People Who've Been On Reality Shows Describe The Aftermath

Tuning in for a reality show
Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

We've all seen an episode or two of at least one reality show, and we all vary in how entertained we are by these shows.

We can all understand that these shows are exaggerated for the sake of entertainment, but we have to wonder, what really goes on behind the curtain?

Curious, Redditor body_by_art asked:

"People who were on shows like 'Supernanny,' 'The World's Strictest Parents,' or 'Scared Straight!,' what was the experience like?"
"And what was the aftermath?"

Perpetuating Stereotypes

"I really dislike this ‘idiot dad’ narrative that a lot of media pushes. It’s sexist not only in that it says that men are stupid, but also in that it assumes women’s ‘place’ is managing the household."

- Reddit

For Health Benefits

"I'd like to contribute from a different show; hopefully someone sees this! My brother was on a show called 'Violent Children: Desperate Parents,' and honestly they were brilliant."

"I wasn't part of this whole experience because I was in University at the time, but my father and my brother both were in this show and the show staff was honestly brilliant."

"Here in the UK, especially Wales where my family lives, mental health is not really a thing the poor have access to and my family is definitely working class. This show gave my brother and my father access to mental healthcare they would have never been able to access themselves and made quite a large difference in both their lives."

"They continued to support my family for almost a year after filming with offers of more mental health help, and both my father and my brother are happier people today because of this."

"One thing I will say is the only reason we were featured on this show was out of pure desperation. There was basically no other way that my father could imagine getting help, given he'd spent almost eight years fighting with the NHS to get my brother psychological help, all to basically no avail."

"My family was made into entertainment for the masses so that we could access something fairly basic. Something about the whole experience doesn't sit right with me at all."

- kn100

Exaggerated to a Fault

"I'm a little bit late to this one, but my younger siblings, mother, and then stepfather were on a program in the UK called 'Mum's On Strike' in the mid-2000s."

"The premise was that the mother would be sick of doing everything around the house, and would be whisked away to a luxury spa for a weekend, leaving the clueless father in charge of trying to take care of the household duties."

"A lot of the conversations and scenarios were faked. I supposedly visited them for the weekend, but I did multiple different shoots across a few hours on the last day of filming, then went back home."

"They'd cause fights between the siblings by purposely creating situations where one was favored over the other, so the others would throw a tantrum."

"There was a shoot on location in our local town center, and they encouraged my little brother to run off into all sorts of different shops, causing hilarity as my stepfather tried chasing after him with two other children in tow."

"Mealtimes were a bit of a farce as well. As it was a weekend, my stepfather had to cook a traditional roast dinner. The production company intentionally supplied incorrect ingredients to make sure my stepfather looked like an idiot. They filmed my reaction to him trying to add beans to the roast a few different times, so they could pick the best one."

"In the end, after they'd got all the footage they wanted, they sent one of the production team out to the chippy to get us some actual edible food."

- Henry1691

No Air Time

"I was on 'Scared Straight,' and my episode never even aired because they only select a very small amount of footage to make it look a lot worse than it actually is. Most prisoners were pretty nice."

- franklinclinton1

Dramatic Transformations

"A classmate was on MTV's 'Made.' They came to my high school too and turned a classmate into prom queen. It wasn’t a stretch, she was naturally pretty but went back to her nerd look right after they left."

"It was crazy how MTV made it look like she had no friends when she actually had a huge group she’d hang out with all the time."

"They also made her love interest look like such a jerk when he was actually the nicest guy you’d ever meet."

"I haven’t believed reality TV since 2005. Still enjoy the ridiculousness of it sometimes."

- TheRealMrsNesbit

So Staged

"A friend of mine worked on 'Nanny 911' in NYC. Nothing on that show happened unless the producers okayed it. They would come up with scenarios and plot points to film."

"You don't just shoot TV shows like that and hope that something magical happens. They created every 'issue.'"

"Reality TV is not real."

"Also, the camera crew who worked on 'Nanny 911' also worked on other shows like 'Real Housewives of New York,' Kitchen Nightmares,' and 'Hell's Kitchen.' The film business is a very small world."

- Jonlife

Nothing Revelatory About It

"My friend was on 'Supernanny,' they don't actually do anything, it's just acting, he and his brother are still exactly the same as they were before."

- screamingXeagle

Breaking the Cycle

"Her techniques on 'Supernanny' (and, honestly, the children themselves) are never really the problem, it's the parents."

"She's not there long enough to break years of bad parenting habits. I imagine that a lot of the parents just revert right back to their old ways as soon as the camera crew packs up their stuff."

- xaviira

Safety Precautions

"One of my friends in grade school was on 'Nanny 911' as a kid (maybe around five years old)."

"There were a lot of kids in her family and one of the biggest problems the nanny had with their household was safety. She baby-proofed the entire house and lectured them on safety precautions they have to take in their lives to ensure that the children wouldn't get hurt."

"She even gave them all helmets to wear whenever they rode bikes or 4-wheelers."

"After she left, a lot of the safety precautions went out of the window, and later my friend told me that they still had the helmets but they were all sitting in a dusty corner."

- -k_d_t-

Scripting Matters

"I worked on 'Teen Mom' and saw how the process works. It’s mostly just the crew following the people around, letting them live their lives with the producer occasionally throwing in some talking points and guiding the 'talent' on what topics they need to touch on."

"But there was no actual scripting involved. There was way more emphasis on the editing if anything."

- TostitoNipples

Small World

"I lived in India. Once in my school when I was in sixth grade, these 'foreign kids' popped up with a bunch of cameramen and stuff. Speculation went wild. We thought our terrible principal probably wanted to create a 'cool' image for the school and was creating some kind of weird advertisement."

"Anyway, years later, I saw a YouTube clip by complete chance of 'The World's Strictest Parents.' It was my school and those exact kids! They had come to visit an Indian family, whose children went to my school."

"The episode was a lot of drama. The parents were kind of obnoxious, at least for the episode."

"However, the last I heard on asking a few friends was that those parents were fine and their children are doing reasonably well. Not sure about the 'foreign kids' who came."

"What a small world! Seems like ages ago."

- ReelWatt

Close to Home

"Like three years ago, I lived in a big 5-bedroom house with four other friends in college. The house was in an episode of 'Supernanny.' We found out because our nice neighbor literally gave us a signed headshot from Jo Frost as a gift out of the blue."

"He literally told us, 'I think y’all would like this more than me and get a kick out of it.'"

"It made our week and we found the episode online and watched it. I asked about the family to the neighbor as our house was rented out and owned by a property company."

"He told me after the show the parents fought all the time, lost all of their money due to 2008 crisis, and lost the house to foreclosure."

"The picture stayed on our mantle for three years and I thought about that family every time."

- Redditor deleted

Beyond Surreal

"My childhood home had been in a famous episode of a famous reality show. (I'd doxx myself if I said which.)"

"It was so odd watching it. It was filmed before we bought it and my parents remodeled it. So it was weird seeing how it looked when we first bought it. Seeing all the old stuff. And also my neighborhood. The outside of my best friend's house was also featured heavily in the episode."

"My parents loved pointing out bits they personally remodeled. 'I remember pulling that out!' and 'Ug, remember that awful wallpaper!' and that sort of thing."

"The funniest part was that they pretended a closet door was a bathroom door in the show. My parents actually built a bathroom there, before ever seeing the episode. So it was really head-spinning to see that."

- harpejist

The Dreaded Watch Party

"A coworker was featured on SuperNanny. They had a pretty good experience filming and were so excited for their show to air that they hosted a watch party."

"I’m sure you can imagine what’s next. The way the show was edited made the parents look SO bad (like, neglectful bad) and made the kids (who were pretty wild) look even worse."

"It ended up being a pretty awkward watch party."

- shan_diego

A Great Future

"I don't know if this counts but I was on an episode of 'MADE' on MTV (if anyone remembers that show)..."

"It was my senior year of high school, so about seven years ago. People gave me crap about it forever and still do. I was made into a 'screamo' singer, and the experience was interesting, to say the least."

"The money and flight/trip to NYC though at 17 years old made the whole embarrassment worth it. Plus, I work in the broadcast business now, so it really opened up a lot of doors and showed me a career I LOVE."

"Seeing kids now that were in my shoes, so fascinated by entertainment media, makes me so genuinely happy."


While everyone expects reality shows to be at least somewhat exaggerated, it's interesting to think about what goes on behind-the-scenes in order to make those dramatic scenes happen. Imagining someone acting completely out of character for the sake of a few scenes is particularly wild.

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