing machine). The control booth was testing lighting and what not and they "spun the wheel" and stopped it exactly where they wanted it. I doubt that the winners and losers were random. Since they crowd tested them. I'm certain whomever had a better crowd response was the winner.


My cousin was on MTV show next. She said literally everything about it was fake. Lines were scripted everything.


My husband and I were tracked down by P**n Stars. They found an item we had listed on craigslist for sale. Basically, they told us where to stand, who to talk to and general topics for discussion. What we said was mostly unscripted but the fact that they brought us in just for the item gave it that "unscripted" feel. It was fun but weird. The guys kept trying to make fun of us for not selling the item really cheap. But they gave us $50 just to show up so we didn't care to sell it. Also, the item had the word "homo" in it and they kept trying to get us to make "homo" jokes on TV... uhhhh no thanks.


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."


In the UK, when they show US versions of programs that have a UK counterpart, they often have a disclaimer along the lines of "unlike the UK version of Goat Swap, some scenes have been created for entertainment purposes"




In the end they're entirely scripted. Yes, some things will happen that's unexpected to the crew, but when it gets to the editing, us editors know how accentuate the different roles we want people to be seen as. If you're a "bad guy," we'll look for anything to boost that, right down to snooty facial expressions. Of you're a "good guy," we won't show that kind of stuff if you do it, we'll make you look like the better man.

If you're the "skank," we'll compile our favourite footage of you, add it to our personal collection


Highly manipulated. My sister and niece were on House Hunters. Not only had my niece already bought the condo she was "considering" on the show, she never looked at or had any interest in the other two selections. Worse - my sister almost dropped the whole deal when they pushed her to pretend that she wanted her daughter to move in with her boyfriend instead of living alone. My sister - a devout Catholic - would never. The producers backed off. Still - they edited the show to make it look like my sister was a total controlling b***h to her daughter. Far from it. Worst of all - they only got paid $500.


Had a friend on comic book men. 100% scripted. They had him come on saying his GF was making him sell all these toys. He was then and still is now single lol.


P**n Stars is pretty much all faked up. A woman brought in a classic 1958 Gibson guitar, saying it had been under her bed for 50 years.

Rick 'called his buddy', who came down and in under a minute pronounced it 100% legit (Impossible; you must remove the pickups and examine them, amongst other things).

I read later that the guitar was for sale in the buddy's music shop, and the lady was a mother of one of the staff.

Oh, and he doesn't actually call anyone, they're already there.

The Repo shows actually have a tiny fine print disclaimer saying these are re-enacted from 'real' repos.


Not a contestant but a reality tv producer here. Been working in reality TV for 7 years now on a dozen different shows. There are a range of different levels of "scripted" a show can be (this is referring to all reality shows, not just competition shows). You've got your traditional reality show that will be about as unscripted as can be. Basically the footage is shot, and in post production the story producers decide what footage from the hours of junk is worth watching and the story is constructed from there.
Then there is your "soft scripted" show. These are shows that the producers will decide when and where a conversation takes place, but often the content is stuff the people would be talking about anyway. Laguna Beach was sort of the birth of this. So Bobby actually wants to date Susie, but the producers make it so he asks her out on camera. A lot of the shows with awful, vapid people are these shows.
Competition shows are trickier. Since the quiz show investigations (made famous by the film Quiz Show), tampering is illegal in competition shows. So producers can't physically intervene and change the results/hamper a competitor/rig the game. They CAN however influence the results by getting in a competitor's head and suggesting player x is their biggest competition and should be voted off next. They also retain the right to influence a judge's decision (this is usually cited in the credits for a show as well). And while they can't rig the game, they can make decisions like "we know player x can't cook desserts, so the next competition is making ice cream."
The biggest tool a reality producer has is influence, to get in a person's ear and suggest something in order to get the desired result. Some shows are more ethical than others in this regard and you can probably discern which those are just from watching.


I did an appearance on MTV's Parental Control as the douchebag boyfriend that the parents were trying to get rid of. It was pretty organized as to what happens but there wasn't a hard copy script in the season I was in. They filmed the dates beforehand and basically gave me the character I was suppose to play (sarcastic/sexist/a*****e) and just told me to react to the parents or the date however I saw fit and they filmed it. After that we did another run where I had an ear piece where a writer would feed me comebacks to the parents in real time.

The decision in the end was not scripted and they left a surprising amount of content up to us. I was not actually dating or knew the girl though and I had to audition for the part.


The Quest is totally real. Orcs and s**t, man.


My friend Paedon is on a show called Sister Wives, where he has like 11 other siblings and 3 other moms. He said that the producers basically tell you what to begin with, what to end with, and something to bring up and go on with their normal lives in between.


I was on an episode of Cupcake Wars a few years ago. I'm not gonna say too much about it, but there was a celebrity guest on the show and I got invited to said-celebrity's album release party, where they were filming part of Cupcake Wars. In some food shows where they give food to the audience, it's not the actual contest food. In this case, it was the actual contest food. By far the most delicious cupcakes I've had in my life. Everyone got 2! Everything that I was a part of wasn't scripted. The only thing close to that is when some people from the show would interview the guests and say, "How would you describe this cupcake?" and stuff like that.


I was never a contestant but I have worked on a couple of reality shows. The answer is a lot of it is "scripted" but that doesn't mean the content is all fake. First of all, this varies from show to show and really depends on what the Executive Producers or the Network wants to do.

A lot of stuff is re-shot several times for logistical reasons. A good example of this is called a "walk-up" where you see people arriving at a house or walking up to some location. They might shoot people walking up several times to have different angles or to make it look better.

In terms of interviews I find that cast members aren't given a script or told what to say but producers ask them leading questions that try to elicit the response they want. Sometimes they might ask someone to repeat something they've said but phrase it in a way that will give it context or cut better. For example if someone says "That was the hardest thing I've ever done" The Producer might say "Can you repeat that but mention that you are talking about the challenge you did this morning?" So the person might say "The challenge this morning was the hardest thing I've ever done."

In terms of the editing of interviews there's an industry term called the "frakenbyte" where you steal words from another line the cast member said and smash them together to make a new soundbyte. Also a lot of times people will ramble on in real life but to make things concise editors will cut these things out.

You could argue that these kinds of things could be used to completely misrepresent someone and that's true but I've seen it done in situations where it doesn't misrepresent someone and it really just adds clarity or brevity for the audience.

Like I said some shows are probably all "fake" but from what I've seen a lot of times the "scripted" stigma is some what of a misnomer. Didn't mean for this to be a mega long post but I wanted to bring up one more point. Every person who's on a reality show is casted just like actors are casted. Some of these people have ulterior motives for being on the show and are not really looking for love, or trying to survive on an island, etc. but also looking for fame and attention. A lot of them are actors or aspiring actors. As such, they are completely aware that if they act in a certain way they will get more screen time and get talked about. They know that if they become a character such as "the mean one" or the "dumb one" they will stand out more and get more screen time. They know that if they throw tantrums or cry that stuff will make the cut. Most of the time Producers don't need to "script" anything or ask the cast to do anything special, some of these people will do it all on their own.


I was on a reality show two years ago and it wasn't *scripted*, meaning they didn't give me a piece of paper with words to say. But the producers manipulated everything A LOT.

While we filmed the main action they were constantly trying to instigate drama. I'd have a relatively straightforward conversation with someone else on the show and afterwards the camera guys would immediately get in my face and start asking leading questions. Things like, "Don't you hate what they said?" Or "how bad do you hate what they said?" Or "why do you think you hate what they said?"

Even if you tried to deny that you hated anything, they'd edit you saying "hate" with the person's name and voila, instant drama.

Then after we finished the main filming they went off to edit the episodes and established a "storyline" for each person. They came back and did more one-on-one interviews to pick up whatever clips they needed to make us fit the storyline they made up.

They really, really wanted a good friend and I to seem like rivals. So for two hours they separately asked us every question they could to pit us against each other. We both refused to tell them what they wanted to hear, and they finally resorted to telling us exactly what to say.

Basically with a combination of selected clips (an eyeroll during a corny joke on Wednesday, plus a hair flip from Monday, and a person's name you said on Friday) and manipulated interviews, they could make anyone on the show appear to be whatever persona they wanted. And if not, you simply got less air time.


The main thing you have to understand is that it isn't one producer or a group of writers telling people to over exaggerate their behavior. It's the people being filmed that run around and ham it up and cause drama on camera. They will think up something they can do to stir up s**t with others on the show and drag a camera crew with them to film it happens.


I was on an episode of "Catch A Contractor" with Adam Corolla. My understanding was that most episodes weren't scripted per se, although they are re-shot (i.e. scenes that actually happen authentically are sometimes repeated to get a more dramatic effect), our episode was pretty fake. They couldn't actually find our contractor so we just got our friend to play the bad guy. Most of the crew and producers (including Adam) didn't know it was fake however.


I'm probably to late to add this, but I was recently on the Mythbuster's Zombie Special as a zombie (duh). They didn't have a script for any of the dialogue but after they said something, the director would usually have them repeat it 2 or 3 times in different ways.


Ive been on:

Hole in the Wall



Rock Band 2: The Stars

MTV: True Life

and more, and it's never been scripted in a sense that I'm handed a script and told to memorize it.

They usually interfere to have me repeat something I said so they can get a better camera angle. On a rare occasion, they might through out something to say to get the ball rolling. or ask questions that leads to the answers they want on tape.

However no scripts that I've ever seen!


My uncle's house was used for an episode of Parental Control. His lavish bedroom was supposedly the kid's bedroom, everyone is an actor, and there is not one real bit about that show.


I was hanging out in Union Square with my friends on the grass and we noticed there was a camera crew preparing to film. We didn't know where they were from until two guys came to us asking to sign waivers. That's when we found out they're from [a television channel] and they were shooting some TV show. What they did was have an actor in a bear costume go up to them and do stuff until they woke up followed by a reaction. There was a couple that was legitimately asleep and at the time, we didn't know it was staged and thought it would be funny if they creeped up on them. We finally knew it was staged when they had actors who were in standby go out and be strategically placed in a random area of the park and wait until the bear got to them. When they were done filming, they said this would be shown in a couple months or something. It has been approximately 2 months since then.

Edit: For fear of being sued, removed channel name


I really want to know how fake bar rescue is. I usually enjoy it but I just can't believe that the bar owners are that stupid.


Worked with former stars of "Cajun Justice," One of the episodes included officers riding out in Airboats to a location in which the occupants were practicing "VooDoo." The officers show up on scene, find an estranged man drawing symbols and uttering phrases. They book him and all is well in the swamps again.
Under further investigation of this man's "House" in the episode, I noticed something familiar about said house. The "house" is actually what we refer to as a camp, (a well known camp for most in south Louisiana), as it's the state troopers camp where the game wardens sleep during the fall duck season. So they staged the entire damn thing, (because NO ONE practices f*****g Voodoo anymore), and they did it all in their own damn camp. Also as a side note, the sheriff who pushed for this show ran the local sheriff's office damn near bankrupt and in shambles. He was removed from his position shortly thereafter.
Also, Swamp People is mostly true, I cannot speak for how scripted it is, but they do portray the entire act from start to finish pretty well. And the people on the show are 100% real, along with those ridiculous accents, (not all of us have them).

Tl;dr- Cajun Justice uses state owned camp to produce a farce of a show, bankrupts local sheriffs office, and leaves said office in shambles.


I was on Supermarket Superstar on Lifetime. Nothing was scripted at all. I was helped to write my pitch, but it was not scripted.


My brother in law was on masterchef Ireland. Said it was very scripted on the judges side where they would taste the food, leave , come up with what they are going to say , come back and reshoot . all the food was sitting about 2 hrs before they actually taste it. And also when the contestants are put in to a pantry of random goods to make something, they are all told before hand what's there and given loads of time to come up with their idea for the dish.


MTV's True Life - VERY scripted, but there is a nugget of truth at the center of the episodes. They tend to "edit" people's lives a bit to make sure they generate the type of response they want from the audience.


MC Hammer lives in my town, and they did a reality show here about him and his family. They faked a lot of stuff about his son's elementary school. Almost all of my friends had gone there, and one friend's little sister was in his son's class. I guess they made up a "Bring your dad to school" day just so Hammer could show up (he was the only parent there. The guy they showed going on after him was just someone's neighbor, and I guess he was the only other one). They had an episode where the son got bad grades on a quarterly report card, and A) the report card they made looks nothing like the actual school's report card, B) the school year at that school is divided into trimesters, not quarters, and C) the kid was actually doing pretty well in school, they just wanted something dramatic. Hammer goes to talk to the teacher in that episode, and I guess they told the teacher what to say.


I was on Whodunnit? on ABC. It was kind of a different show as far as reality competitions are concerned, so maybe that excuses some of the scripting involved. They would essentially let us run through a scene once on our own, then give us "notes" on anything that was off and go again.

Once thing that really irked me was the "story producers," whose title is far more literal than you'd imagine. They float around the house influencing people in subtle ways, creating conflict and thereby producing (fabricating) the stories you see on the show.


I have two stories about P**n Stars, First off for anyone wondering the store is called Las Vegas Gold and Silver P**n.

The first one involves my Grandmother. Since she moved to Las vegas about four years ago she had always wanted to Check out the p**n shop they had. Apparently she had to stand in a line for about an hour before they asked her Why she was going in, if she wanted to be filmed, and then directed her where to stand/ hang out. She said it was weird but exciting. Now being me I thought it was just " aw Grandma's being cute" kind of thing HOWEVER I then moved to vegas and finally went passed the place on a bus about a month into my move. The line can be anywhere from really long( Like we're talking a few blocks down to Fremont) or really short. In reality it's usually really short, I've only seen it so long during select times in July. All the " shots" they do of vehicles and other large purchased have to be shot at special times because they share a parking lot with both a tattoo parlor, a Tire shop, and one of the many gimmicky bail businesses around las vegas. That parking lot is almost never empty, also they have a " space" that's fenced off from the back. That Parking lot you see when they do large reveals of cars and things is made out to be bigger then it really is, it's a standard 2 lane parking lot which in Vegas is really really freaking small. Also there's so many pawnshops around the downtown area idek how THEY in particular got famous the building looks like a strip club.


While it is obvious that much of "House Hunters" is scripted because of how the people act, I admit to being surprised and disappointed that no real decision is made. That just took all the fun right out of it.

No more home remodeling shows for me. I was already feeling like shows encourage us all to think we need and deserve mansions. Now that I know the shows are way more set up than I already knew they were? I'm done.


My brother's classmate was a beauty in Beauty and the Geek. She was told to act stupid even though she was apparently quite smart.


My mom was on Judge Judy. The audience in the background are paid and do it regularly.


Bar Rescue, I was an "extra" aka somebody drawn by word of mouth and free drinks for a pre makeover stress test. It actually was the bar portrayed on tv, in fact they even improved it a bit before the makeover (which by the way made it a douchey lounge full of ipads embedded in tables that no college kid wanted to go near). I saw Taffer yelling at some of the staff, seemed very legit.


I feel like The Ultimate Fighter is the only show that is not scripted.