No genre of television leaves more human wreckage in its wake than reality television. But who’s at fault? The shows themselves, or the people they attract? I tried to find out, reporting from the set of Hoarders, a show that either helped or exploited mentally ill people in crisis, and spent time with a Survivor cast member, soccer coach, and pastor who felt like the show damaged his reputation.
The first time I watched an episode of television be produced was in suburban Houston, during the height of the Trading Spaces craze. In this piece, I shared what I learned about how reality becomes TV.