Reality TV isn't really real. Shocker, right? If reality TV actually captured real life, it would be very, very boring. Lucky for us, it's completely unreal and incredibly entertaining. Though reality TV isn't real, it isn't scripted either. Most of the times, reality TV is mostly just the producers poking and prodding their stars to get them to do what they want them to do. If the producers are any good at their job, they know just how to get their stars to react without them even knowing they were set up. Let's give the stars a little credit though--the best ones know how to put on a show and how to get people talking about them. At the end of the day, most of the stars will do the song and dance to make the producers happy while they get their moment in the spotlight. We're always surprised and entertained by how far these people will go to get their fifteen minutes of fame.
In order to make good reality TV, you have to play dirty. The producers at E!, ABC, TLC, and Bravo know just how to bend the rules in order to get what they want. Though all of the networks use different tricks, we're going to take a look at what the Bravo producers do to their stars in order to make good TV. You'll be surprised by what the producers do to get the perfect talking head, drama, and breakdown. These producers know just what strings to pull and buttons to push to get what they want. You'll be surprised by how much shadiness actually goes down at Bravo and these are definitely things that Andy Cohen does NOT want you to know about!
17 Phone Calls Are Fake
It's pretty obvious that the phone calls on reality TV shows are fake considering everyone texts these days. It's a little too convenient that a fellow cast member calls up one of the housewives to invite them to a party and to provide exposition for those who may have missed last week's episode. These cast members are not actors and you can tell that their phone calls are staged because they can't deliver a line to save their life. In reality, each phone call that appears in an episode was probably filmed multiple times and this is why they rarely seem genuine. Producers stage phone calls so that they can create a narrative and also lay some groundwork for what will transpire in the episode. Sometimes, a phone call in which one cast member is talking to another about a party, the call was actually filmed after the event.
16 Housewives Have to Buy Their Own Clothes
Most reality TV stars wear their own clothes and that alone can cause drama amongst them--especially the housewives. What the producers of the various Housewives shows want you to think is that the reason why the housewives wear their own clothes from their own wardrobes is to give the show more authenticity. However, the reality is that it's because they're incredibly cheap. What makes reality TV so lucrative in the first place is that it is so cheap to make and not only do they not have to pay for writers but they also don't have to pay for clothing or stylists like they would for a scripted TV show. In reality TV, the producers don't really care about authenticity. It may be called reality TV but it's definitely not real. However, they do want to maintain the appearance of authenticity because it gets more viewers and that's all that matters.
15 Producers Cause Drama
If everyone on reality TV was rational, even-tempered, emotionally stable, it would be incredibly boring. Producers want people on their shows who are prone to arguing and have short fuses so that they can easily produce them into doing exactly what they want. The producers create on-screen chaos by setting up scenes where the cast members are forced to interact which usually ends in a confrontation. A confrontation usually means great TV. The producers don't exactly tell them to get into fights but they are very good at keeping the tension high and the cast members are good at giving the producers what they want. However, the cast members' biggest mistake is thinking that the producers are their friends because the producers are very sneaky and very good at their job: making entertaining TV, no matter what it takes.
14 Stars Will Create Storylines For Themselves
There are no writers for reality TV shows but the producers do know the basic plot and storyline to each episode and the cast members do the rest. Sometimes the producers will set up scenes and create conflict but sometimes the cast will just stir up drama themselves in order to get more screen time. If you want to be a successful reality TV star, you have to be very good at creating your own storyline, even if that sometimes means that you are the villain. The more seasoned housewives know exactly what they're doing when they start drama and they are very good at making sure that the camera is on them at all times. Though sometimes they do this because they love the spotlight but the smarter housewives know a promotional platform when they see one. Becoming the housewife that the audiences love (or loves to hate) offers plenty of opportunities to promote their own products and business ventures.
13 The Food on Top Chef is Cold By the Time It Reaches the Judges
There are a lot of competition reality shows and about half of them are food related. When it's time for the judges of Top Chef to judge the food, it's often cold by the time it's set in front of them. After the food is prepared, it has to be fixed up by a food stylist to make it look as presentable as possible because you can't have ugly food on TV. Not only that but, according to Padma Lakshmi, it can take hours for the judges to come to their decision and if they can't decide, they will ask the camera operator to try it themselves and give their opinion. All of this is, obviously, cut out of the episode because watching the judges sit around and think about the food for hours would be incredibly boring. Like all other reality shows, it's not totally unscripted and many scenes have to be re-shot.
12 Vanderpump Rules...and Guidelines
There are so many rules, contracts, guidelines, and paperwork involved with appearing on a reality TV show that there are actually entertainment lawyers who specialize in reality television law. But even if you have the best lawyer in the world, there are still some guidelines that are inevitable. Once you sign on to a reality TV show, say goodbye to your privacy. The producers don't care if they are having a breakdown or they're uncomfortable in a situation, they will keep filming no matter what--and the more the cast members protest, the more likely they will use it in the final cut. Another rule you can't get out of is the no music policy. Music rights are expensive and Bravo is not going to pay for it so say if two people are filming a long car ride scene, it'll pretty much be dead silent for the majority of the time.
11 Cast Members Are Usually Not Friends IRL
Though the cast members seen in the Bravo universe seem to hang out with each other on a daily basis, most of them actually don't spend any time with them after filming has wrapped. In reality, most of them aren't even friends. This is true (to varying degrees) all across the board but it appears that the cast of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills dislikes each other the most. Seriously, if you're the kind of person who always wants the spotlight, why would you want to hang out with a bunch of people who want the same thing? That would be exhausting. Some reality TV shows are exceptions to the rule but it seems that most of the cast members in the Housewives franchise don't hang out with each other because they're just not close or simply because they downright hate each other. Why share the spotlight when you don't have to?
10 Product Placement is Everywhere
Two words: promotional platform. These men and women are definitely not just on the show for fun and they're not on it for money either considering it doesn't pay much. Smart cast members use the show as a platform to market and promote their various products and business ventures. Bethenny Frankel is known now for Skinnygirl which she has promoted on The Real Housewives of New York City and Lisa Vanderpump uses Vanderpump Rules to promote her own restaurants. Though these shows obviously promote products, Top Chef isn't immune either. A former Top Chef contestant revealed that some of the product placement shots had to be taken during the challenges even if the products were not used in the actual challenge. The cast members also use their image on the show to promote their brand and social media platforms which they then use to advertise products like Flat Tummy Tea and Fab Fit Fun.
9 The Millionaires on Millionaire Matchmaker are Not Millionaires
There is a lot about Millionaire Matchmaker that is totally fake. Patti Stanger has her own matchmaking business for rich people called Millionaire’s Club International but she has said herself that her real clients would never appear on the show because they want their love life to be private and most of them don't want to leave their private island. So basically, the clients that you see on TV are not her clients in real life. According to a former contestant, most of the "millionaires" on the show aren't even millionaires at all but Bravo doesn't check their bank accounts so who knows how they actually verify their status. But wait, it gets worse. After The Real Housewives of Atlanta star, Kenya Moore found a boyfriend after appearing on Millionaire Matchmaker, she found out that he had actually gotten married behind her back only a week after the show aired. Yikes.
8 Villains Are Created, Not Born
Everybody loves a good villain or at least loves to hate them. There are few villains in the world who we love to hate more than a reality star villain. However, most of these nefarious characters are not so evil in real life and their status as the bad guy is manufactured by the producers and sometimes even the cast members themselves. If the producers don't have a good villain, they'll just make one and a good producer is a master at manipulation. The producers will often start rumors in order to pit the cast members against each other or gang up on each other. No one wants to watch a reality TV show that doesn't have any drama and fighting. If things are looking boring on set, the producers will do what they have to do in order to create entertaining TV, even if it causes tears, anger, and emotional breakdowns.
7 They Hit the Club in the Afternoon
If you see a scene in a reality TV show that is set in a club, it was probably shot in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. How do they get so many people in a club on an afternoon? They hire them. While most of the extras are not paid to appear, there are actually some websites and apps where people can sign up and get paid (very little) to be extras for various reality shows, though they are rarely told which reality show until they get there. The extras are not allowed to drink alcohol on the set and if you see one holding a drink, it's probably just a soda or juice. Anytime a scene is set in a restaurant, bar, or cafe, they are generally shot during their slow business hours which means they eat dinner at 3PM and lunch at 10AM. They do this because of all of their equipment and also because anyone in the restaurant needs to sign a waiver and filming a scene during peak business hours creates more a lot more work.
6 The Stars Don't Make a Lot of Money
You may think that by appearing on a reality show, the cast members must make a lot of money but that is not the case. In reality, most of the cast members get paid a small allowance and if the cast members are all sent on a trip together, that would be paid for and they might get a free trip to the filming location, plus room and board--if they're lucky. Also, if a friend or family member of a cast member appears on the show, they don't receive any money at all. Because there is so little money in reality TV, most of the stars will use the show as a way to market themselves or their products. The reality is, however, that most people appear on reality TV to get more followers on Instagram and Twitter so that they can make a career as a "social media influencer". It may be a sad and soul-crushing way to make a living but it is definitely lucrative!
5 The Houses on Million Dollar Homes Are Not for Sale
Like most reality TV shows, a lot of the scenes in Million Dollar Listing are totally fake. Shocker, right? Here's the thing about real estate--it is not exciting. In fact, it's downright tedious. While the actual buying and selling part of real estate is exciting, the rest is paperwork and waiting for phone calls from the title companies. Though there is a lot of money in real estate, it's not exactly sexy. Most of the scenes where a property is being shown to a buyer are either faked or exaggerated and sometimes additional scenes are added on later to make it more interesting--or have to be completely re-shot. However, even though much of the show is faked, it's still pretty boring. At one point, one of the real estate agents celebrates a "brand new" deal which was actually closed months before.
4 Reaction Shots Are Not Always Related to What's Going On
If you watch a scene where one of the stars are talking and then it cuts to another star's reaction, that wasn't their actual reaction to what was being said. Almost a hundred percent of the time, the reactions are in response to something completely unrelated. The producers are always in control and while they don't straight up lie, they do know how to make things look a certain way during the editing process. One way that they can do this is with "frankenbiting" which is the term for when an interview with a cast member is snipped and cut until it sounds like they are saying something different than what they actually said. When you see one of the stars doing an interview and then it cuts to another scene, usually whatever they are saying was taken from another interview or another scene. Sneaky, huh?
3 Part of Their Job is Keeping Their Stars From Sharing Secrets
Producers don't hide the fact that most reality shows are at least a little bit fake but there are many other secrets about their job that they don't want the audience to know about. The best way that they keep their stars from sharing secrets is by actually making it seem like they're not doing anything shady. The producers set their cast members up like chess pieces and let the stars handle the rest so that it seems like they don't have a hand in it at all. The producers, at least the good ones, don't actually tell the stars to create any drama or to start a fight but they definitely encourage it and find ways to make it happen on camera. A big part of their job is actually being friends with the cast because you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. At the end of the day, it's a business and they're just doing their job.
2 The Producers are the Real Judges
Sometimes the judges in competitive reality shows aren't actually the judges at all. The producers generally have the final say when it comes to the winners and the losers because they want to make sure that the winner is entertaining and good on camera. Many of the contracts that contestants have to sign before competing in shows like Top Chef will actually include a clause that reveals that it's the producers who have the final say. Though most of the time, the judges are the ones who actually choose the winner, the producers may decide to pick someone else because the other contestant is too boring and the judges have to bow to their will. When it comes to competition shows, talent will only get you so far. In order to win, you need to be charismatic, entertaining, and look good in front of the camera.
1 Starvation and Exhaustion Produces Breakdowns
Sometimes things just get too boring and the producers need to cause a breakdown or a fight. In order to do that, they usually bring in a lot of alcohol. However, booze doesn't always do the trick. Sometimes the producers will actually starve and exhaust the stars. Though this is actually a tactic most frequently used in The Bachelor franchise, it is often used in Bravo shows as well. In order to start drama, they will make the cast members wait for food, isolate them, and keep them up all night so that they're angry, hungry, and ready for a fight. All of the tricks that producers use to provoke their stars are sneaky and manipulative but this one really takes the cake! Being on a reality TV show really isn't as glamorous as it appears to be. In reality, it's downright exhausting.