We are currently living in the golden age of reality TV. Starting in the 2000s the genre took off immensely; shows like The Real Life, Jersey Shore, and the Hills dominated the airwaves on cable while the more "competition" based reality shows like American Idol and Big Brother ruled network television. Then, with the growing popularity of cable, social media, and on-demand services, reality TV became one of the most profitable versions of programming for the big networks.
Those who don't enjoy indulging in these types of shows have criticized the genre for its warped portrayal of "reality." These critics claim that what is presented on the screen is mostly scripted. When it isn't, they say the producers are editing it manipulatively or playing up the scenarios. For the most part, these people are correct. However, that doesn't make it any less fun to watch!
But sometimes, a peak behind the curtain of a reality show gives us something that we can never un-see.
Whether it's our favorite characters acting contrary to how they act on screen, or a picture that breaks the immersion of the reality show, or something that the producers just don't want fans to see, here are 15 Behind The Scenes Reality TV Photos We Can't Unsee!
15 The Bachelor - The "Private" Beach
The premise of The Bachelor is simple: A handsome single man is put inside of a house with twenty-five different women and, slowly over the course of the series, narrows the pool down until he finds the one girl who he wishes to marry. The show has spawned multiple spin-offs and has left a lasting impression on pop culture.
Often times one of the contestants will try to get some alone time with the bachelor in order to try and woo him over out of the view of the other women. In this particular case, the bachelor in question decided to take a contestant to his private beach for a romantic boat ride.
Now, we understand that there has to be a TV crew around, but the fact that the above picture is what passes as a "private" beach on this show is ridiculous!
14 Here Comes Honey Boo Boo - The new Mama June
Just when people were saying that the bottom of the entertainment barrel had been reached with Jersey Shore, out came Toddlers and Tiaras. And then, not long after, came the spinoff Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo.
The titular character was a goofy little girl who competed in several child beauty pageants; this show, however, was more focused on her Georgia family's day-to-day life. HCHBB was often criticized for its portrayal of the family as a bunch of "dumb hicks" and for exploitation.
Mama June (Honey Boo-Boo's mom) was one of the standouts of the show, known for being somewhat crass and overweight. Recently, it has been revealed that the matriarch of the family underwent a tremendous weight loss. After years of seeing Mama June on the bigger side, this is literally a case in which fans aren't even able to recognize her from her Honey Boo-Boo days!
13 19 Kids and Counting - Amy Duggar breaks the modesty rule
TLC's 19 Kids and Counting followed the lives of the Duggar family, a middle-American clan who were devout Baptists who didn't believe in birth control. This meant that, over the course of the series, the couple ended up with a whopping 19 children!
The Duggars have drawn controversy in recent years due to their downright puritan beliefs on modesty and "purity," as well as a controversy in involving their eldest son - which led to the show's cancellation.
Amy Duggar has drawn attention not once, but twice for her outright violation of the Duggar's "modesty rule." On her honeymoon, Amy's husband posted a video of his wife relaxing in a bikini. Though there's clearly nothing wrong with a woman enjoying her self in a bathing suit, the Duggars are supposed to remain covered up and only wear full-body swimsuits.
Recently, she broke her family's rule once again when she posted a photo of herself in the bathtub.
12 Jersey Shore - The real Snooki
You think we were going to do a reality TV list and not include Jersey Shore? The hit MTV show ran from 2009 to 2012, following the exploits of eight housemates as they spent the summer together in New Jersey. Characters like The Situation, Pauly D, JWow, and (of course) Snooki were household names in the early 2010s.
Even if you'd never watched an episode of Jersey Shore in your life, you knew who Snooki was.
She was one of the more obnoxious characters, and that's saying something! She was always shown to have a fake tan and layer after layer of makeup on her face. Which is why it is so shocking when, in 2012, she posted this photo to her twitter showing her without her iconic look. If you didn't know any better, you'd think they were two completely different people!
11 Big Brother- The Location of the House
Here it is folks, one of the shows that started it all! Big Brother started as a Dutch TV series in 1997 before getting adapted for the U.S. in 2000 and becoming one of the most successful reality shows of all time. The series is still on today, taking a group of strangers and isolating them from the outside world inside of a house. Each week the housemates face different challenges that determine who will get evicted; the last one standing takes home the prize.
The fact that they always refer to the living space as the "Big Brother House" makes you wonder what the structure really looks like.
Is it a secluded mansion out in the hills of California? Is it some underground bunker out in the wilderness? Nope.
This picture shows us that the house of Big Brother is just a warehouse-looking structure out in the middle of a Hollywood studio lot!
10 Amish Mafia - The Family's True Crimes
Amish Mafia is one of those shows that is so ridiculously fake that even the most die-hard fans of the show don't believe everything that occurs on screen. "Lebanon Levi" is a respected "boss" of a Pennsylvania Amish community. Throughout the show he tries to keep peace between his community and keep them away from the influence of outsiders.
The show plays up the fact that the main cast has a "history" of run-ins with the law.
Although this is never expanded upon, it is done to make us think that they are harder than they really are. One look at the cast's rap sheet is all it takes to disprove this. The run-ins with local law enforcement all had to do with DUIs, public drunkenness, substance possession, and disturbing the peace. Breaking the law is breaking the law, but there are Kardashians with more severe rap sheets than these.
9 Cake Boss - A Long Wait Time
Cake Boss is one of the biggest TLC hits in recent memory, and that's saying something!
The title refers to Buddy Valastro, head baker and owner of the legendary Carlo's Bakery. Each week Buddy and his colorful cast of employees takes on a new challenge of baking a custom cake for a client, and each week audiences get to witness a crazy new creation! The show often plays up the fact that Carlo's is busy, leading to the opening of a second location in later seasons.
However, the cameras never tell the true story of the bake shop.
The line for Carlo's is so long that it sometimes takes customers hours just to walk in the door! This picture was taken during the peak of a typical day for the business and shows a line that has become so unruly that it needs barriers and stretches for blocks down the road.
8 The Great British Baking Show - Paul Holiday's distasteful costume
Since 2010, The Great British Bake Off (or The Great British Baking Show as we call it here in the States) has charmed the pants off of audiences around the world. The competition follows twelve contestants as they bake their way to greatness, completing a series of challenges along the way. Contestants are judged by British baking royalty Mary Berry and Paul Holiday.
In late 2017, right as season eight of Bake Off was about to kick off, tabloids began posting pictures of judge Paul Holiday decked out in a full Nazi costume, complete with arm band and iron cross.
Needless to say, this created a PR fiasco for the show.
Holiday has since apologized, claiming that this was taken in 2003 while he and his friend were on their way to a British TV themed party (he was dressed as a character from Allo! Allo).
7 Hell's Kitchen - Like Father, Like Son
Gordon Ramsey has made a name for himself as the meanest chef on television. Gordon holds nothing back with the contestants on Hell's Kitchen as he screams obscenities at them, calls them idiots, and drops more F-bombs than anybody we can think of.
Why do they put up with this? Because Ramsey is a master chef, and winning the show snags them a head chef job at one of his restaurants!
There is so much about the above picture that is strange.
For starters, Ramsey and his son look eerily similar. Then there's the fact that the usually red-faced and angry chef is actually goofing off and enjoying himself!? Then there's the backwards hat, which would look funny on anybody his age, but is made even more hilarious because we know how he acts on the show.
6 Survivor - The Crew Village
Survivor is one of the longest-running and successful reality show ever made. It follows a group of contestants, each placed into their own "tribe," as they are left out on a remote island to fend for themselves. Each episode includes a premeditated competition that must be performed by both tribes; the losing group then has to vote someone on their team off the island.
Though Survivor doesn't try to make it a secret that the contestants aren't as secluded as they were originally made out to be, it's very jarring to see just how civilized this "desolate island" really is! The above picture was taken by a blogger as they toured the set of the hit CBS show. They write about how the base camp had a cozy tent, house-brewed coffee, and a continental breakfast - all while the contestants slept on the beach down the way.
5 Shark Tank - Kevin Lightens Up
After the economic crash of 2008, reality shows featuring business practices and billionaire investors hit it big. One of the series to emerge from this time was Shark Tank, a reality show in which small business owners go before a group of "Sharks" (millionaires looking to invest) and pitch their ideas to them. Some of the products and services put forth on the show have gone on to become huge!
One of the Sharks, Kevin O'Leary, is a Canadian millionaire who is notorious for being stingy with his money and grumpy towards contestants. This makes it all the more surreal to see the above photo in which Kevin is not only laughing, but wearing a stuffed shark hat on his head!
Is this the same guy who drives a hard bargain on the show?!
4 Fixer Upper - Chip and Joanna's Interviews
For five years we have been welcomed into the life and work of Chip and Joanna Gaines as they go around Waco, Texas taking terrible houses and turning them into dream homes. Though Fixer Upper is on the same network as shows like Flip or Flop and House Hunters, there was always something that made it feel more authentic. Chip and JoJo had a great family, they did great work, and they genuinely seemed to enjoy what they did.
Any behind-the-scenes photos of the show make us feel like a kid finding out the Easter Bunny isn't real.
Take for example the picture from above: Chip and Joanna do their interview segments in a nice, open backyard. Right? Apparently the interviews take place right next to a busy area (notice the billboard and shopfronts in the background) and need a shade in order to get the lighting just perfect.
3 Alaska: The Last Frontier- The Real Homer, Alaska
Alaska: The Last Frontier is a reality show that follows a family of homesteaders out in the wilderness of Alaska. The family of some of the original Alaskan bushmen, the Kilchers live a life of hardships as they try to fend for themselves by hunting and trapping for food and living without heat or running water. Surprisingly, the family is actually related to singer-songwriter Jewel!
This show goes out of its way to tell viewers how secluded the Kilchers are from civilization.
Yet, the above picture is of Homer, Alaska, a town that is about 10 miles away from their homestead. Now, we don't want to make any assumptions here, but that looks an awful lot like a modern city to us! Though they are just outside the city limits, the family could easily make the journey here if the going ever got too tough.
2 Mythbusters - Property: Busted
Mythbusters is one of those rare shows that teaches you things while at the same time keeping you engrossed and entertained! Jaime, Adam, Tori, Grant, and Kari all had different backgrounds in the special effects and science industries, and put their skills to good use trying to prove or disprove popular myths and urban legends. The show lasted almost a decade and is still well-known and watched to this day.
The producers definitely want you to forget about this picture.
This was the result of a Mythbusters experiment gone completely wrong; while testing out a myth involving a cannon, the weapon's projectile was flung far outside the secluded testing zone and went through the house and minivan of a Dublin, California man. The episode was eventually aired with an apology, and the cast of the show made several appearances in the community to try and rebuild good PR.
1 Duck Dynasty - Before Fame
Though its popularity has waned in recent years and the show ended in 2017, A&E's Duck Dynasty was the biggest show on TV for a while in the 2010s. A big part of the show characterizes the Robertson men as "wild country folk", they have big bushy beards, wear camouflage all the time, and conform to more traditional values.
Mostly, it's the beards that give them their iconic look.
When this photo made the rounds, fans were shocked. It portrays most of the main cast of Duck Dynasty before they were famous. They are all clean-shaven and dress like your typical upper middle-class men, complete with matching white shirts and short hair. If you put this picture side by side with a group shot from the show, you can't even distinguish who is who!
Do you think you'll ever be able to unsee these images? Let us know in the comments!