When I was single and searching for the man of my dreams, I had the best job in the world – I was a reality television casting director for a big dating show. It was my job to search high and low for single hotties to cast on TV.
Being the resourceful (and, yes, perhaps a little desperate) late 20-something gal that I was, I often used my job as a dating service with just one client: me. If I was out recruiting and met a guy who wasn’t the perfect fit for the show, I’d often see if he was the perfect fit for me. Best. Job. Ever.
Along with scouring the country for man meat, I also had a tendency to exploit the world of online dating to entice guys to audition for the show.
I wooed available men off of all the major dating sites – Match.com, JDate.com (nope, I’m not Jewish), and, of course, the mother of all meet your match dating websites: eHarmony.com. Sure, I felt badly poaching potential soul mates from SexxyLexxi124 in Hoboken, NJ, but I had a job to do.
A few years into my reality show casting career, this got me thinking: so many singles spend massive amounts of time and money on dating sites – eHarmony being the biggest offender, with its mile long Relationship Questionnaire – with no guarantee that the man or woman on the other side of that insanely long personality test isn’t… well, insane.
I suddenly felt like I was doing a public service by putting people on TV and saving them from the clutches of online dating!
Let me explain.
Before the first rose, as it were, is ever handed out, every person you see on a reality dating show has been put through the reality TV casting ringer. In order to appear on a big dating show, you must first pass a series of tests. No, not I.Q. – when has that ever been a requirement? I’m talking more the mental and physical kind.
Depending on the show, you might undergo a Psychological exam to see if you are mentally fit for the show – these can often be around 800 questions. Sometimes, you’ll even meet with an actual Psychiatrist.
Next, you’ll undergo a physical exam. No, not the turn and cough kind – but rather an in-depth STD exam. (They have to keep that hot tub water clean, yo!)
Obviously we have to keep contestants as safe as we can, especially when spit swapping makes up 80% of the activity on a show. We take this very seriously and, sadly, this step is where we lose a lot of potential candidates. What do we look for? Big, scary STDs. Not like all STDs aren’t big and scary, but some can be treated.
I have to say, making the call to the gal who flunked the STD test is not a fun call to make. But someone has to do it. Let’s see eHarmony try that one!
Okay, you’re probably thinking – why the hell would anyone go on a really dating show over online dating if this is what they have to look forward to?
I admit, it can get intense. But think about it. WE DO ALL THE HARD WORK FOR YOU. If you’re getting poked and prodded – mentally and physically – you know YOUR DATE is, too. And isn’t it comforting to know that when you meet your potential soul mate up close and on camera, you know he’ll be free of all communicable diseases, major mental defects and hopefully criminal charges. (YES, we also perform super in-depth background checks, too.)
Hey, I’m totally not bad mouthing dating sites, though. It’s a great way to meet people and hopefully find true love. I know lots of friends who’ve met their “soul mate” that way. And I know not every person who applies to get on a reality dating show will be considered for or actually cast on the show. I’m just saying that if you can make it through the casting process in one piece, it’s a solid alternative that offers incredible benefits – being whisked away in a helicopter the least of them.
So, now knowing what you know about the reality TV casting process, are you ready to take the plunge? If so, what show would you apply for and why?
Sarah Monson is a reality TV Casting Director who, over the last 10 years, has thrust people into the limelight on shows including Survivor and The Bachelor. Check her out at http://www.thebitchlorette.com or get on the road to reality TV stardom at http://