Life after reality TV

Life after reality TV

Reality TV is really exciting because you
have no idea what’s going to happen. This is Big Brother. All housemates to the lounge immediately. Don’t do it. Please don’t do it. We may have even begged a little bit. Ben, the tribe has spoken. I rang my mum and I said ‘get me out of here, I need to get out of here’. Tracy, your starting weight is 109.8 kilos. I thought that one day someone was
going to die on that show. The winner of The X Factor is… I’ve crumbled big time. This is the beginning of the end. Yes, it was over. I don’t know about you, but I love reality TV. And I’m not alone. Sport aside, reality shows have been the most, or second-most watched show every year since Big Brother first hit Aussie screens in 2001. The drama, the battles between
the good guys and the villains, you know those contestants we love to hate. They keep us watching. They don’t seem real. But they are very real people, with very real lives that continue long after the final weigh in, rose ceremony, or meal gets served to the judges. After you first meet someone
how long would it take you to decide that they’ve got something? In probably about 3 seconds. And then they would have the first 30 seconds if I’m feeling very generous of what they say. I think when shows really work they are a reflection of society without
sounding like the Dalai Lama because of course we are making reality
TV shows, they’re aware of that. But when they are very good, they question society and they make us think about ourselves. And I think that’s what makes them very interesting. Marion Farrelly is what you would
call a master producer. She’s overseen some of Australia’s
biggest reality shows, Farmer Wants A Wife, Celebrity Apprentice, even X Factor. I like that there is a social experiment angle to it. On this particular year we wanted them to sit around and
have interesting conversations. So we built the house like this, and we put smart people in there, which was actually a dreadful mistake because smart people edit themselves and they
think about the consequences of what they say. So they’re generally quite terrible on reality shows. Before they go on my shows, I give them
the talk of doom as I like to call it. And I know it off by heart because I’ve said it so often. You will leave here and you will be too
famous to go back to your job, but not famous enough to be famous, so
you probably won’t work for two years. If you’re a guy, people want to fight you in a pub. If you’re a girl, no one will want to date you. Everyone you have ever slept with will come forward and they will tell their stories to the press. And you think that you will be the
person on TV that everyone loves. But actually when was the last time you were
in a bar and you saw someone from TV and you went ‘oh my god there’s the idiot off the TV’. Now you don’t think the idiot will be you, but it probably will be. It has bought some positives. I think I probably would be morbidly obese if I hadn’t got to that stage. Remember guys, the scales never lie. First person to weigh in is Tracy. It was quite nerve wracking. I was quite ashamed. I felt really ashamed of the way I had got to that point of the number that I had got to. It was a pretty traumatic head spin moment for me. Tracy your starting weight is 109.8 kilos. My name is Tracy Moores, I was on the first episode of Australia’s Biggest Loser. She’s a whirlwind. She’s a whirlwind. She’s a hundred miles an hour. Non-stop. On the go all the time. But probably Australia’s original plus size model. So being a big girl was what I made my money on. I didn’t know anything about the show. I thought to myself, okay what’s this all about, didn’t research it. No nothing. I was laying in bed one night and my partner said to me ‘you should really go for that’. And then my agency said something to me. So that was why I decided. So it was very flippant. And I had two kids, and I thought you know I’m getting older, it’s time to change my life. I thought it’d be like a bit of a holiday and you really exercise and you eat. And it’d be a bit of fun. Of course it wasn’t. We have a responsibility to viewers to make sure that the content we provide is interesting content. If people are sitting around there doing nothing, you would give them some sort of challenge that either brings them together or sets them apart. It’s Big Brother and Survivor for fat people. One of the first episodes was
this room that we were all in and we were blindfolded. And they took the curtain down and
there was all this food. And they basically made us out to
look like a bunch of pigs. And I was quite distraught about the whole thing. We were quite traumatised to
the point where I was crying. Watch and learn. How can you eat like that? I can’t sit across from him eating like that. I just can’t do it. So being back in a gym, how are you feeling? What sort of memories does this bring back? I have to say being on a treadmill for hours upon end at least two and a half, three hours sometimes. Basically set and forget. We all were on 500 calories a day. Some actually chose to be less. Fed on caffeine pills. Left on a treadmill for hours on end. Some of the contestants they had enemas, they shaved all the hair off their body, they didn’t eat, they looked like the walking dead. And when you’re doing that kind of exercise it does take its toll. On New Years Eve I was put on a drip due to dehydration. So that was pretty intense as well. They haven’t got a phone, they’re totally isolated from everything outside. You know. And I think they sort of get into their minds somehow or other. And that’s why they’re being manipulated so easily. I think there’s a really fine balance between looking after people and getting ratings. And it’s something as a producer, it’s a tight rope you walk constantly. What was the most grueling challenge
that you experienced on the show? We were on a tarmac and we had to pull a plane, and I think it was like 40 something degrees, and we looked over and we’re all standing in the sun and we were given hot water at this stage, and the crew were all under umbrellas with bottles of water with ice. And I actually went over and said ‘can
we get some cold water?’ And they said ‘no your water’s over there’. I watched it. I watched it. But I didn’t like what I was seeing. I could see what they were doing. You know what I mean, the manipulation of everything. Because she can be outspoken. I think they found her to be ‘let’s put her under the bus’. She’s one you can put under the bus,
make her look like the evil one. And she’s really not like that at all. It is manipulated, they do know who they want to win. The more drama, the more air time. The teams are set a momentous challenge. I was thinking I was even going to faint or drop dead. This is choking me! Our red and blue teams go head to head at their first weigh in. I’m very honest with people, I say so. This is the way it’s going to work, at the
beginning we’ll all love each other. In the middle you’ll hate us because you’ll think we’re trying to manipulate you, when actually we’re just tired and we’re not very good at this, and we’ll hate you a little bit too. And we’ll feel that you’re taking advantage,
and you’ll feel the same about us. She called me once and said ‘get me out of here’. She said ‘come and get me. I’ve
had enough of this rubbish.’ I was told that I’d signed my life away and I was contractually bound to stay. Because they sign these things. They’re sort of screwed in a way. So what tools do producers use to
make the best television? Marion should know. She worked on the show that built the reality TV genre, Big Brother. She knows what it takes to push contestant’s buttons. Physicality is very important. You know it yourself if you go to a hotel room and it looks miserable. We would do things like we would lower the ceilings, and turn the lights up, and we would make the sofas rubber, and they would have cushions that had pricks in them, and the colours would be maybe a little bit too bright. People would always say you know you give them booze. And you say well actually no. You don’t want people drunk because you don’t want to watch people who are drunk. But what we would sometimes do is give them sugar, and in an hours time everyone would be ‘ah’. But yeah if you have interesting people, they’ll do your job for you. If you’ve cast the right people and you’ve
put them in the right situations. I went into researching my PhD about reality TV contestants in the hope that it would be quite a positive story. But the reality was that for most people it was a bit of a disappointment. From the point of view of producers, the people are there as talent. They’re there to make the show entertaining, whereas for the contestants, the reason
they go on the show is not just to create a good show, they’re on
there to change their life in some way. I never saw a side to David other than a really good side. He was extremely pleasant, funny, great banter. David was a very successful model, one of our top boys consistently for 10 years. He modeled in New York, in Milan, in Asia, Korea, Japan. And we as agents loved him as well. When David came to us to ask us what we thought about his appearance
on The Bachelorette, we were very clear with him that we thought it was not a good idea. The show actually emailed me and they said you can apply, and I was in LA with my friends, and they
were like ‘yeah just do it as a joke’. I thought to myself okay this is an opportunity to explore something totally different, it’s TV, maybe that’s something I might be
able to get in to in the future. Our counsel to him, our guidance to him, was don’t do it. Please don’t do it. We may have even begged a little bit. When we went into the interview process they were like ‘so what do you do’, I was like ‘okay I’m a model’. And they were like ‘so have you worked overseas?’ And I was like ‘yes I have’. And they’re like ‘so would you say that
you’re an international model?’ I was like ‘yeah I guess I’m an international model’. That’s where it all started and that’s
where it all continued from. So they edited it to make it look like ‘Hi, I’m David and I’m an international model.’ My name’s David, I’m 31 years old. And yes I am an international model. He went from hero to villain really, overnight. I was literally sitting there with my family and I was like ‘no’. ‘No.’ ‘Oh my god.’ It was like watching a slow moving car accident. I was like ‘no’ ‘What.’ It was worse than I thought. Everyone was like literally ‘David that’s not you’. ‘David that is not you.’ Like my little sister was just like almost crying. And I was like ‘this is the beginning of the end’. You just don’t understand the extent of what they can do. It’s a really tough gig being a contestant
on a reality show because you have a mirror right here and you’re seeing yourself behaving sometimes in a way that you don’t like. And that’s confronting. If you’re not drunk, I can’t show you drunk, if you’re not kissing someone, I can’t show you kissing. I can only show what you do. The producers are your best friends in the whole entire world. At least they make you think that. There’s so much pressure on people
to deliver ratings that it’s like a little weight that you carry around constantly. And, yeah I think that’s really hard. The thing about reality TV is the show comes first. And producers might tell you something different, but the fact is they need to create something
that people are going to watch. Your balance between being a producer and a person is difficult. I did put a lot of my trust in those producers throughout my time there. And I think that that was where I went wrong. How much of David Witko do you
think that Australia saw? One per cent. Like absolutely nothing. Let’s take a look at your final episode. David. Yes. You didn’t receive a rose. I’m afraid that means you’ll be leaving us tonight. So this is already five hours of waiting there. I’m actually reasonably happy not to receive a rose. I think you misinterpreted the whole situation. I think you judged a little bit too quickly. Okay. I think you actually made a mountain out of a mole hill. Thank you so much it’s been a pleasure. Jackass. Watching this now David I’m thinking you’re an asshole. Like how is that all editing? Yeah the reactions were from different moments throughout that night. And then when I left I actually walked back and hugged every single guy. And people were like ‘can’t believe
you’re leaving’, whatever else. They cut that whole thing out as well. So at the end of the day they got a really good kind of top-notch villain. Work stopped immediately. Immediately. ‘Not him’. That would be the response. It was harsh. So, ‘oh that guy from the Bachelorette, no’. Yes, it was over. You know when you kind of like walk down a street and you can just hear people whispering, like it was just constant like TV, newspapers, social media, memes, people comparing me to anything that was horrible. Literally people going to town like ‘you’re an absolute c-word, you are this, go kill yourself’. It was just a snowball effect into me just kind of having what would be somewhat of a mental breakdown. Stuff like that is really upsetting because
you think I don’t want you to feel sad, I don’t want you to feel that you
can’t go on social media, or that you’re embarrassed to go out. So yeah it’s really hard. But I think when you start a show, as a boss, you have a responsibility to tell your team that there are guidelines and behaviour and the people need to feel safe and looked after. People who went on talent shows probably enjoyed the actual experience of
being on the show a lot more. But then again it’s the disposability at the end of it. The only thing I knew about the music
industry at that point was rock and roll is cool, and I’m on a TV show, and I’m getting to do this big thing. How much would it mean if he gets through? That’s his life. Reece wasn’t just a good singer, he had the personality, the back story. You know when he sang the first
time we ever heard him, I’m like that man’s in the final, he has to be, he’s just wow. Blown away. The winner of The X Factor 2011 is Reece Mastin. I was just riding the wave. I definitely didn’t feel like I was in
the driver’s seat, I did feel like not that I got pushed around but
I was coerced very easily. Because they just want to control you,
they just want to make you something. You’re being told what to do whether or not you know it. It’s like being in a K Pop band or something, you don’t control how you cut your
hair, you don’t control the music, you’re just a product created by this bigger industry. I was just a pop star. You’ll do what they tell you, when they tell you, and they’ll take a major percentage of anything you earn. I actually did one record, the last record I did, I was so embarrassed by it like I actually felt sick. They sold the dream. They’re signed up into contracts and they’ve got to follow it. And the show doesn’t always follow
you, I mean as soon as you start dropping sales or dropping numbers, they move on pretty quick. I was just so lonely, it felt like I felt like everybody had got something out of it bar me. I was just like a stray dog I felt like I just got kind of chucked to the side. I was broken. I was done. I’d got down to 54 kilos. And that’s when my mum really started to freak out. So many people told me that ‘I just didn’t want to leave the house for two years’. A lot of people really suffered like
clinical kind of depression post reality TV for lots of different reasons. Being depressed is just kind of a side effect of that experience. And it lasts a couple of years for a lot of contestants. It literally made me not be able to speak. I was like trying to answer questions and no words coming out. Because of trauma. Yeah like just mental stress I think. I think that he was just sort of left flailing. She was getting these idiots, saying ‘I want to kill your children, I hate you’. None of us were supported to be honest. We weren’t supported on the show, or afterwards at all. I always said that I thought that one day someone was going to die on that show. In Britain three people have died
after being on reality TV. So the UK government has launched
an inquiry into the industry focusing on the support offered to contestants
during and after filming. Former participants on the now axed Jeremy Kyle Show were among the first to give evidence. I could never get rid of this sort of weight
of The Jeremy Kyle around my shoulders, I just felt like I was in a nightmare in a movie. And I just thought you know what,
and I still feel like this now, I just think you know what, I wish I could die. There is no after care. It does not exist. So what are we doing to protect contestants here? The production companies that make some of Australia’s most popular reality shows told us they take participant safety very seriously. And that they offer psychological
support for participants throughout filming, broadcast,
and after the show goes to air. Psychologists on reality TV shows are the most important people on the team. On Big Brother we said to people, you
can call the psych anytime, in the next five years if you want to. I can only say what reality TV contestants have told me and they all said that they either didn’t feel that they had enough access to a psychologist or that the psychologist was working
on behalf of the show, and their agenda was really about doing what
they needed to for the sake of the show rather than for the contestants themselves. I literally called up the producers and I was like ‘guys I’m in a very, very bad position like I’m having really not nice thoughts’. I literally begged them for some kind of support. And they offered me 10 sessions with a psychologist. I walked in there and I’m like okay, ‘so
I’ve literally lost my whole career’. And he’s like ‘okay cool no worries’. And I’m like ‘yeah but you don’t understand I’ve
got nothing to do now like I don’t know what to do’. And he’s like ‘have you ever thought
about mystery shopping?’ Reece Mastin paid for his own psychologist. I’ve done therapy now for like five years. Because it did get to a point when I
finally, I stopped working and I had nothing. Like I didn’t have anything. It took me maybe another two or three years to start meeting people and working on my own career again to start
maybe building those blocks back up. I was on X Factor about eight years ago. I’ve put a tonne of rock records out. Like I said I’m a musician I’m going to indulge
in some of my own songs if that’s okay. If I didn’t go on The X Factor would I have pushed my music as hard as as I do now. I don’t really know. I’d like to hope that I would but yeah if we go down to bare facts and reality I probably would have been a sparkie with my dad and and it wouldn’t have been the worst life but I’ll take this for the moment I think. I’m much, much, much better than what I used to be back then. Because I have very supportive people around me now and I’m quite happy in my job now and it’s totally different to what I was doing in the past. To be honest with you I don’t think that
I’ll ever be the same as I ever was. I’m still not 100%, I still get stressed out and even just doing this interview like with cameras on me makes me feel really anxious. The line that everybody used when I interviewed them really rings true, that ‘there’s no reality in reality TV’. I think we need to be smarter in how we make reality TV shows. For the people in front of the camera,
for the people behind the camera Because I think when we started we were very innocent and none of us really got it. And I think the more we make, the more we realise, actually it is life-changing.


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