Is Your Favorite Reality Show Fake?

Operation Repo, or Operation Hippo?

Operation Repo, or Operation Hippo?

Ok, I’ll admit it. I watch Reality TV from time to time. I mean, after all, where else can you find desperate bimbos and shameless douchebags needlessly screaming at each other in order to resolve some issue that was created by the production staff of the show to make interesting television? I fondly remember the early days of COPS and Real World (what ever became of Puck, by the way?). I even jump on board to watch the first few episodes of American Idol every year when the crazy people sing. And yes, I was witness to probably the greatest season of Reality TV ever created, Surreal Life, season 2 (remember the first episode where Verne Troyer peed on the rug?). Yes, I have indulged and continue to consume Mark Burnett’s out-of-control creation that pretty much dominates modern television today.

Recently I have been watching some of the new reality shows and found myself staring in awe and amazement at what they were able to capture on tape. My first reaction was , “How did that just happen?” As the shows progressed I started thinking the forbidden, and by the end of each one I let out a scream of frustration and the following taboo words:  “This is so fake!”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. All reality shows are fake to some degree. Many scenes are instigated and controlled by story editors, who manipulate common folk and turn them into pseudo-actors. But this is just outright fraud that I’m talking about. Remember those “reenactments” from shows like Unsolved Mysteries, interspersed with commentary from the actual people involved? Well, that’s what they’re doing on these supposed “reality” shows nowadays, except the people involved are also taking part in the reenactments, and they’re playing it off as reality.

I first noticed this happening on Jerry Springer. While it seems impossible that the guests aren’t paid actors, but real specimens of American society’s dark side, it was Richard Dominick’s The Springer Hustle that so brilliantly revealed the degree to which guests were coached, coerced, and coaxed into “performing” on stage and elaborating their stories. No, the Springer show isn’t fake, but it’s not real either. At least it’s not trying to pretend to be a reality show, though.

The first show that I can, beyond a shred of doubt, proclaim to be fake (except that the reenactments are based on true stories), is Operation Repo (which is ironically broadcast on TruTV). While I don’t doubt that Luis ‘Lou’ Pizarro and his gang of repo dudes/dudettes are the real deal, it’s clear that filming of the actual repossessions are actually overly-dramatized reenactments. There is no other way that this kind of action could be happening to them on a regular basis and be caught on tape. One viewing of a single show is enough to convince me that these people have collected stories over the years and decided to make a TV show out of them. Of great concern to me (although I’m sure no one else cares) is that we don’t even know if the stories happened to the people on the show, or if they are collected from other sources. The worst case scenario would be that most of these stories aren’t even true, and they are created by a television writer who is probably an underpaid intern under the guise of “story editor”. Hey, wait a second. Wouldn’t that just mean that we’ve come back full circle to actually writing television shows again instead of relying on real people and real stories to provide us with entertainment? If so, I’m totally ok with that, as long as I’m told the stories aren’t real and the writers are getting paid. Neither of these things are happening.

This show is obviously the worst offender, and there are many more out there that are almost as bad. I specifically point my finger at Rehab:  Party at the Hard Rock Hotel (also suspiciously on TruTV), and any of the VH1 “Love” shows (Rock of Love, I Love NY, etc). While some elements of these shows are based on reality, the fights and confrontations are all staged and, in some cases, don’t even involve the people who were actually in the real fight (if there ever was a real fight). Half the time there is a huge build-up to something that looks like it’s going to be a fight, and then the situation is resolved without a confrontation. Apparently this disappointment makes you crave more action – like having a steak wafted under your nose and being fed carrots instead. 

There’s an interesting article that TIME ran about this phenomenon, and even though it’s a little outdated (2006), it reveals what’s really going on and why this continues to happen. The bottom line I guess is that studios don’t want to pay real actors or writers to do television because they have to hire union workers and pay more money. Those bastards have figured out how to make TV entertaining without spending big money by eliminating talent from the equation. At least the cameramen are safe, or at least until they can train a monkey to hold a video recorder.

The saddest news in all of this is that Americans absolutely love this format, and most people don’t even question whether what they are seeing is real or not. The shows are entertaining and people are fiercely loyal and identify with particular characters, despite the fact that they are really just underpaid actors whose lives are scripted for our amusement. Offices are still filled with mindless chatter about what happened to Spencer on The Hills last night, or whatever they’re talking about over there. Couples continue to gather around with their pets and children, eyes glued to the boob tube. Yes, it does seem like the television is a destructive force in society. It’s doing a great job at keeping you from getting up and doing something else that might be more interesting than watching teenagers get drunk and yell at each other, fat people hanging from ropes, or gangsters getting their rides repossessed. Sometimes I feel like Running Man is closer to reality than we think. What it’s not doing a great job of is fooling me into thinking that any of this crap is real. I guess reality isn’t actually all that interesting after all. America, you are being lied to again. Alas, I’m still waiting for the revolution.

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10 Responses to “Is Your Favorite Reality Show Fake?”

  1. blissbait Says:

    they’ve got to be fake
    and i hate that i watch them
    God help me…..i do! 🙂

    Thanks for Your post and Cheers!

  2. DeezNuttz Says:

    First of all, Operation Repo is fake! Second, who ever in thought it was a good idea to put that fat behemoth of a woman on TV should be black listed from anything that has to do with television, production and/or entertainment. There are transvestites that look better than that thing, TRANSVESTITES! ACTUAL MEN! Operation Hippo sucks.

    • XxXMadisonXxX Says:

      Actually whoever cast that repulsive woman is a genius…… she is so disgusting that I have to watch the show just to see her

      I’m actually so disgusted by her that I want to stare at her all day everyday and silently ask god: why? why god ? why?

  3. Donna Pollock Says:

    For all of you loud mouths out there talking smack about Sonia and her size should be ashamed of there self. If the good Lord wanted us to all be idiots like you guys who talk like that about people, he would have seen fit to make us all like you. I would bet all my money she would and could kick all of your asses at the same time. She is a COOL CHICK, and I enjoy the show. I’m a little bit in love with Lou, I think he is a hunk.

  4. olivia Says:

    God didn’t do that to her hair and eyebrows. We laugh at her hidious nails and and bad make-up.
    But hey I love her shes cool.

  5. Scot Flynn Says:

    I like where Fat Lou says, people are acting like idiot’s when they protest some Phonies taking there car, like they should be calm, cool and collected.LOL. I noticed in one episode Matt (BigMac) got knocked on his ass by some guy smaller than him, then he says, Well, I am 48, everyother time he laughs at the other people he takes, never mentions his age then……….LOL. And then there is Fat Sonia, the ugly creature who gets so jealous over Froyd looking at another woman, SorryI watch it even though it is Mostly phony

  6. Chandrani Says:

    These reality shows are not only fake but also got up.They even select the participants according to their whims & show the world that how fair they are by conducting fake auditions and advertise themselves as genuine in national television by celebrities who in turn charge a big chunk of money from the producers of these shows.So in order to recover the money they earn a huge amount of money from general public through SMSes.Ultimately we get fooled by their fake promises and dreams.They actually play with the sentiments of the common man.They know that public is a fool and they will get away with anything they do in the name of reality.

  7. Amanda Says:

    Whoever said that “Rehab” is scripted has obviously never been to Vegas or a pool party of that kind. That shit is unpredictable!
    I suggest you come and check it out…not talk about it from your couch!

  8. 2010 in review « cjonesplay's blog Says:

    […] The busiest day of the year was August 3rd with 562 views. The most popular post that day was Is Your Favorite Reality Show Fake?. […]

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