We know most of our favorite reality shows are probably staged, edited, and/or partially scripted for optimum entertainment value. It’s just the nature of the beast, but it doesn’t necessarily sway us from tuning in week after week.
Naturally, one of the aspects most appealing is watching reality TV couples fall in love, fight, break up, reunite, get married, or get divorced and start dating other people. It’s like living somewhat vicariously through these people, who are supposed to be like us. Sort of. And we’ll go along with it, even if we know it might not be real.
Then there are the reality shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (and all the spin-offs from it like Bachelor in Paradise). Out of all of them, these shows have the most propensity to perpetrate disingenuous relationships because that is the exact premise: one bachelor or bachelorette has to sort through so many suitors to find one they can spend the rest of their lives with. How can two people honestly find their soulmates in such a short period of time? It’s next to impossible — but it does make for great TV.
Here are 18 Reality TV Couples That Faked It For The Cameras.
18. KRIS AND CAITLYN JENNER (KARDASHIANS)
Kris and Bruce Jenner, now Caitlyn Jenner, must have been a happy couple when they married in 1991. They had two daughters (Kendall and Kylie), so to some degree the marriage was an authentic one – at least in the beginning. Of course, that was all before the hit E! reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians began airing in 2007 – and we now know how the Jenners’ relationship turned out.
Any of the “affection” shown between the two while the cameras were rolling cast some real doubt, especially as seasons of the show went on. It never felt real.
Then when Bruce publicly became Caitlyn Jenner in 2015, it all made sense, even if Kris insisted she never knew her husband of 23 years was struggling with her gender identity.
17. REBECCA BYLER AND ABE SCHMUCKER (BREAKING AMISH)
When Breaking Amish first aired on TLC in 2012, the reality show revolved around five young adults leaving their Amish or Mennonite communities and moving to NY to see if living in the outside world was something they wanted to do.
In the first season, fans were immediately drawn to the love story between Rebecca Byler and Abe Schmucker, who met on the show and eventually got married.
Or so they said. Rumors started flying the two actually lived together before the show started and have a daughter. Rebecca and Abe both denied it, steadfastly claiming they had never met before the show. Rebecca claimed she was divorced and had the baby with her ex-husband, whom she never named.
In a reunion show, the young woman snapped, “If [fans] want to know, they can watch the show. If they don’t want to believe, they don’t have to believe it.”
16. MAMA JUNE AND “SUGAR BEAR” (HONEY BOO BOO)
The wonderful trainwreck that was Here Comes Honey Boo Boo had so much craziness going on, including the relationship between matriarch “Mama” June Shannon and her now-ex, Mike “Sugar Bear” Thompson.
As the father of Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson, Sugar Bear seemed to be happy being the mild-mannered spouse, while Mama June ruled the roost. Real or fake, it was damn entertaining.
When their split was announced in 2014, however, there were reports it was all done for the sake of the show, which had declined in ratings. Sugar Bear was rumored to be upset he had to play along with it, while other reports said Mama June did indeed kick Thompson out and leaked the story herself.
We know now that they were definitely on the outs, and the animosity has since grown.
15. JAKE PAVELKA AND VIENNA GIRARDI (THE BACHELOR)
Ah, the first of many Bachelor couples to make our list. As season 14’s The Bachelor, Jake Pavelka was a sweet-natured pilot who “fell” for two women: Tenley Molzahn and Vienna Girardi.
Fans screamed for Pavelka to hand the final rose to Molzahn and propose because Girardi was painted as a villain. Whether or not that was true (it was probably exaggerated by editing), Pavelka did propose to Girardi – but then the two rather publicly broke it off just a few months later.
No one was at all surprised by the split since they just seemed so awkward throughout the process. Rumors are that they pretty much played it for the cameras, but the proof was in the pudding after they split, with each of them doing separate on-air interviews and Girardi telling her side of the story to Star magazine.
14. BRODY JENNER AND KRISTEN CAVALLERI (THE HILLS)
Before his step and half-sisters took reality TV to a whole new level, Brody Jenner – the youngest son of Caitlyn Jenner and Linda Thompson – was a pretty popular reality TV star on The Hills and Laguna Beach. He also had fake relationships, especially with Kristin Cavallari.
Cavallari was particularly candid about how their romance on The Hills was only for the cameras, even if they did have a fling before the show started. Jenner was actually dating Jayde Nicole at the time. Cavallari once admitted, “Jayde and I got into a huge fight because she saw us in a club. It wasn’t real at all. They were together the entire time.”
Jenner also had to fake it with the show’s other star, Lauren Conrad, much to the fans’ chagrin. Most viewers thought Conrad and Jenner were perfect together, but alas, it was just a great friendship.
13. THE BACHELOR’S JUAN PABLO GALAVIS
Juan Pablo Galavis has reportedly gone down as one of the most hated Bachelors of all time. He started out as a contestant on The Bachelorette with Desiree Hartsock in 2013, and then took his turn as The Bachelor in 2014. But the former soccer player just wouldn’t play by the rules, and it seemed like he was only there to have a good time, rather than find a wife.
It was rumored he had relations with at least three of the contestants, and reportedly told runner-up Clare Crawley he just wanted to “bang” her. What really ticked people off, however, was how he treated Nikki Ferrell, the women he ostensibly chose to receive the final rose. She professed her love for him, but he couldn’t reciprocate, ending the show without a proposal. He faked it for all it was worth.
12. LAUREN CONRAD AND STEPHEN COLLETTI (LAGUNA BEACH)
The Brody Jenner-Kristin Cavallari faux romance isn’t the only time the MTV reality shows faked relationships. On Laguna Beach, the show producers reportedly pushed Stephen Colletti together with Lauren Conrad, when in reality he was actually dating Cavallari.
In Cavallari’s book Balancing in Heels, she claimed the show wanted to create the drama of a love triangle. She wrote, “One of the most hurtful things they did was pressure Stephen to spend time with another girl from the show, Lauren, while he and I were dating. It certainly provided some juicy conflicts, but it also affected me deeply.”
Cavallari cited an example in which Colletti was sweetly mouthing “I love you” to her at dinner, but the scene was edited to make it look like he was saying that to Conrad.
11. JOSHUA ALBERS AND TENLEY MOLZAHN (BACHELOR IN PARADISE)
After all the drama she went through with Jake Pavelka on The Bachelor, Tenley Molzahn knew the deal when she signed up for Bachelor in Paradise. Rumors swirled she only took the gig to seek fame and money and wasn’t at all interested in really putting her heart out there again. Plus, she got to hang in a gorgeous tropical locale!
Problem is, the guy Tenley picked to have a faux romance with, Joshua Albers, reportedly fell hard for her, and so he got his heart broken when she didn’t want to continue the romance after the show ended.
According to sources, “She was never going to continue a relationship with Josh outside of this show—but she sure made him think she would.”
10. KENYA MOORE AND WALTER JACKSON (REAL HOUSEWIVES)
When Real Housewives of Atlanta star Kenya Moore first came on the show, she had some bad luck in the romance department. Then, things seemed to pick up in 2012 when she started dating Walter Jackson, but it didn’t last all that long, either.
It turns out the whole thing was staged by Moore. Jackson opened up that she had asked him to pretend to be her boyfriend to have more relevancy on the show. He said at the time, “Kenya is a great actress; you have to give her that. She’s very good entertainment, and the viewers want to tune in and watch what she’s going to do or say next, but nothing you see is real, I mean come on, does anyone actually believe what she says anymore?”
Moore did finally find the right man and married former banker-turned-restaurateur Marc Daly in 2017.
9. BEN FLAJNIK AND COURTNEY ROBERTSON (THE BACHELOR)
While Bachelor Ben Flajnik and his girl of choice, Courtney Robertson, did have some genuine feelings for each other, it turns out it was more lust than anything else. The two broke off their engagement pretty quickly after the initial proposal since there wasn’t anything lasting there.
In 2014, the former model wrote a tell-all book and dished about her experience on the show. First, Robertson being tagged as the season’s villain was a tad surprising to her since she actually made a few close friends on the show, and she blames editing.
Then she talked about how she and Flajnik did have relations while skinny dipping in the ocean – on camera, no less — and definitely had a wild night in the Fantasy Suite. So, the love thing? Not so real. Hooking up? 100 percent.
8. PROFESSIONAL REALITY TV BOYFRIEND RYAN CABRERA
The strange phenomenon of Ryan Cabrera in the early days of reality TV is still a bit of a puzzler. Known more for his spiky (and awful) hair than anything else, he started as a singer and was managed by Joe Simpson. When daughter Ashlee Simpson got her own reality TV show, he caught a glimpse of fame as he started dating Ashlee. He has said his the relationship with Simpson was indeed real, even if it didn’t last.
He then turned up on The Hills and began dating star Audrina Patridge. While it started out well, the couple split, and, according to Patridge, they had to pretend they were still together for awhile. Awkward.
Cabrera finally concluded his reality TV stint with Pretty Wild, a short-lived show following real-life Bling Ring member Alexis Neiers. Apparently, the whole show was fiction, so Cabrera’s appearance made sense. The guy couldn’t keep anything real.
7. CHAD JOHNSON AND JOJO FLETCHER (THE BACHELORETTE)
Apparently, contestant Chad Johnson had only one thing on his mind when he joined The Bachelorette in 2016 – to become famous. He didn’t really care about wooing JoJo Fletcher, and instead became the season’s villain, fighting with the other male contestants and generally being a real jerk.
It seemed like Fletcher saw through the pretense and cut him halfway through the show, but his bad-boy behavior continued on, and the guy milked it big time. After being kicked off, he continued to badmouth both Fletcher and the man she chose, Jordan Rodgers.
Fletcher took the high road, and said at the time, “He loves the attention and I think that’s why he’s continued to act the way he does. So it was in my best interest to not give him the time of day.”
6. AUDRINA PATRIDGE AND JUSTIN BOBBY (THE HILLS)
Here’s yet another example of a fake relationship on The Hills. Audrina Patridge, who was labeled as one of the more “innocent” characters, was paired with bad boy Justin Bobby, and the two showed some real chemistry. It’s a pretty common set up, and always works for fictional couples in movies and TV.
But this is supposed to be “reality,” and in the real world, Patridge and Bobby were just good friends. In 2009, Bobby revealed to the Los Angeles Times that the connection was the show’s way of adding spice, and that they invented the whole romance with strategic editing. He claimed that their scenes were simply pieced together to make it look like the couple were an item.
5. JASON MESNICK AND MELISSA RYCROFT (THE BACHELOR)
What happened between Bachelor Jason Mesnick and his ex-fianceé Melissa Rycroft was really messed up, proving again that this show isn’t for the fainthearted.
Mesnick gave Rycroft the final rose at the end of the 13th season and proposed, but by the time the After the Final Rose special rolled around a few weeks later, Mesnick had had a change of heart and rekindled his feelings for the runner-up, Molly Malaney, dropping the bomb on Rycroft on live television.
Mesnick later admitted the producers didn’t want him to tell Rycroft before the special but to spring it on her on the show. All’s well that ends well, though. Mesnick and Malaney actually got married and now have a child, while Rycroft married longtime love Tye Strickland.
4. ENTIRE 90 DAY FIANCÉ CAST
Okay, the whole premise for this TLC newest hit reality show screams “fake!” 90 Day Fiance follows couples who are going through the K-1 visa process and are required to get married in America at the end of 90 days by law or return to their home countries. Like that’s an acceptable reason to marry someone.
If that isn’t proof enough that most of this must be fake, many of the couples also met online. In the last season, for example, Josh met Aika, who lives in the Philippines, on a dating app and spent several months messaging before Josh flew to the Philippines to propose. And 41-year-old Molly met 26-year-old Luis from Dominican Republic at a bar and getting engaged less than two months later. It’s definitely entertaining to watch, though.
3. KATE AND JON GOSSELIN
Kate and Jon Gosselin probably ruined their marriage by turning into reality TV stars. Well, maybe only Kate wanted all the fame and fortune; Jon, not so much. As one of the most popular reality shows of all time, TLC’s Jon & Kate Plus 8 followed the Gosselins as they raised their eight kids – twin girls and sextuplets – in a seemingly fun and chaotic household.
As Kate took center stage pretty early on, you could see Jon pulling away more and more. They still had to maintain some semblance of a marriage to keep the show alive, and alive it was!
Finally, though, rumors of Jon’s infidelities could not be ignored, and the two announced their separation in 2009 after 10 years of marriage. Fans finally soured on the show, and only Kate went on to do more reality specials with the kids.
2. JEF HOLM AND EMILY MAYNARD (THE BACHELORETTE)
The Bachelor and The Bachelorette alum Emily Maynard really tried her best to find love on those shows. Her story is a bit of a sad one. She was engaged to NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick and was pregnant when he was killed in a plane crash. Maynard eventually found her way to The Bachelor in 2011, and was chosen by Brad Womack. They broke it off soon after.
Then as The Bachelorette, Maynard picked Jef Holm as the man of her dreams, but this relationship, too, lasted only a few months, with rumors of infidelity on both ends. Holm’s ex-girlfriend told Us Weekly that the relationship was a joke, nothing more than a business deal for Holm because apparently, Maynard paid him to stay quiet about what really went down. Thank god she finally gave up the fake quest for love and found the real thing with husband Tyler Johnson.
1. KIM KARDASHIAN AND KRIS HUMPHRIES (KARDASHIANS)
It did seem like Kim Kardashian’s relationship and short-lived marriage to Kris Humphries was all for the cameras and nothing more. To be fair, before the big televised special Kim’s Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event (which, honestly, says it all right there), there may have been some genuine feelings between the reality TV star and the basketball player, but after the wedding, it went downhill from there. They divorced after only being married for 72 days – and the drama leading up to the split was accentuated for the cameras.
Humphries was portrayed as the villain, naturally, something he later complained about – and one of the KUWTK producers admitted was intentional. They would edit and re-shoot moments to make Humphries look bad, but in truth Kardashian once confessed she knew it wasn’t going to work out by the honeymoon. Poor guy, he never knew what hit him.
Any other reality TV couples you think were totally fake? Let us know in the comments below!
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