Reality TV producer admits creating 'villains' on shows as well as 'bullying' contestants and 'making fun' of them

An unnamed reality TV producer admits creating 'villians' on shows as well as 'bullying' contestants and 'making fun' of them, on ABC's Background Briefing podcast. Stock image by Adobe Photos.An unnamed reality TV producer admits creating 'villians' on shows as well as 'bullying' contestants and 'making fun' of them, on ABC's Background Briefing podcast. Stock image by Adobe Photos.
An unnamed reality TV producer admits creating 'villians' on shows as well as 'bullying' contestants and 'making fun' of them, on ABC's Background Briefing podcast. Stock image by Adobe Photos. | AliceandAlan - stock.adobe.com
A reality TV producer has admitted to “bullying” participants and creating “villains” on some hit shows.

Speaking on ABC’s Background Briefing Podcast, in an episode called “Crafting a Villain”, the unnamed producer said that show bosses will often decide which roles they want certain people in when they are casting for a show - and make sure the show is then edited accordingly.

They said: “I’m in the midst of reality TV-ing as we speak. . . They’ll be a sense of what kinds of characters you want to have. They’ll be the loveable pretty young girls and the manly blokes and the ethnic families . . . and the villains. They’ll usually be two or three cast as the ‘don’t give a f***, will say anything’ kind of people, and that is decided before they even interview anyone.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They continued: “People will be cast into these roles and then you’ll edit according to those roles.” They also admitted that the roles created for contestants may not totally reflect who they actually are. “So, the lovable princess might actually be really b****y and say really mean things, but that’s not the character that we want them to be. So, you won’t include the b****y things, and you make them look loveable.

“Then you have villains, who are supposed to be the nasty ones, but sometimes they’re not. So then you really have to try and push to make them villains.” When asked “how often” villains aren’t actually the bad people portrayed onscreen, they replied: “fairly often, maybe it’s 50/50.”

Recalling a particular instance, the producer went on to say “villains weren’t really villainy”. We ended up just bullying them, taking a bunch of comments about how weird they were and kind of just making fun of them in a way that didn’t feel particularly nice.”

They also said that programme makers can do “whatever they like”, and when asked about certain clauses written in to TV contestant’s contracts where it’s allegedly highlighted that they may not be shown in a favourable light, they added: “they have literally signed away their right to reply or complain.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Later on in the interview, they admitted that it must be “strange” for reality show contestants to watch the edited version of themselves on the finished programmes. They went on: “I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone be overly concerned with the contestant’s mental health”, and said bosses “don’t care so much” if people are given accurate representation - but then insisted: “we’re not psychopaths, we’re not trying to hurt people”.

In the podcast, former Married at First Sight (MAFS) Australia bride Olivia Frazer also spoke to reporter Annika Blau and claimed she was made to look like a villain on the hit reality dating show. Frazer said she was made to look like the “bad guy” of her season and believes she became one of the most hated people in Australia as a result.

Married at First Sight Australia star Olivia Frazer. Photo by Instagram/ @olivefrazer.Married at First Sight Australia star Olivia Frazer. Photo by Instagram/ @olivefrazer.
Married at First Sight Australia star Olivia Frazer. Photo by Instagram/ @olivefrazer. | Instagram/ @olivefrazer

The now 30-year-old, who took part in the show in 2022, claims she was encouraged by producers to share a personal story that “had teeth” so she could have a “backbone” on the show. This led to her opening up about a time she told a friend that her brown bridesmaid dresses were “disgusting” - a comment which led her to being removed from the wedding party. She then revealed she cut up the dress and sent it to the bride, who was by then her former friend. This is when she believes her portrayal as the show villian began.

“I think that was where ‘we’re going to cast her as a villain’ started,” Frazer alleged. The show has denied that anybody received “villain edits”, saying participants “get the edits they deserve”. Frazer went on: “I have to tell the story and it gets chopped and changed to make it look like I’m this psycho who’s super proud of this absolutely outrageous thing that I had done years ago.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

She said the backlash was immediate and it left her “definitely suicidal”. She alleged: “They made me look like a criminal on the biggest show in Australia. And I didn’t sign up to be framed as a criminal.” She also then spoke out about a ‘terrifying’ incident that left her fearing for her life in which MAFS fans went to her house to abuse her.

Blau confirmed that the unnamed producer did not work on MAFS, but said “they do edit every similar reality TV shows”.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.