It’s pretty well-known that “reality TV” doesn’t actually have much to do with, well, reality. Still, we’d like to believe that the people we’re watching are being at least somewhat truthful on-camera. But it seems like every other day there’s a new revelation about how some of our favorite reality TV shows aren’t just hoaxes, but the people starring on them are fakes and liars to boot. Watch our video above of some of the worst offenders, or read about them below. Plus, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more awesome list videos.

The unfortunately named TLC show Breaking Amish follows five young people from Amish and Mennonite communities as they begin to explore a more secular lifestyle in Manhattan—all while the cameras roll. Shortly after the first episode aired, however, news came out that many of the cast members had already left their communities long before joining up with the production. The problem, of course, stems from the fact that the show’s hook was revealing the characters’ first experiences in the wider world. As each new story surfaced online, it became pretty clear that, by the time the show began, these men and women had very little Amish left to break.

There is no shortage of shows featuring pasty people hunting bogus boogiemen and boogiewomen. One such crew had a show on the Travel Channel called Ghost Adventures—but things got scary after a crewmember appeared on a podcast and revealed the tricks the network pulled to create its TV treats. Castmember Aaron Goodwin was fired in 2014 after he appeared on the podcast Are We Alone and explained how the network staged reactions and ghostly sound effects when the footage they shot wasn’t exciting enough:

“If we film all night long and came back with uneventful material, they actually make us go back and act out scenes. It’s sickening really,” he said, adding, “this started off as a real thing, it is just not consistent and active enough for the big-shots at the network, so they basically have turned us into liars. We have been committing a fraud.”

While there haven’t been any big bombshells hitting the Internet about how Rick, Corey, Chumlee, and the rest of the Pawn Stars gang are actually just a troupe of trained cockroaches in lifelike human suits, there’s ample evidence of fakery for anyone who’s looking. A blog post from 2011 reveals one episode’s scam, in which a “customer” named Rod brings in an expensive 1960 Les Paul guitar, while an expert is called in to help appraise it. As the blogger discovered, both the customer and the expert actually worked together at a nearby guitar store in Las Vegas. But perhaps the biggest lie is how the title refers to the cast members as “stars.”

This was probably the biggest disappointment on this list, since Dinner: Impossible on the Food Network is actually a pretty fun show. On each episode, super-chef Robert Irvine has to provide huge, gourmet meals with limited time and resources. Watching him find ways to accomplish his tasks makes for super-compelling television. But in 2008, during the show’s second season, news broke in the St. Petersburg Times out of Florida that some of the most impressive items on the host’s CV were completely cooked up in Irvine’s head. Accomplishments like working on the wedding cake for Prince Charles and Princess Di, or cooking for sitting US presidents never actually happened.

Irvine was yanked from his show shortly after the truth came out—but only a few years later, the Food Network brought him back for various projects. Apparently the truth doesn’t taste as good as being good on-camera.

In America, the show was called Man vs. Wild. On Channel 4 in the UK, it was called Born Survivor: Bear Grylls—which, Bear Grylls, c’mon, couldn’t we just stop right there, really?—and it’s about a British military vet who gets dropped into harsh landscapes and must survive, often for days, with minimal gear. Well, after accusations of deception got too loud, Channel 4 admitted that Bear actually stayed in hotels overnight sometimes, as well as had help from the crew when it came to his perceived ingenuity in doing things like building a wooden raft (which was actually assembled off camera and then disassembled for him to find and put together on screen).

In response to the controversy, a Channel 4 spokesman said “Bear does do all his own stunts and does put himself in perilous situations. But Born Survivor is not an observational documentary series but a ‘how to’ guide to basic survival techniques in extreme environments. The programme explicitly does not claim that presenter Bear Grylls’ experience is one of unaided solo survival.” So, if you ever find yourself in a perilous wilderness situation, just be sure to always have an expert crew on standby, ready to either give you every tool you need or just airlift you the heck out of there for some room service and a nice fluffy robe.

House Hunters is a show that routinely features young couples who are inexplicably approved for crazy high mortgages, are overly concerned with paint color and granite countertops, and have clearly just learned the term “en suite,” and are going to use it every chance they get. The premise is that they compare three properties for the duration of the show, then dramatically decide on which one they want and anxiously await their offer being accepted. Sounds exactly like the kind of too-hungover-to-operate-the-remote binge watching that HGTV thrives on, but the problem is the whole show is basically a reenactment.

After a reader of the Hooked on Houses blog, whose “house hunt” was featured on the show, relayed a story about how they’d actually already closed on their house before HGTV even accepted them for the show and went so far as to stage their friends’ houses as the other potential buys, HGTV was forced to comment under a wave of media scrutiny. They owned up to it, but their official response was so full of PR spin and buzzwords, the HGTV team should probably be running political campaigns: “To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process. Often everything moves much more quickly than we can anticipate, so we go back and revisit some of the homes that the family has already seen and we capture their authentic reactions. Because the stakes in real estate are so high, these homeowners always find themselves RIGHT back in the moment, experiencing the same emotions and reactions to these properties.”

You only need to watch about five minutes of Catch a Contractor to know that the entire show is a vehicle for Adam Carolla to nasally blabber his awful jokes, often at the expense of manual laborers who don’t speak english very well or at all. Then his buddy, licensed contractor Skip Bedel, shows up in a boy’s size medium t-shirt, because seeing the tribal tattoos on his massive biceps are how you know he’s a legit tradesman. Anyway, the whole premise is that together, these two will fix the job a crappy contractor either left undone or massively screwed up by tracking him down and forcing him to do the job right. Which admittedly sounds great until that plan becomes it’s own nightmare when the crew that the show hires to help make the fixes ends up doing way more damage than the original bad contractor.

That’s how Catch a Contractor got sued by a California couple whose lawsuit against Spike TV, its owner Viacom, and the contractors they hired, claims, “As sewer pipes were moved, one of the sewer pipes was left disconnected, allowing about 200 gallons of raw sewage to spill under the shower, into the walls and underneath the house.” So, does tattoo-guy now have to bully himself while Adam Carolla tells tired one-liners? We’re not really sure how this works.
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Who’d ever have thought that a hit show could come from a bunch of weirdos buying garbage that’s locked up in abandoned storage units? Such is the genius of A&E’s Storage Wars. But a couple seasons into its run, one of the lead weirdos, Dave Hester, left the production and sued the network over allegations of fakery.

Hester said that the show’s producers loaded units up with the items to give each episode an artificial hook. Moreover, Hester alleged the show funneled money to teams to keep each episode’s bidding competitive. Amazingly, rather than deny any of the charges, A&E simply defended its sham “reality” show by invoking the first amendment. Even more amazing than that was when the case was settled out of court and Hester agreed to return to the show in 2014. Uh…yup?

In 2012, a singer named Jermaine Jones took one of the 12 final spots on that season of American Idol. Clearly his talent and personality were hits with fans and judges. But American Idol contestants don’t succeed on talent alone—America won’t vote for you unless they feel for you, too. Knowing this, Jones lied to the show’s producers, saying that his father had abandoned him at a young age. As the show progressed, Jones’ dad denied the claims, and the producers started looking more closely at Jermaine’s Jerclaims. They discovered that not only did he have regular contact with his dad, but he’d also been hit with criminal charges a year earlier. When the truth came out, the show’s fans didn’t even have a chance to vote—Jermaine Jones got the boot, and American Idol was safe to remain an unsullied bastion of mediocrity and crappitude for the rest of its days.

The best episode of Cribs was arguably the lunatic romp through diva Mariah Carey’s house in which she changes clothes around a thousand times, gets on a stairmaster in 4-inch heels, and strips down for a bath right in front of the camera crew. We’re willing to believe that episode was 100% authentic and probably left even crazier antics on the cutting room floor, but you don’t strike gold like that all the time, so MTV apparently made concessions.

One of the more obvious cons was Ja Rule’s episode. In it, he waltzed around a Miami mansion showing off rooms stuffed with fancy furniture and luxury amenities—all of which he was renting. And yes, the show does briefly list it as a rental on the title card, but fails to mention the fact that Rule had only rented the place for an extended weekend during which he hosted a party that resulted in the homeowner suing him. On top of that, MTV allegedly never obtained releases from the homeowner to shoot in the home or air the footage, so they got sued as well. Honestly, MTV, just go back to Mariah’s house. There’s so much more we need to know about that place.
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Bear Grylls’s show is designed to make him look like a hero, when actually he is a twat who fakes his show. Even the bear he was stalked by was a producer in a bear costume. He’s just a TV presenter. The worst thing, the thing that really gets my goat, is the fact that he presents it as good advice to people in survival situations, when the action or decision portrayed as real is precisely the worst thing that a person could do.

Dont amish people have a thing against being on camera? isnt it something about humility or pride or something? eh, i dont know.

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