Former Contestants And Producers Are Explaining How Reality TV Dating Shows Actually Work, And It's Sooo Fascinating

    "It looks like we spend a lot of time with these women, but the truth is [we] don't. ... We see them for short spurts at a time; the conversations are limited. Most of the time, [our] conversations are [interrupted] by other people and/or producers."

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    Welcome, welcome. If you're like me and watch too much reality TV just to feel something, you're in luck. I've gathered you here today to discuss the random and very real behind-the-scenes facts I've collected from contestants and producers about dating reality TV shows.

    Let's get into it. I was inspired to write this post after I came across this recent interview with Tanya Manhenga from Love Island UK Season 9 talking about the weird house rules she had to follow on the show.

    Tanya from Love Island UK Season 9 introducing herself

    About her time in the Love Island villa, she said, "If you need to go to the toilet you have to ask. ... During the day, we have stay outside. If you're going inside, [they ask] 'Why are you going inside?' You need to explain why you're going inside."

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    That led me down a rabbit hole. So, here are 23 more facts and secrets I learned about reality TV dating shows — straight from the sources themselves:

    1. Sanam Harrinanan, also from Love Island UK Season 9, said that there were only two toilets in the entire villa — and they'd often be covered in pee:


    Tiktok: the truth about the love island villa with @Sanam Harrinanan 💩😭 #madamejoyce #viral #fyp #foryou #nigeriancomedy

    ♬ original sound - THE MAD/AME
    @madamejoyce / Via
    She said, "Living with 12 to 14 other people was horrid. ...There's only two toilets and ONE shower in that whooole villa. The only thing that really made me think, 'I wanna go home' is whenever I'd go to the toilet, I see that the toilets lifted up and just pee all over the floor and seat."

    2. Also on Love Island UK Season 2, contestant Kady McDermott told Cosmopolitan that there were no clocks so they didn't know what time it was.

    Kady speaking to camera in an interview on the show

    14 people, two toilets, one shower, no sense of time, and controlled bathroom breaks...

    3. Contestants from Too Hot To Handle also confirmed they had no clocks in their villa. They said they would tell time by when they ate their meals.

    Too Hot To Handle contestants

    4. Speaking of Too Hot To Handle, contestants genuinely did not know that was the show they were on. The crew told them they were on the show Parties in Paradise and even wore fake merch to make it believable.

    Too Hot To Handle cast getting introduced to "Parties in Paradise"

    5. And the Lana voice you hear on the show — that's actually the voice the contestants hear, too. And apparently the name "Lana" has nefarious origins:

    If you found yourself watching Too Hot To Handle and wondering where we got the name Lana from ... reverse it.

    — Netflix (@netflix) April 24, 2020
    Netflix / Via Twitter: @netflix
    This is not great news for me, a person named Lana.

    6. Moving on — let's dive into what happens behind the pods in the Love Is Blind world. Apparently, each filming day in the pods is around 12 hours long and can involve three-hour-long dates.

    Overhead shot of the pod

    7. Love Is Blind series creator Chris Coelen told ET that contestants who wished to get engaged were given "a couple of choices" when it came to engagement rings.

    Cameron proposing to Lauren on "Love is Blind"

    8. And if you've ever wondered why reality stars talk about "bad edits," it's probably partially because there is SO much footage that needs to be sifted through and edited down. Coelen told the Hollywood Reporter that Love Is Blind Season 2 was edited from "over 30,000 hours of footage."

    Shake from "Love Is Blind"

    9. Recently, several contestants from Season 2 of Love Is Blind came forward about alleged mistreatment on-set. In an interview with Insider, Danielle Ruhl claimed that she fainted in the pods due to insufficient access to food, water, and sleep. Jeremy Hartwell, another contestant, also sued Netflix for unsafe working conditions, claiming that they were deprived of sleep and had a lack of food and water.

    Danielle Ruhl and Nick Thompson from "Love Is Blind"

    10. On The Ultimatum, some contestants said they didn't know an ultimatum was at stake until they began filming.

    Alexis and Hunter from Season 1

    11. Tiff Der said that getting onto The Ultimatum: Queer Love was about a three-month-long process with "thousands of questions, multiple hours of video interviews, psych evaluations" and involved getting an ESA letter for their dog. They said they got the call confirming they'd be on the show two weeks before filming.

    Tiff on "The Ultimatum: Queer Love"

    12. The Ultimatum franchise recruits many contestants through Instagram. From Season 1, Madlyn, Colby, Jake, and April said someone reached out to them on the app. From Season 2, Tiff said a casting producer slid into their DMs.

    Colby and Madlyn

    13. In comparison, for the Netflix show Dating Around, series showrunner and former Bachelor producer Alycia Rossiter told Vulture that the show sought out cast members in unexpected places like libraries, bookstores, and bridge clubs.

    Sarah from Netflix's "Dating Around"

    14. While FBoy Island makes it seem like eliminated FBoys spend their whole time struggling and facing harsh elements like those in Survivor, showrunner Bill Dixon confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that they don't actually spend all their days and nights in Limbro, and instead get put up in a house or a hotel.

    Limbro cots vs the mansion the "nice guys" get to stay in

    15. I feel like this is a pretty well-known fact about a lot of reality TV shows, but in case you didn't know, a lot of dating shows do not film contestants eating. Former Bachelor Sean Lowe told Glamour, "Nobody eats, and that's primarily because nobody wants to watch you eat and the mics will pick up the chewing."

    Tahzjuan tells John Paul Jones that they are not supposed to eat the date food on "Bachelor in Paradise"

    16. Sean also told Glamour that "the show is so paranoid about spoilers and people getting inside information" that they never use the contestants' real names on their show radios and mics. They'd call the guys Clyde and the girls Bonnie.

    Rachel crying on the stairs after Clayton tells her he's in love with three women on "The Bachelor"

    17. The rose ceremonies on The Bachelor take forever. If they start at night, they last well into the morning.

    Rose ceremony on "The Bachelor"

    18. On some shows, like Love Is Blind, contestants spend hours getting to know one another, but for the leads on Joe Millionaire: For Richer or Poorer, they admitted they spent very little time getting to know each potential partner.

    19. Like other shows, the Joe Millionaire leads also worked wildly long days and didn't really know what they were getting themselves into after being approached on Instagram.

    Kurt Sowers and Steven McBee on "Joe Millionaire"

    20. On Married at First Sight, where singles get married the moment they meet, the show preemptively sets aside money for a divorce.

    A couple kissing at their wedding on "Married at First Sight"

    21. As of 2018, Married At First Sight had a "22.2 percent success rate," with four of the 18 couples who wed still together, according to E! Online.

    A couple from "Married at First Sight" crying

    22. As for drink limits on reality dating shows, it all depends on the show.

    Kelsey from Peter's season of "The Bachelor" getting champagne all over her face

    23. And finally, those matte wine goblets used in both Love Is Blind and The Ultimatum are deliberate.

    The @LoveisBlind spinoff, ‘The Ultimatum’ is going for a silver aesthetic… do you think they just spray painted the gold goblets?😂 #LoveIsBlind #LOVEISBLINDreunion #SpinOff #TheUltimatum #GoldGoblets

    — Emma Young (@EmmaAubryn) March 5, 2022
    Netflix / Via Twitter: @EmmaAubryn
    “The silver goblets in The Ultimatum are an homage to the gold goblets in Love Is Blind. We think the goblets are a subtle but fun way to tie the elements of each show together,” Chris Coelen told TODAY. And while it remains unconfirmed, TODAY said that the opaque cups are likely used so editors can cut scenes together without worrying about continuity issues.

    That's all I've got today! Let me know if you have any behind-the-scenes secrets to add in the comments below.

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