As Jersey Shore returns for a second season, we asked a five-year veteran producer of reality TV shows, including competitions and semi-scripted dramas, to tell us the truth about what goes on behind the scenes. Here's what our anonymous source had to say:
1. Everything you see has been mapped out. We design it, we build it, we know what it's going to be. It's a maze; my job is to pop the mice in and watch the reaction. But the mice are manipulated. We've written everything.
2. You can make a big storyline from the littlest thing - a tense moment, something minor. It's water-cooler talk for the rest of the country, but it's just some tiny, nothing incident.3. Jersey Shore is not about talent. It's about getting attention because you're young and stupid and arrogant. The more obnoxious you are, the more airtime you get. I can't stand it, even though some people in my industry love it as a guilty pleasure. (Is the new season of Jersey Shore one of the best on TV right now? Get a sneak peek...)
4. People don't realize that the cast isn't allowed to do anything. We basically own them. They're like our puppets - our prisoners. We're monitoring them twenty-four hours per day, making sure they adhere to our rules. They barely have contact with family and friends.
5. I keep them on the show if they want to quit. If a girl wants to quit I'll say, "Do you really want one of the guys to win? Do you really want to let female viewers down?" You're like their coach; you're coaching them on how to win the game.
6. We don't actually follow celebrities around 24/7. There's a schedule. We can't tell them what to say - they try to produce it themselves. They give us s--- if it's not to their liking, or if they're not represented in a certain light. We make their lives seem more glamorous than they really are - which is what they want.
7. The Real World is the least produced of any reality show. All the produce rs can do is shut off the lights in the house.
8. The Bachelor has a say in which girl he picks - but the executive producer has a 50 percent say in who stays in the game. (What should you wear on a reality dating show? Read our Style Blog's tips.)
9. Some contestants make for a great story, but we know they'll never win. They just don't have the skill, but you keep them there as long as you can to stir up drama.
10. When we shoot in Vegas, I'll get the hotel to accommodate our entire cast and crew in exchange for showing the logo.
-as told to Marty Beckerman
Top Photo Credit: NBC Archive via Getty (Howdy Doody, Princess Summerfall); MTV Handout (Pauly D, Snooki)
Will you be watching the new season of Jersey Shore? Think reality TV is harmful, or just good entertainment?
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