Reality TV: where even the Amish are liars
Reality shows are like pro wrestling: You suspect they're faking it and don't care.
If you're like most viewers, you probably watch reality TV for a silly distraction, and don't worry too much about what's real and what isn't. But this week, one show's fun hit a legal snag. Thanks to a lawsuit from ex-star David Hester, courts may soon decide whether A&E's biggest hit, "Storage Wars," is real or staged.
The lawsuit, if successful, might force reality shows to be more careful about keeping it real. Here's a look at "Storage Wars" and four other reality shows accused of — gasp — faking it.
1. "Storage Wars": Hester — known for saying "yuuuuuuuup" — alleges he was fired from the show after complaining about a series of fake-outs. The show features people bidding on mysterious storage lockers, hoping to discover treasures amid trash.
But Hester says the show rigged auctions, added prizes to the lockers, and even paid for one star's plastic surgery. A&E declined comment. Will Hester find a big payout under a messy pile of legal motions?
2. "X Factor": Say it ain't so, Simon. "X Factor" has been accused of using more than treacly tunes to toy with our emotions. Last season, a contestant's groin was blurred to make him appear to be nude — though he was actually wearing a thong. Another contestant was caught lip-syncing. And this season, Fox conceded that episodes filmed at judges' homes weren't necessarily filmed at judge's homes. Maybe they were worried about more indecent exposure.
3. "Breaking Amish": The TLC show — which some skeptical viewers dubbed "Faking Amish" — contained enough misrepresentation that the network aired a two-part special to address the allegations that its stars were not always as sheltered as they claimed. The show purportedly followed young Amish and Mennonites as they left their strict, isolated communities for the first time. But the New York Daily News noted that one castmate "had already lived outside the closed community, got married, had children and was divorced." Okay, but aside from that.
4. "House Hunters": You may want to sit down, assuming your house has room for a chair. One participant on the show says its producers found her house search so boring that they made her concoct a story about her old house being much too small. You know how you scream at the screen "THEN PAINT IT" every time some house hunters pass on an otherwise perfect home because they don't like the color? That may not be the most unbelievable part of "House Hunters." HGTV admitted it sometimes stages visits to homes that participants have already seen, saying "we manage certain production and time constraints, while honoring the home buying process."
5. "The Hills": Past castmates have conceded that the MTV show's producers just may have staged relationships and fights to make the docu-soap more interesting. But at least MTV gave us a wink to let us know not to believe every vapid exchange was real: The show ended with the camera pulling back to reveal its final scene was shot on a studio backlot. Wait: Does this mean Justin Bobby maybe wasn't the genius we thought he was?