Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Casting Reality TV

With one exception, I prefer scripted TV over reality TV. That exception is my shameless addiction to this show.




But it's almost impossible to completely avoid reality TV, especially when you watch the show that specializes in making fun of it.




The Soup's coverage of one reality show prompted me to check it out. 




It seemed like an intriguing premise, I'll admit. "Real people" go on dating adventures with other "real people" and we watch. About five minutes into the first episode, though, I realized one guy looked familiar.



Alex, it turned out, wasn't a "real person," after all. Alex Stein is known as a reality TV show veteran, having appeared as himself on The Glass House, Sweet Home Alabama, and Worst Cooks in America. Apparently now "reality TV show star" is a resume credit...and something casting directors no doubt specialize in.




It didn't stop with Alex, though. Episode after episode, familiar faces popped up, many with existing IMDB profiles. In the finale of Online Dating Rituals of the American Male we saw Lydia, a long-haired, tattooed brunette who "cut her hair" prior to meeting the male star of the show. He was beyond perplexed that she'd cut all her beautiful hair off.




Every Big Brother fan on the planet watching the show was screaming, "That's Lydia from Big Brother!" Lydia Tavera always had short, blond hair. She's Lydia, people.



Is it reality TV when casting directors are out rounding up reality show stars to fill all these roles? If reality show casting is an actual process, is it really real at all? When did "reality TV star" become a lifelong career?

Do you watch reality TV? Does it seem real to you?

If you live in the Nashville area, come out for my first bookstore appearance! It's May 15 from 4pm-6pm at BookmanBookwoman in Hillsboro Village. Click on the image below for details.





70 comments:

  1. I watch The Amazing Race... I love seeing the culturrs.

    I also watch The Biggest Loser... inspiring weight loss.

    I don't watch a lot of TV otherwise ;-)

    Have a great day Stephanie :-D

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  2. Hi Stephie - I think they probably have a script, too. They have us all fooled into thinking that it's reality. I'm not even sure if anyone lives in the real world anymore - the politicians don't seem to!

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  3. You can certainly tell with some of the shows that they set up situations and at least give people a vague description of what the "scene" should accomplish.

    With Big Brother, it's all done through editing and the diary room. They pull houseguests in and ask questions to get them to give a sound bite that they need to edit in to create drama. America's BB is very controlled and concise. For season 1, they tried it the way other countries do--without much editing--and it was a HUGE flop. They realized American audiences get bored with hours of raw footage of people just sitting around talking. I tried watching the British and Canadian BB and...yawn.

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  4. My reality show guilty pleasures are the Biggest Loser and Survivor. Though I have been known to stop watching mid season if the "contestants" start to annoy or bore me.

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  5. I LOVE reality TV and am a huge fan of BB. I originally was hooked on The Real World many years ago, so I imagine my shock when discovering that Cameran from RW San Diego circa 2004 was now on Southern Charm.

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  6. I saw Rachel and Brendon were on Amazing Race--but that's not the same kind of recycling because it's acknowledged. It's when they try to pass the person off as a "new character" and he puts on a fake personality, as that Alex guy does, that I think it crosses the line.

    I loved The Real World in its early days, when it was more real. When they started forcing them into hot tubs together the first night, it got a little contrived for my taste. The people seemed like they were a little too over-the-top. That first season of The Real World was amazing, though. That was what reality TV SHOULD be.

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  7. I went to high school with a girl who made an attempt at a Hollywood career. One of her only acting credits is on a reality show. She was on Gene Simmons: Family Jewels, but her IMDB credit shows her as playing someone with a name that is not hers. I never watched the show, but I found that interesting.

    I watched American Idol for a few seasons and we like to watch Deadliest Catch and Dirty Jobs and some of the Animal Planet shows like Animal Cops. My fiance likes Ghost Adventures and Finding Big Foot, so I get stuck watching by default sometimes but I don't like those ones. I do love The Soup and therefore I am grateful reality TV exists.

    But I much prefer well-written, scripted TV.

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  8. Oh and this new dating show sounds like a less funny version of Blind Date. That was a fun show.

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  9. I also prefer scripted shows. When it comes to reality programmes I like to watch cooking competitions (not the USA ones, they seem to be too ebil and rude when it comes to jury) and I also sometimes watch PROJECT RUNWAY because me loves creative people :)

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  10. I used to like Ghost Hunters...it's gotten kind of boring in recent seasons. Too much walking around, saying, "Did you hear that?" The Ghost Adventures guy is too much of a tool for my taste... My husband loves to make fun of him, though!

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  11. I tend to watch the "reality" shows where people are doing creative things, like on PROJECT RUNWAY and TOP CHEF. I also like THE AMAZING RACE for the sites, and SURVIVOR purely for the fun. :)

    Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

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  12. OMG, Zach on GA is clearly acting and following a script, but he has no acting talent, so it's super obvious. I keep saying that, but my fiance won't believe it. It's SO BAD. It does get funny after a while.

    They did have one a few weeks ago that freaked me out, though, which is another reason I don't like to watch. Usually they have me rolling my eyes, but this was was creepy. I don't remember where they were, though.

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  13. Renee--go to YouTube and look for Ghost Adventures Movie. That's all you need to show him. A COMPLETELY different Zach, seriously. He was a tad on the dorky side--typical documentary filmmaker. He got a TV pilot out of it and turned into a steroid-head. His name is Zach Baggins (not sure of the spelling) and he's earned the nickname "douche-baggins."

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  14. lol

    I'll look for that!

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  15. I used to LOVE Ghost Hunters, too. It seems like they've run out of really awesome locations now, though.

    I do watch Shark Tank, but that's the extent of my reality-TV-watching nowadays.

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  16. Wendy, it's weird but Ghost Hunters has become all about the hunt. They don't really have likable investigators anymore that you get to know personally. Without that, it's just people walking around with cameras for an hour. With both Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, I'll often just watch the beginning where they tell the story about the place. I'm not even interested in their crazy, far-fetched analyses of every sound they hear. "Did you hear that? It said 'Get out!'" No, it didn't. It was the sound of a door opening, you idiot.

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  17. Oh, and Shark Tank is awesome!

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  18. I would love to come out and see you! Sadly, the eight hour drive is a problem :(

    I saw a tv show on who is related to whom in Hollywood and seriously, they think WV is an incestuous little nest...these people are all related to somebody! (Yes, there are exceptions...but they are not the rule!)

    I am known to keep up with the Kardashians, so no judgment from me.

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  19. I did watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians on Netflix, Elizabeth, and I can see the attraction. It's oddly addictive.

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  20. I don't watch reality TV anymore. When Big Brother first started, it was set up as some kind of social experiment and it was fascinating, but now it's just a place for the fame hungry to get into the news for a few weeks. (At least that's how it is in the UK!). But, if the show happens to be on when I switch on the TV - I do get sucked in lol.

    Urgh, I hate how much of a TV snob I sound in this post - I'm nice, really, I promise! <3

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  21. You're right Kyra--about both the UK and US versions of Big Brothers. In the early days, the "cast" was made up of average people. Now it's a combination of fans and recruits. They actually go out and find a couple of models and other beautiful people to add to the cast each year. I just recently realized that every other cast member is a fan of the show. It makes sense--the average person wouldn't go to the trouble of auditioning to be on a show he/she didn't even watch!

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  22. i watched big brother for several of its first seasons and gave up. too much 'fish bowl' drama. the only reality show i have stuck with since the beginning is survivor. yes, many folks go from show to show.

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  23. But I think it's okay in a situation like Survivor and The Amazing Race. When they feature players from other shows, they make no secret of who they are. They turn it into an "All Stars" sort of thing. Hayden was the perfect fit for Survivor--in fact, when he was on BB, I wondered why he wasn't on Survivor instead. It's the deception I find a little odd. Plus, that Alex guy always plays some over-the-top evil character...so it's just plain acting in that case!

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  24. I watch the Amazing Race and Dancing With The Stars but that is about it. The other"reality" shows are not reality. They are scripted and make sure there is drama. believe me if they had a reality show of my life it would soon be cancelled because they would see me feed the animals, go to work, eat, feed the animals. talk with my hubby who during his day would be outside fixing the yard etc.. and then watch us watch TV. hahahahaaa. BTW I can't stand that twit from Big Brother. Why he married her I have no idea but i hope she loses on the Amazing Race

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  25. What a concept - Reality TV actors. I guess that takes away the legitimacy of reality TV!

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  26. I used to watch Big Brother but it's got ridiculous here in the UK. Then again I love Dancing with the Stars and Strictly Come Dancing. I do tend to watch sitcoms and shows. Currently working my way through Season 1 of GCB, earlier today I was watching The Good Wife.

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  27. I thought you were gonna say you knew the guy from high school or something. :)

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  28. Birgit--Yeah, even BB fans can't stand Rachel. She's deliberately annoying. She plays it up, but it's like nails on a chalkboard. If they bring her back on BB again, that will likely be the season they lose me!

    Hannah J--It's still amazing to me that our shows make their way over to the UK. GCB--was that the show that was canceled in the first season? If so, it was good at first... If you have Netflix, Gray's Anatomy is somewhat addictive. I'm rewatching Melrose Place--reliving my young adulthood, I guess!

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  29. Suze--Nope, but he may be onto something. I know there are already a few more like him. But many reality TV fans watch the same shows, so it seems like these "fake reality stars" wouldn't be able to get away with it for long.

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  30. it's not scripted, but it's definitely edited and directed!

    i love amazing race and sometimes survivor, but we tune in to big brother too - there's not much else on the networks in the summer!

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  31. I agree, Tara. I'm rewatching BB season 15 as I type this, actually! There aren't any producers in the house and there's a 24/7 live feed...and STILL they can manipulate the show. There was a BBC special on how reality TV is edited and they showed how editors cut to people making faces to build drama. The person probably wasn't even making that face at that instant, but it's cut to add excitement. It's a fascinating technique. Of course, much of it is in the diary room, where they ask, "How did you feel when so and so said such and such?"

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  32. Reality TV. Pft! My hubby can't stand it, and I haven't watched it in forever. I guess it's mostly because we don't have TV, but it could also be because we're just too darn busy. *shrugs* You have to prioritize, right?

    That's crazy though: reality TV stars...

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  33. Great post, Stephanie! I could stand on my high horse and say that I HATE reality TV (and I kind of do), but whenever I catch some of it, it totally sucks me in.

    For the most part I don't watch TV, because I think it's a waste of time. But shows like The Biggest Loser can be strangely addictive.

    Realizing it's now a career for some people is funny, but not that surprising. Reality or not, the producers will want someone who can deliver the drama and keep viewers interested.

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  34. It just seems like a snake eating its own tail.

    We used to watch the Soup. I couldn't stand it after a while - not because the show itself is no good but because the shows they parody are downright painful. I want to think better of my fellow humans then such shows will let me.

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  35. I pretty much avoid reality TV at all costs...except that I'm addicted to Top Chef. We all have one, I think, LOL!

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  36. Not a big fan of reality TV, with the exception of the Amazing Race...but not sure if it's still on. I watch TV so little lately.

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  37. My brother was on an episode of Elimidate before reality t.v. took off. He was glad because he didn't want the world to see him get cut. lol

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  38. I don't like reality TV, but I love Big Brother! I always say it's my guilty pleasure. ;)

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  39. I agree, Chrys! I forget how many other fans there are out there. Nobody else I know watches it.

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  40. I like real reality shows. They're called documentaries. The so-called reality shows on TV are mostly shams, partially plotted and/or scripted!

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  41. Yes, I do watch reality TV even though I know it's far from reality.

    I enjoy watching BB!

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  42. I used to watch Amazing Race and Survivor, util they started doing "All-Stars" and then randomly just inviting interesting or controversial characters return for ratings. I gave up. Didn't really have time either. I will watch just about any cooking competition out there, and somehow I don't mind seeing the same chefs competing on different shows. It seems like such a different thing to me, but maybe I'm splitting hairs...
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

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  43. I don't watch "reality" TV because 1. It's not real.
    2. Real life is real enough for me.

    Love,
    Janie Junebug

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  44. Big Brother, Survivor, and Amazing Race are the reality shows I watch season after season. Now and then, I'll stick it out with the Apprentice. I think it's funny saying that Reality Show people are celebrities.
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

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  45. I'm with Janie Junebug except that I didn't just stop watching reality TV--I stopped watching TV. It got in the way of real life when we moved. Maybe some SF shows will creep (misused on purpose) back in once we're settled, but I'll probably keeping reading books when I want to escape real life.

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  46. I must admit, I liked watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians at the gym. I am totally amazed how many reality TV shows are out there. I keep telling my family we need to get one, LOL. I have to say though I don't watch much TV but do follow American Idol most years, but who can resist Keith Urban when he is a judge on it :)

    Good luck with your book signing tomorrow!

    betty

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  47. I dont watch reality TV shows at all, except from some cooking contest shows. I feel most of them are scripted and somehow the drama is too much for me to handle :D

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  48. Stephanie,

    I have to say I'm a big Survivor fan. I've watched every season since it started. I've only caught an episode here and there of the others and not all of those. I'm not really a fan of reality TV. Do people really make a career out of it? Sometimes I wonder what's happened to TV.

    Sunni

    http://sunni-survivinglife.blogspot.com/

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  49. Oh yes we have a lot of them here, even if I think it's a lot less than you. I'm not that much into them but some are fun to watch from time to time. But they play a role more and more now.

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  50. I avoid reality TV. It sets my teeth on edge. Except for decorating shows...

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  51. I'm not a huge fan of reality shows but my partner is so I watch my fair share of them.

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  52. I've only tried watching reality shows a few times, didn't like any of them. Maybe I'll try "Big Brothers."
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

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  53. Debi--Every episode of every season of Big Brother U.S. is on YouTube. I'd skip Season 1, though! Even the show's producers have disowned that one...

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  54. Today is the BIG DAY! Thinking about you and knowing you will do great!! All the best!

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  55. I am guilty of watching reality TV from time to time. Especially "the Biggest Loser" which found its way into one of my short stories and the Real Housewives franchise (which actually makes me worry about myself for watching). I cannot believe the ludicrous things people get up to. The more ridiculous or outrageous the more it sucks me in. In a way it is all gossip. I did not know that so many people have become reality show veterans and was interested to read about their goings on through your post. Today is the big day for you and your new book! I am wishing you well!! Let us know how it goes.

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  56. Ha! I find it funny they cast reality shows.

    I don't watch much TV, thanks to a couple of kiddos who can't sit still. When I do get to watch something, it's usually comedy or murder mystery.

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  57. Have fun at your first bookstore appearance!

    How crazy that people are making careers out of reality tv. I can see why the people on the show do it--they get a brush with fame and want to keep it. But do the producers figure we won't figure it out? Maybe it doesn't make their ratings go down.

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  58. I don't think reality TV is all that real. I used to watch some of these shows, but it all seemed so contrived and as though I was giving up on my own life to watch someone else live theirs. I think I'd rather watch a movie.

    Although I do have a morbid fascination with those shows about hoarders.

    Hope you have a great bookstore appearance and sell out on books.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  59. I love the soup! I don't have the channel to watch it any longer, but for a long while it was my popular culture "fix" :)

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  60. I don't watch tv, so I'm not in the reality tv loop :) I think it's a bit funny (and sad) that shows recycle the same 'real' people. That pretty much just makes them actors filling a role, which kind of defeats the purpose of reality tv, lol.

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  61. I've not seen that show. Much luck and fun for you and your first book appearance. Exciting stuff.

    Cheers and boogie boogie.

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  62. I generally watch the Biggest Loser and used to watch Keeping up with the Kardashians for their weekly dose of unbelievable drama...before that...the Osbournes. Of course they probably have a general script to follow. They would have to have!

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  63. The "careers" of some reality people here in the UK from shows like Made In Chelsea baffle me. I still don't know if it is all scripted, or if it's actually meant to be their real lives. Now they go on to roles like presenters and DJs. I do agree that "normal"ish (ie not yet known) folk should be given a chance on shows like this!

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  64. I think that is something positive about working full time and studying - I have no time to watch TV at all and I don't even miss it :) I do miss reading books very much though!

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  65. I hope you're having a great book signing.

    I stopped watching reality shows years ago. They didn't seem real enough to me.

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  66. I am sure I have no idea! But, yeah, I do think after you've been one realty TV show, it's easier to get on other realty shows.

    The only one I watch is maybe the dance show and American Idol.

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  67. I always wondered about those shows. The Voice and America's Got Talent are two reality shows I enjoy, and I honestly don't think either one hires actors to compete.

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  68. I don't watch much tv anymore so I would be one of the goob viewers fooled by the effort to pass off as "reality tv."

    I hope your Hillsborough signing goes well. I used to enjoy that part of town.

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  69. I don't watch reality tv on a regular basis, but I do catch some shows here and there. I like shows like Chopped and will watch The Biggest Loser here and there. :) How interesting that there are people who appear on reality tv over and over again. Interesting post. I have never seen Big Brother- but one of my friends is addicted!
    ~Jess

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  70. Sounds like a really intense process.

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