I think that by now we all know that reality shows are fake and designed to manipulate the people on them into doing or saying wild things. At best, they’re sideshows and at worst the shows are actively abusive to people on them. Or the people making them. Or both. Basically: reality sucks.
u/S3xySouthernB hopped on AskReddit to wonder:
“People who were on reality family shows as kids (think Super Nanny, Wife Swap, etc.) how much of it was real and how much was fiction/set up for drama? Did anything change?”
And this question was pretty interesting! The answers poured in and we got to see a side of reality we don’t see much — the kids.
Check out some of the best answers below.
1. Wife Swap Drama
I was on Wife Swap when I was 10 years old. My family had to switch with a farming family and we were supposed to be the ‘city family’ even though my family and I lived in the suburbs. There were plenty of quotes taken out of context as you’d expect. They also incited plenty of drama. I was framed as addicted to video games so they took my xbox and gameboy color for the week. A few days in one of the crew members came in with my gameboy and said “look I found this” and handed it to me. It shouldn’t be surprising that they sent the woman staying in our house into my room to ‘catch me in the act’.
To be honest not much has really changed in my life except getting snapchats of my 10 year old face when my friends catch the reruns. I’m open to any questions if anyone is curious.
2. 99% Real
I worked with a junk removal company for an episode of hoarders and it was actually 99% REAL. The only thing that they would set up a couple times was if they opened a box and found something interesting off camera they would re-open it on camera and act like they just found it.
3. Snooping around a room
My ex’s brother was on an old MTV show room raiders. It’s a show where a boy or girl gets to snoop around in 3 potential partners rooms to see if they like like based on their possessions in the room. Terrible concept. The young lady looking around the room had 0 personality and all the “interesting” or “embarrassing” things that were found were planted. I mean come on…who the fuck has a tiny comb for their pubes as a teenager?
4. Next Top Model
A classmate of mine was on my country’s Next Top Model. Before getting into the show she was asked what kind of hair she would never want to get, so that the producers know about it and not make her have it during the makeover episode. My classmate had long blonde hair which she really loved, so she said she doesn’t want them to cut her hair off and that she also hated strange unnatural colors like blue, pink etc.
Fast forward to the makeover episode. The hairstyling team comes in and finds her hair unfitting for a model, so she needs to get a makeover and guess what? Her makeover obviously consists of a pixie cut and green hair to make her look like a “punk fairy”.
My classmate cried throughout the entire process, so I guess the producers got the drama they wanted out of this.
5. Nanny 911
My parents were “dinner guests” in an episode of Nanny 911 and they said literally everything was staged. I don’t remember all of the details, but they said the directors had a “code word” that they would say to the kids when they were supposed to start acting all “crazy”. And then once the scene was done, the kids would be perfectly normal.
MTV’s “Made” came to our high school to turn two girls into each other. One was portrayed as this artsy starlet who did musicals and show choir, and the other was portrayed as this sporty, fit, athletic girl.
The reality was both girls were into sports and the performing arts.
7. World’s Strictest Parents
My friends parents were on worlds strictest parents. They came to my house on 4th of July and when they showed our house on tv it was a huge mansion rather than our actual house. The camera crew also told the visiting “bad kids” to steal alcohol from our house.
8. Three Wishes
My friend from elementary school was on Three Wishes too! He was just a normal kid though. I think one of the teacher’s sons worked on the show and got them to pick someone from our school.
His wish was to be a CEO for a day so they got Bill Gates on board and he got to go to Microsoft and do stuff together for a day. He got a new laptop, and was the first kid to play and own an xbox 360. Bill gave our school a computer lab too and a film crew came out to tape the reaction of us running into the new computer lab. It was a pretty fun day.
9. Tiny Home
I knew a girl who was on the Tiny Homes show with her mom. She said they had already bought the tiny home, and the show set things up like they were looking at a bunch of others and picked that one.
10. Extra money
There was a family in our neighborhood who was on a show here in Germany. One day, when accompanied by the camera crew, one of the daughters suddenly threw a screaming fit in public, which was totally unusual for her. When the mom was asked later what the fuck had happened, she said, for a tantrum you get 200 bucks extra.
11. House Disaster
One of my neighbors was on a house disaster reno show and it was a mixed bag. I think the crew hired by the show actually did very competent structural reno and repair type work but the ‘designer’ had super niche tastes so the family ended up repainting everything and pitching all the decorationy aspects to get the house ready for resale after having to act super happy for the cameras.
12. Sweet Sixteen
A girl I went to school with was on “My Super Sweet Sixteen”. She was always quiet but well-liked and the kids on that show were usually monsters so we were curious about how the episode would paint her.
There was one scene where she was checking in on a vendor and they said something might not be finished in time for the party and she didn’t have a meltdown or anything but she said something dramatic like, “Oh no! That’s going to ruin my whole birthday party!”
After the episode aired her friends who were with her said they did a couple of “takes” because her first reaction was like, “Oh, that sucks. Thanks for letting me know.”
I was on the dating show “Elimidate”. It was setup to the point that the producers did their best to create drama by pushing questions like: “XYZ was really acting like an ass that last round. Tell us about what an ass XYZ is.” I felt the final show edits were pretty accurate to the real life events though.
14. Dog shows
I was on a dog training tv show when I was 8-ish. The idea was that the dog trainer came in and helped our family integrate our new puppy into our household, to give us training tips and advice, etc.
The whole thing was basically bogus. The ‘trainer’ came to our house for maybe 30 minutes tops and gave us extremely basic advice. The producers also told us we had to get changed and pretend that he was visiting us 3 months later after he gave us the advice and how it had made our life better yada yada yada. It’s so dumb because our puppy was clearly the same age in the ‘before’ and ‘3 months after’ shots and my family aren’t actors so our reactions were really fake.
One of the producers also made me say, ‘I love you, [dog’s name]!’ while hugging him for about 6 takes.
15. Wedding Dress
I was on Kiesha’s Perfect Dress, a spin off of Say Yes to the Dress. My cousin was looking for her wedding dress. They would have her come out multiple times in the same dress to get different takes of our reactions. Would tell us to say mean things of we didnt like the dress.
I was one of the people who they did the one on one interview with and they pretty much made me seem obsessed with my cousins breasts looking large in the dress because I cracked one joke in the interview about her being flat chested.
She did end up buying her wedding dress from the show however and it was very beautiful.
16. Teen Mom
I worked with 2 people who were on Teen Mom (grandmother and granddaughter, obv the granddaughter was the Teen Mom)… they told me that the directors would intentionally set up stuff that would cause drama and then start filming. For example, the directors had them go out to lunch and told the grandmother something she didn’t know yet and filmed their argument for drama, knowing she would get upset that the granddaughter hadn’t told her before (even though she was planning to). Really dumb, unnecessary drama for TV, but apparently the baby got tons of scholarships and support from the show which is why they did it in the first place, so they said it was worth it.
17. TLC’s Addiction
My dad was asked to be on an episode of TLC’s My Strange Addiction. He runs kind of a niche (small) business. And they were like hey, you’re addicted to this right? And he was like Um, no. And they were like, well can you pretend to be addicted to this and you can be on the show? And he was like Um, no.
18. Wife Swap
I was on wifeswap when I was 11 or 12. The show gets hours of footage for 2 weeks and then puts in into a 1 hour episode. So you can imagine they can try to make the narrative whatever they want. They really try to emphasize what makes your family different and often exaggerate or encourage the participants to exaggerate. Due to only 1 or 2 cameras you often enter the same “scene” multiple times, so we actually met the swapped wife for the “first” time 3 times to get different angles.
They also often push the mom to make new rules based on the narrative they want to tell, and ask you questions that could fit that narrative. My family for example was portrayed as uneducated hicks that didn’t take work seriously. It always left a bad taste in my mouth and I think it hurt a lot of my self confidence in high school. They also hired people to take care of the kids off set and the guy we had was borderline abusive and threatened to throw us in the snow banks when we weren’t quiet and often got too physical. There was little to no oversight on this.
19. This Old House
My family and our home were on that show “This Old House” in the late ’90s. Norm Abrahms was the host, and they picked our house because of my dad’s collection of Shaker furniture. The idea was that we gave him a tour of the house (while being filmed) and then he demonstrated to the camera how to make furniture like our.
Everything was 100% genuine. Norm and the crew were kind and super respectful to all of us. No second takes. When he explained to the camera how to build replicas of the Shaker furniture, it became apparent that he was a master woodworker. Before he left we all took photos together and he signed some stuff. It was a really special day.
That was right when reality TV was starting to pick up steam. MTV’s The Real World was big at the time. I don’t think Survivor had come out yet. That was the show that opened the floodgates.
20. True Life
I was in an episode of MTV’s True Life. The whole thing was fabricated and they painted my (now ex) girlfriend’s family to seem like they didn’t like me at all when they absolutely loved me.
When we weren’t giving them enough drama, they told us we would have to amp it up or they’d cut our segment.
Fun experience, though.