30 Former Reality And Game Show Contestants Are Sharing Their Wildest Behind-The-Scenes Secrets And Stories

Let’s pause and think of all the precious time we shamelessly wasted watching reality shows. From The Bachelor and MasterChef to good old Fear Factor, Survivor Alone, from 90 Day Fiancé to Big Brother, American Idol, and X-Factor… okay, that’s enough.

The truth is that TV and the media have been very generous in showering us with some absurd, cringy, exciting, and totally captivating entertainment. No wonder our fellow reality TV aficionados will nod their heads if we say that we’ve always wanted to find out what’s happening behind the scenes.

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So today, we are going to find out what people who participated in, worked at, or had something to do with a game or reality TV show in one way or another, have seen or witnessed. Thanks to these two (this and this!) Reddit threads, some secrets will be spilled today.


I worked for a bakery that was on, and won, CupCake Wars. The premise of the show is to surprise the bakers with a few, more often than not, odd ingredients and see what they’re really made of. In reality, we found out the ingredients a few months before the show. Had we not known, there’s no doubt we’d have lost.
There are definitely people who thrive under pressure, both in performance and creativity, and they have better things to do with their time than crank out cupcakes for Food Network. Tell an unprepared contestant they have 40 minutes to make a delicious cupcake using tater tots and nine times out of ten you’ll have a middle aged woman sobbing into her mixing bowl.

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Approximately 80% of reality shows are made in post production. Entire story lines are created literally from found footage mixed with what is called “frankenbites.” Which is where interview lines are created from pieces of a bunch of different interviews, so we can make anyone say anything we want. Also, little fun fact, if a cast member is a d**k to the field producers while shooting, the editors will back up their team, and make that cast member look worse when it comes to editing.
SOURCE: I’m a reality TV editor

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I was on a weight loss show. They touted healthy diet and exercise but this is not what I was told off camera. The “trainer” advised me to fast/dehydrate myself prior to weigh ins to have a lower weight. The producer told me to use the “chew and spit” method (chew the food and spit it out instead of swallowing) to manage eating. Although there was not an explicit script – they would ask questions or direct you in such a way that there was only one answer (the one they wanted). We had to film the fitness events multiple times – to get all the angles and shots they needed. Where possible they would keep you exhausted and hungry so that you were more likely to have dramatic breakdowns. The producers tried to get between me and my husband- for drama purposes only – it was such an issue that I refused to allow any of my family/spouse be interviewed any more. The producer would berate me about this – presumably to generate more drama. Not a good experience but certainly an enlightening one.

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My friend went on a dance show. He was the favourite to win so they asked him to sign a contract midway that said he will give 50% of all of his earnings from dance to the network. He’d already created a very successful dance school prior to appearing so he refused to sign the contract. He was evicted that week in a “surprise eviction”. Joke was on the network though because ratings dropped after his eviction and now they hire him to do more work for the network than the actual winner.

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i don’t/haven’t worked on one. but one was done on a bar near my house that was supposedly haunted.

Everything was based on falling/’flying’ things (glasses falling off shelves. beverage hoses ‘flying’ off their places they’re held). The crew ‘proved’ there were ghosts, by setting up a mock bar scene and putting salt around the bottom of all the glasses and left for the night with cameras.

Sure enough, the footage showed all the glasses/cups moving around. and the salt barriers were all disrupted. it was like 100% of the glasses had moved in some shape of form.

What the f**king show failed to mention is that the bar is literally under an overpass for a train, and at a train station. The ‘moving’ items are just because trains are coming by, and the building is about 50 ft from the train tracks.

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My best friend was on a show a few years back which featured military members doing surprise homecomings. I was at her house helping keep the kids under control during filming and everyone in production was incredibly nice and authentic. There was hardly any scripting at all and pretty much everything was as it seemed in the episode.

The reveal at the end where the kids realized that their dad was home was completely authentic.


Late to the game.

Was on a TV show called Shipwrecked in the UK.

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It’s like survivor, but for a teenage viewing audience, 90% of what was seen was genuine.
People assumed we lived in cushty hotels off camera, no we slept in sleeping bags on the beach or in the hut.

If it rained and we couldn’t start a fire, we had raw and cold food.

Somw things were organised as in ‘BuxtonB, can we go do an interview down on back beach and talk about X’ but that was pretty much the extent to which it was directed, no scripts, it was all our own thoughts and conversations.

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A friend of mine was on that old MTV show Next. One guy, four girls. She was the first “date” off the bus. She’s really pretty, and a super cool girl. She and the guy hit it off, and he offered her the second date or whatever. She accepted. But then the producers asked her to get back on the bus because they didn’t get a good shot of her coming out of the bus originally.

She went back on, waited for “action”. When she came off the second time, the guy yelled NEXT!!

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I worked on one for a week in one of those fake Ghost Hunters shows, this was about 4 years ago. The hunters invited a psychic (not sure if that was what he called himself). This guy was a big a**hole, and thought he was the sh*t. Big ego. Anyway they were hunting in a haunted house, and this guy was doing a walk through before taping. He went into the whole routine. Cameras were not rolling, it was just for staging an getting acclimated. During this time I was at video village and could see/hear what was going on. He was in an upstairs room and began to feel a cool breeze. He made a big deal about it and insisted we start rolling. We did, and he went on and on about thou room temperature drops mean a spirit. He started asking crew if they felt the breeze as well, they did. Finally the first AD (who was sick of this guy’s sh*t) told the guy that the breeze was coming from the open window in the other room. The psychic threw a fit and stormed out saying we were all amateur

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I was on antiques Roadshow, which I suppose is a reality show of sorts.

It’s actually pretty legit, but considering it’s PBS that shouldn’t be surprising. The main thing you don’t realize is how long you wait in lines. Your ticket has a time on it to help control when you arrive so foot traffic isn’t bad. You get there and wait for about an hour in line. At the front of the line you get your items checked (each person gets two) and these tickets direct you to the next line you need to stand in.

I had a watch and some art, so I had tickets for the time piece and Asian Art line.

After the first hour and a half of waiting, you wait in the main room. Basically how the set-up works is that there’s a small circle of banners and tables in the middle of the room which obscure the outside where all of the lines are directed. Everything is filmed in the middle of that room. You go through the line and when you get to the front an appraiser looks at your item. If they like it they go and talk to the producer to see if they’ll film it.

If they film you’re taken to a small back room where they’ve got make up and might make adjustments to your clothing (like if you’re wearing a branded shirt they’ll make you change, but they actually advise you to wear neutral clothing if you’re coming to the show). Then they do the interview after you sign the release.

If your item is valuable they actually have security escort you out to your car.

All in all it was pretty efficient and none of it seemed fake. It took a REALLY lone time (about five hours of mostly standing in lines).

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The Kardashians film at a restaurant I used to work at. There’s no reality to it whatsoever.

Their film crew gets there 4 hours early, and they make everyone sign waivers consenting to be on camera. They mic up the immediate wait staff, set up their equipment (boom mics, multiple cameras, lighting, etc.), and post security at the entrances. After that, the “stars” show up, usually about 2-3 hours late, order some food that they don’t eat, and then leave 30 minutes later.

It’s all coordinated days to weeks in advance with the owner and the GM.

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Extreme Home Makeover redid a house in my neighborhood when I was in high school. The family had to move out a year or so later because they couldn’t afford to pay the upkeep and taxes on it

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An episode of Man vs Wild was partly shot in my town. The episode leads you to believe he is dropped in the middle of nowhere and takes a single path to find civilisation. In reality, there were many shooting locations for this episode all around the island, 100s of kilometres apart. If you are familiar with the countryside you can tell from the way the terrain changes that he’s magically teleporting around the country.

The part they filmed in my town, Bear happens to come across a steep ravine that he must navigate through. In reality, this ravine is part of a commercially run canyon tour. I know this because my housemate worked for the company, and when we watched it she recognised everything. I could certainly find photos for comparison if anyone’s interested.

Anyway, I still love Man vs Wild, Bear still does some crazy a*s stunts. I’m just now a little disillusioned with the whole process of the show. Whenever Bear happens to stumble upon a cave or lake or abandoned house or whatever, I now realise his location scouts actually probably stumbled upon it months ago before they even entered the area.

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My family was the subject of an episode of Paranormal State on A&E. Although the paranormal stuff they captured all really happened, everything was put out of order and was heavily edited to make it more dramatic than it actually was. They pretty much made my family seem completely crazy (which we’re not) by filming us without our knowing and dubbing certain scenes with different audio. All in all, it was an interesting experience but I’m not sure if I would want to do something like it again.

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my cousin went on Canadian Idol, went all the way to the celebrity judges. the Judges liked her but the producers changed their minds. she didn’t get to go on the show.

talk about a let down.

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Just remembered another one…. When I was in college in LA, Jay Leno came to my school to film a Jaywalking segment. It used to be one of my favorite segments – I loved laughing at all the idiots he would find.

Turns out everyone is carefully screened for how well they can act like a bimbo/moron. I went to a small school so I knew several of the people who were chosen. One was my next door neighbor and she was a PoliSci major. The topic was politics. She was actually pretty smart and clearly knew the answers but played dumb for the camera.

After realizing how fake it was, I can’t even watch Jaywalking anymore. It is so stupid and all staged. People just act dumb so they can get on TV. I failed at acting dumb but got on TV anyway… by “casually walking past the camera wearing a pair of ridiculous rainbow socks.”

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I was in a wedding TV show. They did the “surprise wedding reveal” was done take after take. There were paid extra dancers. There were tons of unpaid extras to fill the wedding and reception, all shot in one location but appeared different in the show. The extras were all obvious because they were white and the couple and actual wedding party were all black. The cake was fake, we did serve cake but from another cake, not the one they showed. The wedding was actually pretty cool and after midnight they got to play music they wanted to hear. It was very glamorous but not high quality, on t. The chairs seemed very high quality but in reality had glue showing and cheap Chinese jewels on em. But hey who would complain about a free wedding?!

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I was almost on What Not to Wear and it was definitely a bit different than what you see on TV.

It started at a punk show outside LA. I’m an east coaster and we like to get in the mood for punk/metal/whatever shows, but apparently in Cali its jeans and plaid shirts all the way. I was dressed a little unusually but nothing crazy (imo). Was approached by a woman who said she worked for a reality show and thought I’d be great for it, could she get my info and send me the details.

I got an email the next day explaining it was for “What Not to Wear”. Apparently the prize was a designer’s warddrobe plus picking one prize worth up to $20k, but that I had to find a bunch of friends to pretend like they “turned me in” for having a sh**ty warddrobe and also had to let them destroy all of my clothes. She asked me to come in for an official audition and wear my most outlandish outfit.

I had a really hard time making the decision as to whether or not to audition. I have some self respect and doubted I would any more after filming something like that. Plus I’d be embarrassed in front of the entire nation and I’d have to destroy clothes that I love. Eventually I decided “f**k it, $20k is $20k” and showed up.

While some photographer was snapping photos of me, the head honcho producer lady happened to walk through. She took a look at me and dragged the photographer to the back. They came back a couple minutes later and she said, “I’m sorry you got dragged into this. I think you look great. You should just go home.”

The whole thing was really bizarre.

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A friend of mine tried out for American Idol and she said it always seemed like the people wait then they get their big shot in front of the TV judges. In reality it’s a ton of steps, and hours of waiting, to go through loads of intermediate judges who decide if your either TV material, the insane or terrible people, or actually good enough to move on.

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Well, I’ve been in MasterChef. Two things that I remember well is the judges having a Platoon of stylers following them around so they have the exact same appearance between takes. There was this judge who has a curl over his forehead. There was a person specifically designated to make sure the curl was always there and always with the same shape. Another thing that stood out was that the timers were all fake. Usually they recorded all the sentences like “start, 5-4-3-2-1.., you have 10 Min” at the beginning or at the end, sometimes even while we were cooking. They recorded them when the light was Ok. Specially in the outside episodes. Ah, and also…nothing is a surprise. You get to practice your dish for a week or more before the episode. There are no “surprise ingredients”. And, this may come as obvious, they train you in cooking good, but a big part of the training was food presentation. Sometimes your dish was moved around the plate by the personnel when your presentation was not Ok for the lighting or for whatever reason. Feel free to ask more if you want details


I was an extra in one of those shows that take a failing restaurant and bring in a celebrity to fix all of its problems. It was not a fun experience; three things that stand out:

* All of the restaurant’s “problems”, every one, were either made up or things that had been solved years ago but were re-created for the cameras.
* The celebrity host had an earpiece and most of his lines, especially when he got all fired up, were fed to him.
* If the Food Network promises you will get a free meal for two hours of shooting, what they mean is they might give you a granola bar for eight.

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My cousin went on Judge Judy once (sued her ex-bf for something or other), and the producers told her things like, “Make sure you tell her right away if the other person is lying, don’t wait until she asks you” and “Don’t make eye contact with her, it makes her mad”. Having seen the show, she knew better and ignored everything they said. She won, but not after being berated by Judge Judy for being a liar even though she had all the evidence needed.

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I dated a guy who worked on Paranormal State and he told me that 99% of the spooky sounds and whatnot are added in post

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They did a home makeover show a couple towns over from where I used to live. When we heard about it, we went out to see them, watch them build it, and obviously see if we could see the ‘stars’ of the show. The area where they built this house wasn’t the greatest area around. They were old houses built in the ’60s and ’70s on pretty large acre lots, but the area was awful and all the houses were in some state of disrepair. Crime was high, rent there was super cheap, and most was government-paid. We always wondered what they would do to secure the house considering the crime in the area.”
The answer was…nothing. They slapped a $400,000 house with giant plate windows and sliding glass doors down in the middle of a high-crime neighborhood where the average house price was probably $60,000. Then they filmed exactly where all the new home tech and automation was, exactly how to get around the house from one room to the next, and aired it on national TV. A week after that show aired, it was all over the local news that the house was (surprise!) broken into and cleaned out. Every TV, every computer, everything.


I auditioned for The Voice last year and it is a horribly long process. I was at the audition site for more than 5 hours. But 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.

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My brother entered my family in a Disney+ family-style trivia game show as a joke. Two Skype interviews later, the joke became very real, and we were flown out to California on essentially the eve of the pandemic (March 11, 2020). The entire production was a nightmare. The producers had no idea what they were doing, the games didn’t really make any sense, and the questions were extremely hard. They made my family sound like pretentious, rich assholes, which couldn’t be further from the truth. They made us each spend over $1,000 on ‘outfit options’ because we were told to provide our own clothes. I called one of the producers crying a week before we left because she told me to go shopping again, and as a broke college student, I genuinely couldn’t afford it.”
The show was supposed to be a bracket-style, and since we won the first episode, we were going to have to go back and keep winning in order to win the grand prize, which was three days at a Disney park. Because of the pandemic, they kept pushing it back, then canceled it this past May. I’m so happy it was canceled. I spent the last year dreading having to film on a set where I felt uncomfortable and the producers treated us horribly. The best thing to come out of the experience was meeting the family we competed against. Their adult kids are about the same age as my brother and me, and since filming the first episode, we’ve talked to them every single day.


Had a friend who was a runner on the Biggest Loser. He told me that camera operators hated filming in the gym because of the stink. The trainers would make the contestants work out until they puked, so there were buckets of sick everywhere.
Also, the contestants were all hooking up with each other every night.


America’s Got Talent.

My group appeared in whatever season aired in 2009. We auditioned for producers in our home city of Chicago. We then were invited to attend the next round, in LA. We appeared there on the “Chicago” episode, which was filmed in LA, in front of an LA audience. The audience was instructed to cheer for specific Chicago area cities, etc. The episode plays as if they just pulled us off the streets.

They also instructed us back stage to argue with the judges. Try to convince them that we shouldn’t have been “X”ed. They interviewed us about what we would do with the money if we won- would our small one room school house use it to buy computers? (I graduated a high school of 3700)

Finally, when we were “X”ed off the stage, and didn’t appropriately argue with the judges, they had us walk off the stage three separate times, since we didn’t look dejected enough. We’re performers- it’s our job to smile!

Since then I can’t watch handle those shows. Nick Cannon, on the other hand, was a real sweetheart.


I have a friend who used to frequently see filming of *Jersey Shore* live because he was from Jersey. He says that they have scripts hanging above the camera and it’s not really real.

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I was on the reality tv show wife swap almost 5 years ago. I was 11 at the time and my mom got switched to Arizona. Anyway there are really no behind the scene secrets, most of it is manipulated in editing. To make things more dramatic and twist our words around. But a behind the scene thing that is awesome is they buy you pretty much any food you want xD

Image credits: anon

Source: boredpanda.com

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