When it comes to reality television, people have come to an understanding that the majority of what they are watching is not going to be real. In fact, over the past few years, the entire concept of reality television has become a cheap form of entertainment that casual viewers understand is not real.
Who watches shows like Long Island Medium or Ghost Adventures and actually thinks that it is 100% real? Even the biggest hardcore fans of these shows know in the back of their minds that it is not fully real. They're mostly scripted to create a sense of drama and narrative that isn't authentic to real life. Some shows are mostly authentic but are edited to make things seem more dramatic to help with the ratings (60 Days In), while other shows are fake and do not even attempt to cover it up (Lizard Lick Towing).
But then there are moments on reality television that were real. Many of the times reality television shows were telling the truth, it was related to people with drug addictions, alcohol problems, or were competing for a lot of money.
Let's go back in time and find the 10 Things That Were Not Real On Reality Shows and 10 Things That Were.
20 Real: Jonny Fairplay's Tall Tales (Survivor)
One of the most memorable villains in Survivor history was a guy who did not win either of his two appearances. Jonny Fairplay participated in Survivor: Pearl Islands, the show's seventh season, and became one of the biggest stars of the show because of something he did that has never been done before, he lied about a family member's passing.
Before he started the taping, Jonny told a friend that if he was ever to invite a friend to the show, he wanted that friend to tell him his grandmother had passed. The lie was to gain sympathy from the other contestants and use that to his advantage without anyone being the wiser.
The lie was a ploy to help him win the overall game but was so real that not until he did a confessional did the production staff even know about the truth.
19 Not Real: Contestants On Cash Cab
Every popular reality show, no matter how real it seems, eventually gets exposed as a fraud in some way or another. The Discovery Channel's Cash Cab premiered back in 2005 and ran for seven years before it was surprisingly cancelled. They finally brought it back in 2017 and it continues to air today.
The show always felt as if it was the only real one left on reality television. The host, Ben Bailey, drives a cab around New York, picking up random people who end up becoming the contestants on the show, which occurs inside the cab as they drive to the rider's destination.
However, former contestants have spoken out about how they were duped into riding the cab by producers who made them think they were being brought to a reality game show. The cab picked up these pre-screened contestants and the game begins. The game is real but the fact that he picks up random people on the street is fake.
18 Real: Drinking Donkey Urine (Fear Factor)
Between 2001 and 2006, NBC's Fear Factor was a major hit show that kept pushing the envelopes every week. The stunts kept getting harder and harder, as the show was getting bigger and bigger. It had to be hard. It could not be easy for someone to win the money, they had to earn it. This eventually led to the show's downfall and cancellation. It would later return for a revival in 2011, which only lasted a few episodes.
One of the final episodes, which never aired, and was the main reason for the show's second cancellation, was when they attempted a stunt involving contestants having to drink donkey urine. After filming, the producers decided not to air it on NBC. The backlash led to the ending of the show as we knew it.
17 Not Real: Dance Moms Fighting One Another
As if you had no clue that reality TV was phony, Dance Moms takes it to a whole new level by staging, and choreographing, actual fights between the stage mom's on the show just to drum up some extra drama to help increase their ratings.
The show had several moments where mom's would get into one another's face, sometimes throwing down in a fight, leaving viewers to have something to tune in for each week. However, the moms would be filmed fighting for the cameras but were just doing it because they were asked to. Some of the show's cast has even talked about how they would "fight" and then be sitting around laughing about it off camera afterwards.
16 Real: Survivorman
As we have already mentioned, much of what you see on reality TV is fake. As the competition for ratings and advertising funds gets tougher and tougher, the producers for these reality shows are being forced into causing chaos on set in order to drum up some drama and bring in more viewers.
However, there is one show that is as real as anything on TV and that show is Survivorman. Survival expert Les Stroud heads off into the wilderness with a couple of cameras and only his knowledge and abilities to survive. He shows us how to survive and get through any scenario. The fact that he goes out alone, filming himself, and having no crew, makes him even more authentic.
15 Not Real: The Houses They Picked (House Hunters)
Every episode of House Hunters features a potential buyer traveling to three different locations, along with their real estate agent, looking for a house that they will have to decide on before the ending of the episode. It became very popular and many people started tuning in to see the houses people ended up deciding to purchase, in the most dramatic way possible.
However, it was eventually revealed that in order for the buyers to get on the show, they already have to be in escrow on the home that they eventually decide on buying. The other homes they look at were once previously choices of the buyers but were passed on. The reality about it is that all we are watching is a fake staging of buyer's looking at homes they have no care to buy before choosing the one they already own.
14 Real: Verne Troyer's Problem (The Surreal Life)
When VH1 debuted a new form of reality television show, The Surreal Life, viewers were instantly sucked into the drama and hijinks that goes down when you force a group of former celebrities to live with one another. The big draw of the show is that the celebrities are mostly has-beens and others we mostly had forgotten about over the years.
On the fourth season of The Surreal Life, Verne Troyer ends up giving viewers a side of him that they never expected. He became an international superstar after his role as Mini-Me on the film franchise Austin Powers. But his life was not as glamorous had we all had imagined and one night, we got to see his demons come out.
Verne was placed in his bed, and began to make noises that made everyone worried. He then woke up, got undressed, and hopped onto his scooter. He rode it into a corner and began peeing on the floor. The whole time, he was staring around the room, having no idea where he was or what he was doing.
13 Not Real: The Many Different Reshoots (Survivor)
For all the many great moments on CBS biggest reality TV hit show ever, Survivor, there was also a darker side of the show that not many people even knew about until quite recently.
Mark Burnett, the show's creator, openly admitted that they have had to bring in body doubles and even the original cast to different locations on the island to reshoot certain scenes in order to make them look more dramatic for television. This absolutely butchers the spirit of the show.
12 Real: Tyra Banks Meltdown (America's Next Top Model)
It has never happened before, and probably won't ever happen again, especially to Tyra Banks. But during America's Next Top Model's fourth season, Tyra surprised everyone by sending both of the bottom two girls home in a double elimination that was not expected by either of the girls.
However, Tiffany Richardson's response to being eliminated was met with laughter and blaming everyone else on the show as her excuse for being eliminated. She then tried to talk over Tyra Banks, as she was trying to help console her, and everything broke loose.
Tyra snapped and went off on Tiffany, not because she hated her, but because she loved her. It was done out of love like a mother scolding a child, which Tyra also explains. But it turned into a memorable moment that remains one of the greatest ever.
11 Not Real: Fan Voting (The Voice)
American Idol changed the landscape of what we considered reality television. It started a new phenomenon that the world was apparently super excited about... reality singing competitions.
NBC would eventually come up with an idea for a singing competition show that rivals American Idol's popularity called The Voice. This show has grown into one of the biggest on television and remains a staple of NBC's prime time lineup. But a contestant's contract got leaked to the media and revealed that the producers can override the fan voting, or the judges, at any time they see fit.
10 Real: William Hung's Audition (American Idol)
When Ricky Martin recorded an album in English, it became one of the best selling albums of all time. His self-titled album in 1999 featured the hit song, "Livin' la Vida Loca" and sold 15 million copies, worldwide. The next year, he released his second biggest single, "She Bangs" and that is where William Hung's career begins.
When William Hung decided to audition for American Idol in 2004, he chose to sing "She Bangs" and had no clue what would transpire because of it. He was so terrible at singing that it was hard not to like him. He was real, kind, and genuine. He gave it his best shot and walked away with his head held high.
He would turn into a superstar because of that audition and even release a couple studio albums, selling over 200,000 copies of his records, worldwide.
9 Not Real: Not So Spooky (Ghost Adventures)
Aaron Goodwin was a staple on the Travel Channel's hit show, Ghost Adventures. As one of the show's main stars, Aaron was always the guy holding the camera and finding himself in the most precarious of situations.
But after going on a rant during a popular podcast, he was fired from the show. His rant revealed just how fake the show was by discussing the phony EVP noises which the cast themselves provided and reshooting crew reactions if they original ones were not good enough to satisfy producers. He even claimed that they had to act out certain situations to make it seem worse than it was, or even real.
8 Real: Kourtney Kardashian Giving Birth (Keeping Up With The Kardashians)
Kourtney has always believed that if she was going to be on reality television, she is going to film everything, without any limits. This includes the birth of her children.
The moment we wanted to talk about was during Keeping Up With The Kardashians season four finale where she had them film the birth of her child. While in the act of labor, her son was half way out when she leaned forward and helped pull him out the rest of the way. It was surprising because not a single person was expecting it. She was so excited about her child that she could not help herself when she saw him and just had to pull him in.
7 Not Real: Best Items Were Staged (Storage Wars)
If you ever watched A&E's biggest hit show, Storage Wars, you would know why so many people enjoy it. It is an addictive reality show that pulls you in and forces you to watch episode after episode, looking to see what other cool stuff they can find.
But how many storage units can someone buy that ends up having some of these incredibly rare items? It always seemed as if the odds were horrible yet they kept pulling crazy things that helped grow the value of their units. Sadly, the Dave Hester lawsuit included claims that items were staged by production staff. A&E never denied it.
6 Real: The Snakes And Rats Story (Survivor: Borneo)
Survivor's success was partially because the show was an original idea. It was exciting to watch a show that put a group of people with all kinds of backgrounds together, on a deserted island, with nothing but rice and water to eat. They had to actually survive in order to win.
But during the show's epic finale, Susan Hawk, one of the show's final four contestants, stood up and made a speech that no one ever saw coming. She was part of the secret alliance that lasted until the final four contestants were left standing but came out and urged the voters to vote for the snake, Richard Hatch, over the rat, Kelly Wiglesworth, after giving a rousing speech about the reasons behind her thoughts.
This set the stage for the future of the show including all of the lying, cheating, and stealing that would happen between the contestants.
5 Not Real: Bear Grylls In The Wild (Man Vs. Wild)
When Bear Grylls heads out into the wilderness, he shows us many different ways to survive just about any environment, on any continent. He goes out there and spends a couple days in the wild, teaching us how to survive in any scenario by showing us what we can eat for protein, drink for health, and where to sleep to be safe.
His resume validated his expertise and he proved it by doing things such as wrestling gators, slaying snakes, drinking his own urine for nutrients, and even giving himself an enema to... well, let's just say you have to watch that episode.
But it turns out he did not always sleep in the wild and spent nights in hotels. He also had a crew with him that helped him accomplish some of these survival moments for the show. Although that part was fake, he was still doing all the stuff we saw him do, just not to the extent it is depicted.
4 Real: Susan Boyle's Audition (Britain's Got Talent)
Prior to auditioning for Britain's Got Talent, Susan Boyle was an unemployed 48-year old woman who lived with her cat, alone, in Glasgow, Scotland. But she had a talent that turned her into an international superstar, overnight.
By looks alone, when she approached the microphone, in front of 3,000 people, there were not many people who were expecting much from her. Even when she talked to the judges, it seemed as if she was not going to be around very long. But then she sang. She sang more beautifully, and more refined than anyone ever imagined. She was an instant star and she was as real as it comes.
3 Not Real: Pumpkin Spitting On New York (Flavor Of Love)
For years, reality television has had a list of greatest moments that really happened and one of the most famous happened on VH1's Flavor of Love.
When the show got down to the final three contestants, Flavor Flav had to eliminate someone and he decided to get rid of Pumpkin after his displeasure with her multiple appearances on other television shows. But when she was leaving the set, she turned around and spit right on New York's face causing an epic fight between the two ladies.
This classic fight was actually fake. It was later revealed that producers had told Pumpkin of her impending elimination beforehand and that she should spit on New York on her way out. The spit was even digitally enhanced to look authentic.
2 Real: Snooki Punched In The Face (Jersey Shore)
One of the most popular "fake" reality television shows ever had a few moments that were very real. The most famous moment was so real that MTV actually did not air the scene during the episode that it was filmed on.
That moment happened when Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi was accusing a guy of stealing her drinks. The two of them were at a bar, ordering drinks, when she started yelling at him about it. She never even touched him, she just got in his face about it and he responded with a shot to the jaw that has become legendary in reality television history.
1 Not Real: The Amish Paradise (Breaking Amish)
Some reality shows are so intriguing, we just cannot help but watch. When TLC's Breaking Amish came out, it did not take very long for the show to become a hit because it showed a group of Amish teenagers being introduced to the real world after giving up their Amish roots.
However, with many of these hit reality shows, they eventually turn into a scam because producers cannot help themselves and do anything they can to turn up the drama. As it turns out, almost all the people from the show had already left the Amish lifestyle years before the show was filmed. Although they came across as if they were brand new to the real world, they were pretending to be since they had already been out.