Some “Big Brother” and “Survivor” stars recently opened up about how it’s hard when the way you are portrayed on TV isn’t who you are in real life. It was for an episode of “For Real: The Story of Reality TV” and it was eye-opening to learn how the editing affected these reality TV stars.
Here’s what they had to say.
‘Big Brother’s’ Josh Martinez Felt Very Villainized
On the show, Josh Martinez, who appeared on “Big Brother 19” and went on to compete on four seasons of MTV’s “The Challenge,” said that he was surprised how villainized he was on the show, though he does admit that he’s a big personality.
“I have a very explosive personality, and I am very opinionated and it’s easy for the producers to kind of edit me in a certain light,” said Martinez. “I definitely feel like I was villainized my season and when I got out I kind of struggled with the fans viewing me as this crazy, loud, fun, energetic person, but I’m not like that 24/7.”
He also said that you think you’re prepared for the “Big Brother” live feeds, but you’re not.
“You really have to have good morals, because if not, that will be exposed. I’ve seen people’s lives be ruined for comments they said in a few seconds. They lose everything — jobs, careers — they lose it all just because of their ignorance,” said Martinez.
“Big Brother” host Julie Chen Moonves said that she thinks the live feeds are hard but if you can handle it, you’ll be a better person for having been under that microscope.
“Being filmed 24/7 nonstop for upwards of three months, you’re going to see something you’re not comfortable with and you don’t like. Not everyone can handle it, but if you can handle it, you’ll only come out better after the experience,” said Chen Moonves.
“Survivor” star Zeke Smith said that as a reality TV fan and viewer, people who don’t watch the live feeds have no idea what they are actually missing — live feed watchers are fanatical.
“Watching the ‘Big Brother’ show is one thing. Watching the live feeds makes it a whole other experience,” said Smith. “Lots and lots of people are watching the live feeds constantly, they’re creating clips, they’re putting it on YouTube.”
‘Survivor’s’ Max Dawson Said That He Didn’t Know Until Arriving At the Beach That He Was a Villain From the Start
Max Dawson participated in the “Survivor: Worlds Apart” season, which was the season that split the castaways into white collar, blue collar and no collar tribes — and he had no idea about any of that going into the show.
“On the first day of my season, not until the cameras were rolling did I know I was on ‘Survivor: Class Warfare.’ This is at the height of the [Occupy Wall Street] movement where everybody’s talking about the 1 percent. By nature of being described as white-collar, it was like saying we were the a**holes tribe. We were the bad guys. And I think to myself, what have I gotten myself into?” revealed Dawson.
He added that don’t be so quick to think these people deserve how they are edited by the show.
“We often think of the people who go on these shows as being people who get what they deserve and if they have a negative experience, we often will say, well, they knew what they were signing up for. But the truth is people go on these shows with the intention of having an adventure or transforming their lives, all to have this experience,” said Dawson.
Two Other ‘Survivor’ Stars Had Very Different Experiences
“Survivor” season one winner Richard Hatch said that the way he was villainized by “Survivor” ruined his life, saying, “I really was perceived as evil, manipulative, Machiavellian. It was all thrown at me. I had a sufficiently villainous reputation and it really, really, really impacted my life, destroying my family. It’s the reason I was forced to deal with court and tax evasion, things that I didn’t do but that prosecutors sought to win at all costs, specifically because I was ‘the villain.'”
Two-time “Survivor” castaway Zeke Smith, who was outed as transgender on “Survivor,” said that that actually ended up being a really positive experience for him, but at first, he was terrified.
“The last thing I wanted to be was some sort of role model for the trans community and initially I was very scared because I didn’t feel up to the challenge, but I’m very proud of what we were able to do,” said Smith, who accepted a GLAAD Media Award on behalf of “Survivor” in 2018. “Mine is a very positive [experience] because subsequent to my outing, my life has only gotten better.”
Big Brother U.S. returns in summer 2021 for its 23rd season. Big Brother Canada returned for its ninth season on March 3. “Survivor” is back in production now. If the pattern holds, it should be premiering its 41st season the third or fourth week of September 2021.