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21 Behind-The-Scenes Facts That’ll Change The Way You Look At Your Favorite Reality TV Shows

Anyone who asks to use their phone on the set of The Masked Singer is forced to wear a "shame sash."

1. Andy Cohen said in 2019 that he almost cast a gay man in the Real Housewives franchise years earlier, and said that while casting a man was "not out of the question," he'd like to cast a lesbian first.

A Real Housewives reunion hosted by Andy Cohen
Bravo TV / Courtesy Everett Collection

2. Every season, Survivor assembles a group of 16–20 twentysomethings known as the "Dream Team." Their job is to test all of the challenges before the contestants do, allowing the show to have a sort of dress rehearsal.

Alex, a member of the Dream Team
CBS / Via youtube.com

3. The finalists of Project Runway aren't the only contestants who get a chance to show at New York Fashion Week. A couple of "decoy" contestants who were eliminated earlier in the competition make collections so that the final three or four aren't spoiled. According to producer Sara Rea, the eliminated designers get the same budget and amount of time to make their looks as the real finalists do, because otherwise, the faux collections would be too easy to identify.

Heidi Klum, Zac Posen, Nina Garcia, and Zendaya at the Project Runway finale
Bravo / Courtesy Everett Collection

4. It was difficult for the producers of Below Deck to find willing participants for its first season, since it was an "unknown entity" that potential castmates worried could "jeopardize their future employment potential." Now one of the most common reasons "yachties" sign on is so they can show their friends and family at home what their jobs are like.

Three Below Deck participants on the yacht "Valor"
Bravo / Courtesy Everett Collection

5. The Love Island villas are outfitted with around 80 cameras, including ones in the bathroom, though that footage isn't monitored. There are no clocks, and the house is supplied with over 200 condoms, which are "replenished as needed."

The Love Island villa from Season 3 of the US version
CBS / Via youtube.com

6. Chopped contestants are "warned" by producers about host Ted Allen because he will attempt to "get in [their] head" while he interviews them about what they're preparing. They're also told that if Allen is bothering them while they're cooking, it's okay to tell him to go away.

Ted Allen unveiling the losing dish
Food Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

7. To ensure that the identities of the contestants remain secret, the crew of The Masked Singer have to sign nondisclosure agreements, and they aren't permitted to use their phones while they're working. If they do ask to use their phones, they're allowed to...but they're forced to wear something a producer referred to as a "shame sash," a pageant-type sash designed to "humiliate anyone who wants to use their phone on set."

A scene from The Masked Singer with Nick Cannon and the Yeti
Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

8. Tyra Banks didn't work with any of the models who competed on America's Next Top Model after their seasons ended. She considered it unethical, and she didn't want her judging to be influenced by whom she thought she could make the most money from.

The judging panel of ANTM, with Tyra
CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

9. A private investigator helps cast The Bachelorette. A former contestant, Darius Feaster, revealed that the final round of casting takes place in a hotel, where potential cast members get interviewed by a psychologist and a PI. Feaster said, "The PI was asking me about my friends’ histories based on pictures from social media."

A contestant proposes to the Bachelorette
ABC / Courtesy Everett Collection

10. As of 2018, only 15 out of the 77 restaurants featured on Kitchen Nightmares were still open, meaning that the show had a success rate of less than 20%.

Gordon Ramsay looking sad at a table with his hands holding his face
20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

11. Keeping Up With the Kardashians used fake exterior shots of its stars' houses, though Kim explained, "When we film inside, that's obviously our real home." This change was made due to safety concerns.

A shot from Season 8 of the show with the Kardashians, Jenners, and others sitting on stairs
E! Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

12. Before a new season of The Great British Baking Show* begins, the ovens in the tent are tested with cakes. The crew prepares "a dozen Victorian sponge mixes" and uses runners to make sure they all go in at the exact same time — and if the ovens are in good working order, 12 perfect (and identical) cakes emerge.

Sandi, Noel, Paul, and Prue sitting at a table discussing the bakes
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

*Bonus fact: It's not called The Great British Bake Off in the United States because the name "Bake Off" is already owned by Pillsbury

13. RuPaul sold the pitch for RuPaul's Drag Race on his first try. It first aired on Logo, then moved to VH1.

RuPaul stands with Lady Gaga during Season 9
Logo / Courtesy Everett Collection

14. By comparison, no network was interested in the original pitch for what became 90 Day Fiancé, which would've followed Americans traveling internationally to visit the significant others they met online. The second iteration, a show about American men trying to find love abroad entitled Bachelor Wars: Russia, also didn't sell. Finally, the producers arrived at the version of the show centered on K-1 visas. But it got rejected again, and "the project seemed dead," until an executive from TLC saw the reel and loved it.

A couple from the show
TLC / Courtesy Everett Collection

15. According to a 2010 Entertainment Weekly interview, when the Top Chef judges find themselves undecided, they turn to an "unofficial fifth judge," a camera operator known as T-Bone. T-Bone shoots the contestants' dishes and then eats them afterward, so he's in a position to act as a tiebreaker.

Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio standing together
Bravo / Courtesy Everett Collection

16. In 2010, Buddy Valastro (of Cake Boss fame) and Discovery Communications (which owns TLC, the channel the show airs on) were sued by a software company that sold "a business management program specifically for bakers" called CakeBoss. The software was on the market in 2007, while the show premiered in 2009. The suit was later settled "amicably."

Buddy decorates a huge and elaborate cake
TLC / Courtesy Everett Collection

17. Bobby Berk's budget for home renovations in Queer Eye is around $20,000 per episode. Making budgeting even trickier is the fact that according to Berk, his construction costs are probably eight times higher than they normally would be, since the show requires a super-fast turnaround time.

Bobby Berk playing the guitar in Queer Eye
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

18. Before shooting an episode of Man vs. Wild, the crew would spend around a week "scouting out the area," while Bear Grylls himself would get two days of "intense survival briefings and training," during which outside experts would offer their expertise about the particular terrain he was facing.

Bear carving a piece of wood
Discovery Channel / Courtesy Everett Collection

19. Before he was the host of Cash Cab, Ben Bailey was a stand-up comedian who worked as a limo driver on the side. This came in handy when he had to take a driving test while auditioning for the show, which he passed with a score of 92. Also, he kept the original Cash Cab.

The new cash cab with Ben Bailey
Discovery Channel / Courtesy Everett Collection

20. Contestants on Big Brother earn $1,000 for every week they're on the show. This includes jury members, "who stay sequestered, but in another location." The stipend is paid out at the conclusion of the season.

Contestants on the 17th season of Big Brother
CBS / Courtesy Everett Collection

21. Elizabeth Newcamp, who appeared on House Hunters two times, wrote an essay about her experience, in which she revealed that in one episode, the house she and her husband "chose" had already been their home for a year. And in the other episode, they'd already closed on their house of choice before filming began.

A house from House Hunters
HGTV / Via youtube.com

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