Who doesn't love reality TV? We sure do and we aren't ashamed to admit it. We enjoy watching regular people get thrown into crazy situations, compete at the kitchen or on a deserted island, and get into heated exchanges. However, the real line between reality TV and *scripted* TV is sometimes unclear, and even though we know that we're not exactly watching documentary footage, we sometimes wonder if there is more 'real' or 'fake' in reality TV. So here, we've compiled a list of 40 successful reality shows, that sometimes venture far from the truth:
1. Dancing with the Stars
It's all about the dance? Not really. Former participant Alfonso Ribeiro (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air' Carlton) said that the show is heavily edited, and things contestants say are taken out of context to create animosity between the teams.
TV host and former participant Wendy Williams also accused the show of being fake: "They script what they want you to say".
2. The Bachelor/ The Bachelorette
While The Bachelor/Bachelorette are not exactly scripted shows, many former participants have spoken about how the show's producers coached them on what to say and do.
The producers reportedly ask leading questions, guide the contestants in their answers, and even encourage them to make physical advancements. “I was encouraged to be the first kiss, and I was the first kiss. I surrendered myself to the producers.”, said former contestant Tenley Molzahn.
3. The Voice
The popular singing competition places some heavy restrictions on contestants in terms of song choices and style. "the strangest part is that they put you into rooms by genre, even if you don't sing that genre. So an incredibly talented 'pop' singer won't get in because they were placed in a 'country' genre room. It's pretty odd", shared one participant on Reddit.
In addition, some contestants are reportedly pre-cast and don't need to actually audition.
Though the show is supposed to be about 'survival', none of the participants are in actual danger, as producers make sure they have enough food and even help them start a fire or build a shelter.
In addition, body doubles are sometimes even used as 'stand-ins' when reshooting some scenes.
5. The Real Housewives
Like any other person on reality TV, the housewives' first goal is to create exciting television, so everything is pretty much planned in advance. “Each housewife is assigned to their own story producer, whose only job is to develop her storyline,” a producer shared on Reddit, “So they conspire to create plot points, image, etc".
“The image is little more than a carefully crafted fiction, engineered by Bravo TV through scripted lines and clever editing,” revealed the NJ Housewife Teresa Giudice.
6. Cake Boss
In Cake Boss, Celebrity chef Buddy Valastro creates out-of-the-world cakes and pastries - so out-of-this-world, that they in fact cannot be eaten. In order to stand as tall and big as they do, the cakes are reinforced with cladding, so the cakes that are seen eaten on the show are different ones.
In addition, Valastro himself is reportedly never at the cake shop when the show isn’t filming.
7. Pawn Stars
Since Nevada law makes it illegal for people to film others without their consent, no one can just walk into the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop and meet the famous cast - all show participants are pre-approved and must submit the items they desire to pawn, in advance.
Chumlee, Rick, Richard, and Corey are in fact never in the store during regular business hours.
8. The Biggest Loser
Biggest Loser contestants are weighed every week, but while their weighing seems to be taking place at night, in front of the cameras, and tp include advanced weighing technology, the actual weigh-in occurs off-camera in a morning session, days before.
The show has been heavily criticized for promoting a dangerous weight loss regime, with its first winner admitting that "he dropped some of the weight by fasting and dehydrating himself to the point that he was urinating blood".
9. Keeping Up With The Kardashians
Though it's unknown if the show is actually scripted, many of the events taking placing are obviously overdramatized, with the fights between the sisters often looking staged.
The Cut's journalist Mariah Smith, who writes about KUWTK, has shown through real-time comparison how some real events have been reshot for the show.
10. Duck Dynasty
The Robertson family calls the show "guided reality", and no wonder: the cast and production reportedly come up with interesting scenarios for the show together, so nothing seen is 100% genuine.
The family also doesn't swear as much as it seems on the show - producers 'bleep' out many dialogues to make the cast seem to use a lot more profanities than they actually do.
11. Long Island Medium
Theresa Caputo has already been the subject of several exposés, exposing her as a performer rather than a real medium.
According to these reports, producers look for personal information on participants before the show (for example, on social media), and prepare Caputo - who "reveals" the information on the show, to make it look as if it came to her through her psychic powers.
12. Say Yes To The Dress
The consultation, as it appears on the show, seems dreamy, but it turns out that the store's staff sometimes ignores the brides' requests, and focuses on its promoted brands instead: "I had one request: No Pnina Tornai", a show participant told Ravishly, "So, naturally the first dress she showed me was Pnina Tornai. What?".
In addition, the real Kleinfeld Bridal shop is reportedly packed and cramped, and no bridal posse can spend hours in the show, quietly drinking champagne and adoring the dresses.
13. Hell’s Kitchen
The show is supposed to take place at a restaurant, but the diners seen on it are not 'real' - they are paid by the production, or they are friends of the crew. The 'restaurant' is not a real restaurant - it's never open to the public and is basically just a TV set.
And according to former contestant Tek Moore, producers often secretly swap out ingredients to make the cooks mess up their dishes - and give Gordon Ramsay something to scream at them about.
14. House Hunters
The couples that are 'looking for a house' on the show are, reportedly, usually couples who have already bought one of the houses that are shown.
The other houses are usually just friends' houses, or houses that have sold but the owners have not moved into yet.
15. Vanderpump Rules
It seems that, like many other Bravo reality show, the situations on the show are pre-planned, and even if it's is not 'scripted' - it is written.
“It’s pretty not-scripted,” participant Katie Maloney Schwartz told Galore. “You see, our relationships are real[...] But it’s also hard when making a show, as they can’t show everything, and they don’t show everything that’s positive but they definitely show everything that’s negative, and that can paint people in certain lights that aren’t true to form, but it still is real.”
The show follows brides-to-be and often makes them come across as demanding, spoiled, and stubborn - and brides are reportedly encouraged by producers to swear and act obnoxiously in front of the cameras.
Former participant Julia Swinton-Williamson even sued the network claiming they misled her about the nature of the show.
17. Jersey Shore
Though the show is likely not scripted, it is heavily edited and many situations are coordinated by the producers, who also encourage participants to drink excessively (which often results in sexual behavior and fights).
Also, even though the show is supposed to be about a group of Italian-Americans, participants JWoww and Snooki are even not ethnically Italian.
18. American Pickers
In one of History Channel's most successful shows, Mike and Frank dig through piles of what seems like junk, to uncover real treasures.
However, the real pickers are the show's producers, who find the items worth picking before Mike or Frank even ever show up, and the 'final price' the hosts and guests agree is also pre-decided.
19. Cupcake Wars
Though the premise of the show is to surprise the bakers with a few odd ingredients and see what cupcake wonders they can do, a former contestant went on Reddit to reveal that participants were notified on the ingredients months in advance.
"Had we not known, there's no doubt we'd have lost", wrote the baker, who was part of the winning team.
20. Basketball Wives
"The biggest mistake I ever made was doing that stupid Basketball Wives show," said NBA player and former show participant, Matt Barnes, "because it’s just such a negative, untrue, fantasy of what our lives are like[...] None of it is true.
Nothing you see on these reality TV - not even just Basketball Wives - it’s all staged. They say it’s unscripted. It’s not. Everything is scripted."
Though the cooks do have 60 minutes to make their dishes, average filming day reportedly lasts a lot longer to allow for extra filming of specific shots and scenes, and the final show is heavily edited.
"[The producers] strung together a sentence from three separate sound bytes scattered from my interviews at various points during filming. I never said what aired on TV. They created it out of thin air”, wrote former participant Ben Starr.
22. American Idol
Though the show is supposed to find the next American Idol through a series of open auditions, many of the singers participating are found by the show's scouts before the start of the auditions.
Former judge Mariah Carey called the show "so boring and so fake", and added: "you have to make up things to say about people [...] Half the time the performances are good. You'd just be like, 'It was good!'".
23. The Jerry Springer Show
Ok, so this might not come as a huge surprise for anyone, but one of the first and most famous reality shows is pretty much fake.
While some of the stories featured on the show are based in reality, they receive a "reality TV treatment" to make them larger-than-life and more outlandish. In addition, participants are encouraged to get into physical altercations, that are orchestrated so they don't cause actual physical damage.
24. Property Brothers
As anyone who has ever watched the show knows, every episode starts exactly the same way - when the prospective homebuyers find out that the first house they see is out of their budget - and so all of the times we see the new couple receive these 'news' are basically 'fake'.
And sometimes, the entire house hunting part is fake, since couples are often already under contract on a house when filming begins.
25. Wife Swap
Former participants of the 'wife swapping' experiment have claimed that the show is heavily edited to create more exciting drama, and many feel they have been completely misrepresented on the show.
Former participant Kate Martinez wrote that the show was edited to make her look like a bad parent, leaving in only a negative part of her remarks.
26. RuPaul’s Drag Race
While the Drag Race contestants need to display a wide range of talents to win the competition, in one example the challenge is not as hard as it seems on the show: the queens get the lip-sync song choice before receiving their critiques on the runaway.
In addition, the show is no exception to the reality TV rule and involves a lot of heavy editing. Several former contestants have spoken out about their unfair presentation.
The series, based on the 2010 documentary of the same name, is supposed to show host Nev Shulman help victims of catfishing, who contact the show. However, it's been revealed that it's usually the catfish themselves that contact the show.
This also means that the 'investigation' shown on the show is pretty much fake. In addition, all participants have to sign a release to be filmed, so none of them are really surprised when they are contacted by the hosts.
28. The Simple Life
In the case of this hugely successful reality show, its star Paris Hilton was the first to admit the show was basically fake.
"They said, 'Nicole you play the trouble maker, Paris you play the ditzy airhead'.", Hilton shared with Access Hollywood. "We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into or what a huge success it would be and that I'd have to continue playing this character for five years."
When MTV's Cribs came out in 2000, the exclusive all-access tour of celebrity homes became a huge success. However, we know now that many of the featured celebrities didn't even live in the homes shown on the show.
"It was so ridiculous", shared singer JoJo, a former participant. "...That was actually my uncle's house. That wasn't my house. That wasn't my stuff. When I was sitting on the spinny thing, that was his kids'."
30. Naked and Afraid
Discovery's Naked and Afraid shows how naked strangers survive in an extreme environment, but what it doesn't show is that contestants sometimes still have access to modern conveniences, such as vitamins and sanitary pads.
Former participant Honora Bowen even said that the producers made her lie on the show, and that some of her storyline was predetermined
31. Divorce Court
Divorce Court is the longest-running court series on TV, but in its first seasons all of the show's participants were actors and dialogues were 100% scripted.
Nowadays, the show features real cases of divorces that are arbitrated on the show. However, some sources still claim that those participants are often still paid actors, and in addition the audience is made up of paid actors.
32. Beauty and the Geek
Beauty and the Geek was one of the most successful shows in the golden age of reality television. But it seems that some aspects of the show weren't 100% genuine, with some of the geeks not being geeks IRL at all.
The show was also criticized for its heavy editing. "They heightened it and made it like this love story that spanned all eight weeks of the show, which wasn't really true, but they made it into this big thing," said participant Nate Dern on his alleged romance that was featured on the show.
33. Total Divas
WWE wrestler PJ Black who appeared on the show when he was dating one of the Divas, said it was "about 90 percent scripted."
Black said he was asked to follow certain storylines and said "If it’s a reality show, let me do and say whatever I want. Don’t tell me what to say and what to wear. It wasn’t very organic or spontaneous".
34. Southern Charm
Danni Baird, a former participant, said that her scenes were cut and pasted: though she filmed them during the end of production, producers moved her clips to the beginning of the season, messing with the real timeline.
Former participant Landon Clement has revealed that the show uses 'focus groups' to see which cast members are more popular and to determine casting decisions.
35. Man Vs Wild
While the show aims to show how its host, Bear Grylls, can survive alone in nature, survival experts that worked on the show have alleged that he sometimes actually spends the night is luxurious hotels.
In addition, some of Grylles's survival techniques - such as squeezing water out of Elephant dung - have been deemed unrealistic by other survival experts.
36. Love Island
The hit British reality show (and its follow-up international versions) has gained huge success, but many former participant have blamed the show of being fake.
"People don’t realize how scripted it is, how much the producers influence it. It is completely disingenuous [...]It isn’t fair to mislead the audience like that. ... We were treated like performing animals.", one of them told The Mail on Sunday.
37. WWE Smackdown
Just like in other professional wrestling promotions, WWE Smackdown doesn't show real 'fights', but rather scripted, entertainment-based performance theater.
However, the fact that the matches have pre-determined outcomes doesn't take away from them being an athletic form of entertainment, and all WWE participants are athletes of the highest caliber.
38. Fixer Upper
Thow show hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines are shown as they go 'house hunting' with homeowners, in many cases the homeowners have already purchased a home before the shooting.
In addition, even though the show seems to show a few different meetings between Chip and Joanna and the homeowners, some of them shoot all of their scenes in just one day.
39. Breaking Amish
The TLC show follows a group of young Amish members as they question their faith while living in New York.
But according to several media outlets, some of the cast members have reportedly already left the faith years prior to filming, with some of them already being married or divorced, and with kids.
40. Storage Wars
The popular show, which follows a group of professional buyers who bid on unpaid storage units, is anything but real - according to its former star David Hester.
In a legal complaint filed by Hester against A&E, he claimed that the network staged the storage units prior to episodes being filmed, and that everything shown on the show is pretty much fake.