I'm sure most of you have spent some degree of time watching some ridiculous "reality" tv show at one point or another. Whether it was Survivor, Mountain Men, The Voice, or even some silly thing like The Jump. Either way, if you aren't an idiot, you might have thought about exactly how they go about shooting the show and how much is scripted.
Well, this article might not cover much about how obviously fake so much of "reality" tv is, but it definitely digs into how reality stars are treated on their shows. There are some crazy stories out there. That being said, these stars were never supposed to tell anyone about their experiences. Why? Because they signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
So, below are a bunch of confessions from some reality tv stars who decided it was more important to speak out and breach their NDAs and chance legal actions taken against them. Some people were trapped in their hotel room with no contact, some were coaxed into taking drugs...others weren't forced to drink but were offered tons of wine instead of food while on set. These don't all sound bad, but it all depends on where you are...
15 Chloe Dao - Project Runway
Chloe Dao appeared on Project Runway back in 2006 and walked away as the winner of the season. But that doesn't mean she had a great time while working on set. Apparently, contestant were all woken up at around 6 am every morning, and they would go about their interview, sewing, makeup, photo shoots, and more sewing all day and night. Then they would manage to be sent to bed at some ridiculous hour in the morning. “We would get to sleep at 1 to 3 a.m., and wake up again at 6 or 7.” Having only three hours to sleep when you've spent all day stressing, crying, and contorting yourself into crazy positions for the camera, I think it would make total sense to have a hissy fit every once in a while. Instead, Dao just decided to come out and share how poorly contestants were treated on the show.
14 Jen Yemola - Hell's Kitchen
“They locked me in a hotel room for three or four days,” says Jen Yemola who was a contestant in Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen. “They took all my books, my CDs, my phone, any newspapers. I was allowed to leave the room only with an escort. It was like I was in prison.” That's insane! Contestants were essentially trapped in their hotel rooms, unable to really do anything or communicate with anyone. They could only go somewhere if they had an escort. Otherwise, they couldn't even have any entertainment. The only thing they were allowed to do was stress out about what would happen once they were finally allowed in the kitchen. And given that so much of the cooking process in the "restaurant" of Hell's Kitchen is fake, I really wonder why they imprison contestants before the shooting begins.
13 Kai Hibbard - The Biggest Loser
I can totally believe how messed up a show like The Biggest Loser is. It is a "reality" tv show after all, so that means a ton of it is fake. Or is at least unhealthy. The level of unhealthy practice on this show is disgusting though. Contestant Kai Hibbard came out about the show, in spite of possible legal action to let us know that the producers encouraged purging, using diuretics, sweating off water-weight and so on. And when producers wanted contestants to retain weight, they would have them swallow teaspoons of baking soda to hold in the water weight. Her family had to hold an intervention to get Kai back on the right road. She developed an eating disorder, she had coffee in place of meals, and she was constantly anxious thanks to malnourishment and high caffeine intake.
12 Tina Hobley - The Jump
If you ever thought that The Jump looked like a really fun show where people did some crazy things on the snow and ice...well, you'd be half right. For many contestants, it was definitely not a fun time, but it was certainly crazy! Tina Hobley had a crazy experience during filming. "I haven’t been able to drive, dress, wash my hair or have a bath unaided since. My daughter has had to help me put my clothes on, and for months at a time I haven’t been able to take the kids to school, run errands or do any of the things I love like yoga, cycling or walking any kind of distance. I look at my body in a very different way now. I wouldn’t put it or my family through that trauma again." Why is this? Because she broke her arm, tore her rotator, dislocated her shoulder, and ruptured a ligament in her knee. Not many people hear this story though...
11 Kat Perkins - The Voice
"It was very abrupt...even with 'Blind Auditions,' you spend weeks [training] with them and they're gone. You can't call or text." Kat Perkins, once she got the boot on The Voice, was shocked at just how abrupt the ending of it all was. She partied at Blake Shelton's place, she could text any of the judges whenever she felt like it. They were always close, then suddenly there was nothing. There was a sense of betrayal she experienced. Everything seemed like such fun and it was all going great while she was still a part of the show...but it sort of seems like the judges just act like they're making friends. Once you're out, don't expect a Christmas card. Of course, the judges are always pretty damn busy, but you think they might care enough to give a nice send-off at least.
10 Diana Eng - Project Runway
Diana Eng was a contestant on Project Runway who was frequently downed by the 18 hour days that the producers made sure everyone suffered through. It's amazing to learn that producers on shows like Project Runway seem to think that the ratings will be higher the more the contestants suffer. The depressing part of that idea is that they're actually right! Eng recalls a time when the camera crew woke her up dark and early in the morning and scared the sh*t out of her. “One morning they scared me so bad I jumped and screamed,” Eng said. “They said that wasn’t good, so I had to pretend to wake up again.” That's incredible. They basically make their sleep-deprived contestants have a heart attack before saying that they ruined the shot and have to now pretend to wake up. They may as well have left the screaming wake up. It fits with the horror story the show seems to be.
9 Erica Rose - The Bachelor
I'm not sure how many of you here watch The Bachelor but there are some interesting stories that have come from behind-the-scenes and from behind NDAs. Erica Rose was a contestant on the show and recalls a party that happened when everyone first arrived. The party was 12 hours long! But before it could begin, the contestants all had to sit in vans for hours waiting for the crew to set up. Once they were released to go party there was plenty of wine, but hardly any food. Producers would even send trays of shots around the party to try and get contestants to be more...exciting for the camera. “If you combine no sleep with alcohol and no food, emotions are going to run high and people are going to be acting crazy,” is what Rose had to say about the experience.
8 Henry Conway - The Jump
I don't know if there has been a single season of The Jump that didn't end up having some pretty crazy injuries. On one season, Henry Conway seriously injured himself in a way that he has yet to fully recover. "Having been through it, I know how hard they push you – and it’s to a point where someone can do some serious damage. I am still very aware of my injury, three years on. When it’s cold I feel aching and pain, my left hand still feels very different to my right." Conway shattered a bone in his hand into seven pieces which had to be held together with three titanium screws. He came right out and just said it. "I can’t believe it’s still going on. It should be banned" Those are some fighting words when you've signed an NDA before production. But considering that his life is changed forever, I'm not surprised he decided to call the producers out anyway.
7 House Hunters - They Don't Hunt At All
If any of you have seen House Hunters you'll notice that the couples searching for houses always seem to turn down two or three places before they finally find the one that they really want. Did you ever wonder why that is? Well, a few contestant have come forward to inform us all that there is actually no hunt at all on the show. Couples are only considered to appear on the show if they already have closed a deal for a house. They then shoot the house that has already been bought. After they get the footage of the "new" house, they get the couple to contact friends nearby to see about using their homes as the "discarded" housing options. So, pretty well every part of this show is fake except for maybe the price that the couple paid for their original home that they needed to have already bought before they were allowed to go on the show and "hunt" for a house.
6 Vicci Martinez - The Voice
The Voice is not all fun and games like you might think. Sure, the contestants and the judges might get along well, and they might all be learning a thing or two about the business...but at what cost? Vicci Martinez lost quite a bit when she got selected to go on The Voice. Oh, yeah, that's another thing. Contestants don't apply. They're chosen for the show. “I was engaged to someone at the time and we had to break up because of [The Voice]. I had just bought a house in my hometown [Tacoma, Washington], and I actually just ended up giving the house away and staying in L.A.” Martinez essentially gave up her whole previous life in order to stay on the show. She didn't even win the season she was in any way so I wonder how much of a waste she thought it ended up being.
5 Jessica Cabo - Hell's Kitchen
“The only person I ever felt close to was the sound guy,” Cabo said, “because he was sticking a microphone up my shirt every day.” Why did she only feel even remotely close to only this guy? Because when not filming, contestants on Hell's Kitchen are basically held prisoner in their rooms. And when they're on set and preparing for the shoot, producers don't want anyone from the crew talking to them. Contestants have even witnessed producers giving crew members sh*t for speaking to the cooks. The reasoning behind this, Cabo discovered, is so that the level of anxiety and competitiveness is amplified. The cooks will be more anxious when no one is talking to them so they will either crack under pressure when on set, or they will shine and be total assholes about it.
4 Kelly Hyland - Dance Moms
I'm not sure if you've ever seen Dance Moms. I haven't, but I know enough about how girls are treated by their high-strung mothers when forced to do talent shows to know how awful this show must have been. In this case, though, the mother is almost the hero (besides the fact that she kept her daughters in the show). Abby Lee Miller was the big name on the show and she was sued by Hyland because her daughters were "subjected to abusive and unlawful working conditions." Miller apparently bullied everyone, tried to sexualize Hyland's daughters, tried to bite Hyland herself, and ever tried to hook up the Hyland girls with a choreographer who was a registered sex offender thanks to having child porn, and having sexually assaulted children in the past!
3 Frenchie Davis - The Voice
Frenchie Davis had originally competed on American Idol and then was scooped up to perform on The Voice as well. Not a bad deal. I'm sure she walked away with a decent amount of money between the two shows (even if she had no life while working on either). Aside from that, Davis found any sort of shaming by the judges regarding song choices a little ridiculous. Why is that, you might ask? “It’s always hysterical when the judges say, ‘I don’t think that was a good song choice for you,’ and I’m thinking, ‘You picked that song.’” That's right! You may not have known this, but the contestants don't get to choose their own songs. So, when Adam Levine or Miley Cyrus say that they didn't think the song worked for them...they had plenty of time to already know that because they picked the damned songs for them!
2 Suzanne Mendonca - The Biggest Loser
Alright, so...aside from being told to put on at least another 20 to 40 pounds in order to even appear on the show, Suzanne Mendonca did not exactly have an inspiring experience on The Biggest Loser. “Everybody thinks that the show gave wonderful tools they did not,” said Mendonca. “Bob Harper would tell me to eat 800 calories...they created eating disorders.” Yeah, the average person needs somewhere in the order of 1500-2000 calories per day, so recommending only 800 is asking a contestant to start on her way to becoming anorexic. It's amazing what producers will do for ratings. NBC put out a statement after Mendonca came out. “The safety and well being of our contestants is and has always been paramount. We prohibit the use of any illegal substances in addition to the many other rules and procedures of the show that are designed to ensure safety.” Clearly, that's bullsh*t.
1 Shark Tank - A Deal Isn't Always A Deal
There have been a number of entrepreneurs on Shark Tank who have come out to let us all know the truth about making a deal with the wealthy judges on the panel; the "sharks" as they're called. Apparently, when you score a deal with one or several of the judges, they typically don't end up happening. It seems that what happens on the show is just meant to make some contestants feel better about their pitch and to boost ratings by showing some support. However, once the cameras are off, and they talk more about the deals the sharks often decide to offer less money for more of a percentage or alter the deal in some other ridiculous way. Thankfully, when this happens, a good chunk of the contestants tell the judges to stick it, but don't think that your favorite business pitch on the show actually ends up with a sweet deal. They were probably screwed over.