Behind-The-Scenes Stories From The Set Of 'Parental Control'
MTV dominated the reality TV dating game in the 2000s, and Parental Control was one of its most popular programs. On the show, parents who disapproved of their children's significant others set their kids up with more ideal partners. MTV's addictive program offered a real-life version of what lots of moms and dads wished they could do for their families.
This doesn't mean, however, that stories about Parental Control were all peachy. Contestants' parents said inappropriate things, and behind the scenes, participants dished about the show's scripted nature. After scrolling through the Parental Control secrets below, you'll see how some reality TV features a lot less "reality" than you previously thought.
Casting Directors Recruited People Who Craved Fame
In a post on Medium, aspiring rockstar Chase Thomas recalled touring with his band, 5 Days Dirty, in 2006. At the time, MTV approached him to appear on Parental Control. A band member told him, "There’s a producer from MTV looking to put people on some shows! I told her about you, but she’s leaving, so you’d better get here fast!”
Rather than focus on his music career, Thomas admitted the idea of fame and exposure outweighed his musical interests: "The most important thing to me at this point in my life was becoming famous, so this was news I couldn’t pass up." Soon after, he signed on for PC.
The Show Reportedly Used Craigslist To Find New Cast Members
After the initial glow of Parental Control's success dimmed, the show's producers decided to go online to recruit new dates. In a post since removed from the website, Parental Control reportedly advertised for new contestants on Craigslist - a long way down from hiring aspiring rockstars. They also reached out to young couples in the Los Angeles, CA, area, instead of simply setting up couples on dates.
A Date Sometimes Heard Their Rejection Before The Big Announcement
Parental Control appeared as if the episode's subject rejected one or both of the parents' choices in real-time. This wasn't the case, though. Chase Thomas ended up bonding with Klarissa and felt she was going to pick him. Much to his surprise, he discovered her decision not from her, but from the crew.
Thomas wrote of his organic reaction to the moment. Before Klarissa made the announcement, Thomas recalled:
[I heard someone whisper] "Ksssh... camera one, pan to Chase because he’s the first to go."
Did someone just punch me in the stomach?
"Chase, I think you’re a really great guy. But I think we’re best as friends."
I was the first to be eliminated, and I really wasn’t prepared for it.
The exchange rattled Thomas to the point he struggled through the actual filming of the rejection. He said getting a good reaction shot following the announcement took about 20 takes.
Producers Told The Contestants How To React On Their Dates
While out on his date with Klarissa, Chase Thomas said he never acted organically. Why? Because Parental Control producers guided him every step of the way. He wrote how producers would call for cuts multiple times to redo a line or scene, saying things like:
"All right Chase, that was pretty good. This time I want you to say her boyfriend seems like a douchebag. And Klarissa, I want you to agree with him a little bit. Make it seem like you’re on the fence about him. Can you do that? Great, let’s do it."
As Thomas put it, "It wasn’t exactly scripted, and we weren’t really actors, but it was pretty fake nonetheless."
Creators Filmed The Show Out Of Sequence
After his time on the show, Chase Thomas confessed PC hardly qualified as reality. Despite appearances, the prospective partners never picked up their dates, took them out, and then brought them back in a single sitting. Thomas noted, "It was filmed out of sequence over three days."
The first day involved a meet-and-greet with parents, while the second was the date, and third comprised eight hours shut in a small room, all while producers filmed short sequences, such as people walking up to the front door. While he waited, Thomas could overhear what was going on, and listened to the producers feed other contestants their "lines." According to Thomas, producers genuinely enjoyed this part of their job.
The Interview Room Was Actually A Set
The infamous audition for the parents supposedly took place in an "interview room." At the beginning of each episode, the parents chatted with a bunch of guys or girls they deemed compatible with their kid, then chose their favorites to go out with their child.
However, this wasn't an organic environment. Chase Thomas revealed the interview in question took place in a "random studio" in Los Angeles in a "fake living room." The process took only about 10 minutes, during which Thomas anxiously answered the parents' questions under intense lighting. It was hardly the intimate get-to-know-you the show portrayed on the air.