Reality TV: The Price for 15 Minutes of Fame

Behind the catchy theme songs, pretty (scripted) words, designer attire and bright lights, reality TV shows harbour some pretty dark secrets. Reality TV stars are exploited to entertain the masses, but what negative effects remain once the cameras, once and for all, stop rolling? Many many reality TV stars regret their appearances on TV, and some have returned to ruined careers and relationships when their silly stints were over. And yet, many find themselves back under those bright lights for the next reality TV trend. Underneath all that glitz and glamour, what are the negative side effects of all this unprecedented fame? What darkness hides beneath all the bright lights and heavy editing that dominate reality TV?

The Biggest Loser: Eat or Be Eaten

One of America’s most popular reality TV shows, The Biggest Loser, seriously cashed in on America’s obesity epidemic. While many former contestants found a healthier way of living after being on the show, many regretted their embarrassing and painful reality TV experiences. One of the regretful contestants was Kai Hibbard, who was interviewed in a scathing tell-all about the show’s dangerous and belittling methods.

“They frequently filmed us vomiting because they wanted the viewers to think that working out until you threw up was somehow admirable. It makes good TV, but it can also seriously harm you,” Kai Hibbard said.

According to Hibbard, the Biggest Loser trainers were filmed gleefully feeding their contestants milk, boasting the nutritional benefits and healthy calories that milk holds. But the moment the cameras were off, the milk was to be spat out, much like any other food that dared pass the lips of the contestants. Hibbard says that the workouts shown were misleading as well – they worked out for several hours before the cameras showed up, so that when their bodies started to seriously fatigue, they simply came across as lazy quitters, despite their previous efforts. Some of the contestants even have muscle and joint pain after having lost the weight, due to their grueling activities at heavier weights while filming.

Damaged for Life

Many former Biggest Loser contestants developed eating disorders and, in general, a negative relationship with food, which can lead to some seriously alarming results. One contestant, Rachel Frederickson, famously lost a shocking amount of weight (her final weigh-in clocked her at just 105 lbs) and the audience – and her trainers – honestly didn’t know whether to cheer or to contact the relevant health authorities to get the poor women some help.

Conversely, some contestants not only regained the weight, they actually exceeded their initial weigh-ins after their appearances on the show. But don’t worry! The show’s former executive producer J.D. Roth will cash in on those failures too, via his latest show, The Big Fat Truth, on which the former contestants will, apparently, be taught to lose the weight…again. For good. Maybe.

Bachelor: In the Name of Love

The Bachelor and Bachelorette series are no better when it comes to the exploitation of their contestants. While they don’t force people to exercise and diet, they do play with the hearts and minds of young, impressionable people looking for love. The latest season of The Bachelor sparked outrage on social media when the Bachelor was persuaded to propose to one contestant, publicly, only to break things off with her – also publicly – shortly afterward because he was “in love” with another contestant. And yet they still managed to sign her up for the next season of the Bachelorette as the leading lady.

What fresh hell will await her there?

The various Bachelor and Bachelorette reality series boast their abilities to find true love for their stars, but in actual reality, very few of the winners are still together today – the figure is a meagre 9 out of 45, as of December 2017. That’s a pretty small percentage when you consider how passionately the show boasts their commitment to “true love.”

And yet, the Bachelorette is about to roll out its 14th season. Clearly, we’re all idiots in love.

Reality TV: A Real American Horror Story

The draw to reality TV is simple: it’s advertised as reality and therefore, it appears relatable – and entertaining – to its viewers. But how does the proverbial rug being pulled from under the contestants affect their lives after the cameras finally stop rolling? We often think of the detrimental effects of TV on the viewers, but rarely does the health and wellness of the reality stars come into play. Careers, relationships, lives – they all end up ruined after their appearances. So before you imagine yourself finally losing the weight on public television or becoming the next fiance to a hunky gentleman on the bachelor, think again. Your life could, and likely will be forever altered, but not in the happy way you had hoped.

If you ever find yourself with the option of starring in a reality TV show, think twice: you might not end up the biggest loser. But you could certainly just be… a loser.

About Lauren Hall

Lauren is a Canadian Writer and Blogger, based in Calgary. In addition to her freelance work, she is an Human Resources professional by trade. Lauren is always hungry for information, and has developed many hobbies in her pursuit for knowledge: she is an amateur archer, avid goldfish enthusiast, zombie aficionado, proud dog owner, and a casual gamer.

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