Talent shows. Cooking shows. Matchmaking shows. Antique-finding shows. No matter the type, reality is one of the most popular genres on telly.
I mean, who can go past the unpredictable gloriousness that comes with tossing aside the script, casting real people and just rolling the camera?
Okay, so we know that’s not how it works. We’ve seen UnReal.
But we didn’t realise precisely how they manipulate our favourite shows are until we read a recent Reddit thread.
“We don’t solve problems. We point the camera at them.”
“I have worked on several reality shows,” wrote user, ogcoliebear.
“Some are more fake than others, but they are all heavily scheduled and formatted, never spontaneous.”
ogcoliebearwent on to tell of working on a certain MTV dating show in which a contestant tried to bolt to freedom in the middle of the night, only to be tackled on the front lawn by a producer and dragged back into the house.
“It’s like prison,” she continued, “they are completely cut out from the outside world (no computer, books, phones, watches) and they are fed mostly booze. They all go insane. Also, if the show doesn’t air, they don’t win their prize money. This is a standard for all competition reality shows.”
“Everything. Every single thing is fake,” insists one competitor on a competitive cake-baking show.
“The judges recorded 2 takes for every comment, one positive and one negative so the editors could put it together however they wanted.”
What?! Surely not. They wouldn’t exploit the viewer’s trust like that, would they?
Apparently, they would.
“They rolled the clock back an hour so everyone else could finish. We had over three months to plan our ‘spontaneous’ cake. Oh yeah, and while we won by the judges vote…a producer decided one of the other cakes would film better for the big reveal so we didn’t win even though we should have.”
Okay, so that’s probably not all that surprising.
But what about those always-rolling, voyeuristic shows? How much of that is manipulated?
According to a contestant on popular UK programme Love Island (that’s the one that saw Miss Great Britain stripped of her title after she had sex on air), pretty much all of it.
“We were literally given scripts of arguments to have, things to say. You know when you see them having sex under the covers, not happening. We would have to imitate this 5-10 times each time and the producers would choose the most realistic one.
“There [are] literally cleaners, waiters etc in there the whole time. Only about 6 hours a day and night are filmed. There is a director there saying cut and everything.”
Ah, antique shows. Surely among the more noble and sophisticated of the genre. I mean, c’mon, is there anything more wonderful than someone discovering their garage-sale wall ornament is actually a priceless Prussian platter?
“I had a friend on Cash In The Attic in the UK. The idea is that some antique dealers and so on will scout around in your attic/garage/shed and ‘find’ valuable items to sell,” wrote PM_Me_Rude_Haiku.
“They found precisely f**k all in my friend’s house, so they pulled some paintings and a vase out of the van, ‘found’ them, then asked him to go and get changed so they could film a segment from ‘after the sale’.”
There are more than 3700 comments on the thread, and the blows just keep on coming.
From an editor: “I can take a stammering, rambling, incoherent interview and make an audience cry.”
From someone on set of a host-hunting show: “See that Ghost shape behind the door? Ya, that’s the sound guy.”
From someone whose friend was on Shark Tank: “They made a ‘deal’ with an investor but they later demanded terms so onerous in the negotiation friend said fuck it and walked.”
Time to lift our spirits by binging The Bachelorette. At least true love is real…