Exposed: Reality Shows That Are Actually Fake
The truth is simple: Americans are obsessed with reality television. There's just something appealing about seeing the drama of real people's lives played out on screen. Of course, there’s one big problem: Most of the shows are totally fake.
Some shows are obviously scripted — they aren’t hard to spot — but others put on a good show and are a bit more difficult to call. Either way, reality shows continue to be one of America’s favorite pastimes — phony or not. Time to find out which shows are fake!
Keeping Up with the Kardashians
America seems to have an intense fascination with the Kardashian clan. Don’t believe it? Their super successful — completely fake — reality show is all the proof you need. The series has been on the E! cable network for more than a decade and is one of the longest running reality television series.
Ah, yes, the mother of all talent competition shows isn’t exactly what it seems. The singing show first premiered in 2001 and captivated audiences across the country (and beyond). It lasted for 15 seasons before cancellation and then was recently revived.
Hell's Kitchen is probably most known for the brutal and incredibly harsh honesty of its celebrity host, Gordon Ramsay. The series itself is a competition show with two teams of chefs competing against one another in hopes of winning a job as a head chef at a restaurant.
Say Yes to the Dress
Say Yes to the Dress is all about finding the perfect wedding dress. The reality series follows soon-to-be brides during all the joys and stresses of preparing for their wedding day. It’s mostly set at the Kleinfeld boutique in New York.
When the reality show Catfish first aired in 2012, online dating was becoming more popular, and people were fascinated by the concept of pretending to be someone else online. The show has continued to be popular and continued to expose the lies and dangers of online dating on camera.
Since Jersey Shore appeared on our screens in 2009, the cast has become infamous in dozens of ways and continue to remain in the spotlight and relevant in pop culture. We don't even associate Jersey Shore with an actual place anymore. Instead, it's that crazy show filled with tanning, hair gel and a lot of fighting.
The premise of Duck Dynasty might seem pretty random for a reality show, but the consistent fan base proved that people were indeed interested in watching a family with a thriving business based on products for duck hunters. Of course, the eccentric cast was the main attraction for viewers, but the interactions between cast members weren't completely authentic.
The Real Housewives
Watching the inner lives of wealthy housewives across the country might not be everyone's cup of tea, but for a lot of Americans, it's the perfect pastime. The Real Housewives is a media franchise that has now sparked numerous versions in multiple locations.
Considering that Survivor has been on television for what seems like forever, the show is obviously popular. Clearly, there's something about people fighting for their (game show) survival on a deserted island appeals to viewers’ primal instincts.
In Big Brother, a bunch of strangers are thrown in a house to compete for a cash prize. The audience gets to act as "Big Brother" and watch their lives 24/7. Yes, that's right, the cameras never stop rolling — at least, that's what they want viewers to believe.
The chaos on Dance Moms is entertaining and evidently addictive. It's now in its eighth season and follows the training and careers of children in the dance world as well as the interactions between their confrontational — did anyone say crazy? — mothers.
The Jerry Springer Show
If you thought The Jerry Springer Show was real, then the rest of this list must have come as a complete shock to you. This scripted reality talk show was on the air for nearly 30 years and was infamous for its over-the-top fights and ridiculous drama.
90 Day Fiancé
90 Day Fiancé is a pretty wild concept for a reality show. It follows the lives of people who have fallen in love with people outside of U.S. and must apply for a K-1 visa. The purpose is to document the couples' lives for 90 days to see if they end up marrying each other before the visa expires.
Wife Swap was definitely a favorite among reality TV fans, even sparking spin-offs like Celebrity Wife Swap. In the series, two families from completely different backgrounds swap wives for two weeks, causing mayhem among the husbands and children.
Dancing with the Stars
There's no denying that Dancing with the Stars is a classic favorite. It's got celebs, professional dancers and British accents — how could it not be legit? Well, it looks as though the amazing dancing might be one of the only real aspects of the show. (Hey, that is the most important part, right?)
Pimp My Ride
Now, this is what we call a throwback. Pimp My Ride was one of the most popular reality shows in its prime. Fans loved seeing the transformation of a plain, raggedy car to a brand new pimped out ride. The fact that the host was rapper Xzibit made the show that much more legit — or so you thought.
The Biggest Loser
Okay, this one hurts a little bit. The Biggest Loser is a super popular competition show with overweight contestants competing for a cash prize by training to lose weight each week. Undoubtedly, the best part of the show is watching the contestants’ journey from the beginning until the finale.
Project Runway seems like an authentic reality show. It's very popular for those who are fascinated by the world of fashion. The show documents numerous competitions where the contestants must create their own original designs, restricted by time, materials and themes.
Storage Wars follows a group of bidders looking to win big by purchasing abandoned storage units. Each of the bidders only gets to take a peek at the unit before deciding if they want to bid on it or not. Sometimes, a unit is worth thousands; other times, it ends up being completely worthless.
The premise behind Restaurant Stakeout is to expose bad service workers at restaurants at the request of each restaurant's owner. The scripted series follows restaurateur Willie Degel as he installs hidden cameras in different locations to figure out why a restaurant is doing poorly.
Last Comic Standing
Unfortunately, Last Comic Standing isn't on the air anymore, but during its nine seasons, it prided itself on discovering unknown talent and awarding the deserving winner with both exposure and a cash prize. The series was yet another talent competition, except this time it wasn't singers or dancers — it was comedians.
Undercover Boss is another reality show that involves money and business, but the twist is that bosses go undercover as entry-level employees in order to find issues within their company. Lies and deceit seem to be the underlying basis of the show, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the series itself is totally fake.
The debate about whether ghosts are real or not has been a topic of discussion for decades, so a reality show like Ghost Hunters was destined to achieve high ratings. It follows a pair of plumbers who act as ghostbusters for clients who claim to have paranormal occurrences in their homes.
You might be wondering how an innocent, drama-free show like Cupcake Wars could be included on this list of fake reality shows, but even a simple show like this is never as sweet as it seems. The show starts with four contestants hailing from bakeries all over the world who go through several rounds of competitive cupcake making.
Britain's Got Talent
If you've seen America's Got Talent, then you already have a good idea how Britain's Got Talent works. The infamous "mean" judge on American Idol — i.e. Simon Cowell — created the show, but it was all proven to be fake in a very public scandal back in 2015.
House makeover shows are pretty popular among reality TV fans. Apparently, everyone secretly wishes it was their house getting completely re-done or at least fixed up. Well, it turns out that the homeowners on the show aren't really getting the fixer-upper the show leads us all to believe.
Apparently, the ins and outs of pawning items is fascinating to the American population, considering Pawn Stars quickly became the highest rated show on its network and the No. 2 reality show behind Jersey Shore. The premise is pretty simple: You watch the interactions between staff and customers who are selling and pawning different items.
Before he became the President of the United States, Donald Trump was the star of the reality business show The Apprentice. The series basically shows a number of contestants competing for a spot in Trump's company, which none of them ever actually win.
It seems like Teen Mom has been on TV forever, but that's simply because people love to see the drama-filled lives of pregnant teenagers. Weird, right? It's actually a spin-off of the popular reality show 16 and Pregnant and shows the lives of the teens after they give birth.
The Hills actually decided to do things a little differently by outing itself as yet another fake reality series. In its dramatic finale, Brody Jenner stands on a Hollywood set with the cast and crew rolling back the entire set in the closing scene, creating a deliberately dramatic response.