We’ll start you off with an obvious one, did you really think that Ghost Hunters was showing you real examples of the paranormal? Of course, most of the sounds and the reactions were totally staged and scripted. So much so, that Aaron Goodwin who was the lead ghost hunter on the show says that he felt “sickened” to be part of such a fraud, making people believe in a show that was so entirely fake from start to finish.
One star of Dance Moms, Maddie Ziegler came clean about all the stress that we see on camera. She said, “It’s hard to do a reality show when there’s so much crying and drama. The producers set it up to make us all yell at each other…The moms have a fake fight sometimes. Afterward they just start talking and laugh about it.” Sounds like a tough backdrop for giving your best dance performance, that’s for sure!
The Pick Up Artist
Mystery was the host of this show which was supposed to be a real life Hitch, a la Will Smith. Mystery supposedly found nerdy guys and gave them all the skills they needed to find true love, and lose their lonely days for good. Shame that the truth came out that many of these average guys with no chance at love were actually found from a talent agency, and were paid actors rather than hopefuls in love.
Recognize Robert Irvine? He’s the celebrity chef who was the frontman for the Fod Network’s show, Dinner Impossible. Whenever we apply for a job, we always like to bulk up our CV to make sure we get the best chance at the job, but outright lying? That’s a no no. No one told Irvine clearly, as he pretended he has made a cake for none other than Princess Diana, and when this was found out to be false, he was fired.
MTV Cribs was such an awesome show, letting us little people take a peek at what the lifestyles of the rich and famous really were. We could go inside their homes, see their cars and their clothes, even take a look at their pool or their prized possessions. However, turns out that some of the homes were not exactly what they appeared to be. Ja Rule’s for example, wasn’t even his own home, merely a rental! That’s not cool man!
Farrah Abraham is a reality TV queen, after starting out on Teen Mom on MTV’s reality show, and then moving onto Couples Therapy on VH1. While her teen mom status can’t be denied, it turns out that she hired a fake boyfriend so that she could appear on Couples Therapy, and Brian Dawe, who accepted the job was actually sued by the production company, as they had no idea this was going on behind their backs.
The point of Catfish is to watch people who have been duped by others into thinking they are something other than the truth. But when you watch the show itself, it seems to set up and forced, that it makes you wonder exactly how all the filming goes down in real life. The producers said that the Catfish is usually the one who reaches out to the show, and that they’ve all been in touch before filming ever begins.
Urban Tarzan from Spike TV has been called the fakest reality TV show of all time! It follows a guy who says his real name is Urban Tarzan, and also says that his skills come from growing up near the Bronx Zoo. Ok, sure. Some of the best episodes you can find out there on YouTube include “this week, we’re trapped with a bull… in a maze!” and “there’s an alligator in my swimming pool!” Fun to watch? Maybe. Real? Certainly not.
Americas Got Talent
A sob story gets you pretty far on many of the best reality TV shows out there, and if you’re a savvy contestant, you’ll go in knowing that. One example is Timothy Poe, who said that he has been injured in Afghanistan when serving in the war. Looks like he was making the whole thing up though, as there is no evidence at all that any of this happened, and he comes across as slightly unhinged when he talks about it. Ooer.
Oh, we want Iron Chef to be real! It’s so dramatic, and crazy high energy, we should have guessed that most of it was just for the cameras. Apparently, according to food critic Robert Sietsema, the ‘secret ingredient’ is not such a secret, and that the food which the judges ate wasn’t even what had just been cooked. The meals they eat have been recreated by other chefs as it all takes so much time. Boo. We didn’t want to know that.
Last Comic Chosen
Just like many other reality TV shows, Last Comic Standing is all about finding the best comedian out of hundreds of applicants, where the judges choose the best on the nights to progress to the next round. Drew Caret who was one of the judges on the panel show said that the producers were more interested in keeping the best all star cast than actually finding the right funny person as the winner. “They’re presenting this to the public as if it’s a contest, but it’s not.”
Pimp My Ride
Ever watched Pimp My Ride and thought how awesome it would be to have your car jazzed up by some of the coolest guys in the world? Turns out, that although the cars might look fly when they’re all done, it’s actually all cosmetic. So if your car was a piece of you know what before you got it pimped out, it now might look pretty awesome, but it’s still not driving you anywhere. One guy called it “a polished turd.” Nice.
Fake Out Fake Out
Restaurant Fakeout is meant to show employees at eateries, diners and restaurants getting into trouble and doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing. But one of the contestants on the show said that none of it is real, and a restauranteur agreed with his claims. Lucia Ivezaj said she was told exactly what to do and say, and was even told to change clothes every couple of hours so she could pretend it was a new day. Oh dear.
Did you know that Producers often take two totally separate quotes and then splice them together to make it seem like one conversation? This can happen with dialogue between two people on a show as well, which is how they fake whole situations between the cast of a reality TV show. The way to spot this, is look out for them someone is in the middle of a sentence, and the camera cuts away from their faces to something new.
The Producers Make the Picks
Think about a show like America’s Got Talent, or The X Factor. Did you really think that it’s the judges who are deciding who gets to go through to the next rounds? The judges might be on screen saying well done, you’re through to the next stage of the competition, but at the end of the day, if the producers think someone will make good TV, they often step in to let the judges know who ‘they’ are going to be choosing that day.
Those fist fights and screaming love triangles that we all love on Jerry Springer? Not real we’re afraid to be the ones to tell you. One guy who appeared on the show commented that “The coolest part of it all was when they literally asked me if I wanted a fake doctors note or a fake death certificate in a fake family members name, in order to get me out of work. They literally had a guy on staff who’s only job was to get people out of work so they could attend filming.”
Time Lies When You’re Having Fun
Extreme Makeover and all those other DIY shows that you love might not be quite as honest as you think they are. In fact, when the show says that a bathroom or a kitchen was totally made over in one day or over a long weekend, think twice before you believe them. Usually, the professional crew have been working on it for weeks, on a much larger budget than they announce on the show. The 24 hours? A quick polish and cosmetic touch up.
Back in 2012, there was a show on TLC called Breaking Amish, all about some Amish teens who broke from the fold and went off to New York City. Turns out though, that the cast members were lying about their reality. Two of the reality TV stars who ‘just met’ actually had a kid with one another, and another had left the Amish fold a shocking fourteen years before the show began, not a few months previously as he claimed.
Remember Man vs Wild, with the ultimate Survivor, Bear Grylls? This is a guy who has made a fortune selling his lifestyle as one of extreme survival and living in the wild. He shows how he relates to animals, lives on almost nothing, and uses hunting and gathering skills to keep himself safe while on his expeditions into the wild. However, Channel 4 in the UK were sceptical, and uncovered that he actually stays in hotels when he is filming his show!
Many of the reality TV stars we love to hate or hate to love are actually totally different off screen. One producer spilled that they ‘cast’ real life humans in certain types before they even met them. One woman who they wanted to be the ‘bad guy’ was actually lovely, so they called her in. “Listen, you were cast in this role. If you want to make good TV, if you want the series to come back and make more money next year, then you need to play along. If you don’t, you’re going to be cut out entirely.”
Duck Tall Tales
Duck Dynasty is a show about a family in Louisiana called the Robertsons. They have a duck-call business, and the show followed their lives, and was a huge sensation with a great following. However, when the producers admitted it was more ‘guided reality’ than actual reality TV, some of the fans were hugely outraged! The producers said that it was still real, but sometimes they told the family what would be a great outline of the episode. Hmm.
Keeping up with the K’s
Why are we not surprised that this show was not exactly true to life? The Kardashians are a crazy family, and we’ve loved watching them over the years, especially the most famous of them all, Kim! Russell Jay was a show producer, and he admitted that they needed a lot of reshooting of the famous family, and even did some on a sound stage, making it all totally fake, and probably scripted at times. Oh well.
Alaskan Bush People
When your show is about a wolf pack who live wild in the Alaskan State, and survive on the land without any help or support, it kind of ruins the image when a source close to the family let the world know that you all live in houses around Alaska. Doesn’t sound too much like living in total isolation, not with all that central heating, air conditioning and indoor plumbing, anyway. Bush people? Not these guys.
The Biggest Loser
Love The Biggest Loser? We all have enjoyed this guilty pleasure over the years, but did you think that any of the conversations were real? It’s not just the weigh ins which are adapted for TV, giving more time than they show between weigh ins and even providing weight loss drugs to the contestants. But with the cameras running eight hours a day, and eleven cameras on during that time, they can make anything happen with 616 hours of footage per week.
Call of the Wildman is a reality TV show which is all about Ernie Brown Jr. Also known as The Turtleman, he works as a pest control operator, and people love watching him take on animals large and small. Unfortunately, the animals aren’t treated too well, and in some cases have even died thanks to mishandling and the urge to get a great TV show out of it. In one case, a zebra was sedated prior to the shooting, which caused outrage.
The show House Hunters is a firm favorite with many families, airing on Saturdays for some all-round weekend fun. But one participant told the truth about her experience on the show, including that the winning home had already been chosen before the show began, and the whole process was fraudulent. The producers were quick to release a complicated statement about how things sometimes need to be planned because of the production process. Uh huh.
When Dave Hester left Storage Wars, he tried to take the show down with him. He released statements which said that “nearly every aspect of the series is faked.” This caused fans to ask for more information about what was supposed to be reality TV. Hester said that producers even went as far as to huge valuable objects into the storage rooms of the participants to make things more interesting. I guess no one wants to see grandmas old china tea set.
While it might seem that Gordon Ramsay is always coming to blows with some young chewf or other, the truth is that Ramsay has bodyguards literally all over the place off camera to make sure that no one could ever touch him, let alone knock his lights out. One contestant called Tek Moore said that the producers often swapped out ingredients to make the food taste worse, and up the drama, making them look like bad chefs. Yikes.
Remember back in the day, when the kids on Jersey Shore were working in O’Vesuvio pizza store? Turned out that MTV had actually hired out the whole place for six weeks, so that they could control exactly what was going on. They made sure only the best looking ‘customers’ entered the store, including ensuring they all signed confidentiality agreements. The producers commented that “In a country like this, you need to take care of certain details ahead of time, but the cast does exactly what they want to do.”
The Hills had to be one of the most fake and scripted reality TV shows of all time, and that final scene where the set is raised off the two stars standing in the parking lot was the producers way of telling us all that they knew they weren’t fooling anyone. But more than just retakes and scripted conversations, some of the relationships themselves were totally staged. Take Kristin and Brody for one, they were always just friends.
We all watch with bated breath and on the edge of our seats to find out who is going to be kicked off the Voice, and who is going to make it through to the winning chair. But it turns out that the public vote might not matter as much as we all think it does. The contract which the participants sign on entering the show states that even if they win the public vote, and get the most votes, the producers still have the final say over who stays on.
The Food Network did extremely well out of their hit show, Mystery Diners. The premise was simple, that there were hidden cameras, and mystery eaters planted inside various restaurants. When the employees who were acting shady were caught, fun was had by all. If only we had realized that many of the employees were actually actors, put there to make the show more interesting. Most real staff must be toeing the line after all.
Weight Loss Scam
It’s not just fake conversations you need to look out for on the worst of the reality TV shows, sometimes it can be really harmful to contestants. Take the Biggest Loser for example. It came under fire for offering pills to contestants which contained ephedra extract, which had been banned by the FDA, as well as using phony scales and using harmful tactics which may have helped the contestants lose the weight, but was in no way healthy or long-lasting.
Working in a pawn shop must be fascinating. You never know who, or what, is going to come in next, right? Wrong, as it turns out. The whole Pawn Stars show is said to be scripted. In one episode, a chap called Rod turns up with a rare 1960 Les Paul guitar and staff call an expert to figure out how much it’s worth. It turns out, however, that Rod and the expert actually work together in a music shop in Vegas
While we will remember hopefuls on The Bachelor for their dramatic entrances, it turns out many of them aren’t their ideas at all, but the producers coming up with outlandish ways for them to arrive. The order contestants arrive in the limos is also significant, with those thought to be likely to do well getting out first. Their interests may also be exaggerated. Ashley Palenkas was said to be a 50 Shades of Grey obsessive, but she hadn’t read the full book.
One of the longest running reality shows on the box, The Real World recently dropped the The to become Real World. We’re not sure if that’s significant or not when you consider that it’s maybe not so real after all. Following the lives of strangers who live in a New York loft, participants have to sign contracts which allows MTV to portray them any way they want, and even to hire extras who resemble them in order to move the action along.
The idea of Joe Millionaire is that a man may be lucky with money, but that doesn’t mean he is lucky in love. The contestant is presented to a group of women who are told he has won millions of dollars and wants to find someone to marry. At the end, the secret is revealed that he’s just an ordinary Joe. If the woman he chooses decides to stay with him, despite his lack of riches, they each get a million-dollar check.
Its popularity seems to be on the wane, and maybe that’s because of the scripted nature of the fighting. After all, do you still want to watch a movie or read a book if you know at the start how it’s going to end? Dubbed a “soap opera,” WWE has scripted dialogue and outcomes, with each move as carefully put together as a dance routine. The outcome is said to have already been decided before anyone even enters the ring.
Crossing Over With John Edward
The concept of being able to communicate with the dead is always controversial. After all, who wouldn’t be desperate to speak to lost loved ones just one last time? But psychic medium John Edward came in for criticism, with allegations that he was using hot and cold readings, or just guessing to give an impression of psychic abilities. He tends to throw a few names out and see if anyone in the audience makes a connection.
Anyone who hasn’t seen Tattoo Fixers is missing a treat. You won’t believe the tattoos people have when drunk and on vacation with a gang of mates. Actually, maybe you will! But what you won’t believe is the big reveal at the end. The idea of the show is that ultra-talented tattoo artists cover up body art disasters, before showing off their work at the end. But, one participant revealed they had to film the “surprise” five times because they weren’t surprised enough.
Way before he was the most powerful man on the planet, Donald Trump was the man who told contestants “You’re Fired” on The Apprentice. While we were told the winner got a top corporate role in Trump’s business empire, contestants say that they were actually made to be a kind of spokesperson for Trump, making meet-and-greets and talking to the media, rather than being given a worthwhile job. Trump later described the situation as “truthful hyperbole”. Sounds like false news to us!
Britain’s Got Talent
Just as its American counterpart has been surrounded by controversy over the realness of some of its contestants, Britain’s Got Talent found itself under fire, over an extra dog. During the show final, Jules and her dog Matisse performed an impressive stunt involving a high wire. Only, it turned out it wasn’t Matisse at all. It was an entirely different, but similar looking dog, and clearly one with a knack for circus tricks!
Oprah’s Free Cars
Who didn’t gawp at Oprah’s generosity when she gave away 276 cars to her audience? But, it turns out the prizes weren’t so free after all. They were actually taxable as they were given as prizes rather than gifts, so ‘winners’ ended up owing around £7,000 to the taxman. Their only options, if they couldn’t afford to pay, were to hand the car back or sell it. Still, we wouldn’t say no if Oprah wants to hand out another motor!
Survivor might be one of the most true to life reality TV shows out there, seeing as we haven’t seen anyone claim that they’re actually living in hotels or in plushy mansions or anything! Mark Burnett who is the exec producer did say that they sometimes need to reshoot some scenes for the right angles and best quality, but it never changes the outcome of the show. As we understand the importance of great TV, we don’t mind that too much.
Cash Cab is the Discovery Channel’s hidden treasure, where contestants are plucked off the street when they are looking for a cab, only to answer questions and win money. Turns out that they aren’t quite as unsuspecting as they seem, and are actually prechosen guests, rather than just lucky people trying to get to work on time. The show maintains that the question part is totally real, but it’s just the selection process which is totally staged.
Based on the Japanese series, Tigers of Money, this reality show is all about entrepreneurs securing funding for their innovative ideas. Unfortunately, with a scripted dialog and shots taken out of context, there is very little reality going on. In one episode, a contestant walks away from a lake carrying a fish he has supposedly caught but was actually purchased at a grocery store. Entertaining, perhaps, but not an instruction manual for wannabe business tycoons. As with other shows in this article, the controversies are also staged for dramatic effect.
Compared to other shows in this genre, Cake Boss is pretty good. This isn’t an ideal life presented for the enjoyment of the viewers, but a real operation based in New Jersey. The series revolves around a family-owned cake shop where they really are family and they really do bake cakes. The only aspects that are producer-defined are that they already know what cake they’re going to bake and any drama, like a customer who doesn’t like the end result, are scripted in.
This fashion-focused reality show challenges contestants to create outfits according to the theme of the week. Some of the challenges are really demanding and some of the creations have been bizarre, to say the least. Nevertheless, some contestants say parts of it are scripted, although Bravo channel, who originally aired the show, have denied these accusations. Even if the eliminations are pre-planned, it still makes for great viewing, especially given that the winners get to show their collections at the New York Fashion Week.
This long-running series is in its 18th series but that isn’t a testament to its authenticity. Much of the show is manufactured and even some of the characters, namely the office manager, Danielle, are really actors. Many of the scenes showing the two men driving across the country seeking out collectible items are staged, and the dialog is recorded on set, rather than live. Even some of the items have been assessed before Mike and Frank arrive. So, enjoy it for its entertainment value but don’t take it too seriously.
An ambitious series that sees contestants battling it out to survive in the wilderness, there has been widespread controversy over its validity. According to some, the contestants are actually only an hour’s walk from civilization. Not only that, although they supposedly have to select 10 items to take with them to aid their survival, in reality, they have over 30 items on their person before they even make that selection. Of course, they do still have to survive in the woods, so that’s valid.
While some of those who’ve appeared on the show, defend it fiercely, others say the employees are thoroughly vetted by the producers prior to filming. Sometimes, the disguises are so ridiculous, it does make you wonder how stupid the employees have to be not to notice anything and, some say, they did actually know. Still, those people who were fired on the show? Well, they’re still unemployed so it’s pretty real for them and certainly a lot more genuine than the next show.
South Beach Tow
Like Cake Boss, this series is focused on a specific company and shadows them as they drive around towing broken down vehicles. Unfortunately, that’s where the reality ends and the fiction begins. Everything from the characters to the storyline is scripted and the scenes reenacted to make them more appealing to the audience. Even guys engaged in a fight, shake hands and slap each other on the back once the cameras stop rolling. The ongoing feud between the featured company and their rivals is also completely fictional.