10 Secrets of Filming Reality TV Shows

You Might Not Have Much Contact With Your Family
Amy Zimmer lost over 100 pounds on "The Biggest Loser." The show often uses a visit from family as reward for meeting goals. Dave Bjerke/NBCU Photo Bank

On some reality TV shows, contestants often get teary-eyed at being away from their loved ones for so long. On "Survivor," for instance, there's usually at least one competition per season where the reward is a letter or video from home, or even a visit from a loved one. Of course, most contestants will be eliminated before the show ends, so they'll get to see their loved ones soon enough, right? Not necessarily.

Reality shows want to keep the outcomes secret, and if half the cast was running around back home, it would be obvious who had already been eliminated. So many of programs whisk off the week's loser to a secret, secure location. One "Project Runway" contestant reported to Tubefilter that producers sent her to a nearby apartment, where she hid with the rest of the designers until the competition ended. Cast-offs in "The Amazing Race" are sent to the show's Elimination Station, a resort-like spot where all of the losers must hang out and chill until the show ends, even if that means a month or two. In fact, Elimination Station was a web series.

Andrew "Cosi" Costello, a 2008 contestant on Australia's version of "The Biggest Loser," said that during the Christmas holidays, the crew and producers left for 10 days to be with their families, while contestants stayed at the show's group home with a security guard and supervisor. The staff allowed everyone just one five-minute call to their spouse or partner on Christmas Day. Ouch. But as Costello philosophically told News.com.au, "I signed up for the TV show so I can't really complain."