Author Archives: Christian Niedan

Reality Challenged: A Whole New Level of Gross-Out

Reality Challenged: A Whole New Level of Gross-Out

This is the final installment in a three part series about the science and strategy behind reality show challenges. Read the first part here and the second here.

Reality TV games don’t need to be played on a grand scale, or even outdoors, to be effective. Sometimes all a challenge producer needs is a few bucks and some good old fashioned innuendo. Such was the case when Sam Cotler was coming up with a game for That’s Amore!, a spinoff of A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila. More »

Reality Challenged: What Happens When Challenges Go Awry?

Reality Challenged: What Happens When Challenges Go Awry?

This is the second in a three part series about the science and strategy behind reality show challenges. Read the first part here.

Making reality show contestants talk and argue during a challenge can take time. Yet that’s often a luxury which challenge producers like Sam Cotler don’t have when working on a show with a tight budget. When a game has a ticking clock, like the Tool Academy ublek challenge, there can be precious-little footage of couples drama. Other games, though, have no clock and are limited only by their estimated budget. More »

Reality Challenged: A Reality TV Producer Explains The Science Behind the Stunts

Reality Challenged: A Reality TV Producer Explains The Science Behind the Stunts

In this three-part series, Christian Niedan explains how producers create the physical challenges you see on your favorite reality shows.

America’s reality TV shows often face the basic challenge of making the mundane worth watching. For tag-along shows like Cops and Deadliest Catch, the action is built into the job concept. For personality-driven shows like Jersey Shore and the Real Housewives franchises, the job of the cast is to continually complain, drink and fight their way to ratings. But for the competitive last-man-standing genre, with its revolving doors of contestants vying for money, love and apprenticeships, games are a necessity for keeping viewers entertained. This is where a challenge producer comes in, because they are staked with coming up with the missions that shows like Survivor, Amazing Race and The Apprentice use to whittle down their ranks of competitors. More »