Things I’ve Learned from Being on Reality TV

When your life is already in a state of chaos, what do you do? Agree to be in an episode of a reality TV show!

About a month and a half ago, my friend Nicole sent me a text that said “Do you want to be on reality TV with me on Tuesday?” and for some crazy reason I didn’t even hesitate before saying “Yes!” (What’s wrong with me?!)

Before you start imagining me holed up in some beach rental, drinking jungle juice all day & starting fist fights with my room-mates, I should probably mention that I Nicole and I were on the show For Rent which airs on the Home and Garden Network. FYI. The show is about apartment hunting – the apartments are for rent, not Nicole and I. Having moved 9 times in the past 10 years, I was there to be Nicole’s moral support and help her find the apartment of her dreams…all on camera. The show is supposed to be airing sometime in the Spring in case you want to catch us in action. My Dad (who doesn’t have cable) has already told me he’s planning on renting a hotel room for the night so he can catch the show. I will never live this down.

Filming a show is a weird experience to say the least so, I’ve come up with a list of a few things I’ve learned during my very brief stint on reality TV:

1. TV time isn’t real time: It takes 5-6 days of filming (which took place over the course of 3 weeks) to create a 22 minute show that is actually meant to take place on 2 days. About 4 of those days were spent filming footage that’s meant to be the same day. This means you’re wearing the same outfit again & again. By the time everything wraps, if you haven’t had time to dry clean stuff between filming days, you’ll probably want to burn that outfit.

2. You need to choose your wardrobe wisely: There are a whole bunch of things you can’t wear on camera: very dark or all black clothing, crazy patterns, stuff that’s branded…and the list goes on. When I received the initial email about the show and read the section pertaining to wardrobe: “Choose your outfits wisely. This episode will probably re-run for years to come” I went into panic attack mode. YEARS? Oh my god. WHAT HAVE I GOT MYSELF INTO?!

3. You need to get used to constantly having a hand up your shirt: The hidden microphone that you have to wear is attached to your body under your clothes. The mic pack is attached to your back and the actual microphone is placed inside your shirt or the front of your bra. This means that you need to get used to the idea of having a hand down your shirt at various points during the day as they insert the mic, adjust it multiple times & eventually remove it. Luckily all the sound people are totally professional so it’s not really that weird…but it’s still kind of weird.

I was on a reality show....but not this kind of reality show.

4. It’s all about REPETITION! REPETITION! REPETITION! Even for reality TV, the director will do multiple takes of the same scene. This means that you may have to repeat the same conversation again & again & again so that they can get various camera angles & enough dialogue to edit later. It also means that you might leave the set at the end of the day and have the following conversation:

“So, what did you do this afternoon?”

“I pretended to eat lunch for 4 hours. You?”

5. Eating on camera is even more awkward than eating on a first date. I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Eating on camera becomes this disgusting, self-conscious activity where you’re suddenly hyper aware of every little sound and movement that’s happening inside your mouth. It just feels gross and wrong.

6. Reality TV involves a lot more acting than you’d think: When you have to do multiple takes of the same scene, acting is required. How else are you going to make lines like “Mmmmm, guacamole!” or “I love those window treatments!” sound spontaneous after 12 takes?

(This makes me wonder, exactly how real is most reality TV?)

A confessional that would never happen on a reality show about apartment hunting...unless of course you're talking about trying to fit a large EQ3 sectional into the living room of a 400 square foot King West condo then, this sounds about right.

(The most important ones of all)

7. I actually like being on camera: I thought I would feel super awkward on camera but I actually liked it! Throughout my childhood and teen years I was heavily involved in dance and drama. After high school I did a year of theater school, had some small parts in some student films and discovered I’m connected to Kevin Bacon by six degrees. Performing used to be a huge part of my life. I’ve missed it and realized that I need to find a way to incorporate it back into my life.

8. Having a blog can change your life in weird and wonderful ways. Sometimes you just have to say “yes” to opportunities: If I hadn’t started this blog, I never would have met Nicole and I never would have had this experience or met some of the fabulous people I met through it. People who don’t blog might think writing about your life online is a waste of time but, it really can lead to cool, unexpected things.

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