Beyond the Glamour: The Reality of Reality TV Production

by Hugh BrownstoneLeave a Comment

Welcome to another short post introducing a longer, thoughtful one, this time by Hamilton Nolan over at

The thing about it is not only the subject matter, but its weird tie-in to another post about the business side of Transformers IV. In both instances, the underlying theme is ultimately the same: anxiety in an increasingly uncertain and unpredictable world.

The notable difference is that the Transformers piece is about the anxiety and powerlessness of the audience; this piece is about the anxiety and powerlessness of the people who actually make the things the audience watches.

Definitely worth the read.

The Grim Realities of Reality TV: Workers Speak

Last week, a union that is working with employees of reality (or news/ nonfiction) television shows put us in contact with a number of people who were willing to share their stories of working in the industry. These workers have varying experiences, but they all presumably share the conviction that a union would improve their working conditions. You are free to decide whether or not that colors your view of their stories. Many of these employees are treated as freelancers, and they do not have the workplace protections that their unionized brethren in other sectors of the entertainment industry enjoy. Their experiences vary, but they all go to show that, past a thin veneer of glamour, the TV industry is just another job.

The Grim Realities of Reality TV

From a veteran producer, writer, and director on nonfiction shows

— I've never received health insurance from any job in television. I've gotten it from my wife for the last 12 years… There is simply no way that I could have a career in non-fiction TV if we didn't get health insurance from my wife's job. Or, put it this way: if I wasn't married when I got cancer, even though I was producing and directing TV series with budgets in the millions of dollars, I either would have died, or gone hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt to pay for medical treatment.

— I never receive any percentage of the profits on TV programs that I write, produce or direct.

— I've never received overtime pay, even on weeks when I've worked 80 or 90 hours. I rarely get paid for holidays. I almost never get paid vacation days. I get a flat, weekly rate, period.

See full article at Gawker: “The Grim Realities of Reality TV: Workers Speak”

Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from Gawker)

Leave a Comment