There are few guilty pleasures more popular — or maligned — than reality television. But the fact remains: This is no passing fad. We keep watching The Real Housewives, The Bachelorette, and all things Kardashian. And the industry keeps making more of the same. Even if you’ve never seen a reality show (and, let’s be real — you have), you probably have an opinion on them. And it’s probably a not-so-nice one.
Here’s the twist: The people behind the scenes feel just the same way. I got the chance to chat with a veteran reality TV producer who’s worked on shows for Lifetime, Oxygen, VH1, and MTV, among other networks. (As he’s still working in the industry, we’ve agreed not to name specific shows.) Under the condition of anonymity, he shared a lot of surprising truths about what goes into so-called reality — and why it’s got us so hooked.