House Hunters is an HGTV staple where homebuyers are shown three potential houses in the hopes of finding their dream home. Or at least that's what we've been led to believe. In reality, most of the couples have already decided on their home before filming begins, meaning that two of the three houses they see were never actually in the running.
Britain's Got Talent
Surely a talent show can't be faked--it relies on the brutal impartiality of merit, right? Well it turns out that producers for Britain's Got Talent (and many other similar shows) aren't look for skill as much as they are looking for a contestant sob story to spin into ratings gold. Numerous former participants have said their time was cut short on the show because they didn't have the right "image."
We're not sure why, but the Amish are having a moment in reality television. But as hardworking and honest as the Amish might be, their reality shows are just as fake. Case in point: Breaking Amish. While the show allegedly follows five Amish people as they experience the outside world for the first time, several cast members had already left the Amish community years before the show began.
Sure, the stars and shop featured in Pawn Stars are completely real, but the day-to-day business of the shop is completely unrealistic. In reality, the main cast only appraises in private rooms, never at the counter. And why would they? They're TV stars!
The Simple Life
Believe it or not, Paris Hilton is not the ditzy blonde that her reality show, The Simple Life, made her out to be. According to the hotel heiress, producers heavily encouraged her to act like a dumb troublemaker--and she happily obliged.
Catfish is a reality show where people confront their online lovers in real person, and most of the time that online persona is drastically different than who they really are. And this is one reality show that, by design of the entertainment industry, must be fake. You've got to sign waivers to have your face shown on TV, and yet none of the catfish have their faces blurred out. These aren't surprise confrontations; they're highly planned (and sometimes) scripted.
Naked and Afraid
We're honestly kind of glad that Naked and Afraid isn't as real as it might seem. The premise is a harrowing one--two strangers are dropped in the middle of nowhere completely naked and without supplies, and they're expected to survive 21 days. How has no one died on this show yet? It's probably because, behind the scenes, producers give contestants amenities they wouldn't otherwise find, including medication and hygiene products.
The Real Housewives of...Anywhere
The Real Housewives is a reality show series that chronicles the "exciting" lives of wealthy socialites across the country. While there have been a number of deviously wonderful fights and blow ups that seemed raw and authentic, they're all a ruse for the most part. According to folks who have seen them taping in the streets, the whole thing functions more like a movie set than a documentary--multiple takes and all.
According to what we see on TV, The Voice is a competition reality show where unknown singers compete to be coached by pop stars and are judged by their voices only. In reality, this seemingly inspirational is much more scripted. According to one musician who was asked to participate, everything is pre-scripted--including who makes the cut and what songs they sing.
If the name Amish Mafia doesn't scream "fake" we don't know what does. Allegedly this reality show followed a group of Mafioso-style Amish men who protected business in their community. In reality, it was a show about (mostly) non-Amish men doing...something? Both the local police and the show itself have gone on the record saying there is no such thing as the Amish mafia.
Storage Wars is a reality show that is so fake that it got sued by a former star for being so. While the show presents itself as documenting auctions for abadoned storage spaces, the truth is a little more complicated. While people do compete to buy the contents of these spaces, producers allegedly plant unique or valuable items themselves.
Pawn Queens was a one-season reality show about two women following their dreams of opening a pawn shop. In reality, no one had any pawn-based aspirations. One of the show's main stars said that when she auditioned, it was blind--she had no idea what the show was for. Producers created an entirely fake backstory for the woman, who was not a pawn shop owner, but rather, a dental hygenist.
Love Island was like Survivor, except contestants were just as interested in hooking up as they were winning that cash prize. However, nothing about the show, including its "intimate moments" was remotely real. Contestants claim that they would have to shoot five to ten takes of them "doing the deed" so that producers could choose the most exciting one.
Alaskan Bush People
Alaskan Bush People was nothing more than a shameless rip-off of Duck Dynasty. And like the original, the imitation was just as fake. According to the show, these "bush people" were living off the grid far away from civilization. Turns out that "off the grid" means living right down the road from a pizza place and spending plenty of time in hotels when not filming.
Love It or List It
Love It or List It is a show where homeowners are torn between renovating their home or selling it and finding a new one. So, the show does both for them, and then they have to choose. While that decision might sound agonizing, it's also totally fake. According to the relative of one contestant, they film both a "love it" and a "list it" ending and decide which one works best. His aunt and uncle's episode ended with a "list it", but in reality, the couple is still enjoying their home to this day.
Are ghosts real? We're not sure, but one thing is certain--Ghost Hunters is a fake reality TV show. It would be one thing if the stars and producers actually believed they were searching for souls beyond the grave, but according to one former worker, no one on set made any attempt to hide that the entire show was a sham.
American Idol isn't totally fake, per se, but there is lots more going on behind the scenes than what makes it to TV. According to what we see on the show, singing hopefuls line up around the block waiting for their turn to perform for the celebrity judges. But that's not how it works at all. Contestants have to make it through several rounds before with talent scouts and producers before they get a chance to sing for the big dogs.
Fixer Upper is a home renovation show featuring real-life couple Chip and Joanna Gaines. While homeowners on this show do end up with a beautifully renovated and decorated home at the end of the process, it comes with a price tag. Any furniture or other decor the duo uses in their design has to be paid for by the homeowner. If they can't or don't pay up, all of that stuff goes away once the cameras stop rolling.
RuPaul's Drag Race
According to one former contestant on the show RuPaul's Drag Race, producers aren't just selectively editing things contestants say--they're actively trying to get them to say dumb or controversial things. And you know all those hilarious one-liners the judges have as the contestants walk down the runway? They've all got earpieces with producers feeding them lines!
Project Runway was a Bravo reality show (miss me with that Lifetime garbage) that featured aspiring fashion designers competing for a cash prize and the chance to show their creations at New York fashion week. On camera, we'd see the three finalists' runway shows at Fashion Week, but in reality upwards of five or six contestants would actually present collections in order to prevent spoilers from filming. That's an understandable precaution, but it really makes the opportunity feel like less of an honor.
Sure, the cast members of Jersey Shore are fake in the sense that they are shallow, self-involved people, but the show itself is also pretty fake. All those randos they bring back to the house to smush? They're not so random as they seem--everyone is thoroughly vetted before they get in. However, we can say with confidence that the season 1 scene where Snooki takes a punch to the face is completely real--and quite possibly the best moment of reality TV ever.
Long Island Medium
This one really should be a no-brainer. A reality show about a so-called psychic is fake? Color us surprised. While there might not be much deceptive editing going on, the entire psychic reading premise is a sham, which makes Long Island Medium one of the fakest reality shows out there.
Keeping Up with the Kardashians
What's real and what's fake when it comes to the carnival sideshow that is the Kardashians? It's hard to say, but numerous sources have asserted that much of the drama on-screen and on social media is done purely for ratings.
The guys of Duck Dynasty might seem like wild men, but if you look at photos of the family from before the show, they all appear to be clean-cut Southern gentleman. The look and personality is all an act. Although in their defense, if I had to choose a new on-screen persona, I would pick feral swamp person too.
The cakes featured on Cake Boss are real, but how they get made is totally not. On screen, it seems like customers give star baker Buddy Valastro free creative reign to create their cakes. But in reality, they have ideas in mind and their orders are actually very detailed. And considering how much these novelty cakes cost, I don't blame them.
The Hills was an MTV reality show always plauged by accusations of being totally scripted. And after the stars' contracts expired, they let the world know that was exactly the case.
What Not to Wear
What Not to Wear was a TLC reality show where a lucky person was given $5000 to spend on a completely new wardrobe--all with the help of professional stylists. This sounds like an amazing opportunity, but in reality, being on this show was much less glamorous. Contestants were often encouraged not to spend their entire sum because they were personally responsible for paying sales tax. Additionally, some contestants have said they were responsible for the cost of hairstyling and tailoring their new clothes.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition featured deserving families who were desperate for a home upgrade to meet their needs. Their stories were touching, and for the most part, what we saw on TV was what really happened: construction crews built them new homes in the span of a week. However, once cameras stopped rolling, it wasn't happily ever after for the families. Many found themselves unable to afford property taxes and utilities after renovations and were forced to sell their dream homes.
Pimp My Ride
Pimp My Ride took old, dilapidated cars and turned them into virtual works of art. No expense or unnecessary addition was spared in the quest of creating unique and unbelievable cars for regular people. However, once cameras stopped rolling, the cars stopped looking so amazing. Some former contestants have said that lots of car additions had to be removed after filming for safety reasons and that often, the upgrades didn't address underlying mechanical issues with the cars.
The Joe Schmo Show
The Joe Schmo Show was fake reality TV in the best way possible--everyone except for the show's oblivious star was an actor playing a part. Seeing this poor "schmo" suffer the ups and downs of fake reality drama was captivating in a way that most shows can only wish they could be. Interestingly, the first season featured a then-unknown Kristen Wiig as one of the fake contestants.