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I work as an editor for reality TV - in fact I should be cutting right now instead of writing this - so I should know. (I have never edited "Undercover Boss")

This diary by Vyan draws the correct conclusion but using a reality show as the evidence isn't real evidence.

First let me say that I 100% agree with the idea that the 1% work harder is 100% ludicrous and insulting.

There are hard workers and lazy arses in both the 99% and the 1% - but the 1% isn't inherently better than anyone else and visa versa.

Anyways - back to my point - that using a "reality" show to prove your point isn't usually a good idea.

Everything you see on a "reality" show has been heightened for drama.

1. Nothing moments are edited into big moments for tension, comedy, etc. Little mistakes are turned into big mistakes. Big mistakes are turned into bigger mistakes. Moments when everything is fine and going well are edited out because they are boring and not good TV.

2. Everyone on the screen is usually "casted". No they're not actors. But - scouts do interviews and there's a "casting reel" and they follow people in the show that have the most interesting story, have the best on screen presence, and/or have the best sob story. Everything is done for dramatic effect. Remember - normal is not good TV.

3. Scenes in reality shows are usually (not always) pre-thought out. Producers tell people what they want the scene to be and the cast members usually try and give the producers what they want. Multiple takes of the same scene are usually done. Heck - in Duck Dynasty - there is a SCRIPT that the cast READS. (Haven't worked on that show either but I've spoken to people familiar with it)

4. When above scenes are not pre-thought out - an editor - me - takes the raw footage that is show and cuts it together in a way that heightens that drama - whatever that drama might be. Again - we don't make boring TV.

5. Interviews are done with leading questions from the producers. Heck producers even sometimes GIVE THEM A LINE TO SAY - WORD for WORD. And THEY SAY IT.

6. The entire format of the show is mapped out and the scenes are cut to fit the format. First the boss is a fish out of water and messes up then there's some sort of realization and then there's a heartwarming moment at the end. It's TV PEOPLE! It's ALL PLANNED BY THE PRODUCERS. Again - reality - real actual reality - is usually boring.

Remember - reality television is ENTERTAINMENT.

It's not a documentary. And remember documentaries are entertainment too and things are cut a certain way to get the director's point across.

*although I must say my favorite shows to work on are the more documentary style ones where lines and scenes are not prompted and given to people and we just follow a ton of people and pick the best stories - but those shows are unfortunately harder to come by.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Next you're going to tell me Professional (13+ / 0-)

    Wrestling is scripted too!!
    Don't be spreading these unfounded rumors around, a lot of people will be real disappointed.

    "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

    by Cruzankenny on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:28:23 AM PST

    •  Reminds me of the Vince McMahon (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      He has said in past interviews that when Ted Turner called him back in the late ’80s after purchasing WCW and said, “Hey Vince, I’m now in the wrestling business,” McMahon replied: “That’s great, Ted. I’m in the entertainment business.”

      The reason they were the good old days: we were neither good nor old.

      by carolita on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:24:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's why I think the diarists title was correct (4+ / 0-)

    it didn't say it proved anything, it said the theory about the 1% was wrong.  

    "Harass us, because we really do pay attention. Look at who's on the ballot, and vote for the candidate you agree with the most. The next time, you get better choices." - Barney Frank

    by anonevent on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:30:41 AM PST

  •  "they're not actors" (5+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure that's even true in every case.  I was reading about one of those "plant hidden cameras in your restaurant and catch your employees doing stuff" shows, and in at least one instance, they literally did identify professional actors playing roles.  Which kind of makes sense; how likely is someone to sign a release so you can air footage of them committing larceny or sexual assault?  

  •  Oh ok. (5+ / 0-)

    Now I feel sorry for wealthy CEO's again.

    “He talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans.” James Carville

    by Mokislab on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:40:52 AM PST

  •  It's a "show" literally and figuratively. (4+ / 0-)

    And while specific good employees are selected out for reward (and bosses for embarrassment), this does not end the exploitation of all the other employees.  

    The show is a PR gimmick for the companies involved.

    "So listen, oh, Don't wait." Vampire Weekend.

    by Publius2008 on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:47:46 AM PST

  •  What I want to know is - who gets paid? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marzook, Dirtandiron, Kevskos

    Do the CEOs, the employees get union scale for these shows? Only a few employees get any sort of benefit.

    Disclaimer: I have never watched a "reality" TV show; so if this has already been explained on the show, I have never heard the explanation.

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

    by Most Awesome Nana on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:48:32 AM PST

  •  I have a story (5+ / 0-)

    When I was young we hung out with a cousin, the son of our very wealthy uncle. He was a prick but he had good weed.
    We were driving through town and we came to a construction zone. A worker at the intersection ( a minority) signaled us to stop so equipment could be moved.
    My cousin, annoyed at the inconvenience motioned this man over to the window and said to him." you may have the power now, but I could buy your whole life and sell it"
    This is how these people think. Never forget that this is how these people think.
    By the way, he squandered his inheritance and has to live like the man he humiliated. Poetic justice.
    Never forget, this is how these people think.

    “He talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans.” James Carville

    by Mokislab on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 09:59:43 AM PST

  •  I saw an episode of Paris Hilton's My New BFF (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was scratching my head over the question of why anyone would book Paris Hilton on a TV series when she is so famous for not showing up for her gigs.

    I developed a theory of how the producers did it.

    All of Paris Hilton's scenes were filmed before the rest of the footage.

    The show is like The Bachelor, where one person gets eliminated each week. All of Paris Hilton's lines are generic, such as, "I have had such a wonderful time with you, but now I must let one of you go." She is the only person on the screen while she says this. Her face is never shown with any of the contestants. When they are all having fun in the hot tub, Paris Hilton is only shown from behind.

    I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.

    by Ender on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:13:06 AM PST

  •  I have only one point of disagreement with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    carolita, Kevskos

    your essay:

    Again - we don't make boring TV.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:21:44 AM PST

  •  It proves "reality" shows are BS. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:32:57 AM PST

  •  The employees in Undercover Boss seem like (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NE2, llywrch

    they're prescreened in advance to find the ones with the biggest sob story to make the gift at the end of the show seem even more important and meaningful and make the CEO look like as less of a prick as possible.

    Every employee on that show has something - sick children, sick parents, massive amounts of debt, hasn't seen their family in years, dropped out of school because of costs, facing foreclosure, etc. And I get that. They're real world problems people deal with all the time. But they're chosen over employees who have none of those issues because, at the end of the show, "Here's $30,000 for your child's cancer treatment" sounds a hell of a lot better than "Here's $30,000 for you to go to Vegas and party".

    Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'd much rather the money go to treat a kid's cancer (although ideally, the company offered health insurance making it a non issue) rather than gambling, hookers and booze, but the show is designed to get the biggest "Wow, that CEO is a nice person with a heart of gold, I'm going to go buy stuff from that company!" reaction possible from viewers.

    It's OK to watch that show, and I do too from time to time, but it's important to remember that it's designed to be a one hour commercial for the CEO and company to get you to patronize them. At the end of the day, when the cameras are off, most of those CEOs are still assholes.

    "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

    by yg17 on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 10:38:42 AM PST

    •  I've stopped watching Undercover Boss. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron, llywrch

      I started watching because it was an interesting concept -- go undercover and try to find out what is wrong with your company (eg, employees finding it difficult or impractical to follow a smoothie recipe) or what is right (an innovation that one employees has made that can be spread across the company).  There was more of this kind of stuff at first.

      Now, it has evolved to be more like another show, Secret Millionaire, where a millionaire spends a week in a poor area, visits/volunteers with a few charities, then surprises them at the end with a big check.  That's fine for that show, but it's not what the Undercover Boss concept was supposed to be. How does paying for one employee's vacation or child's cancer treatment help the rest of your company?

      •  Agreed, the CEOs never address how the employee (0+ / 0-)

        ended up in that situation in the first place.

        Why do they have huge medical bills from a sick child? It's because they don't have health benefits at their job. Why are they this close to being foreclosed on? It's because they're paid minimum wage. Why haven't they seen their mother who lives in another part of the country in years? It's because they have no paid vacation and can't afford to take a week off without pay.

        It's great for the employee that the CEO took care of their problems, but it doesn't do shit for their other employees in similar situations.

        But to the average viewer, the generous and caring CEO of McShitty Fast Food Restaurant paid for a semester of an employee's college tuition on Undercover Boss, I'm going to go eat there for dinner tonight!

        "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

        by yg17 on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 01:10:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Undercover Boss as an example. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't think anyone was arguing the show was real or not-scripted.  Of course it is.  It is extremely obvious who blatantly scripted the show is.  However, that doesn't mean the initial premise or the example is incorrect.  

    I have personally held a number of bad part-time jobs and in almost every single one of them a higher-level manager or owner has tried to step in and "help out" - usually do to poor staffing in order to cut labour costs.  In every one of these situations, the higher-up has no idea what they are doing, often does more to get in the way than actually help, and I've even seen them break their own "rules" in order to keep up.  Despite this, I've never heard of one of them changing their ways.  They usually go on to finding ways to cut labour and make their workers do more for less.

  •  You obviously didn't notice the part (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, Kevskos

    where I said things are likely 'scripted and stage' - i live in L.A., i know the deal with "Reality" editing.  But you make a fine point, I almost used "Dirty Jobs" as an example instead - but this one hit CEO's harder.

  •  sometimes on Project Runway I can guess (0+ / 0-)

    who is going home that week by the way they have edited the rest of the episode to emphasize that person

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 12:44:20 PM PST

  •  Who cares... (0+ / 0-)

    The messaging is authentic and the lessons learned are important. Let me tell you something, Leave it to Beaver, My Three Sons, The Andy Griffith Show and all the other 50s and 60s family shows were all scripted and we loved it. It taught us all a lesson in a way that meant something to us. If Undercover Boss is scripted, who gives a rats ass if the messaging is right. And I believe the messaging and entire theme of this show is good. CEOs getting down and dirty with their employees and gaining awareness of how their company, policies and wages affect real human beings. That is a lesson needed and deserved.

    Do facts matter anymore?

    by Sinan on Thu Feb 13, 2014 at 02:47:10 PM PST

  •  'Heightened'? (0+ / 0-)

    Come on, reality TV is as completely fake as professional wrestling.

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