Image by Dim Hou from Pixabay

Dating shows occupy such a strange space in the broad array of television. On one hand, everyone lampoons them as fake, drama-obsessed monstrosities that are a waste of time.


And yet, so many of us keep tuning in year after year.

So it goes without saying that plenty of us are rather curious about what exactly is real, what is fake, and what else is going on behind the scenes.

Thankfully, at least a few Reddit users are also former dating show contestents. And they were happy to oblige and share their experiences.

Redditor Fartfartfart69 asked:

"People who have appeared on dating shows (naked attraction, first dates), what's it like behind the cameras?"

Many people, of course, talked about how fake and scripted they were. But it was still interesting to learn how they went about the faking.

Good Practice

"I was an actor in the 90s/00s."

"Our agency supplied actors to dating shows. We had three people pretending to be in a love triangle, being sad and emotional and angry and whatever, and we watched a recording of it in our classes, including the three in question, laughing at the sheer... well, falsehood of it all. It was basically improv. I actually didn't know until then that the contestants were faked."

"I guess real people do apply, so perhaps they use a mixture of real applicants and stooges to pad out other episodes."

-- Woodcharles

Be Moody

"I don't speak Spanish fluently, but one time I appeared on 'Doce Corazones' (12 Hearts), which is a Spanish language romance show where a woman has to choose from 12 men to date. (Living in Southern California, where it's filmed, and a Spanish speaking friend of mine dragged me to the set when they had a last minute cancellation and needed someone to stand in lol.)"

"Anyway, the gimmick of the show is that each of the 12 guys has a different zodiac sign, and I guess that's part of the host / matchmaker's recommendation to the woman. I didn't really understand what was going on, but they didn't care what my actual birthday was. They just told me to pretend to be a Sagittarius for the show. I made it to the second round (the woman didn't kick me off immediately, much to my surprise lol)."

"When she asked me to describe myself, I just kind of said "you know, I'm a nice guy who likes having fun" or something ridiculous in my high school level Spanish. It was a silly but memorable experience. Wish I could find it on YouTube. It would have been 2005 or 2006."

-- Jscott1986

Perhaps Not Always Scripted?

"A girl I went to high school with was on Married At First Sight, and she said it was mostly scripted and edited to make her look super bad because people 'love the drama.' "

"Except, I couldn't tell it was edited. That's just how she was. Anyway, she's engaged again. So it obviously didn't make her look too bad."

-- UnsuspectingBaguette

A New Man

"Had a non-actor friend on MTVs 'Next' in the early 00's as one of the three suitors on the bus. I watched the episode and the banter didn't sound like him at all."

"I asked and he said 'every single word out of my mouth was scripted.' "

-- SaltedAndSmoked

Others discussed the less sexy aspect of life on the set of a dating show: the long, drawn out logistical requirements of putting together a network television show.

Long and Expensive

"A friend was on the Irish First Dates. She said everything took ages. They had to get there early and wait for hours to be called, they were told to take a toilet break during the date so they could be filmed phoning someone, this took a long time as they had to change microphones, afterwards they had to wait around to be filmed talking about the date. "

"They were given €20 towards the meal and had to pay the rest themselves. The taxi afterwards is just for filming purposes and drops them off round the corner, they have to make their own way home."

-- spodokomodo

Scheduling

"Not me, but my best friend was on First Dates (Dutch one). There was a lot of waiting, I think he was there for 4 hours in total. Had to eat a 3 course meal at 12 in the afternoon."

"What I thought was also funny was that the shot of them walking towards the restaurant is shot way before the actual date. So they are not walking towards their date, they just approach the restaurant and then go back to the waiting room."

-- Motherofdragons556

"Restaurant"

"I was at first dates (in the Netherlands) as a date for in background. You arrive at a large empty room with the rest of the background date people and then you have to sign some stuff. I couldn't wear color or a print, that was too much of a distraction, and the attention should be on the real participants."

"We saw the participants in the same empty room but we couldn't talk to them. Then we went to the restaurant, which was a small tv studio. It looks big on tv, but is was really small. There was no music at all, because they had to edit the footage later. They told us to speak loudly. The food was good and the waiters were really nice. (Sorry for any mistakes, English is not my first language)"

-- DeZilk

And some shared a few unexpected gems. After all, a reality television set is a workplace like any other: full of flaws, bad people, good people, and boredom.

On Call

"Good buddy of mine was on a Bachelorette style show. He was drunk most of time. They used the lavalier mics to have PAs restock whiskey and replace kegs more than they used it to record actual audio for the show."

"It was interesting to see parts of his 'story' being told as sweet and kind man, but as a good friend I could just see the drunk on his face on a lot of his dates/interactions. He ended up winning. They also NDA'd him to hell and he refused to talk about the show in any capacity until a year or so after it aired."

-- tdjustin

Gotta Pass the Time Somehow

"Crews bet on everything. If it's a competition in any way crews have money flying all around it. Only producers keep out of the betting rings."

"This goes for basically every reality show."

-- HammerheadMorty

Puppet Masters

"I got married in one of the first episodes of Don't Tell the Bride (I was the groom). The producers were f**king awful. Because it was the first season, they hadn't quite figured out the rules, what I could / couldn't do. They also lied to me on numerous occasions, manipulated things, tried to provoke me into angry outbursts on camera. I refused to play ball."

"I stayed calm but in truth it was the most stressful four weeks of my life. I lost a stone in weight over that period. The final edit was also full of lies and manipulation through editing. As it was a BBC production I had higher hopes, but it was a private production company who had zero ethics or duty of care. Would definitely not recommend it to anyone else."

-- TVnomics

At least now if you ever want to become a contestant, you know exactly what you're getting yourself into.

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