People whose families were featured on reality TV shows are sharing their secrets on Reddit — and all I can say is OMG.
It all started when Reddit user u/s3xysouthernb asked: "People who were on family reality shows as kids (Supernanny, Wife Swap, etc.), how much of it was real and how much was set up for drama? Did anything in your family change?"
Here are some responses that might change the way you watch your favorite family programs forever:
1. "I was on Wife Swap when I was 10 years old. My family had to switch with a farming family and we were supposed to be the ‘city family’ even though we lived in the suburbs. There were plenty of quotes taken out of context, as you’d expect. They also incited plenty of drama. I was framed as addicted to video games, so they took my Xbox and Game Boy for the week. A few days in, a crew member came in with my Game Boy and said, 'Look, I found this,' and handed it to me. It shouldn’t be surprising that they sent the woman staying in our house into my room to ‘catch me in the act.'"
2. "My parents were 'dinner guests' in an episode of Nanny 911 and they said literally everything was staged. I don’t remember all of the details, but they said the directors had a 'code word' they would say to the kids when they were supposed to start acting all crazy. And then once the scene was done, the kids would be perfectly normal."
3. "I was on Wife Swap when I was 11 or 12. The show gets hours of footage for two weeks and then puts it into a one-hour episode. So you can imagine they can try to make the narrative whatever they want. They really try to emphasize what makes your family different and often exaggerate or encourage the participants to exaggerate. Due to only one or two cameras, you often enter the same 'scene' multiple times, so we actually met the swapped wife for the 'first' time three times to get different angles."
4. "My friend's parents were on World's Strictest Parents. They came to my house on the 4th of July and when they showed our house on TV, it was a huge mansion rather than our actual house. The camera crew also told the visiting 'bad kids' to steal alcohol from our house."
5. "A girl I went to school with was on My Super Sweet 16. She was always quiet but well-liked and the kids on that show were usually monsters, so we were curious how the episode would paint her. There was one scene where she was checking in on a vendor and they said something might not be finished in time for the party. She didn't have a meltdown or anything but she said something dramatic like, 'Oh no! That's going to ruin my whole birthday party!' After the episode aired, her friends who were with her said they did a couple of takes because her first reaction was like, 'Oh, that sucks. Thanks for letting me know.'"
6. "I was on a dog training show when I was 8-ish. The whole thing was basically bogus. The 'trainer' came to our house for maybe 30 minutes tops and gave us extremely basic advice. The producers then told us we had to get changed and pretend that he was visiting us three months later after he gave us the advice and how it had made our life better, yada yada yada. It's so dumb because our puppy was clearly the same age in the 'before' and 'three months after' shots and my family aren't actors, so our reactions were really fake."
7. "I knew someone on Wife Swap. Her husband cheated with the 'swapped' wife, leading to a very real divorce. The show ruined her life for a long time."
8. "I was on Wife Swap when I was 13 or so, and they made up more then half of it. They make it so there's a nice family and a bad family. They made us the bad family of 10 living in a house bus. Anything they can't make look bad, they don't put on the show. They act nice and all but make you look like a fool on TV. I remember my mum coming back home crying and stressed out."
9. "My family was on Dr. Phil maybe 15 or so years ago. They definitely dug up as much drama as possible and didn't bring any of it up until we were on stage. It was actually very traumatic for all of us. They picked us all up in separate SUVs the evening before filming and took us to a very nice, expensive hotel for the night. We weren't allowed to leave the hotel and were picked up by the SUVs in the morning — I'm assuming so we couldn't really speak to each other or chicken out. In the end, everything just felt so much worse...15 years later and everything is a million times better, but definitely no thanks to the show."
10. "I was in an episode of MTV's True Life. The whole thing was fabricated, and they painted my (now ex) girlfriend's family to seem like they didn't like me at all when they absolutely loved me. When we weren't giving them enough drama, they told us we had to amp it up or they'd cut our segment."
11. "There was a family in our neighborhood who was on a show. One day, when accompanied by the camera crew, one of the daughters suddenly threw a screaming fit in public, which was totally unusual for her. When the mom was asked later what the fuck had happened, she said, for a tantrum you get 200 bucks extra."
12. "My friend was on a nanny show. They apparently took his birds out of the house to film and had them in a trailer and they froze to death. When they brought them back, they all realized they were not the same birds."
13. "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition came to our neighborhood once. The family lived a few streets away. This woman was always NASTY. Miserable to be around, petty about people parking in front of her house, yelling at us anytime a wiffleball or frisbee ended up in her yard, shouting at neighbors about being too loud while having a party. She was a Karen ahead of her time! When she got picked for the show, the neighborhood was floored. The show made her out to be a saint among heathens, which we all expected, but knowing the real her, it was just so damn frustrating for all of us."
14. "A good friend of mine was on one of the 'wife swapping' shows and it was 100% fake. The producers decided that since his family was part Asian, they should do martial arts together and had them learn some basic Tai chi stuff for a scene, even though none of them were martial artists at all."
15. "My uncle and his family were on an episode of Wife Swap. We were invited over for a family holiday dinner. It was a very weird experience, signed our souls away in paperwork before being cued to enter their house (I was in about one second of the episode, walking in their doorway). Uncle hated the experience as they coerced him toward certain behavior and made my sweet little cousin out to be as if she was a demanding spoiled brat, which she was very much not."
16. "My friend was on an episode of Supernanny. He told me that everything was already planned out and staged. At the end he got to meet his NBA idol Dwyane Wade and came into school the next day with Wade-branded clothes and shoes. I remember them showing him beating Wade in a one-on-one basketball game. If that isn’t scripted, then I don’t know what is."
Other commenters in the viral thread shared their experiences on non-family reality shows:
17. "A wedding that I was a bridesmaid in was aired on Say Yes to the Dress. They filmed our initial reaction to the bride walking out several times. They wanted us to scream and cry. I'll be honest, the whole thing was incredibly fake and rubbed me the wrong way. Pretty on par for the type of person the bride is, though. I don't talk to her anymore."
18. "I was a competing realtor on Million Dollar Listing for an episode. I am not nor have I ever been a realtor."
19. "I was on the dating show ElimiDate. It was set up to the point that producers did their best to create drama by pushing questions like: 'XYZ was really acting like an ass that last round. Tell us about what an ass XYZ is.'"
20. "I knew a girl who was on a tiny home show with her mom. They had already bought the tiny home, and the show set things up as if they were looking at a bunch of others and picked that one."
21. "My ex's brother was on MTV's Room Raiders. It's a show where a boy or girl gets to snoop around in three potential partners' rooms to see if they like them based on their possessions. Terrible concept. The young lady looking around the room had zero personality, and all the 'interesting' or 'embarrassing' things that were found were planted. I mean, come on...who the fuck has a tiny comb for their pubes as a teenager?"
22. "One of my neighbors was on a house disaster renovation show and it was a mixed bag. I think the crew hired by the show actually did very competent structural renovations and repairs, but the 'designer' had super niche tastes, so the family ended up repainting everything and throwing out all the decor to get the house ready for resale after having to act super happy for the cameras."
23. "My dad was asked to be on an episode of TLC's My Strange Addiction. He runs kind of a niche (small) business. And they were like, 'Hey, you're addicted to this right?' And he was like 'Um, no.' ... It was a honeybee business. They were hoping he was addicted to bee stings."
24. "Not me, but I bumped into someone who was on Property Brothers. According to them, the two brothers were only ever on site for the filming, they threw out/hauled away all their furniture and what it was replaced with was very pretty looking but hard and uncomfortable, bad quality (like had to be replaced within a year), impractical for the family, and the family could not get anything from before the makeover back that they wanted."
25. "My uncle was on one of those million dollar reality shows in LA. He absolutely was not a millionaire, just had a slight claim to fame making furniture out of airplane parts for rich people in the area. He already had a home he was quite happy with, but was invited by a producer friend to basically tour three different staged houses, 'pick' one, then have a barbecue at said house with his friends at the end."
26. "MTV's Made went to my high school the year after I graduated and made two episodes. One was about a guy I knew really well. His whole storyline was about how he’d never even been on a date before, when he’d actually dated my sister for two years before filming, and she was pretty crushed by it."
27. "I knew a guy pretty well who was on Millionaire Matchmaker. Spoiler: He was not a millionaire. He drove a nice car and owned his own business but lived in an apartment with a roommate. They filmed him in his apartment parking garage pretending all the nice cars were his. He was always about the smoke and mirrors for self-promotion and it worked. Never seen anyone so unashamed to lie and cheat."
You can read the full thread of responses on Reddit.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.