Reality T.V. shows aren't always accurate, because the producers can edit anything they want. This means some people might not be as mean as they appear, and some situations may not have gone down the way they appear. These people are all too familiar with that issue.
People on Reddit who appeared on shows like Supernanny share what it's like. Content has been edited for clarity.
"One of my friends in grade school was on Nanny 911 as a kid (maybe around five-years-old). There were a lot of kids in her family, and one of the biggest problems the nanny had with their household was safety. She baby-proofed the entire house and lectured them on safety precautions they have to take in their lives to ensure that the children wouldn't get hurt. She even gave them all helmets to wear whenever they rode bikes or 4 wheelers.
After she left, a lot of the safety precautions went out of the window and later my friend told me that they still had the helmets but they were all sitting in a dusty corner."
"My family was selected to be the 'strict parents' part of the show on World's Strictest Parents. They basically showed up at the church my dad preaches at and asked people who they would recommend being on the show, and they recommended our family. We did not want to be on the show at all. But you get paid, so we went with it. We went through psychiatric evaluations to make sure we weren't psycho, then got okay'd to be on the show.
For me, it was a great experience. I was a senior in high school who wanted to go into broadcast production, so I hung around with the producers and watched the process. They sent the two 'bad kids' to us, and they stayed with us for four days. During the four days, the producers had events planned that would annoy any lazy teenager. There were activities like 'make them do yard work at two pm on a hot day,' or 'make them build a shed with basic tools.'
My parents were really not strict, especially compared to other parents on that show, so the producers had to cause a ruckus most of the time to get some conflict going. This included them planting an adult movie DVD in the boy's suitcase, then making my dad go through his stuff the find it.
In the end, we became really close with the two kids and had a good time with them. I still talk to the boy today and he's doing well. The show didn't change them really, but they definitely appreciated the experience and advice my parents gave them."
"My younger siblings, mother, and then step-father were on a program in the UK called Mum's On Strike in the mid-2000s.
The premise was that the mother would be sick of doing everything around the house, and would be whisked away to a luxury spa for a weekend, leaving the clueless father in charge of trying to take care of the household duties.
A lot of the conversations and scenarios were faked. I supposedly visited them for the weekend, but I did multiple different shoots across a few hours on the last day of filming, then went back home.
They'd cause fights between the siblings by purposely creating situations where one was favored over the other, so the others would throw a tantrum.
There was a shoot on location in our local town center, and they encouraged my little brother to run off into all sorts of different shops, causing hilarity as my step-father tried chasing after him with two other children in tow.
Mealtimes were a bit of a farce as well - as it was a weekend, my step-father had to cook a traditional roast dinner. The production company intentionally supplied incorrect ingredients to make sure my step-father looked like an idiot. They filmed my reaction to him trying to add beans to the roast a few different times, so they could pick the best one. In the end, after they'd got all the footage they wanted, they sent one of the production teams out to the chippy to get us some actual edible food."
"Being on Scared Straight actually brought up a lot of past traumas I had from my parents fighting in the home and threatening me and each other when I was a child. Immediately afterward, I had a lot of trouble sleeping and ended up using to control my anxiety. In the end, I don't think it helped or addressed any of the issues that were underlying my behavior, and it actually made them worse.
They reminded me of people who had threatened me in the past and it just kind of expanded my list of people who you can't freaking trust in this world."
"I had a coworker who was a dad on Nanny 911, and it made him look like he and his family were the worst human beings to ever walk the Earth. It was my first time seeing firsthand exactly how hard you can fake a 'reality show' storyline in an edit; I knew his family, I'd hung out with them, and not one of them was in-character in the finished product. It turns out if you film anyone for a solid week, you can edit down 45 minutes in that footage that says whatever you want.
It was really rough seeing this really nice, chill guy get blasted online by the bonehead fans of the show; idiots in the old IMDb message boards and parenting forums and such saying he needs to take anger management classes, have his children taken away from him, etc. based on the untrue editing.
He and his wife did the show purely for the big home-renovation that the family 'wins' for being so 'improved' by the nanny's visit at the end, but they'd probably have been better off just saving up for a while to get the house fixed up."
"I lived in the same town and went to school with quite a few kids in 'The Call Family' episode of World's Strictest Parents. At one point, the idiotic teenage boy sent there is shown climbing a 'cliff' that the show really amped up as dangerous. He’s seen standing at the top of it looking over the edge; worry and danger is the general feeling you’re meant to get from the scene, and it really looks desolate and wild out there, like this kid straight took a hike
Literally right below him is the bowling alley. That 'cliff' is maybe 100 feet high. It’s also directly across the street from the Call Family house. He walked across the street and walked up a hill. Had he fallen down that hill, he might have gotten a bruise or two, since the bowling alley is where an old gravel pit used to be, so the cobblestone is plentiful, but I doubt much else.
So, yeah, probably played up a bit."
"A number of years ago, one of the families in our country who participated in Supernanny spoke out about it. The camera crew forced one child to annoy the other until their sibling lost their cool, and then filmed that to show this kid had anger issues.
They also said that they were basically trapped by the contract they signed, and couldn't stop filming once the entire thing started. Had they stopped, it would have at least been a pain in the butt and/or very expensive to exit the show before the episode was filmed. They didn't know it was scripted reality or how bad it would be before they signed.
As far as I know, they also had to pay the entirety of their electricity bill later on, which was sky-high due to the bright TV lights, and the fact that the crew camped in front of their house.
The worst thing is that the crew (allegedly) did the following:
One of the girls in the show (I don't remember how old she was, I would say about 15) had a dog. He was her only friend and she was very close to him. The crew wanted to see her cry and go downhill even further, and the family overheard them discussing what they could do about that. 'Coincidentally,' the dog started getting very sick the day after and died at the vet clinic. They filmed the daughter's reaction to the news.
The family says the show tore them apart and nowadays none of them get along anymore."
"When I was four-years-old, I was picked to be on our local Bozo The Clown’s cartoon show. It was sort of like The Price is Right, where in between showing cartoons, random kids would be picked from the audience, or so it seemed.
In reality, the kids were chosen well ahead of time. Parents and or agents sent in headshots and resumes to apply to be on the show. My mom had sent in applications for my brother and me, and we’d both been chosen.
During the very first game time, my name was called, so on the stage I went. Bozo demonstrated the game, pretty simple. Get a balloon from the barrel, run to your chair, sit on the balloon, pop it, then run back to the barrel for another balloon, repeat.
The bell rang and off we went. Grabbed my first balloon, ran back to my chair, sat on it, and... nothing. Nada. Nope. Zip. Zilch. No pop. Starting to panic, I bounced harder on the balloon, surely that would work!!
Nope. Instead, the balloon squeezed out the back of my frilly princess dress my mother had insisted I wear because I was going to be on TV! I’m sure at least half the audience saw my matching underwear."
"Went to college with a girl whose family was on the US version of World's Strictest Parents. Met her 'strict' parents, and they were pretty normal. She was a teenager when it was filmed, so she had a pretty good recollection of what went on. The family was chosen for the show because of their 'strict' running regimen. The show made it seem like they ran multiple miles a day, every day. But running was really more like an occasional family activity they would do together, along with a lot of other sports and exercise. According to her, the parents never pushed it on them as much as the show suggested. They were all active kids and enjoyed what they participated in. My friend was the most serious runner of the group, and she's still into marathons and such. But as for 'strictness,' her parents seemed kind of laid back.
I remember when she got caught with an adult beverage in her dorm and put on academic probation, and her parents were just like, 'Well, just keep it at our house next time!'
According to her, everything on the show was really played up for the drama. One of the 'troubled' teenagers who visited them was actually quite polite and willing to go along with their rules but was encouraged by the crew to resist a bit more. Things were edited in later to make it seem like there were more conflicts than there were. Not sure about the 'troubled' teens, but my friend didn't have much of a reaction to the experience other than being really disillusioned by reality TV. She and all her siblings seem to be doing well. All well-rounded and nice people.
"My family was approached to take part in a German version of the reality show 'The World’s Strictest Parents' (Die strengsten Eltern der Welt?). The reason being my father is somewhat well known in my country for being a bit of a wild man; looks like a Viking, very into the outdoors, fishing, hunting, all that jazz. They’d found a special of him on 60 minutes and a few clips of him adventuring online and thought that Germans would enjoy watching bad kids being set straight by the 'bear man.'
Anyway, the interaction was done through a middleman so to speak, who outlined what would be required of us, and what (small) compensation we would receive for going along with it. At the outset it seemed fine, even a little exciting. We had had close ties with a lot of exchange students in the past (we lived in a very small community in the mountains and we all loved traveling), and my father didn’t seem to mind the sound of helping out some struggling kids and possibly showing them a different side of life. Not necessarily that hunting and the outdoors are the only way to go, but more open their minds a little and take them out of their comfort zone. We watched a few clips of the show online and decided we were laid back enough as a family, and the drama wouldn’t really wind us up or anything.
Well alarm bells started ringing after a bit more correspondence with the middleman. He started insinuating that there would be times where the kids would be told to play up situations, and that we would have to either roll along with the staged drama, or actively join in and amp it up for the cameras. My dad laid it out pretty straight, saying he’d be happy to take these kids under his wing and show them some pretty cool adventures. He had glacier crossing, hiking through rainforests, caving, white water kayaking, hunting (or at least watching him hunt), and tons of other activities across our country all planned out. I’d just become a SCUBA instructor and even offered to take them out diving on geothermal vents.
But they really stressed the whole 'People watch this show to see bad kids act crazy, so that’s what you’re expected to encourage' vibe. We politely turned them down at this stage.
A few months later the middleman actually emailed us and told us it was probably a good idea that we hadn’t gone along with it. Apparently they never paid him for any of his work organizing host families or setting up scenarios. Ah well, dodged a bullet there I guess. All my friends in Germany seemed to think so!"
"I live in the UK and had a friend that went on one of those Scared Straight style shows when we were about 13/14. She got sent to the USA to some boot camp place in the wilderness for bad kids. She had a pretty bad relationship with her parents but missed them so much when she was there. When she returned, it did actually improve for a few years. She's not in a good place now, 15 years later from what I've heard. Last time my friend saw her, she was hanging around on the street begging with a load of homeless people (possibly she is homeless too). I know she was taking hard narcotics at some point too. I worked with her brother briefly, and he said he's not heard from her in years and is a mess.
The thing that stood out to me with that show though. The producers basically told her to get together with her friends and go wild. They gave her some money, and we went and bought some drinks, weed, and pills (ecstasy). We basically went around our local town causing trouble whilst they filmed us. It wasn't normal for us to do that but the show encourages us too. It's kinda messed up to be honest looking back on it. But as a 14-year-old, it seemed funny at the time."
"My very good friend in high school was on World's Strictest Parents, and because I worked at her fathers restaurant, I was too.
The family had very standard levels of being 'strict.' The whole family was/is very loving to each other, and pretty normal through and through.
Everything is staged or set up in some fashion. The show even gave smokes to one of the punk kid workers at the restaurant to 'get him in trouble with the big bad boss man.'
There was even a time when I was actually working one day, and the producers (this actually happened) told my boss (the dad) to just start yelling at me for some made up reason. I had to pretend like I did something wrong. It was really cringe.
The entire production is all lies. If you apply to be on the show and seem like a relatively put together upper middle class family, they can spin it to make you 'strict.'
Moreover, there wasn’t anything to fix or change in the first place in terms of behavior or parenting styles. Everything's all scripted and set up."
"A friend of mine and his family was on a show in the UK where a celebrity presenter and forensic investigator team would snoop around your house.
The premise was horrendous, where the team would have to guess aspects of the family's life by rummaging through their rubbish and personal possessions. They black lighted his bed, making him appear as a serial masturbator, and exposed details of his parent's private lives. He was morbidly embarrassed about it for years, and we were never allowed to mention it. I swear he developed some sort of PTSD.
The situations were semi planted, for example his parents knew he smoked weed and would let him in his room. But this was 'exposed' in the show in a segment on the London Eye. Another instance was watching his little brother attempt to explain away the adult movie collection, which wasn't even his, to begin with. It was such a gross invasion of privacy, and I can't emphasis how much he hates the fact it ever took place. But, they got a holiday to Florida.
He's grateful the show was never in wide circulation. Following its airing on national TV, one of the investigative team (the Private Investigator type bloke) was discovered to have a previous conviction for child offenses. The only other episode they shot (and was never aired) had a family with some young girls in it, so the whole show was pulled."
"Two of the teachers at my school were on World's Strictest Parents. They were husband and wife, and the father was a real stickler for the rules, and was very religious. He seemed put together, was one of the football coaches, but I always thought he was kind of a rude person. The wife was pretty attractive and seemed to be a nice person. All the students seemed to like her. I never cared to watch the episode while I was in school, but this was supposed to be 'The model parents.'
A couple of years after I graduated, I heard about all the drama that had been happening. The wife goes and takes a trip to France. I don’t know the specifics, but while there she cheats on her husband. I’m not sure if she kept it a secret and somehow he found out, or she had regret and confessed, but this guy went crazy. He threatens her, saying he’s going to go to the school and shoot her. It sends the whole campus into lockdown.
Now, I don't know how this got swept under the rug. It doesn’t show any arrests were made for him and there’s no news report about it, but that seems pretty typical for my old school. So if he actually got arrested or not I can’t say, but he was definitely fired and the wife left him. She still works at the school to the best of my knowledge, as for the husband he spiraled out of control and started doing crack. From what I understand he was a recovered addict, and this reverted him back to his old ways. As for the kids, they attended the school as well."
"I was doing a runway show with a group of artists and designers. I happened to be one of the emcees for the event. I should mention we were a bunch of punk and goth kids. The show was an alternative fashion show and pageant. So lots of clubs, fetish ware, Victorian and cyberpunk styles.
MTV was following one of the contestants. She was an out-of-state girl from the regular pageant circuit, and this was her first alternative show. Obviously, MTV thought this dichotomy would make for good TV. They were right. But not in the way they expected.
The main thing that stuck out about the experience was how much the MTV crew was trying to 'force' or 'encourage' things to play out how they wanted them to. It was obvious they were trying to orchestrate some sort of dramatic hyper-realistic storyline.
We would have conversations or interactions, then a producer would step in and ask us to have the conversation again or reenact an action like entering a room or something.
They'd say 'Do that again, but this time do this or add that.'
The production staff would corner us individually and ask us clearly leading questions about other people.
Like 'So and So said this about this event or person. What do you think? Doesn't that make you mad?' Or 'What are you irritated or upset about?'
Obviously trying to get negativity soundbites to use in post-production.
Mind you, this was the early days of reality shows, so their tactics weren't as refined. Or people were more reluctant. Either way.
We were already busy, coordinating and running a fashion show. Everything was time-sensitive, so after a while, we stopped humoring them and basically said 'No more of this. You get the footage you get.'
Also, the contestant they were following, we discovered from talking to her, was signed up to this show by MTV producers, specifically to manufacture drama. They knew the show theme, this girl did not. She was completely blindsided and scared. They expected us to reject her or make fun of her because she's a 'beauty queen,' and we're 'scary' goth kids.
They were disappointed, I think, that we pretty much accepted this girl right away. We were very supportive of her, and made her feel comfortable being totally out of her element. A few of our designers even gave her a full set of pageant clothes fitting the theme. I think they expected us to let her walk out there in her ballgown while the other contestants are in Victorian-style Gothic dresses.
Again, we were mostly a bunch of goth and punk kids. So we really could give a can of beans about the episode or MTV. We all felt bad at how they manipulated this girl. Which is really messed up if you think about it.
Afterward, we had a watch party when the episode aired a few months later. From what I remember, (this was well over a decade ago now) not surprisingly, MTV barely used us. We didn't give them what they wanted. I think our segments were maybe 2 minutes of the total hour-long episode. Oh well."