I was once in the background for a filming of MTV’s seminal hit program Yo Momma! My friend was on the show and I got to be in the surrounding crowd going “Oh SH$T!” and “AHHHHH!” every time someone made a sweet burn against the other person’s mother. The contestants would have their jokes on paper and memorize two lines then the cameras would roll and they would go at it. Nothing too special but I do remember it was cold as hell and we were out there way too long for it to be a seven minute segment on a terrible TV show. Below are some other stories from reality show participants on Reddit about what was really going on behind the scenes.

1. Wait, It’s Not All 100% Real!

My family won a kitchen makeover from the Martha Stewart show. They said they sent us on vacation for the last week of construction but in reality we stayed home and ate in our basement the whole time. They filmed us driving up the street, had us change our shirts and then filmed us “getting back back from the airport.” Can’t complain though, the kitchen was nice.

2. Sometimes They Just Add a Little Extra Polish

I was on American Ninja Warrior. The crowd reactions are often from different runs/times, the crowd noise may be doctored here and there, the order of the runs may be changed, and the commentary may be re-dubbed, but that’s all minor TV-stuff that’s expected. Everyone that worked on the show was incredibly nice. It’s clearly a TV show more than a pure athletic competition, but that doesn’t detract from it in anyway.

3. Can’t Change Everything About the Contestants

My high school was on a couple of episodes of MTV Made. The girl wanted to be prom queen. MTV put on a shitload of different events in her name to encourage us to vote for her. What MTV didn’t show was that the reason she was unpopular wasn’t because she was overweight or in the band or anything, though both were true. She was unpopular because she was insanely rude. Needless to say, she did not win prom queen. To their credit, the show didn’t try to re-shoot it to make it look like she won or anything.

4. Judge Judy Sounds Awesome

I was on Judge Judy back in 2010. Our case was real and handpicked by the production team. We had to pull the case from real court in order to go on her show. The decision of who “wins and loses” is made up before you even walk into the courtroom set. The audience is all actors paid to sit there. Judge was wearing jeans and slippers under her robe. Also, she’s incredibly quiet in real life. I had to really strain to hear her. All in all, I got a paid three-day vacation to LA and stayed in a decent hotel. And when I “lost” the show paid the other guy for me.

5. Sounds Like It’s Better for the Neighbors

Did the Home Makeover show. The neighbors make out great. Some of the neighbors were sent away on trips so we could take over their yards for storage and setting up a cabinet shop. They also received free furniture. And the surrounding neighborhood can go to the hospitality area and eat free food. But the construction is horrible. They used leaf blowers and hair dryers to get the joint compound to dry faster. After the show aired, the bed that could lower into the floor was permanently disabled because someone could get crushed under it. The house was robbed a week after the show aired.

6. Hardcore Pawn? More Like Hardcore BS!

I live near Detroit and had an old ozone-generating air purifier called a Homozone for sale on Craigslist that I had picked up at a garage sale. I got a call from a production company in California that asked if I would be interested in appearing on Hardcore Pawn for a chance to sell my item. They offered me $50 for my appearance and I could keep any money that was offered by the shop. The place was packed because they shoot the whole season in a couple days then fly back to California. After awhile, I was called up by one of the assistants and they brought me to the counter where the main guy, Les Gold, was standing. Once the introductions were out of the way, the cameras go on and he put on his TV character. He seemed like a real nice guy when we were talking but a little sleezy when “in character.” He made me an offer for $5 and I turned it down then went on my way with the $50 from the production company.

7. Lifelong Friendships are Made

I was on a Canadian show called Trading Places. My wife, our two kids, and I swapped lives with another family on the other side of Canada for a week. It was actually a pretty cool experience. The producers set up a number of activities with the idea of creating watchable TV but in the end everything was pretty authentic. For one activity I was entered into a cycle-cross race and the idea was that I was to only do one or two laps… just enough to grab some footage, but I actually kept going and finished the race and beat two of the other racers! The other family is absolutely awesome. After the show we met up and have actually stayed in touch ever since. They even came for a visit last summer!

8. The Hunt is Already Over

I was on an episode House Hunters. It’s pretty made up and scripted. They try to make the show look like a “recreation” of you buying a home. In reality, the houses you see you aren’t even considering for purchase, as you have already purchased the house you “buy” at the end of the show. When you are “considering” the other homes, and even when talking about your own home on camera, you have to say things like, “Oh, I really like the fact that it has a pool.” Then the director will cut, and he will tell to say something like, “I just HATE pools, they are so much maintenance.” They want positive and negative about every little thing, so that the production studios back in NYC can piece together whatever story is most compelling.

9. Not Sure What the Appeal of This Show is Anyways

My old manager owned the storage facility that was on one of the really early episodes of Storage Wars. The producers come onto the facility, buy out the units, then proceed to plant “valuables” in some of them and weird creepy garbage in others. None of the lucky finds these weirdos get on the show are found by chance, they’re all plants. What’s sad is people think these sudden storage jackpots are real and are trying the real deal, usually shelling out hundreds of dollars for a unit that only has a moldy mattress and crusty 80s porn magazines.

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