'Bachelor' creator claims '70 to 80 percent' of reality TV is fake

Are reality TV shows really real? "Bachelor" creator Mike Fleiss isn't so sure.
Are reality TV shows really real? "Bachelor" creator Mike Fleiss isn't so sure.MTV, Getty Images / Today

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By Ree Hines and Ree Hines and Ree Hines

Just how real is reality TV? That's been a subject of frequent debate for viewers, reality stars and television critics since the genre first took off. But according to one reality TV bigwig, there really isn't anything to debate. Mike Fleiss, the creator and executive producer of "The Bachelor," insists that more often than not, reality shows aren't the real deal.

“I think most of the shows are fake,” Fleiss revealed during a talk at the Banff World Media Festival.

Of course, not surprisingly, Fleiss doesn't count his reality TV effort among the frauds.

“I think there’s all kinds of (bull) going on behind the scenes with, I would say, outside of the talent shows and 'The Bachelor,' where we really kill ourselves and spend a lot of money and time and destroy our staff to make sure it's real, that 70 to 80 percent of the shows on TV are (bull)," he said. "They’re loosely scripted. Things are planted. Things are salted into the environment so things seem more shocking.”

Fleiss' take on reality TV comes just after a former participant from HGTV's "House Hunters" claimed that much of the action on that popular series is setup and reenacted for effect -- an allegation the network didn't exactly challenge.

But Fleiss feels the producers and networks aren't the only ones responsible for TV fake-outs. Sure, he acknowledges that they're the ones behind the decisions to add a "more shocking" element or an "orchestrated" moment, but viewers have to share some of the blame.

"(Viewers are) not requiring a pure delivery of non-fiction content (from the shows)," he told the crowd at Banff. "They know it's somewhat fake, but they're OK with it."

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