Sunday, December 30, 2012

Reality Check: The Fake Side of So-Called 'Reality' TV (Guest Post)

It may not come as a surprise to find out that some of what you watch on reality TV isn't always true reality. A lot of sections are staged, re-shot or cut to change the original meaning of the footage. Despite slight modification being a fairly standard practice in the reality TV world, sometimes it can get producers in big trouble.

There's a constant demand for more and more reality shows and channels, which is good news for digital entertainment providers such as But, the desire for producers to come up with interesting ideas, and as the pressure to create “teasable moments,” or moments that editors can use in the previews to tease the show, increases, so does the level of doctoring that occurs to footage.

Can't Handle the Truth?

According to, “Storage Wars” star David Hester was fired for raising concerns about the show's non-fiction billing. He is now in the process of filing a lawsuit for wrongful termination against A&E, the company that produces the show.
TLC has also faced allegations as to its truthful portrayal of characters in its show “Breaking Amish.” According to The Huffington Post, there are several records that show several of the cast members living outside the Amish community prior to the show's airing. Some of the cast members were even married, divorced and with children, despite the show's claim that they were all young Amish people venturing out in the modern world for the first time.

Some Reality is Real

There are obviously lots of reality TV shows that do show the real truth. Shows like "Intervention" go out of their way to accurately portray the struggles of addicts and their families.
However, much of the editing and reshaping that goes on in reality TV doesn't have a whole lot to do with actually scripting anything. There are several tricks of the trade that are used to show viewers what the producers want them to see.

The most obvious is creating a situation to see what happens. When Hulk Hogan's wife adopted a chimpanzee, that was probably not entirely a decision of her own making. These types of created scenarios are one of the best ways for producers to create interesting content involving people who may not be particularly interesting themselves.

There is also the audio that gets inserted into videos post production. Like reality TV's version of a laugh track, there are subtle clicks, music and sound effects to “enhance” what would otherwise be an incredibly boring conversation. The people in reality TV shows are not trained actors, they don't always know how to make a scene engaging or interesting to an outside audience. These subtle sound additions help the audience along. Listen to the extra clicks and beeps in the reality show about a gym, “Wicked Fit."

So, although much of reality TV is actually real, a lot of it comes with little enhancements, subtle changes and sometimes, in cases like “Breaking Amish,” outright lies. So, take your reality TV with a grain of salt, and enjoy.

Kitty Stephens Once a dancer at Vegas, Kitty now writes about trends in dance and reviews music and film.


Anything that came after the first 3 seasons of MTV's The Real World, I take with a grain if salt. Once people saw that they could possibly get famous for acting... a fool, it's become the norm. It's entertaining, until its not.

Reality tv is just not real maybe some parts but most of it is made up for audiences. I was surprised when Walter from RHOA came out and said he was a fake bf I thought they keep that stuff under wraps.

Annoys me that REALity television is not real. I use to love watching reality television but now I hardly watch it. So much for my mindless television.

I am so over so-called reality tv..interesting post!

I'm ready for this format to die. We all know quite a bit of these shows are scripted aka enhanced. The worst of the lot this season for me was BBWLA. I just could not bear to waste a eyeball rotation on this season's show.

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