Friday, December 10, 2010

How far would you go on reality TV?

Reality shows aren't real. I know because I used to help make them. I've sat in meetings where development executives would create plotlines long before the show was even cast. I watched as producers coached reality stars on what they were supposed to say and do in a scene. Nothing that you see on reality shows is completely organic, that would cost too much money.

Scenes have to be decorated and lit, stars have to be mic'd and made up, extras have to be cast and legally cleared. Reality shows are more like low-budget and loosely scripted sitcoms, with one very important distinction -- the characters are supposed to be portraying themselves.

Whereas your favorite soap opera star can murder off a lover in one episode, and still peacefully go grab coffee the next day without getting accused of being a killer, there is no line between the fake and real on reality shows. We the viewer are supposed to believe everything we see, and consequently a star's personal life is their profession. If something monumental happens, a burgeoning reality star must capitalize on the moment by leaking the news to top gossip blogs and selling an "exclusive" of the story to Us Weekly. Publicity stunts aren't just the norm, they're a requirement for reality TV stars.

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