When it comes to reality television shows that involve families and kids, we don’t spend a lot of time wondering whether or not they found any long-term solutions, or whether or not the experience might affect them going forward.
It makes sense that it would, though, because childhood is such a formative time. Anything “big” that happens to us then is likely to impact us later on, but how?
These kids, whose families were on reality shows like Supernanny and Wife Swap, talk about what the experiences meant for them.
1. This is all extremely icky.
I was on wifeswap when I was 11 or 12. The show gets hours of footage for 2 weeks and then puts in into a 1 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 1 or 2 cameras you often enter the same “scene” multiple times, so we actually met the swapped wife for the “first” time 3 times to get different angles.
They also often push the mom to make new rules based on the narrative they want to tell, and ask you questions that could fit that narrative. My family for example was portrayed as uneducated hicks that didn’t take work seriously. It always left a bad taste in my mouth and I think it hurt a lot of my self confidence in high school.
They also hired people to take care of the kids off set and the guy we had was borderline abusive and threatened to throw us in the snow banks when we weren’t quiet and often got too physical. There was little to no oversight on this.
2. Wait, what?
I was a competing realtor on million dollar listing for an episode.
I am not nor have I ever been a realtor.
3. True colors revealed.
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, like, 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.
4. At least something good came out of it.
I was on Kiesha’s Perfect Dress, a spin off of Say Yes to the Dress. My cousin was looking for her wedding dress. They would have her come out multiple times in the same dress to get different takes of our reactions. Would tell us to say mean things of we didnt like the dress.
I was one of the people who they did the one on one interview with and they pretty much made me seem obsessed with my cousins breasts looking large in the dress because I cracked one joke in the interview about her being flat chested.
She did end up buying her wedding dress from the show however and it was very beautiful.
5. A happy experience.
My family and our home were on that show “This Old House” in the late ’90s. Norm Abrahms was the host, and they picked our house because of my dad’s collection of Shaker furniture. The idea was that we gave him a tour of the house (while being filmed) and then he demonstrated to the camera how to make furniture like our.
Everything was 100% genuine. Norm and the crew were kind and super respectful to all of us. No second takes. When he explained to the camera how to build replicas of the Shaker furniture, it became apparent that he was a master woodworker. Before he left we all took photos together and he signed some stuff. It was a really special day.
That was right when reality TV was starting to pick up steam. MTV’s The Real World was big at the time. I don’t think Survivor had come out yet. That was the show that opened the floodgates.
6. Good for the kid, I suppose.
I worked with 2 people who were on Teen Mom (grandmother and granddaughter, obv the granddaughter was the Teen Mom)… they told me that the directors would intentionally set up stuff that would cause drama and then start filming.
For example, the directors had them go out to lunch and told the grandmother something she didn’t know yet and filmed their argument for drama, knowing she would get upset that the granddaughter hadn’t told her before (even though she was planning to).
Really dumb, unnecessary drama for TV, but apparently the baby got tons of scholarships and support from the show which is why they did it in the first place, so they said it was worth it.
7. Flat-out hilarious.
Jupiter Entertainment reenacts true stories for shows like For My Man, Vengeance, Fatal Attraction, Homicide Hunters, etc. Much of the acting is filmed with no sound because the voice-over will be explaining the story.
They have filmed many shows at my house. I usually hide in a corner of the kitchen & watch them film. I swear it’s more entertaining the the shows!
One scene had 2 men arguing over a woman. They really got into it with sweat & spittle flying. Then the woman walks down my hallway & confronts them. It’s a big scary screaming fight.Thing is, you don’t know what they are really saying.
Let me tell you, we were all nearly crying with laughter. It sounded something like this…
“What do you think your doing with my woman?” “What do ya mean your woman! I came here to eat some pizza!” “Well I’ll stuff this pizza up your __ ____and you’ll like it!” ” I hate pizza and you can’t make me! Besides that woman is preggers with my baby & we’re gonna name it pizza!” “You can’t do that because MY name is pizza you stupid pretty boy!” “I know I’m pretty! Do you want to go for pizza when this is over?” Woman walks up… “What the hell is the matter with you guys? My poor pizza baby has its feelings hurt because you don’t like it!” “That baby’s father is taco bell & not me! You’re gonna have a burrito, not a pizza!” “Waaaaaa! You are so mean! Can we have salad for dinner break? Oh wait, how about poke bowl? There’s a great place just a couple minutes from here!” “I think that’s a great idea because I hate pizza! ”
….and so on.
Vicious on camera, hilarious in real life!
8. It was a good try?
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. And they were like, well can you pretend to be addicted to this and you can be on the show? And he was like Um, no.
Edit: It was a honeybee business. They were hoping he was addicted to bee stings.
9. As long as he was happy.
A friend of a friend’s Mustang was in South Beach Tow.
The business (Tremont Towing I think) is a legit towing business.
One of the director’s came up to him and told him that his car was being towed for some infraction (it was the friend’s fault entirely so the towing business was in the right). But before that, he was told that if he agreed to be in the scene, they’ll have everything set up for his grand entrance and if he acted all surprised / make a scene, they’ll just give him back the car at the pound.
He himself didn’t agree to it because he didn’t want his face shown on TV, and the director was cool with it. He did allow the car to be in the scene though. On the flip of a switch, suddenly 2 actors came out of nowhere (a couple) and they filmed the scene. You had these 2 people freaking out about a Mustang being towed that wasn’t really theirs…
He thought it was hilarious.
Thankfully even though he didn’t agree to be in the scene, apparently he was so chill with the entire thing and with the crew that they just gave him his car back.
He calls it a win.
10. They need a lot of material to work with.
I was on the dating show “Elimidate”. It was setup to the point that the 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.”
I felt the final show edits were pretty accurate to the real life events though.
11. This is just funny.
When I was in Korea they wanted to film me (some random white guy) eating their traditional foods. They filmed my reaction but I really liked the food a lot.
They had me re-take it and pretend it was too spicy and gross so they could show that foreigners can’t handle it.
12. What was the point?
I was on a dog training tv show when I was 8-ish. The idea was that the dog trainer came in and helped our family integrate our new puppy into our household, to give us training tips and advice, etc.
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 also told us we had to get changed and pretend that he was visiting us 3 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 ‘3 months after’ shots and my family aren’t actors so our reactions were really fake.
One of the producers also made me say, ‘I love you, [dog’s name]!’ while hugging him for about 6 takes.
13. I think a lot of house-buying shows are like that.
I knew a girl who was on the Tiny Homes show with her mom.
She said they had already bought the tiny home, and the show set things up like they were looking at a bunch of others and picked that one.
14. That sounds like an interesting job.
I worked with a junk removal company for an episode of hoarders and it was actually 99% REAL.
The only thing that they would set up a couple times was if they opened a box and found something interesting off camera they would re-open it on camera and act like they just found it.
15. It just makes sense.
Homes Under the Hammer starts by filming the auction, asking for the buyer’s permission to film the property they just bought, and then go to the property for the “pre-auction visit”.
Which is the only sensible way to do it, really. Can you imagine them scouting properties before the auction, spending a few hours filming in them, and then finding out the new owners don’t want to be on the show after all?
16. This is cruel and unusual.
A class mate of mine was on my country’s Next Top Model. Before getting into the show she was asked what kind of hair she would never want to get, so that the producers know about it and not make her have it during the makeover episode. My classmate had long blonde hair which she really loved, so she said she doesn’t want them to cut her hair off and that she also hated strange unnatural colors like blue, pink etc.
Fast forward to the makeover episode. The hairstyling team comes in and finds her hair unfitting for a model, so she needs to get a makeover and guess what? Her makeover obviously consists of a pixie cut and green hair to make her look like a “punk fairy”.
My class mate cried throughout the entire process, so I guess the producers got the drama they wanted out of this.
17. So stinking sleazy.
There was a family in our neighborhood who was on a show here in Germany. 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.
18. I’m sorry, what? Ha!
My ex’s brother was on an old MTV show room raiders. It’s a show where a boy or girl gets to snoop around in 3 potential partners rooms to see if they like like based on their possessions in the room. Terrible concept.
The young lady looking around the room had 0 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?
19. You’ve gotta smile for the cameras.
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 renovation and repair type work but the ‘designer’ had super niche tastes so the family ended up repainting everything and pitching all the decorating aspects to get the house ready for resale after having to act super happy for the cameras.
20. I bet the kids had a good time.
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” that 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.
21. Please don’t be normal.
A girl I went to school with was on “My Super Sweet Sixteen”. She was always quiet but well-liked and the kids on that show were usually monsters so we were curious about 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 and 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.”
22. The face I am making right now.
It’s all so staged! When I was 14 in the UK I was walking the high street of the city I lived in and a woman approached me and my friends, she was from Channel 4 or something and she asked me, do you want to be on TV? I was like, not really and she proceeded to say I’d get 1000 (pounds) if I participated in a program called Worlds strictest parents.
I wasn’t doing anything bad at the time just shopping with friends. She went on to ask me and my friends, what’s the worst thing you ‘could’ do at school, would you throw a chair in the class or smoke a cigarette in the school bathroom for 1000 (pounds) – don’t know how to change the currency on my phone haha.
She kept pestering us about weather our parents would let us cause a ‘small’ amount of trouble at school for a payment.
One girl from my school must have later been approached by them as I saw her on the program a couple of years later acting like some crazy bad ass for the reels which is stupid as I never saw her acting like that in school before.
It actually went on to shape her life pretty bad as a quick google of her name brings up all these cringeworthy clips of her pretending to take drugs and shout abuse at people etc and from socials it seems to be a narrative that she took hold of and ran with after the show.
23. There has to be drama.
I had some friends on my super sweet sixteen. It’s been so long I remember there was a lot of misleading things done to invent drama.
One thing that does stick out to me is the sports car she was gifted was actually leased and she only drove it a few times including the time in the episode. Her parents used the car until the lease expired.
To be honest the parents were typically well reserved with their money and wanted their kid to work hard and her own stuff. The scenes of anger or outrage were out of character for the girls normal behavior.
24. None of it is real.
My friends parents were on worlds strictest parents.
They came to my house on 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.
25. It was no big deal.
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 my family and I 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 gameboy color for the week.
A few days in one of the crew members came in with my gameboy 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’.
To be honest not much has really changed in my life except getting snapchats of my 10 year old face when my friends catch the reruns. I’m open to any questions if anyone is curious.
26. I guess reality isn’t that interesting.
MTV’s “Made” came to our high school to turn two girls into each other.
One was portrayed as this artsy starlet who did musicals and show choir, and the other was portrayed as this sporty, fit, athletic girl.
The reality was both girls were into sports and the performing arts.
There you have it! It’s all pretty fascinating, really.
If you or someone you’re close to was on reality television, tell us about your experiences in the comments!