Reality shows would like us to believe that what we see on screen is organic and totally real, but most of us are probably aware that every show has producers pulling strings behind the scenes.
Essentially, a reality TV show producer's job is to create a storyline that viewers can follow. Ideally, they'd work with the contestants' personal choices and the events that naturally unfold on camera. However, sometimes, the producers go too far to manufacture the story they want to tell.
Here are 21 times a reality star called out productions for screwing with them:
This post contains mentions of suicide.
1. On TikTok, Spencer Pratt alleged that The Hills producers asked his costar and now-wife Heidi Montag to pretend she thought she was pregnant. He said, "We got these 40-year-old plus men asking a 20-year-old — maybe 21-year-old —woman to go pretend like she thinks she's pregnant with a guy that's already making her look bad."
In the caption, he wrote, "The original Euphoria! Heidi Montag knocking this scene out the part! But reality is, I think it's shady some old men asked [a] young girl to fake this. Adam DiVello, the producer, is as creepy as creepy gets!"
2. After leaving Selling Sunset, Christina Quinn alleged to the Call Her Daddy podcast that series creator Adam DiVello "actually told [her] to go fall down the stairs and kill [herself] at one point. ... In the context of [her] being too honest."
She said, "That wasn't the first complaint I filed against him. ... It was extremely terrifying, you know, when he's screaming in my face. It was horrifying."
She also alleged that there were "multiple complaints" against him, including a "complaint where he, to this day, cannot actually step foot on set with any of the women in the office because of misconduct."
3. Dance Moms star Maddie Ziegler told Cosmopolitan that producers "set [her] up for failure." She said, "I was just doing whatever they told me to do because I thought that's what you did."
"People thought I was a brat because in all my interviews, I would say, 'I'm the best. I know I'm going to win.' But that’s because the producer was telling me to say that. I don't think I'm better than everyone else," she said.
4. In a confessional on The Kardashians, Kourtney Kardashian Barker called out production for placing too much emphasis on a storyline about her ex, Scott Disick, feeling left out by the Kardashian-Jenner family during early cuts she'd seen of the episode about her engagement to Travis Barker.
She said, "[Travis and I] film and have the best time ever, and then we've been watching the edits, and it's been so annoying because they're swirling us in with this Scott drama. ... That night [after the proposal, when Kendall Jenner asked about Scott's feelings], I wasn't like, 'God, everyone's such fucking assholes for bringing up this' because it wasn't a part of the night. It was like two seconds of the night. I didn't even remember it until I saw a cut of the episode."
5. Trisha Sutter, who starred in The Bachelorette Season 1, allegedly found a binder containing production's planned storylines for her televised wedding special — including archetypes for her guests.
On the LadyGang podcast, she said, "It had, like, their characters — the storylines for every person. They had all of our friends who were invited to the bachelor/bachelorette parties, and they had all their bios and probably some stuff that they interviewed about. I think they had titles like...'the villain' or 'the sweetheart.'"
6. Describing her time on The Bachelor, Kaitlyn Bristowe told the Not Skinny But Not Fat podcast that "they really sexualized Nick [Viall, the Bachelor] to me. There was one producer...[who] actually said to me, after I would kiss him, she'd come in and, like, wipe my lips and, like, lick her lips and be like, 'Oh, I just want to know what that tastes like — to, like, make out with Nick.'"
She continued, "They really, like, put them on a pedestal to me. ... That was part of their tactic. … I was brainwashed."
7. In an essay for Vulture, Rachel Lindsay said that, when she was on Nick Viall's season of The Bachelor, the producers staged a confrontation between her and Vanessa Grimaldi. She said, "I was sitting down, pretending to read a book. Vanessa came over and said, 'Hey, can I talk to you?' I look back and see how that setup made her look like the bigger person. The first thing she said to me was, 'I feel like you bullied me in the house.' Immediately, I felt my Blackness was on display. I knew the audience was going to look at me as an angry Black female."
Rachel continued, "When it was over, I stormed out — and of course the producers said, 'Let's talk about that. Why would you not show emotion?' I lost it in the interview. I was bawling. I tried to explain, 'You do not understand what it is to be a Black woman in this house full of white folks and for a white woman to cry in your face and call you a bully.' Did she call any of the other women a bully? No, she picked me. One, because she knew I was a threat — Nick liked me the second most. Two, I felt she was projecting an unconscious bias onto me. I said, 'I hope y'all show this in its entirety.' An executive producer pulled me to the side and said, 'This will never air.'"
8. After the Bachelor in Paradise Season 6 finale, Katie Morton was criticized for going on stage without her engagement ring in front of her then-fiancé. However, she alleged it wasn't her decision, telling Mouthing Off with Olivia Caridi, "I asked for [the ring], and [production] said no. They brought it out during a time when they felt it was necessary."
"Whenever I get really stressed, I'll also randomly cry. So [host] Chris Harrison said, 'I see you're not wearing your ring.' And that was a breath of like, 'If I could only fucking say [the truth],'" she said.
She also called the situation a "traumatic experience."
9. Teddi Wright was criticized by both viewers and her fellow contestants for leaving Bachelor in Paradise without telling anyone goodbye. However, after the episode aired, she seemed to allude to the decision on Instagram, writing, "Something I'm proud of learning: (1) leaving environments that are cruel to me and the people around me [and] (2) sticking to my boundaries no matter how many times people in authority try to cross them."
"Excited for this next chapter and what the rest of the year will bring," she concluded.
10. Love Is Blind contestant Jeremy Hartwell sued Netflix and the production company for "inhumane working conditions." He alleged that production "intentionally underpaid the cast members, deprived them of food, water and sleep, plied them with booze and cut off their access to personal contacts and most of the outside world. ... This made cast members hungry for social connections and altered their emotions and decision-making."
However, production company Kinetic Content denied his claims. In a statement to Variety, they said, "Mr. Hartwell’s involvement in Season 2 of Love Is Blind lasted less than one week. Unfortunately, for Mr. Hartwell, his journey ended early after he failed to develop a significant connection with any other participant. While we will not speculate as to his motives for filing the lawsuit, there is absolutely no merit to Mr. Hartwell’s allegations, and we will vigorously defend against his claims."
11. Lauren Speed-Hamilton called out Love Is Blind for showing Black contestants in its advertisement but then seemingly cutting them from the show.
On Twitter, she said, "I don't like how LIB be cutting all the Black women. How come they are always in the trailer but not the show…"
12. Ju'Not Joyne, a former American Idol Top 20 finalist, claimed the producers drew more attention to contestants they felt would "resonate" with viewers while sidelining others. He told ABC News, "[The show is] fixed. It's manipulated."
He continued, "It's scripted; it's not a talent competition. They show you who they want to show, and that's just what it is. They have some people, when they get on stage, lights come out that you didn't even know existed."
13. Harry Jowsey told Cosmopolitan that the Too Hot to Handle producers "kind of help nudge [contestants] in the correct direction" to move storylines along.
He said, "In these situations, if they know that you've got a problem or you need to have a chat with someone, they'll just point you in the right direction to get a result or to get that conversation happening and get to the end goal. They're not forcing you to say or do anything you don't want to."
14. Amy Day alleged that, on Love Island, "producers would tell you when to do everything, like wake up now, go to bed now, do this now."
She told the Daily Star, "It was more than what I thought before I went in. I wasn't stupid. I went in knowing this is a game show, but I thought I'd be able to wake up at 8 a.m. and go for a swim, have a coffee. They don't control you, but they manipulate you."
15. Love Island contestant Molly-Mae Hague claimed that a producer pressured her into stirring up drama to further a storyline. She said that when her partner, Tommy Fury, told her that Anton Danyluk had given his number to a shop assistant behind Belle Hassan's back, the producer goaded her into divulging that secret to Anna Vakili.
Molly-Mae told Closer Online, "[The producer] said, 'Don't worry, we won't show that bit.' So I told Anna, and I know I got a lot of backlash for being unfaithful to Tommy, but sometimes you have to do things in there that you don't necessarily want to do, but for the storyline it just makes it work. ... Sometimes things like that happen, and it just wasn't me. So sometimes I wish I'd stuck up for myself a bit more and said, 'Actually no, I'm not going to do that.'"
16. In a post-breakup confessional on Love Is Blind Season 3, Andrew Liu appeared to use fake tears. On his Instagram story, he shared a meme that implied producers allowed him to use eye drops but didn't tell him the clip would make it into the show. He added, "I cannot confirm nor deny due to my contract. How unfortunate."
Series creator Chris Coelen told Variety that it was his "impression" that Andrew had been allowed to use fake tears.
He said, "I remember being in the control room when his proposal had been rejected. He went back to the interview and I happened to look over and that’s what was happening. And watching it live, I just could not believe that that was what was happening. It was jaw dropping. I cannot believe he’s doing that. I mean, that’s insane. But I think it was very revealing in the moment as to maybe his motivations in that particular moment. Obviously I’m not speaking for him. I don’t speak for him, but we put it out there as it happened."
17. Married at First Sight Australia contestant Melissa Lucarelli believes that "the producers want mismatches because it makes great TV."
She told Closer Online, "When I joined the show, I naively thought, 'This is going to be it for me, I'm going to meet my Mr. Right!' But I was partnered up with a man who I had absolutely nothing in common with. I know some relationships often work based on the couple being opposites, but it was totally ridiculous."
18. On TikTok, Married at First Sight Australia contestant Michael Brunelli said, "One of the weirdest things when we were on MAFS was that they didn't film all day, so when the camera crew left [at night], they told us, 'Don’t learn anything about each other, don't really talk to each other because it needs to be on camera.'"
He continued, "If you have a fight, you need to stop mid-fight, call the producer so they can bring the camera and can start recording…then you've got to keep going with the fight."
19. On Married at First Sight Australia, it appeared that Carly Bowyer left early because her match, Justin Fischer, was being non-committal. However, she later claimed that she "actually left for a different reason [his alleged cheating]...and basically had a gag order that [she] wasn't allowed to speak [about it]."
She told Punkee, "It was one night, and everyone had little parties in their rooms, and Justin was downstairs in another couple's room. I ran into the room and he [Justin] was in there with this other woman. ... Basically, from there the producers just swarmed on me. They were like, 'Carly, this isn't going to make sense to your storyline. We can't talk about this. Justin is denying it, saying that you saw the wrong thing. Everybody is denying it, so we can't make this a storyline.' They basically gave me no choice and told me I had to pretend I was leaving for another reason because they couldn’t make that narrative work. ... I think they had their villains already, and it didn't make sense to their storyline."
20. Stephanie Davison, who appeared on 90 Day Fiancé: Love in Paradise, alleged that she worked with two or three different producers who were "all trying to do one another" when giving her direction to elicit a dramatic reaction.
She told In Touch Weekly, "My first [producer], you know, he would be like, 'OK, now say this and be really sad about it.' And then the same exact situation, he goes, 'Now say it and be happy.’ And so he wanted several different ways of it being said. Cause then, you know, the editors and the executives, they have plenty to pick from."
21. And finally, on her Instagram story, 90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days star Lana alleged that her engagement to David Murphey was "just for the show." She said, "[I] did not participate in tell-all because the show did not allow the truth to be told, and I no longer wanted to participate in this stupidity that they created."
She also said that she didn't ghost David and alleged that storyline was "the idea of the show."
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. The Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386.