Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Room Raiders' The Producers Tried To Keep Secret
If you're old enough to remember when MTV was awesome, then you probably remember that one show where producers abducted teens, then a stranger looked through their bedrooms for dirty little secrets. Yes, the one with the blacklight. Locked away somewhere in the mid-2000s - along with frosted lip gloss and halter tops - is one of MTV's earliest attention-grabbing original TV shows, Room Raiders.
During the revolutionary days of reality television, MTV's Room Raiders aired five days a week, Monday through Friday. Being in constant production allowed for a new adventure every day. After checking out the tunes on TRL, teens could take part in a voyeuristic journey where someone invaded bedrooms and uncovered salacious secrets.
Like every massive production on cable TV, secrets from the making of Room Raiders abound. Between 2003 and 2009, the crew successfully stashed away tons of behind-the-scenes stories, not unlike the ones the contestants tried to keep hidden. Digging up the dirt of Room Raiders exposes the realism of MTV's phenomenal reality TV show, how the producers worked their tricks behind the scenes, and how gross teenagers can really be.
One Contestant’s Father Grabbed A Gun After The Abduction ScenePhoto: Room Raiders/MTV
To maintain the scandalous integrity of the contestant's room, the Room Raiders production crew set up a fake "abduction" to surprise the teen and take them away. This made sure the participant didn't have any spare time to stash away embarrassing stuff - which made for better content.
When the crew went in to break down one girl's door and filmed the abductor taking her to the van, the girl's father wasn't impressed. After they finished filming the teen's fake abduction, her dad came out with a gun strapped to his hip. The crew insisted his daughter was fine and there was no need for alarm - she was simply out getting breakfast.
The Blacklight Became Banned Because Of The Infamous Jackson/Timberlake Halftime Performance
The first season of Room Raiders used the infamous blacklight - the tool used to swipe over people's floors, pillows, and sheets to expose sexual activities. After the first season, the blacklight disappeared, but what happened to it?
When Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson showed a bit too much skin during their Super Bowl halftime show, MTV got in big trouble. MTV produced the halftime show, and the FCC wasn't too happy with how Janet's pasty ripped off.
This started a wave of FCC crackdowns on suggestive TV shows, including Room Raiders. While they could get away with censoring sex toys, they had to completely scrap the blacklight.
The Production Team Found A Live Bobcat While Scouting One Teen's Bedroom
In the days before heavy background checks and pre-screenings for reality TV shows, it was easy for innocent-seeming nut jobs to coerce their way on the contestants list. To avoid any mishaps or dangers, the crew went through the entire house for a pre-raiding process.
During their pre-raids, the production crew found tons of illicit objects - from drug stashes to weapons. It wasn't uncommon to find a gun underneath someone's pillow or in their sock drawer. In one incident, one family kept a wild bobcat as a pet, and the crew asked for the animal to stay in another room during filming.
Originally, MTV Planned A Much More Scandalous Ending To Each Episode
During the original pitch for Room Raiders, the production team had a drastically different ending in mind. Instead of having the contestants exchange contact info at the end of the episode, the two of them would have a full-on sleepover as a part of their date.
MTV decided to pass on the idea of filming full-on reality TV hookups. Though the concept sounds entertaining enough, scrapping the idea to avoid a disastrous situation was for the best. Who knows? The two of them might have ended up coming back for their debut on 16 and Pregnant, with producers keeping all their shows tightly bundled up in the MTV "family."
They Never Told The Kids About The Show's Concept Before Filming
Before the shoot, the selected contestants for Room Raiders stayed in the dark about the TV show's concept. Before the days of social media and spoilers, the production team remained vague about their intentions and got away with it. They would simply tell the kids it could be a current or future show, but was definitely on MTV. For most teens, this promise was alluring enough.
When production came over to scope out each contestant's house, the crew examined everything from kitchens to cars. These kids had no idea if they were getting their room raided or their ride pimped. It wasn't until they started filming when the contestants found out they were on Room Raiders.
MTV Wanted The Cast To Have A Specific Socioeconomic Slant
Airing every weekday after TRL, Room Raiders landed the perfect spot on daytime TV for their young, suburban demographic. While other channels on basic cable television were airing soap operas and talk shows, MTV was barreling through with content proving hot, heavy, and hilarious to kids who were hungry for entertainment.
Because Room Raiders wanted to keep all eyes on MTV, they selected contestants who would appeal to the same demographic as TRL. Since it was mainly upper/middle class teens tuning in, they didn't want to stray too far out of that box. In turn, Room Raiders mainly cast upper/middle class people to keep their dedicated audience's attention.