By Matt Morr
Reality television shows are some of the most popular television shows because of how dramatic and entertaining they are. Shows like “The Bachelor” and “The Jersey Shore” garnered many viewers because of those characteristics. They’re so dramatic and entertaining that they almost seem scripted… but are they? The simplest definition of a “reality show” is that it real, meaning that the producers aren’t intervening to create a story, and the cameramen and producers are just filming and letting the situations play themselves out. But it’s also been revealed that both a lot happens behind-the-scenes and afterward in the editing room to craft particular stories. Is it possible that reality shows are scripted? When I say scripted, I mean the contestants are specifically told what to do so the show can be even more dramatic than it already is. So, how much of reality shows is actually reality and how much is scripted or controlled?
Take “The Bachelor/The Bachelorette” for instance: How much of it is actually reality? Well, “The Bachelor” isn’t scripted, but it is choreographed sometimes. Martha Sorren, who wrote about this, said “Producers console contestants who want to leave, suggest topics of conversation during one-on-ones, and let people know which portion of the date is best for the heavy stuff they want to talk about.” Sometimes the producers will feed situations to the contestants, but whatever the outcome ends up being is completely in the hands of the people on the show. The producers actually do make sure that the contestants have no interaction when the cameras aren’t rolling to make everything as real as possible. This is a breath of fresh air knowing this because of how dramatic the show is. This season, Corrinne seems to have a headline every week on the tabloids and on social media. She told Nick (the bachelor) that she owned a multi-million dollar company even though she does not. Another example of Corrine’s heinous behavior was when she interrupted everyone at a cocktail party, then was mad when she got interrupted. Perhaps the most outlandish thing she did was when she missed the rose ceremony because she took a nap. She justified it by saying that it was ‘okay, because Michael Jordan and Abraham Lincoln took naps too.’ Yup! Whether it’s a surprise to you or not, she did not receive a rose just a couple weeks before the final episode. Her antics made her a mini-celebrity and it made me wonder how much of it was the producers and how much of it was just her insanity.
Corrinne’s mom was interviewed by TMZ recently, and she had some comments about both her daughter and the show. She says, “the model’s aggressive behavior is all for show. She decided either you are two people that get remembered — the winner or the villain. Just like Chad [Johnson] and a few others in the last [shows
].” She went on to say:
“She took it to the limits, most of it is fake. Even when she decided to lose the top she had cover-ups on. When she was in the trench coat she had a bathing suit. It was all for TV. Reality TV and TV is very fake and you have no idea what they have cut out.”
These are interesting points that Corrinne’s mother, Peri, makes. But does that mean it’s fake? Corrinne’s behavior wasn’t scripted by the producers of the show, but by herself to make her stand out and be remembered. And even what seemed bad on the show wasn’t necessarily bad, but rather a great editing job. The show’s editors created the illusion that Corrinne was being naughty, even when she wasn’t going as far as people thought. It wasn’t scripted, it was just edited. That means the situations played out as they did, but some parts were cut out to make it more dramatic. The situations remained the same, but the editing made it better, not fake.
After review, I’ve concluded that “The Bachelor” is NOT scripted, but it seems that way by the way the producers edit the show. The show is not meant to look scripted, but the editing makes it more fun to watch. That surprises me, as I really thought the producers had way more intervention than that.
What about one of the most influential reality shows, “The Jersey Shore?” Was this show scripted or was it just insane and maybe edited to make it seem even more dramatic? There has been skepticism that “The Jersey Shore” was scripted. An example of this occurring is when Snooki “crashed the cast’s Fiat Multipla into a police car. The car she hit was the team’s own protective police escort, and witnesses said that, oddly, there was a camera crew on the ground (in addition to the crew tailing the car) at the precise location the crash took place.” “They were traveling at a very slow speed and it looked like the car intentionally hit the police escort and then kept moving forward for no reason.” Another time when “The Jersey Shore” appeared scripted was when the cast was working at the pizzeria, O’Vesuvio’s. It was found out that the cast actually rented out the place for six weeks and any of the customers were hand-selected and had to sign an agreement. Even a clerk at a tobacco store down the street from O’Vesuvio’s said that he was told it would be closed to regular business for six weeks. MTV declined to comment on this, but they did suggest that certain elements of the show are “pre-arranged,” but “in general they are totally unscripted.”
One more example that I found comical was in a fight scene on “The Jers
ey Shore.” It appeared that the scene was filmed
in multiple takes because in one frame
J-Woww has white socks on her feet, and later in the scene, they are gone. This does not necessarily mean it was scripted (although it does appear that way), I jus
t found that funny.
Certainly there are some reality shows that are completely unscripted,
but shows like “The Bachelor” and “The Jersey Shore” seem too dramatic, which ultimately make them feel scripted. However, after reading multiple articles and sources, they are more real than I thought they were. There may be some points where producers suggest ideas or intervene to make scenes more intense or dramatic, but for the most part it’s real. “The Bachelor” especially surprised me because I couldn’t find much evidence of it being scripted. Is scripting reality shows a bad thing? Not at all, but calling it a reality show may be slightly false advertising if it’s not all reality. People crave drama and the producers know that. Nobody wants to watch a boring show and the more drama there is, the more viewers there will be. Producers giving input and tossing in situations just makes the show more entertaining. It doesn’t mean it’s scripted, it just means the show becomes more fun to watch.