News Flash: Reality TV May Not Actually Be Real

So the other day I was watching Love It Or List It Vancouver on HGTV. It’s a show where a family is featured who hate their house, but can’t decide if they should pay to upgrade/change it, or just move. There’s a lady designer – Jillian – who comes in and remakes a good chunk of their house (always finding some unexpected problems, for dramatic purposes), and a guy real estate agent – Todd – who shows the family some buyable options. Then the family decides whether to Love It – that is, stay in their house – or List It.

Love It or List It Vancouver
Jillian and Todd, courtesy of W Network

Sidebar: If you are thinking of checking out this show, be sure to catch the Vancouver version, instead of the original, which is set in Toronto and features a different designer/agent combo. Unlike Jillian and Todd, who seem likeable and friendly, the Toronto people appear to hate each other, their clients, their jobs, and the entire known world. Not that it stops me from watching, of course, but Vancouver is definitely better.

Anyway, Sir Monkeypants was there too and we got into a friendly debate on how old we thought Jillian and Todd were. After placing our bets, we went to Google to figure it out.

Now Google – that’s a wild, crazy place right there.

Guess what we found out? Jillian is Jillian Harris…and was once on The Bachelor! She was the runner up back in 2009 and then even had her own season of The Bachelorette. And, it turns out she looked different then, because she has since had a nose job, and lost a lot of weight! She’s like the Kate Gosselin of interior design!

I…don’t even. I mean, it’s not like it has any bearing on her role in Love It or List It, and yet. SO WEIRD. It’s like finding out your next-door-neighbour, handing out Halloween candy in her yoga pants and a dollar-store witch hat, was actually a teen pop star named Robin Sparkles. What to do with information like this?

At least it explains why Jillian owns so many shoes. She has a really lovely design blog too, by the way.

So then, of course, we had to Google Todd and OMG. First of all, there’s almost no mention of him online in a real estate capacity – instead he appears to self-identify as an actor, Actor And Modern Man Todd Talbot, and even has an IMDB entry. Due to the thinness of credits there, I’m guessing he had to have a back up career, and I’m HOPING that career was as a real estate agent.

OR, is he just some sort of Milli Vanilli front man for a schlub of an agent who is doing all the real work behind the scenes? YIPES.

And THEN, we learned that Todd’s wife Rebecca Talbot is an actress/singer/model/housewife/princess, that’s right, princess, as she runs her own company where she plays the role of various princesses for kids’ birthday parties. And she also has a personal blog, which is actually really charming and Sir Monkeypants and I were chuckling along to it until we were suddenly overcome with a weird sense of voyeurism, like we were stalking Todd and his family.

And of course, all three of them are on Facebook, and Twitter, and YouTube, and are fully branded, and it was all just so surreal.

So now, when watching the show, I still like it and everything but it does seem to have taken on a more scripted feel. As if Todd and Jillian and even the family involved have a script they are working from. Could it be possible that Reality TV is not actually Really Real?


[Sidebar: Jillian is 34 and Todd is 40. We were WAY OFF.]

7 thoughts on “News Flash: Reality TV May Not Actually Be Real

  1. funny I just saw the Vancouver version for 1st time. Better than original, BUT the conversations are so STAGED. it is painful to watch. Every single thing is so fake. I love the concept of the show, but the “acting” involved makes my skin crawl.

  2. I can’t stand the Toronto version. The renovation lady is really annoying, and the real estate guy not much better. Maybe the Vancouver version is better, but it is really heavily edited no matter what, and the conversations are stilted. My heart goes out to any homeowner who actually takes part in this…

  3. Slightly off topic: how do people who have had plastic surgery explain it to their children? Is Jillian Harris going to tell her child (not that she HAS to have a child, I’m just using her as an example) if the child inherits her nose? Does she encourage the child to have it nipped or tucked? Does she say, “Well I didn’t like it on MY face, but it looks good on you!” Which is probably a lie, but a nice enough one I guess. I actually wonder about this every single time I seen Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s kids.

    My favourite real estate show is Location Location Location. It’s from the UK and the hosts are Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer. I love them both so much! I would definitely cyber stalk them!

  4. interesting! I also find the vancouver one too staged as someone else commented above. it’s just painful beyond belief. but the vancouver views (and houses) must be amazing to watch! we also read about the house hunters staging – you just watch the three options and it’s always the one without furniture that is chosen. ahhh reality tv! : )

  5. “…the Toronto people appear to hate each other, their clients, their jobs, and the entire known world.” So true! Yet I watch them anyhow. I like to imagine that when the cameras are off they’re totally buddy-buddy and laugh at the (minor) insults that they have come up with. Assuming they’re not completely scripted, which…. probably. It took me a long time to warm up to the Vancouver edition. At first I found it completely over the top, but now I kind of find it charming. Especially in comparison to the original! I must admit that I fast forward through at least 15 minutes of each episode (not counting the commercials). One can only listen to those darned “What they need to love/list” lists so many times…

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