It's become pretty apparent that what's being labeled as "reality television" isn't exactly what it seems. I remember back in the 90's when shows like "The Real World" became really popular and you'd hear reports that certain people felt like they were manipulated and not represented fairly.
At the time I remember thinking that clearly things were edited, but that whatever they portrayed on the show was still something you did on camera. How could you manipulate that, right? I think that's what most people thought at the time too.
Of course, reality television was more or less a brand new genre. You could make an argument that game shows, talk shows, or contests like "The Gong Show" gave birth to what we now know as reality television, and you'd probably be at least somewhat right. Things don't appear from nothing, no matter what your magician friends might try to tell you.
The "reality" of course is that just like any show, "reality television" is pretty much just as produced as scripted shows. There's so many things that can be done with video and sound editing that shows can create just about any story line they want. A wink, nudge, and a little coaching from producers later... voila! Reality television.
Hey, that doesn't necessarily make it less entertaining to watch. I find it's even more fun to watch shows like The Bachelor now because I look at each scene and try to figure out what kind of staging was involved. Did they do the commentary on the same day? Did they go back later and wear the same clothes?
If you haven't already go check out the Lifetime show UnREAL. It was co-created by a woman who was a producer on The Bachelor for 9 seasons. It's a scripted show, of course, but it also gives a little insight into what goes on behind the scenes of reality shows.
Check out this video from Cracked as they analyze some of the trickery reality shows engage in to make you think it's real.