TV game shows are fun because they are not just passive entertainment programs.
Home viewers can play along with the contestants and shout out answers in the hopes that the person they are rooting for can somehow channel your barking through the television screen.
You may not win the cash prize, but the adrenaline rush is a satisfactory equivalent for those living vicariously.
But what viewers are missing out on are the fascinating behind-the-scenes moments reserved for those who participate.
While I have not personally played on a game show or did reality TV, I have been in a live studio audience situation on various talk shows.
The excitement of being on a set is undeniably thrilling and dramatic.
Redditor u/olymp1a wondered about the experiences of former TV game show contestants and asked:
Wheel Of Weight
"I was on Wheel of Fortune. You have to get there at 5 AM where you draw straws with other contestants to decide when you will film. They film the entire week of episodes in 1 day. Pat Sajak is incredibly friendly and interacted with us on every break. The wheel is HEAVY."
"I was on Cash Cab. You can't just hail a cab in New York which turns out to be the Cash Cab. There is a vetting process, but you don't know you are going to be on the show so the reaction is genuine. Also, there is alot of awkward silence time while he is listening to the producer in his ear. There is a cameraman riding shotgun unseen on TV. The money he gives is prop money for TV. They mail you a check after the show airs. Ben Bailey was genuinely a nice guy."
A Priceless Experience
"I was in the audience at the price is right. You wait like 4+ hours just to get into the taping. They come by and give you a short interview to see if you are a good prospect to make it to contestant row. I was with a group of 4 and none of us made it. The studio audience is significantly smaller than it appears on tv. Drew Carey told jokes between filming. The set is tiny. The wheel is tiny. No secrets to reveal except that they must use some serious lenses and angles to make it appear bigger. It was a long day but it was a cool experience."
"They let the other girl in the Showcase Showdown (Price is Right) rebid after the audience booed her original bid (something silly low like $10,000). When it aired, they cut her original bid and showed only her second, winning bid. I lost."
"I remember seeing that in a Showcase on an episode but it was the exact opposite — she originally bid something insane like $73,000, then revised it to $40,000 or so; she was still incredibly off, as her showcase was less than $20,000. The other contestant bid $32,000 on a showcase that was less than half of that, so I think combined it was the worst Showcase I had ever watched."
A Generous Prize
"My teacher was on wheel of fortune Australia and he won a life supply of wd40. It turns out with average usage a can of wd40 lasts twenty years, so a life's supply is four cans."
"What an awful prize. Even if it was more than 4 cans, how is wd40 a game show prize? 'I won a car' 'I won $500' 'I won $100k' 'I won... some lubricant. And not the fun kind.'"
"When my wife was a kid she won a lifetime supply of butterfinger candy bars. It was 2 cases. Not the cardboard flats you can buy at bulk stores but 2 actual factory crates like a grocery store would get so several hundred candy bars. She said when she first got them she felt ripped off because while it was a lot, she was only a kid so there was no way it was a 'lifetime' supply."
"She made it thru half the first case before she started giving them away to anyone that would take them. By the end of the 2nd case she was throwing them away."
"Now as an adult several decades later, she still won't eat butterfingers. So I guess it really was all the butterfingers she would ever need for the rest of her life."
The Spectator And Fudge
"Was in the audience at a Food Network taping and Iron Chef America really is a 60-minute competition. That's not fudged. The judging on the other hand takes foreeeeever."
Failing On Purpose
"Was on a MTV game show called 'fist of zen' on MTV. Basically a group of people subjected to painful and nauseating tasks for cash. We won every round but the producer asked us to purposefully 'fail' one to change things up. Despite losing one round we were still paid the full prize money."
A "Horrible Experience"
"A work colleague of mine was one of the couples in married at first sight."
"She had a horrible experience, needed counseling afterwards and is still receiving an 'appearance fee' (read hush money) even though her season aired like 5 years ago."
"Her words: unReal may as well be a documentary."
Reasoning For Counseling Explained
"Mainly emotional fall out."
"Producers would extract personal info about the people being paired up prior to the coupling and then do the opposite for dramatic tension."
"So if you had someone that had been a victim of domestic violence in the past, they'd get paired with someone with a hot temper."
"Also, producers would leak information to others to set up a stand off. So perhaps one person might say something over drinks to another in confidence. The producers then take that and plant it with another person so that over dinner it comes out and drama ensues."
"And of course out of context filming to create the character tropes: the victim, the villain, the winner, etc.
"My work colleague had an irrelevant story about a past relationship come out during a group dinner and apparently it triggered a very angry response for the person she was paired with and for the rest of the season she was goaded by him and the producers."
"They also weren't too interested in her leaving mid way through, so kept stringing both people along to get what they needed on the contracted filming period."
"Unrelated to this, but channel 9 got into huge hot water on last years season of their renovation show the block after one contestant couple broke their NDA and exposed a bunch of stuff about the sh*t editing and poor treatment of contestants."
"Interestingly enough, a lot of the triggers that caused that have disappeared from this season."
"Edit: I won't be revealing the person, season, hints about this person."
Appointing A Villain
"My cousin was one of the contestants on My Kitchen Rules. She was targeted to be the 'evil' person for the season and it ruined her career for awhile after. This was nearly 10yr ago. A lot of people I talked to said they don't believe the producer edit it to purposely target one person and she must just be a nasty person. I couldn't believe people were that naive. There was a fair bit of drama around it all, not sure if anything came of it."
The Truth About Prizes
"I was a winner on The Price is Right. After the show, you're taken into a small room where you do paperwork. Some of the items that I won onscreen (iPads, movie tickets and snacks for a year) were instead awarded as the cash equivalent (I had no say in the matter). Also, contrary to popular belief, the contestant does not have the option to request money instead of specific prizes. The only choice you have is to outright decline any of the prizes."
"Edited to add: Winners of CBS game shows are not permitted to be contestants on CBS game shows for ten years. Former Price is Right winners may still attend a taping, but a big diagonal line is drawn through their name on their name tag."
"Yes the Millionaire set is small, worn-out and looks shoddy up close. It's in an island of light in a corner of a dark warehouse. But onTV it looks great, glamorous and shiny."
"My wife got a tattoo on a tattoo competition show. They gave her headphones to wear while she was being tattooed, but she wasn't allowed to actually plug them in and listen to music. Pure product placement lol"
"Other than that it was a really good experience! Producers worked with her for several weeks leading up to and made sure she got a tattoo subject and style that she wanted."
Once More With Feeling
"They tell the audience to clap and cheer and they film that to edit it in during appropriate events. If we didn't cheer or clap loud enough, they had us retake it. The same goes for grimaces/negative reactions and shock/surprise."
"I was on 'Who wants to be a millionaire', and its all scripted. The filming took half a day for 30 minutes of film. When you win the intro round, you are taken out to get your make up on, and then they instruct you how to act when you celebrate."
"The reason the audience is so completely useless (And why you see so many press wrong on obvious answers) is because 20-30% of the audience is friends and family to the other 7 contestants who are waiting for their turn. We spent two days in the studio, and if the initial contestant loses, the others get their chance. If one contestant goes far and takes a lot of time, no one else gets a chance, so the audience tells the wrong answer on purpose."