Everybody knows reality TV isn’t real.
I wish I could say that were true. What many don’t seem to comprehend is that editing plays a huge role in what you see. To paraphrase Sarah Silverman: “If you taped someone all day long and then edited it to 30 minutes of me peeing, everyone would think I just pee all the time.”
The show I was on was called “Can’t Get a Date”. Originally it was called “Totally Crushed Out.” They told me that they decided on the new name at the last minute, but I realized the name of the production company was “CGAD”. So…there you go. My episode’s plot was that I was kind of lazy and overweight and had abandoned my career as a singer, and as a result couldn’t find true love.
To say I was depicted as a whiny, bitchy diva is an understatement. Imagine a production crew following you around all the time asking you to lose as much weight as you can as quickly as you can while people constantly tell you what’s wrong with you. You’d be bitchy too. They got me a personal trainer who admitted to me that he used steroids, and set me up in one of the fanciest, snobbiest gyms in New York. I was the only person there who needed to lose weight as opposed to maintain a muscled physique.
Ultimately I got a ton of publicity from the show and was able to tour with my guitarist and sell CD’s and get bookings for years. I also got thousands of hate mail; a lot of it accused me of being an anti-semite.
See, there’s only one moment I regret in the show. I’m on the date, and I said to my companion, John, “So, you’re a Jew…” He worked at a Catholic school, and my intention was to say “…but you work at a Catholic school. How interesting.” Instead he interrupted me: “Uh, okay, first of all, it’s ‘a Jewish person.'” Now John was joking – in fact his blog is called “BearJewNYC” – but it made me look like a real creep.
The best way to summarize how it all works is to tell you how it ended. I came in to film a final interview about the experience, and I talked about how difficult it was. They called me the next day and asked me to re-do the interview and say it was great, because they needed to end my story line in a more pleasing way. This wasn’t nearly the first time I was asked to retake my ‘reality’ to make it better for TV viewing.
So the next time you’re harshly judging a pregnant teen mom or a Real Housewife of Sheboygan, remember that you are watching a fictional exacerbation of reality.