Are Reality Shows Real?


Lisa Alioto

18 August 2020 38 comments

I will admit that I am a big fan of a lot of different types of reality shows.   I will also admit that I am sometimes skeptical how real everything is that I am seeing.  Despite that, I still find myself drawn to them.  For hours….   And I’m definitely not alone in this.

Are They Scripted?

Yes.  No.  Maybe partially.   Do we care?   They still entertain us.  If they are not scripted, are the show’s participants asked to dramatize certain situations to make “better” television?   Television is, after all, all about the ratings.

Are the Participants Asked or Incented to “Play It Up?”

Lets also not forget that many participants do get paid to be on these shows.  And, many of these appearances often lead to fame in other ways so there certainly is an incentive to become quite the “character” on these shows.

Is it Just Good Editing?

Perhaps what we see is completely real but its the “drama” that comes from the editing of scenes.  Editing that makes some participants or scences more mysterious, dramatic, suspicious, and even explosive.  Lets be honest, the dramatic previews suck us into watching these shows to begin with and keep us watching past the commercials.

Editing is, after all, a key component to every type of television show.   Are the editors of reality television shows talented in a way that identifies the personalities of the people on these shows and exploits them in ways that through their craft they have honed to make real television amazing television?

Do We Care?

That’s an interesting question. Sometimes television is simply is easy way to turn our brains off and simply go into “robot-mode” and zone out.  It doesn’t take the mental energy of reading, something which we may have already been doing all day. In short, it’s an easy way to pass the time.  Also, it shows us a side of humanity we perhaps don’t ever see in our own lives so there’s a fascination to it.  So.. do we care?

What’s your Thoughts on Reality Television?

Do you watch it?  A lot? A little?  What do you belive?  Real, scripted, heavily edited or a bit of all of the above?   Does it matter?


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38 thoughts on “Are Reality Shows Real?

  1. I quite like watching a bit of reality TV. I used to enjoy The Hills and it took me years to realise that it was partially scripted. It doesn’t make me enjoy it any less though.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I am with you – if they are scripted a bit I still really enjoy them! (I like to think that they aren’t totally scripted though :-))

  2. I always was a bit confused my reality TV shows. My old science teacher was on the popular show “Come Dine With Me” and said they has to put on a bit of an act to stir things up a bit. Thanks for sharing!

    Em x

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Thanks for sharing that Em – that is interesting!

  3. I do realize a long time ago that many tv shows are partially scripted, to create fame or build rating. But I don’t really care as long as it can entertain me, give me a positive feeling and bring no harm to my brain 😀

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I hear you Merry – me too!

  4. I don’t really watch reality shows to be honest. Unless you count true crime documentaries. I always imagine they ask people to “play up” their emotions a bit…

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I suspect that is the case too Jennifer!

  5. I’m not a fan of reality tv because it simply doesn’t reflect reality and peddles a false idea/ideal to sell something that is often scripted or edited in a way to push a narrative. I tend to avoid them at all costs but can appreciate how entertaining some people find them.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Thanks for sharing Molly – I completely understand your viewpoint (even though I am a fan of so many of them). 🙂

  6. I hate reality TV shows, and they’re all fake in one way or another. The only way to see natural behaviour would be to film them without them knowing. But that’s not how it’s done

    1. Lisa Alioto

      That would definitely be true “reality” – but I agree, that won’t happen given consent issues, etc…

  7. I personally don’t mind if it’s a little scripted as long as I know whether the show is real or not before starting. A friend of a friend was on a reality show and they said they were told locations to be at and sometimes given a topic of conversation to talk about with certain people, but everything each person said was genuine but, of course, each show has a different setup x


    1. Lisa Alioto

      Very interesting – thanks for sharing Sophie!

  8. Wow, this is a fascinating topic! I’m not a huge fan of reality TV but there are so many subgenres that I can’t avoid it. Like Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares – is it 100% as shown? Probably not? As my husband always says – “if they knew he was coming, why didn’t they clean the kitchen?”

    I don’t think it matters if it’s scripted or not. It’s entertainment all the same. 🙂

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I completely agree Hayley – they always find a way to entertain us, completely real or not.

  9. We have watched some reality shows (American Idol, Face Off, etc.) and although they are entertaining we found many to be somewhat scripted to the point where you can’t believe choices judges make. We watched this flower piece contest one on Netflix and similar to the recent seasons of American Idol they seemed to push contestants through based on their circumstances rather than talent. Those aspects of reality shows make us stop watching.

    Interesting article!

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I can certainly see how that would turn you off to them! It loses it’s entertainment value if you can’t buy-into the program

  10. Wow! This is quite a thought provoking article. Reality shows are definitely not all real but few Lucky fellows surely benefit from these kind of shows, I guess. There’s so much that goes on behind the screen and who knows what’s real and what’s not.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I agree – it’s very hard to know what is real or scripted.

  11. Interesting thoughts! I’m not a big fan of TV or reality TV these days. Except for what is I suppose the ultimate reality TV – sports!

    On a side note – I feel that all of American politics is a poorly produced reality TV show right now. ??‍♀️

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I hadn’t thought of sports that way but that actually is the ultimate reality show – at least most sports 🙂

  12. I don’t watch a lot of reality TV but I do have to admit that I’m a huge Love Island fan. I think there’s definitely an element of scripting in reality TV shows but I also don’t really care because they’re so entertaining!

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I like Love Island too – looking forward to the new episodes coming up!

  13. When I was younger I used to be convinced they’re all real, now that I’m older I know huge aspects of them are not. But it doesn’t stop me from watching a reality TV shows, they’re made for entertainment and that’s what they do!

    Anika |

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I’m hooked on them too Anika! 🙂

  14. I don’t watch reality shows a lot, but they are entertaining I like it. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      You are welcome Lomash – thanks for stopping by!

  15. I’m not a fan of much reality TV, but definitely think it must be partially scripted! But as long as you’re enjoying it and not taking it too seriously, then it’s such a good form of entertainment!

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Agreed Becca 🙂

  16. Reality TV shows aren’t my cup of tea but it doesn’t mean I don’t watch snippets. Most of my friends are really into them and I would like to think that we do care.

    Sometimes, you could tell if a Reality TV show is scripted and that doesn’t sit too well with me. However, it is most probably the editing that makes it seem more of a certain way or pointing to a certain storyline. I’ve watched a fair amount of videos from Editing is Everything on Youtube to know.

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Interesting insights AJ – thanks for sharing!

  17. I love Reality shows and I know most of them are scripted. But its alright as long as i enjoy them i don’t mind it

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I am completely with you Alina! 🙂

  18. Totally agree with you! Reality shows are a good way to relax and enjoy your time spent watching TV!
    When I have time I do watch reality shows!

    1. Lisa Alioto

      I do too Bulgaria – probably too much but they are a bit addicting 🙂

  19. Reality TV is definitely my guilty pleasure, even if I’m certain a lot of it is scripted!

    ? Marissa Belle × ?

    1. Lisa Alioto

      Me too Marissa, me too!

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