By now, we should all know that reality TV often has little to do with actual, real reality. That's why it's often considered trashy television. A lot of juicy moments are staged; people act surprised when they’ve known for a while what’s going to happen; and the audition to get on a famous show is often a long and daunting process. If you don’t believe it, there’s a Reddit thread that totally backs up these claims. But despite all this, a lot of reality shows are still unbelievably addictive and incredibly entertaining to watch. Even (and maybe especially) when things go horribly wrong.
Episodes of The Bachelor, Survivor, or The Biggest Loser look fairly enjoyable from afar, but contestants often have incredibly difficult experiences on set. The public scrutiny and desire to succeed leave devastating effects on their psyches.
From participants forced to film long hours to people who died on reality shows, behind-the-scenes stories from reality TV are pretty grim. You won't believe the tales.
Two Contestants Died While Filming French Survivor
Back in 2013, a season of the French version of Survivor was canceled after one of the contestants actually died while filming. The contestant was only 25 years old. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gerald Babin died after suffering cardiac arrest during the first day of filming. He was part of a group that jumped from a boat and participated in a tug of war. He started complaining of cramps shortly after these actions were filmed and was airlifted to a nearby hospital. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly thereafter.
But the horror story doesn’t end there. It seems like the doctor who was supervising the contestants committed suicide following Babin’s death. “These last few days my name has been smeared in the media. Unjust accusations and assumptions were uttered against me. Having to rebuild this destroyed reputation seems unbearable to me, so this is my only possible choice,” the doctor wrote in his suicide note. Production of the show later resumed, and Koh-Lanta is still on the air.
Helicopters Crashed, Killing 10 People During Filming For A French Reality Show
In 2015, two helicopters carrying French sports stars filming for a new reality show, Dropped, crashed in a remote part of Argentina. The helicopters collided in midair, after which an explosion occurred. Ten people were killed, including two Olympic medal winners and a sailing champion.
The show’s premise was to drop celebrities into a hostile environment and leave them to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, producers took the "drop" part of the process way too far. Needless to say, the show was canceled.
The Discovery Channel Has Some Killer Military-Themed Shows
Four people have died during filming for Discovery Channel military-themed shows. A woman passed away in 2012 after being hit by 150mph smoke bombs at her husband's rifle range, which was the set of a TV show. The smoke bombs were used to create a haze, but they accidentally detonated and started flying through the air. The woman’s family filed a lawsuit for wrongful death, but it was later dismissed.
In 2013, three people died following a helicopter crash near Los Angeles while filming for a military-themed reality television show for the same channel. The crash occurred on a large ranch, just outside Angeles National Forest.
A Star of MTV’s Buckwild Died of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
MTV’s Buckwild was a reality TV show that followed nine people who did their best to enjoy life in the hills and hollows of West Virginia. After a pretty successful first season in 2013, the network decided to renew the show for a second installment. However, production was halted when the series’ star, Shain Gandee, was found dead along with two others in a car in West Virginia.
Gandee reportedly left a bar late one Saturday night with the two others to go “four-wheeling,” or “mudding,” an activity featured several times on the show. The three were found dead in a Ford Bronco that was partially submerged in mud. The truck’s muffler was completely covered in mud, and the three died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. The MTV show was canceled.