Sometimes it’s just nice to let your brain morph in to a warm, gooey pile of mush as you sit back on a weeknight and indulge in a ridiculously over-edited reality TV show.
But whether your poison is The Bachelor, The Block, Big Brother or Masterchef, no matter how hard you try to pretend you don’t actually care about what happens in the end, you find yourself more and more invested in the telecast lives of the strangers on your screen.
We are invested via GIPHY
One thing’s for certain: anyone who’s ever fallen in to a reality TV rabbit hole has pondered where these people actually come from and how they were selected.
While we imagine those who actually appear on these shows have to sign all manner of privacy agreements to stop them from speaking out about what really happens on set, leaving us to purely speculate, we spoke to four reality TV star wannabes who auditioned for various programs, and caught a glimpse into how the Vanessa Sunshines of our nightly watching are actually selected.
We've changed their names for privacy purposes, but here's what they had to share:
Trish*, Beauty and the Geek 2014
"If I can start by saying, I have zero clue why I wanted to go on this at the time, but I did.
I turned up at the interview at the Novotel hotel in Ultimo, walked in got my name tag from the register desk and sat down in a room with around 30 girls. (This interview you have to be selected to come in for).
Then I went into a room with girls that all looked like clones of each other. The conversation was about fake boobs and nails and hair extensions... I wondered whether this was their way of amping up for the interviews or if this is what they were really like.
I 100% had to play this one up. I wore a pink bodycon dress, threw up some long ass extensions in my hair and had more fake tan on my body than Priceline has in their entire store. I carried around a toy rabbit with me and that was my point of difference.
I pranced around with a toy rabbit in a bodycon dress (someone should’ve slapped me in the face seriously) and I was ready to go.
First interview is with 10 girls, they ask you to step out of your place and into the middle and stand on the tape on the ground. There are at least eight cameras on you and they ask you to ‘tell us about yourself’ .. It’s pretty intimidating; nine other girls, eight cameras, five producers.
After this, they took about half of us into a waiting room.
Then one by one, we each got taken into a private room with one camera and one producer.
They did some photos, asked us some questions and just wanted to see what we were like on camera. This was pretty intimidating and it was kind of harder to fake being dumb when there's some giant light on you the entire time which is super distracting.
I didn’t make it past that round, my rabbit kept falling off my lap and I think they saw I was a massive phoney… I didn’t really adore the rabbit they way I said I had."
Toby*, Big Brother 2013
Toby attended the open audition for the 2013 season of Big Brother in Adelaide, and said it was basically a zoo full of massive personalities. He said he had to wait "ages" to be called then "blew it", but only three people out of his group of 20 actually made it through to the next round.
"It was a super eclectic bunch of people all trying super hard to be funny, it’s infectious and everyone starts trying to out-do each other."
"One chick didn’t get in and her dad was waiting out the front and asked how she went and she was crying, so he stormed in and started abusing the producers."
"They asked a question like finish this sentence ‘the last time I...’And you could say whatever."
"One guy said ‘the last time I got drunk I vomited all over myself’...I made a sh*t call about wetting the bed until I was 12.
"They made you line up in order of who is most likely to commit a crime, then they’d ask why you chose your spot.
"I probably would do it again even though the group audition is a bit intense, would just act a lot more understated next time and not try to be too over the top."
Sophie*, Survivor 2018
After filling out an online application and completing a Skype interview, Sophie auditioned for this year's season of Survivor in Adelaide alongside Robbie and Jenna, who made it on to the show.
"The guy in the Skype interview was like 'be yourself on steroids' at the group audition," she said.
"We were all made to sit in this room, given our documents etc. and we were told so many times that we were absolutely not allowed to talk to anyone in the room, so it was just this super awkward vibe of everyone kinda sussing each other out.
"Then when we were called in to the audition room we had to stand in a line and were asked a question like why we would win or something. I had to go second so had barely any time to think, whereas the person at the end would've had heaps of time to prepare - salty," she joked.
"Then we were split into groups and they asked us something like 'what was one law we would want to make or change', so encouraging controversial viewpoints and people to voice their opinions. My group didn't agree with what I wanted to say, so I thought the responses were kind of weak."
"Then we were split in to tribes, and I heard it's better to lose the challenge, so I made my team lose. I smashed the puzzle, then it was push ups and a building block challenge.
"After that we had to go to tribal while the winning team basically just watched, then we all had to vote and after all that they chose about four people to stay behind for the next round of auditions."
Commenting on the overall experience, she said: "It's kinda hard to actually get your chance to speak properly... It was fun, but you could definitely tell they were looking for something."
Ben*, Masterchef Professionals 2013
Ben, who had previously worked as a chef at Sydney's Rockpool and Quay before auditioning for Masterchef The Professionals in 2013, said the process was "daunting".
"The initial process was standard paper work and contract stuff with videos of you working. If you got through that then next stage was face to face, and after that it's a cooking trial, which I didn't make it to," he said, laughing.
"I remember it being a pretty daunting interview, my advice was to be myself. I definitely looked like a dear in the head lights answering personal questions about how I’d react in certain situations.
"One was 'how do you deal with pressure in the kitchen?', and I can't remember how I answered, but I do recall feeling a little violated... kind of pushed and prodded around my mental and emotional side."
Joking that he would have made it a better series, he added that when watching the show, his first thought was "they wouldn’t last in a real kitchen".
Is this what it's like in a 'real kitchen'? via GIPHY