Recently, I rounded up stories from former reality TV contests, auditionees, and employees. In the comments, the BuzzFeed Community came through with even more interesting experiences they had.
Here are 19 more behind-the-scenes secrets and stories from former reality show contestants:
Disclaimer: These stories have not been verified. The users are supposedly speaking from their own experiences.
Note: Some entries have been edited for length and/or clarity.
1. "I was on House Hunters International. The cool thing was that all of the crew was local to the country I was in, so I was able to get some great places to check out. However, the amount we filmed for a 22-minute show was hilarious. I had to redo things because they wanted a reaction that was mad, happy, annoyed, etc. I was also too nice about each place, and I didn't argue with the 'Realtor' enough, so I had to fake being mad with him, while off camera, we were singing and dancing together."
"Of course, I think most people know this now, but I was already living in my chosen place by the time filming happened. I had to move all of my stuff out for the 'viewing' and then rush it all back in at lunch to film the reveal that happens 'two months later.' But overall, it was a fun experience, and now I know a lot more about the reality TV process in general. I'm not as quick to judge when I watch."
2. "I worked on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition several times to help select builders. All the horror stories about production are correct. Local builders and contractors donated a lot of time."
"Materials and labor and volunteers were available in droves. However, production was not kind to either side."
3. "I was on Judge Judy — the only thing they told us was she gets paid to be a jerk. It's all real."
4. "My sister did Ultimate Tag, the tag game show that aired on Fox the summer COVID hit and we were in lockdown. They edited her to be an asshole (but tbh, she kinda is) because she was like, 'I am here for the money' because her prize was $10,000."
"They flew anyone out she wanted. They also gave her a daily stipend for food in LA, so she brought her own food and kept the money. She said it was fun. She's still in contact with the people she filmed with, and she won her tag round."
5. "Years ago, my daughter made it to the final casting for The Real World. They had a group of finalists in a room, and one of the producers said, 'Rihanna and Chris Brown — discuss.'"
"She said the people in the room went wild talking about the topic, and there was a lot of drama. It was too much for her."
6. "My cousin's husband joined one of the later seasons of Jungle Gold, a gold mining show set in Ghana. He was the machine operator. At the end of the show, they had to flee the country because they were wanted by the police."
"[The Ghanaian government accused them of illegal gold mining.] They documented the whole process of them trying to get out with hidden cameras. It was apparently 100% real, and they were really in danger. It was hard to watch, even though we knew he was fine."
7. "I auditioned for Master Chef. You're required to bring an already prepared 'signature dish.' They do state that judges will not be considering temperature of dishes, since it's difficult to keep food warm for hours."
"This, of course, makes you consider what you will be preparing. For example, you probably wouldn't make something with melted cheese. When you audition, you have 90 seconds to plate your dish from your coolers. The judges walk around and taste the dishes and give feedback. You're asked to stay back for additional questioning or get a 'We'll update you.' The experience was overall very pleasant. The hardest part is the wait, but I was one of the first in line."
8. "I knew someone who went on Storage Wars. He said it was all fake. They told him what to say on camera."
9. "My brother-in-law was on Worst Cooks in America Season 10. He said not much of it's fake, but they had long-ass shooting hours. It was a lot of waiting around in small rooms with all the other contestants. Shooting only took like two weeks instead of the six weeks (or whatever) they say it is on the show. He said they cut out a lot of the way-more-interesting scenes and edited scenes to make other contestants look dumber."
"He also said that Anne Burrell was a jerk and left set as soon as she could, but Rachael Ray was friendly and kind. She gave him good advice on cooking tips and life in general."
10. "I had a friend who went on the show Mad Mad House, which was only one season. It was about a bunch of people who lived more 'alternative' lifestyles, such as a witch, a vampire, etc. [These 'alts' gave the contestants challenges loosely based on their ways of life.] My friend said that she had a great time, and most of the show was real, just much more set up than they showed on TV."
"She even went to visit the 'vampire' when the show finished."
11. "A friend of mine was on one of those singing competition shows. They didn't have to audition — they were contacted through Instagram and basically recruited for the show."
"They made it about halfway through and had some cool experiences while in LA."
12. "I was involved in the pilot for a makeover reality show dealing specifically with women who have hair loss. This was so totally niche that it never got picked up, but my friend did get a couple of really nice, expensive wigs paid for out of the whole thing. The producers had my friend's mother, girlfriend, and me (as the 'gay bestie') write intervention-style letters about how we felt about her lack of confidence."
"It was complete with confessionals. It was all super fake, but it was really fun, at least."
13. "A relative of mine was on a knockoff version of What Not to Wear. Unsurprisingly, the hosts were condescending and didn't care about her input."
"She went back to her old style as soon as they left."
14. "I knew someone who went on House Hunters, and they said it was all fake. They had to have already bought the house before they shot the episode."
"That really ruined it for me, since I adored the show before and now can't watch it, since it's completely fake."
15. "My coworker was always auditioning for something. She ended up being cast on the short-lived 2004 show My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss, where business professionals competed to win a cash prize. She said that everything in it was entirely staged to create drama, and the boss guy was actually really nice in person."
"All the drama you see is created for the sake of the show. Everything was completely fake. The boss and his cohorts were all actors."
16. "In high school, my girlfriend was on The Jerry Springer Show for being pregnant with her third child at the age of 15. Obviously she wasn't — nor was she ever — pregnant."
17. "I know two people who made it to televised auditions on The Voice, but no chairs turned. It was apparently a really good experience, mostly because of the other people they met. However, the producers didn't do much to prepare them for the actual show."
18. "A friend of mine won a 'fan favorite' consent to be on Daisy of Love [a dating show starring Rock of Love 2 runner-up Daisy de la Hoya]. What's wild is that VH1 decided not to have him on the show because he was sober."
19. And finally: "I auditioned for American Idol before its second season, so it was around 2001–02. There was no social media like there is today, and back then, they did NOT want people to know that things were curated to be a certain way for entertainment."
"The only place I had to post about what happened was an online chat board, and the moderators deleted my comments about how fake it was."