The Realness of Reality TV

Fans of the TV show House Hunters were rocked by a blog post by one of the participants this week in which she revealed the staging behind the show. Well, here's a really shocking secret: a lot of "reality TV" is fake. But that doesn't mean everything labeled "reality TV" is staged, and the amount of staging and deception varies widely, from simple creative editing to directors constructing unnecessary conflicts.
From concept to final edit, there are hundreds—thousands, even—of choices that have to be made that affect how closely the final product matches reality. People have to be cast, story producers have to find narratives in raw footage, time has to be compressed. Only the most compelling footage and dialogue will survive.  Even the best documentary film is heavily crafted—manipulated?—with footage carefully selected and ordered to make the best story or argument possible.

The problem comes when this process changes the reality of the situation, whether that manipulation is happening in real time—producers coaching cast members, reshooting scenes over and over again—or occurs during editing. To observe the heavy hand of producers and networks at work, watch an episode of the U.K. version of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares followed by an episode of the Fox adaptation, Kitchen Nightmares. Both capture a reality: Gordon Ramsay helping troubled restaurant owners, yelling at them, and fixing their problems. But on the Fox edition, Ramsay works much harder to create conflict, and so do the editors; the show’s credits note that footage may appear out of order, and that’s often used to construct reactions or moments that may never have occurred.

The problem comes when viewers perceive they have been lied to by the producers of the programs, which the author says is pointless when the goal is merely entertainment. Read more about the different ways reality TV may or may not be real at The Daily Beast. Link

Newest 2
Newest 2 Comments

It's a shame that the first makers of the current group-in-a-house reality shows had to start fiddling with people and events in order to fake story lines.

I remember watching one of the first shows and it was not exciting but it was a fairly good reflection of the society I knew. Most of the people behaved normally and weren't dreaming of celebrity as a career.

Then, the producers started choosing freaks and women with triple ppp breasts and it just became a very badly-made game show.

And I never understood why these people sat around complaining about not being able to have sex for a few weeks. My gosh, do people nowadays not know how to keep their intimate lives private?

I would be so ashamed to behave like that on TV...
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"The Realness of Reality TV"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More