The sad reality of so-called reality television is that it tends to be, well, not real.
As much as we enjoy watching Judge Judith “Judy” Sheindlin preside over her cases with an iron fist, part of us has always known there was more than a little bit of TV magic flying around the court room.
This week Judge Judy celebrated 20 years on air, with 73-year-old Sheindlin having appeared in more than 5500 episodes and countless bickering neighbours and feuding former-spouses.
But where do all these people keep coming from?
And why on earth are they so seemingly willing to be humiliated on international television to settle their petty disputes?
Seriously, why would you do it? She's terrifying. Source: Getty
Everyone who appears before Judge Judy — both the defendants and the plaintiffs — is paid by producers to be there, according to pop culture website Looper.
Even the people sitting in the gallery, watching all the drama unfold, are hired extras.
So how do the producers find all the cases?
Apparently, 60 to 65 researchers are spread across America, sifting through the cases of the country's small claims courts.
When they find a case they think might make for popcorn-worthy television, they forward it to on to Judge Judy HQ.
Other people volunteer their cases, approaching producers directly through the show's website.
It's not a bad deal, win or lose, as everyone who appears on the show receives a fee. This varies from $100 to $500, depending on how long filming takes.
You also receive what is essentially an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles.
And if you do receive a fine from the Judge herself? Well, the producers will pay that, too.