What Nobody Ever Told You About These Reality TV Homes

Spoiler alert: our favorite reality TV show homes, apartments, and mansions aren't always what they appear to be on television. Much like the manufactured drama and over-the-top story lines, the homes on reality shows are sometimes just an illusion. Perhaps what looks like a normal house on TV is actually a sound stage, or what is presented to be a sprawling villa is much smaller in real life. 

Considering that the creator of "The Bachelor" series, Mike Fleiss, stated that between "70% and 80% of reality television" is fake, per Today, odds are that the living spaces on these shows have some secrets of their own. In the case of "The Bachelor," driveways are hosed down to make them sparkle all night long, while "Jersey Shore" regularly showed cast members chilling out on a rooftop deck that actually belonged to their neighbors. Here, we're spilling the tea on what nobody ever told you about some of the most famous reality TV homes.

The Jersey Shore deck was actually next door

Ah, the "Jersey Shore" house. The hit MTV reality show gave us so many memories over the years. Whether the guidos and guidettes were hitting the boardwalk or working at the T-shirt shop, they always kept the party going. As the place where the gang slept, hung out, cooked, and partied, the shore house played a big part in the popular television series.

However, there are a couple of filming secrets about the infamous house that not many people know about. Firstly, the many scenes featuring cast members lounging on their rooftop deck with the hot tub aren't actually filmed at the house. While it always seemed like Snooki, Vinny, and the crew were chilling at their own rooftop deck, the deck belonged to the shop next door, per Jezebel (via BuzzFeed). Another memorable part of the show was the house's duck phone. Known for annoying the cast with its quacking ring tone, the phone was a find from a local thrift store

Big Brother is essentially filmed on a soundstage

The "Big Brother" house is a classic reality TV home, appearing on camera for over 20 years and 23 seasons of the show. In the series, a group of houseguests are locked into the house for the summer and compete to be the last guest standing for a prize of $500,000. Cameras and microphones watch the houseguests 24/7 as they eat, sleep, and plot their way to the finale. While the house gets a style makeover every season, complete with different design touches and architectural upgrades, the basic layout remains the same from season to season. 

"Big Brother" has its fair share of super fans, but even the biggest fans don't know some of the house's secrets. To start, the house is less of a house and more of an elaborately decorated soundstage, as noted by Reality Blurred. The ceiling is made of television lights and production crews film through two-way mirrors. There are over 100 cameras watching the houseguests, including a bathroom camera (although this footage is rarely shown) and infrared cameras for night filming. And the show's title is not the only reference to George Orwell's 1984; there is also an owl stuffed animal called George that hangs out in the house and keeps cast members company.

No clocks are allowed in the Love Island villa

The "Love Island" villa regularly plays host to a group of sizzling singles as they spend the summer searching for their perfect match. Cameras capture their every move as they crack on around the clock, compete in competitions as couples, and flirt by the pool. 

While it's easy to get to know the cast members of "Love Island" each season, the villa itself is a different story. On the show it looks like a sprawling mansion, but in reality it's much smaller. No one in the villa ever knows what time it is either, since clocks and watches are not allowed inside, via Irish Mirror. Another hidden secret of the villa is that there is a loudspeaker system which reprimands players when they misbehave or break any rules. For example, if a contestant is spending too much time inside and not socializing, they will get a public scolding in front of other villa guests. Sounds like life in the villa isn't all carefree vacation vibes!

The Bachelor mansion is home to a real famly

The iconic, Spanish-style mansion featured on "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" series has been the setting for love (and tears) since the show's 2007 season. While some seasons of the show did not take place at the mansion due to COVID-19, past seasons begin with a group of hopeful singles descending upon the house to meet the newest bachelor or bachelorette. The house is no stranger to the drama as contestants vie for a rose week after week. 

The Bachelor mansion, known as Villa de la Vina, also has a few secrets up its sleeves, as noted by E! News. When not appearing on the show, it's actually home to the Haraden family; production puts them up in a hotel while filming. Additionally, production paints the inside of the mansion different colors for each season, according to Us Weekly. And if you've ever wondered how the driveway stays so sparkling during the first night entrances, it's thanks to an assistant who regularly hoses it down. 

The Real World couch is a home staple

With the first episode premiering in 1992, MTV's "The Real World" was the longest running reality show of all time. Each season follows a different group of seven strangers as they live, work, and play together in a new city. The first season took place in New York City, and since then cities from all over the country have been the setting for the show. Sharing a home isn't always easy, and cameras documented conflicts, tears, and the occasional heartwarming moment over the course of 30+ seasons. 

Since each season of "The Real World" takes place in a different city, the living space is unique to each group. However, per Fame 10, each "Real World" home has a couple things in common. The comfy, big couch is a staple in living rooms and has been used for several seasons. Producers just cover it over with new upholstery for each new cast. Newer seasons also feature decorations and furnishings from local artisans, while earlier homes were given the IKEA treatment. 

America's Next Top Model contestants trashed a loft

From the time it premiered in 2003, "America's Next Top Model" asked aspiring models the question: "You wanna be on top?" In answer they posed, smized, and strutted down the catwalk in a series of competitions and photoshoots throughout the show's 15 seasons. They also did a fair bit of screaming whenever host Tyra Banks walked into the room. 

"America's Next Top Model" featured a variety of different living spaces over the years, but one of the most notable was the New York City loft from cycle 10. After the show aired, it was revealed that the models had reportedly caused over $500,000 worth of damage, says TV Guide. From ruined floors to ketchup stains on white drapes and lipstick marks on walls, the loft was in a sorry state after the 10-week filming period. The $15,000 chandelier was ruined and there was even mold growing in the bathroom, along with holes in the walls from where production crews installed lighting equipment. Talk about model behavior. 

Keeping Up With the Kardashians used fake exterior shots

Fans of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" may be surprised to learn that the homes featured on the reality show are not actually the Kardashians' real homes. According to ABC News, Kim Kardashian and the rest of the clan use fake houses for filming due to security reasons, at least when it comes to the outside scenes. The interior shots are filmed in the family's actual homes. 

"KUWTK" started using fake houses for exterior scenes after Kim had fans and other unwanted visitors showing up at her old house in Beverly Hills, which they recognized from the show. The star claims it was a very unsafe situation, with people hopping the fence and Hollywood tour buses making regular appearances at her front gate. This filming secret was revealed after the fake home went up for sale in 2014 and viewers noticed the inside did not look like the living spaces featured on the show. 

The Circle contestants couldn't open the windows

Netflix's reality show "The Circle" first aired in 2020, and proved to be perfect pandemic-era television. Contestants on the show are isolated alone in their own separate apartment in the same building, unable to meet, see, or talk to any other contestants in person. Their only form of communication is through the unique social media-style application. Players can therefore fool the other players by pretending to be someone else — catfishing is central to this game. At the end, the last player left standing wins a $100,000 prize for their social media savvy.

There are a few surprising elements about life in "The Circle." First of all, there are no clocks or time-telling devices of any sort in the apartments so there is no way to ever tell the time, as noted by a TikTok Q&A from Season 2 contestant Jack Atkins. Players are not even allowed to open windows or doors, so the only way to get some fresh air is by visiting the rooftop. One last crazy fact? Contestants need to get the green light from producers before showering.

There were cameras everywhere on Too Hot To Handle

Perched on the shores of a beautiful island in the Turks and Caicos, the "Too Hot To Handle" villa looks like the perfect retreat for parties and a relaxing, fun-in-the-sun vacation — at least, that's what the contestants on the reality show think when they first arrive. To their surprise, the show revolves around the fact that the houseguests are required to refrain from all physical contact during their time in the villa. If they break the rules, they will lose money from the communal prize fund. 

Based on the concept of "Too Hot To Handle," it's probably not surprising that cameras fill every corner of the villa and watch the players every move. Even the showers and bathrooms have cameras in them, shares Men's Health. While shots from the toilet were not used in the show, they were put there to remind contestants that there was no escaping the watchful eyes of the producers.

There's a room on Below Deck you never see

Bravo's "Below Deck" follows the lives of crew members, known as yachties, working on luxurious superyachts that cater to clients' every need. While they get to visit some of the world's most beautiful spots, they also face tough hours and hard work. 

As one might imagine, filming a reality show aboard a yacht has its challenges. On "Below Deck Mediterranean" Season 3, a room on the yacht had to be converted into a studio by production. They chose to turn the gym space into the production room and outfitted it with around 15 flat-screen TVs for monitoring cast members and keeping track of the action. According to Screen Rant, this is a room that viewers never see. Another secret aspect of filming "Below Deck" is the "invisible" boat that trails behind the yacht at all times. While this vessel is never shown on the series, production crews use it for taking breaks from filming. 

Privacy is hard to come by on Summer House

Filmed in Montauk, New York, "Summer House" captures the lives of nine friends and young professionals sharing a home during weekends of the summer season. Between late-night partying, boozy brunches, and dramatic love affairs, the reality show makes for great, light-hearted entertainment. 

While life in the house might look like it's all fun and games, there are some filming secrets behind the scenes. Once upon a time the pantry area was a camera-free spot, but after producers caught cast members Paige DeSorbo and Carl Radke making out there cameras were added. Now, the only places for privacy in the summer house include closets and certain spots outside, as per Bravo's Daily Dish. Another fun fact about the show's production is that everyone loses things in the backyard swimming pool. Whether it's cast member Hannah Berner losing her mic after diving in or Carl's phone disappearing in the water, nothing is safe.

The Love is Blind cast slept on cots in trailers

"Love is Blind" captured the hearts of millions when it first aired in 2020 on Netflix. The reality dating show follows a group of singles as they search for love by going on a series of dates in pods. As the name of the show suggests, contestants do not see each other during these dates. Instead, they form emotional connections solely on the basis of their voices and conversations. 

When the cast is not dating in the pods, they are often shown hanging out in a living room-style lounge space talking and catching up on each other's dates. While it appears that the contestants are in a house and sleep there, in reality they spent the night on correctional facility beds in trailers, shares Refinery 29. The filming schedule for the show was rigorous and production would film for 18 to 20 hours on average during the first few days. This meant that on a normal night, the cast would get a mere four hours of sleep. 

There are rules on Survivor when it comes to shelters

Since "Survivor" first hit television screens in 2000, the show has featured hundreds of contestants trying to outwit, outlast, and outplay one another in an effort to become the sole survivor. Every season, cast members are isolated on an island or off-the-beaten path destination, and left to mostly fend for themselves to survive. While production does provide water access and other basic materials, players are responsible for building their own shelters and enduring the elements. 

According to Men's Health, there are strict rules players must follow when it comes to constructing shelters on "Survivor." They can only build their shelters with materials they find in their immediate surroundings, such as fallen branches and vegetation or items provided by production. Since the natural world is not allowed to be disturbed, contestants cannot cut down trees, remove rocks, or rip out plants. In fact, if someone is caught harming the environment in any way, it is grounds for immediate elimination.