Reality TV is Even Faker Than You Think

Friday, December 28, 2012


Reality TV — the very institution that has saved the medium by delivering high ratings at low cost — has also pretty much defiled the culture in all the obvious ways. What is perhaps less than obvious is how manufactured and unspontaneous it all is. To understand the reality behind the unreality of reality TV, we spoke to a former producer of such fare. The anonymous producer tells Bob about some of the elaborate staging and scripting he participated in while helping produce these shows.


Dwight Twilley Band - TV

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [8]

Bob from NYC

You mean keeping up with the Kardashians is not real ??!!

Nov. 20 2014 10:30 PM

If you got paid to write this piece of crap I would donate the money to a charity of your choice. This was nothing new!

Nov. 18 2014 11:50 AM
Lily Winter from Northern Minnesota

That's why I love "Too Cute" on Animal Planet. They follow baby animals from birth to twelve weeks, including the first time they go outside, the first time they eat solid food, etc. It's wonderful; no purchased antiques needed!

Oct. 27 2013 07:34 PM
Earl from Fife, WA

"While I've never believed that Storage Wars was "real", I'm not sure we should automatically buy the allegations of an anonymous producer."

Perhaps not, but the same was said by one of the show's departing stars:

Jan. 18 2013 10:02 PM

While I've never believed that Storage Wars was "real", I'm not sure we should automatically buy the allegations of an anonymous producer.

Dec. 31 2012 12:10 PM
Stacy Harris from Nashville, TN

I "auditioned" for the first season of The Apprentice. Applicants knew very little about the show other than it was casting ambitious, upwardly mobile types and, based on the questions we were asked, the casting director was rather clueless as well. (We ladies were given different questions than those given to the guys, notably one inane query re: if our ambitiousness to become Donald Trump's apprentice was so great that, if asked, we'd engage in sexual intercourse with the Donald),

Earlier this year I "auditioned" for CBS-TV's upcoming series, 3, "a new unscripted dating show in which three single women, of different ages with different life experiences and backgrounds, who have never met before, come together for a common goal – to hopefully find true love."

I was less interested in finding true love- been there, done that- (though I certainly would never be opposed to it) than determining if producers were serious about featuring women of "different ages." To that point, unfortunately, I got the same "vibe" I received when I "auditioned" for The Apprentice.

Interesting that when Trump cast a season of The Apprentice exclusively with professionals who had lost their jobs when the economy tanked, he admitted that he was not casting middle-aged individuals. Trump claimed that if a person of that age was still in search of- or trying to reclaim- the brass ring for any reason, the Donald was not interested; terming them, to use one of Trump's favorite descriptions, "losers."

By contrast, I've enjoyed working as a paid extra on ABC-TV's NASHVILLE. Extras' casting tends to skew young, so I am grateful for every opportunity I receive.

Invariably when the call goes out for someone who can appear "hip" the adjective is invariable following by another: "young." I have tried to gently remind the powers-that-be that "young" and "hip" do not have to be mutually exclusive descriptions.

This is important because NASHVILLE has attained the cooperation of the city of the same to film on location here because it has convinced the mayor of our tourists-driven city and Nashville's Chamber of Commerce that ABC is more interested in depicting Music Row's authenticity than the stereotypes often associated with the music business district.

I have to laugh, though, when the casting call went out for extras who could portray journalists. In real life I "are" one- but alas, once again, I was deemed too old for the part!

True reality TV may be limited to C-SPAN. Else why would "The View" stream writers' credits? Camera angles on the "Dr. Oz Show" suggest the cardiologist's studio audience is larger than is actually the case. And when Brian Williams is "on assignment," notice how what seem to be his spontaneous and distinctive show "close" is repeated, word for word, by the substitute anchor.

Stacy Harris
Publisher/Executive Editor/Media Critic
Stacy's Music Row Report

Dec. 30 2012 10:57 PM

My husband said the same thing - I'm pretty sure that while the crabbing is real (if you call piecing together selected footage from hundreds of hours of crabbing from multiple fishing trips for one episode "real"), ALL of the personal conflict is invented and controlled. It's so obvious - they're SUCKY actors!

Dec. 30 2012 10:46 AM
Zachary Ragent from Santa Cruz, CA

What does this mean for Discovery's "Deadliest Catch"? Is there a director telling crabbers to pull up empty crab pots or to get hit by waves? Somehow, while I could care less about something like "Jersey Shore" or "Storage Wars," letting go of the reality of deadliest catch hurts.

Dec. 29 2012 08:48 PM

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