As an avid watcher of “reality TV”, I have always asked the question, “how in the world do they find these people?” I now know… I tried to be one of those people.
It is odd walking into a new place with hundreds of women (and a few scattered men) all lined up to be a part of an infamous dating TV show. Weaving through the series of lines there appeared to be two dichotomous sets of women, with very few deviations. Some were eager to show off all their bits and pieces, while others covered up in an ostensibly conservative way. Most looked as though they were trying to portray themselves as the women they had seen on TV (from the Stepford Wives to the Real Housewives of New Jersey. Others looked as though they lost all hope in the real-world, and turned to TV to find their husband.
There were only a small handful of men that trickled in among the vast majority of women. They seemed to be there for the right reasons. Most looked like they wanted to turn to TV for guidance to find their soul mate. Compared to the women, the men appeared to be more eager to find love than to be on TV.
It was evident that many of the women did not receive the dress-code notice. Most had a variety of dresses on, from maxis to sundresses to Cinderella dresses, while some had on skirts and dresses so short that wouldn’t have fit a cabbage patch doll. Others “casualized” the clothing selections with their daisy duke shorts and baggy “boyfriend” jeans. Most faces were painted with too much makeup and their hair styled with enough hairspray to kill an ozone layer. The variety of outfits represented the diversity of women who are currently contestants on this show.
Standing in line for nearly two hours for a ten-minute interview warrants the opportunity to engage in conversation. Some of the future contestants were eager to make friends and talk, while others were strictly there for business (head up, mouth closed, eyes on the prize). I was the former. After the first line, I decided to talk among my competition. Men and women traveled from all over to come to this audition, some driving hours for their chance at 15 minutes of fame. It became instantly apparent that a majority of women only wanted to be chosen for the show to be enviously watched and idolized by America.
I signed up out of sheer curiosity. I never knew how reality TV shows found their contestants, or even what the process was like. It became shockingly clear that reality TV is semi-scripted, semi-plotted, and heavily orchestrated by producers. Those who would bring interesting diversity, dynamics and drama into the series are essential. Even “real people” can become puppets for an audience’s entertainment. What is funny to me is that women and men alike line up for the opportunity to become a puppet on primetime. Those in slaggy dress, the pretty girls and the hopeful mothers all want to find love on a carefully devised set to be watched by millions of people.
The actual interview was more about seeing if you would make for good TV. Women and men should not beat themselves up because they weren’t picked to be on TV. Instead, they should be happy that they were seen as independent thinkers, not ones that can be manipulated to stimulate drama.
This was an interesting experience that paralleled rush/job interviews/magic mike/candid camera all at the same time. I was happy to have the opportunity, but real life where I make my own decisions is much better for me. More to come… xo.