As It Turns Out, “Reality” Shows ARE Fake Enough Already!

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post here about ABC’s upcoming faux-“Reality” series ‘My Generation’, in which I asked, “Aren’t Reality shows fake enough already?” As part of my argument, I cited ‘The Hills’ on MTV as an alleged Reality series that’s actually 100% scripted. Well, with the series finale episode, the producers of ‘The Hills’ have come right out and admitted that their whole show was staged. Isn’t it about damn time?

Listen, I’m not going to pretend that I’ve ever watched ‘The Hills’, at least no more than the random clips mercilessly mocked during ‘The Soup’. I’m sure that, by now, this is old news to anyone who actually gives a damn about the show. I doubt any of those people are reading this blog in the first place. If they were, I’m certainly not writing for them.

Anyway, at the end of last week’s series finale, socialite bimbo Kristin Cavallari said a tearful goodbye to her douchebag boyfriend, Brody Jenner. She’s decided to move to Europe for a while, or something. (Note: No, she didn’t.) As she rides off in her limo, Brody stands there sad-eyed, with the Hollywood sign in the distance behind him, watching her leave. Until… BA BAAA BAAAAAAA… Suddenly, the backdrop behind him is wheeled away, to reveal that he’s actually standing on a studio backlot as a crew of technicians stage the scene. He drops character and walks off set. Everything has been faked.

The was perhaps the biggest WTF television moment of the year, even more so than the ‘Lost’ finale.

By no stretch of the imagination do I think that this excuses the creators of this show from inflicting one of the worst television series in the history of the medium onto mankind. However, I’ve got to say, this was a pretty ballsy move on their part. I can imagine that teenage minds all across the nation were simultaneously blown when it happened. I also imagine that this development will wreak havoc with MTV’s continuing spin-off series, such as ‘The City’.

So, hats off to you, ‘Hills’ writers. With any luck, what you’ve just done will signal the end of Reality TV as we know it. Probably not, but one can always hope.


  1. Zaserov

    I’d imagine that reality show fans go through similar mental gymnastics as wrestling fans. They ‘know’ it’s fake, but at the same time watch and participate as if it’s real. Well, excluding the few … ermm … special people who insist on the truth of the show.

    Then again, I suppose that’s what all of us do with every story that we consume. Fiction is clearly fiction, but we’re typically actively trying to ignore that when enjoying a story (or watching someone grappling hook from a sports car to a helicopter before both explode).

  2. EM

    Josh’s blog posts concern fiction shows masquerading as reality programming, and much has been made of the concern that reality shows have been or will be pushing fiction shows aside, but another concern is that the proliferation of reality programming has confused audiences’ perceptions of “straight” fiction programming. I remember having a conversation a few years ago with a coworker who, it turned out, had mistaken “Lost” for a reality show à la “Survivor”. Myself I originally thought “Nip/Tuck” was a reality show à la the original “Extreme Makeover”. In both cases, the confused parties had never actually seen the shows in question, but obviously there has been some damage to fiction shows’ brand identity.

    Remember when a few years ago the film “The Real Cancun” was being billed as “the world’s first reality movie”? I remember thinking, “Isn’t that just called a documentary?!?”

  3. JoeRo

    I don’t hate reality shows, not on principle or anything. I remember when I first heard the term “reality tv” I was a little bit confused. I thought “what like documentaries, cooking shows, or game shows”? I still have that somewhat naive attitude today. I consider all non-fiction television to be a reality show. Whether you’re talking about “Planet Earth”, “Inside the Actors Studio”, or “The Dog Whisperer” they share some of the same tv-DNA.

    My beef with reality tv, in its widely accepted connotation, is that so much of it is simply boring. I don’t care about spoiled housewives, tattoo parlors, truckers of one sort or another, or pawn shops. I just. Don’t. Care. In the case of “The Hills” and any fraudulent claims to reality that it may have made, my response is meh. While I agree that they may have perpetuated an outright lie, that annoyance is really just a tiny speck adorning a heaping pile of shit. I don’t like heaping piles of shit, so why should that one particular speck bother me you know?

    • “I don’t like heaping piles of shit, so why should that one particular speck bother me you know?” Well said!

      I’m the same way when it comes to reality shows. I was really excited about ‘Survivor’ when it was first announced. Watching normal people deal with survival on an island was such a cool idea. But after watching it, it turns out ‘Survivor’ is just sort of a game show with social elements.

      You know what’s a great example of what I expected from reality shows? ‘Lost in La Mancha.’ There was drama and excitement and it was real – not like most DVD special features where people only talk about the magic of movie making and never get to the nitty gritty.

    • EM

      Although I did not in my earlier post, I often refer to “reality shows” with some qualifier, e.g., “so-called reality shows” or “pseudo-reality shows” or even “‘reality‘ shows”. I tend to think a better monicker would be something like “staged documentaries”. Like you, JoeRo, I often find the term “reality shows” leading me to think of a much broader category.

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