A&E is like so many other TV channels: a mix of home-brew broadcasting as well as a smattering of shows or series that they’ve picked up from other places. While they do send out certain shows, like Beyond Scared Straight, to various streaming sites, on the whole the content stays in the A&E sphere. When their channel is dedicated to being real, it’s no surprise that people start to take a closer look at the content. “Could it really all be real?” The viewers wonder, flicking through TV guides and pondering what to watch.
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but, no. Some of these A&E shows are more fake than others. But which ones are they? We’re here to help reveal the truth.
20 Fake: 60 Days In
This series is one that offers hours and hours of entertainment, assuming that you’re the type of person who finds the legal system interesting. Unfortunately, it’s not always the most honest. Cheat Sheet tells us that this show has had a few different red flags, including hiring an actor rather than a “real person”.
19 Fake: Duck Dynasty
If anyone doesn’t know about Duck Dynasty, it’s time they turned on the TV. This show has been going on for ages, and it’s turned into a real cultural phenomenon. While there were some questions at the beginning about whether this was a fake show, GQ’s interview told us that the clan is not exactly accurate to the way they’re portrayed.
18 Real: Born This Way
Rising from the TV sludge that is fake reality shows comes this heartwarming, passionate piece. Born This Way follows folks living with Down Syndrome as they pursue projects, people, and life. It’s all real (outside of the editing, of course) and we personally love the way that these folks approach each and every day.
17 Real: Hoarders (Unfortunately)
Here’s a show that we wish was fake. Unfortunately Hoarders is a reality TV show that is all too real. The people and their houses (or mountains) of stuff are really and truly being featured on these episodes. Those that go through the stuff are also real, and really do come across all the unfortunate things we see.
16 Fake: Storage Wars
Storage Wars is a show for those who want all the excitement of treasure hunting without any of the X-marks-the-spot adventuring. USAToday is pretty open in their descriptions of how and why Storage Wars was fake, or “rigged”, and it’s pretty undeniable. The proof is in the construction of the storage units, as well as the faux auctions.
15 Real: Dog The Bounty Hunter
We always thought that this show was fake, so imagine the surprise we got when Kiwi Report said that the show pretty much is real. Obviously there’s some secrets and drama which were heightened for the show, but on the whole the content (no matter how outrageous it seems to be) was actually all real!
14 Fake: Shipping Wars
If the first thing that came to your mind was, “who would watch a show about shipping stuff,” you’re seriously not alone. It seems like a stretch, and trust us: that’s because it is. The show takes a lot of liberties, and the characters are more heightened than they are real. Not to mention the usual rephrasing and drama building the producers do!
13 Fake: Neighbors With Benefits
If it sounds like something you don’t want your young kids watching, you’re probably on the right track of figuring out what this show is about. Folks who swing have been known to call out the show for its over dramatization and inaccurate representation, which puts this show firmly in the fake category.
12 Real: The First 48
For those that like cop dramas, get ready to binge this whole show. Reality Blurred even says that it’s real, though it’s obviously edited in order to fit into the TV time slot. For those unaware, The First 48 follows cops and detectives as they go through the first 48 hours of a (typically pretty intense) crime.
11 Fake: Paranormal State
Sorry, ghost lovers. The way that this show bills itself means that it’s not as honest and real as we might have thought it was. Sure, the tension building is fun, and it’s good for a scare every now and then, but Paranormal State is unfortunately fake. At least, according to most of us non-believers out there.
10 Fake: 8 Minutes
We’re digging way back into the archives for this show. 8 Minutes was a short-running series where a pastor had 8 minutes to try to turn around the lives of various down-and-out folks, mostly working in the “paid companionship” trade. Needless to say, it was definitely not as real (or as sensitive) as some of the other shows A&E has done.
9 Real: Live PD
IndieWire assures us that Live PD is real, and honestly, we’re not surprised. Live PD is a show that follows actual cops as they actually go on calls, and it’s the perfect blend of drama, tension, and real life stuff. We’re always surprised when the cop shows are reality, as often they’re so dramatic; maybe that proves life really is stranger than fiction.
8 Fake: American Hoggers
Seriously, did anyone think that this was real? Reality TV is pretty easy to spot. Take Survivor, for example. Yes, there’s some construction, but on the whole people really are stuck out in the wilderness. American Hoggers is the opposite. From the extensive makeup to the too convenient “twists”, this show seems pretty fake.
7 Real: Billy The Exterminator
The squeamish amongst us will probably have never watched this show. Honestly, we don’t blame you. Billy is a legitimate exterminator with a rather unique style. His passion for cleaning up infested places is real and palpable, and the work he’s doing is certainly helpful. We can’t say we love it, though.
6 Fake: Gene Simmons: Family Jewels
Oh, Gene Simmons. Family Jewels, a “reality” show, ran for a while, but after 7 seasons it seemed like it was time to end things. And a good idea, in our opinion. A&E has done interviews with the family where it seems like they really didn’t like the depiction of themselves on the show...leading us to believe that it was all fake.
5 Real (Kind Of): Beyond Scared Straight
This show is on Netflix and trust us when we say that we’ve watched more than we needed for the research purposes of this article. Reality Blurred mentions how, yes, Beyond Scared Straight is real. However, they aren’t just scaring kids. There’s counseling and help programs that go on behind the scenes, too (we just don’t see that).
4 Fake: Flip This House
From the budgets to the “impartial home owners” who are involved, Flip This House is one of those shows which seems to be anything but real. It feels like it should be similar to any other home reno show. However, that’s just not the case. While we can’t judge it too harshly, we can’t lump it in with the real ones.
3 Real: Parking Wars
Believe it or not, Parking Wars is a show that A&E says is real, which we actually could corroborate. Which means: yes. Parking Wars is a real reality show, with real parking drama, and real people getting tickets. Of all the shows A&E has produced, we couldn’t believe that this was the one which stuck to reality.
2 Fake: Flipping Vegas
Another home renovation show which doesn’t exactly fit the realism bill. The part that’s the most made up, though? Their relationships. Interviews have shown that the couple actually really love each other, rather than the vehement dislike they seem to spit at each other during the filming of the show.
1 Real: Scientology And The Aftermath
Regardless of what side of the controversy we fall on, this is a show which is absolutely real. Leah Remini is the focus of this documentary series which looks at the effects of Scientology. As well as the aftermath, as the name suggests. Trust us: it’s all real, and potentially one of the biggest surprises on this list.
Sources: gq.com, aetv.com, kiwireport.com, indiewire.com, cheatsheet.com, realityblurred.com, usatoday.com, thedailybeast.com