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What It’s Actually Like to Be on House Hunters—Twice

Longtime Neatorama readers know that "reality TV" doesn't have much to do with reality. What makes reality TV shows different from what came before is that the participants are usually not professional actors. Everything else is manipulated: the story, the onscreen conflicts, and often even the very premise of the show. The facade of reality is maintained by the low production values which hint at a low budget. Elizabeth Newcamp tells us what the experience of appearing on House Hunters and House Hunters International was like. For starters, they would be "purchasing" the home they already lived in.  

Some things about the show are completely transparent. There is no wardrobe or makeup department. You’ll hear plenty of opinions on what you should wear, but everything is coming out of your own closet. I learned that all my favorite tops have stripes on them, a no-no for the camera.

But I was surprised how even the littlest details could be fictionalized. When they couldn’t find a local real estate agent, the House Hunters International producers needed a Dutch person who was willing to be on camera for $500 as our “relocation expert.” Our neighbor and friend Michael, who actually works in IT, was happy to oblige. In the episode, I hinted at the absurdity of the whole situation when Michael mentioned that he lived near a house we were looking at. “Oh, so we could be neighbors,” I exclaimed, while biking to tour our actual house, down the street from his … where my children were playing with his daughter, under the supervision of his wife.

For the week's shooting, Newcamp and her husband were paid $1500. But that also included pre-production work, and not only did they "perform," but they also provided the set, the props, the costumes, and most of the script, working on expanding the smallest conflict in their decisions to make the show entertaining. Read Newcamp's story at Slate.  -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Jeff Newcamp)

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$1,500 is pretty low. A local family was the first contestant on a Fix-Up-Your-House show. Instead of actually finishing the house in one week, the crew covered every surface with wallpaper or paint and installed rented furniture. The family got $50,000 to actually get the work finished. (Think of bathroom fixtures bolted to drywall, not connected to plumbing.
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