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K. Emily Bond Headshot

The Truth Behind 'House Hunters' & Why It Really Doesn't Matter

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There's a reason I look right at home.

The internet has been abuzz with the recent revelation that House Hunters and House Hunters International aren't as real as they purport to be. Via Slate:

Earlier this week on the website Hooked on Houses, formerHouse Hunters participant Bobi Jensen called the show a sham. Jensen writes that the HGTV producers found her family's plan to turn their current home into a rental property "boring and overdone," and therefore crafted a narrative about their desperation for more square footage. What's more, producers only agreed to feature Jensen's family after they had bought their new house, forcing them to "tour" friends' houses that weren't even for sale to accommodate the trope of "Which one will they choose?"

Now...my family and I appeared on House Hunters International and...well. Look. I was a theatre major for a few semesters in college. I switched to English because all I really wanted to do was read the plays, not act in them. Still, I persevered. I even tried to force myself into exhibitionism by anonymously posing nude for art classes throughout the Washington, DC suburbs. Standing naked in front of a room full of strangers? That should spark my acting bug.

Not quite.

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My son wondering where his bedroom furniture has gone.

Standing disrobed while observing a man with an erection sketch my bony shoulders I discovered a few more pressing and fundamental truths about myself. One, I was really quite shockingly thin. And two, I'm a voyeur, a reader, a watcher at heart...I'm not disturbed by being watched, per se. But not as turned on by the scepter of me naked in some Montgomery County arts center as some people. It was an important life lesson, nevertheless, figuring out my rightful instrument.

Akin to my public experimentations with nudity, being on a reality television show taught me several key lessons about acting -- and reality in television, too.

  1. There is no such thing as an English speaking real estate agent in Seville, Spain.
  2. The fact that an unemployed English speaking architect played one on TV is indicative of just how bad el crisis really is.
  3. As much as I love the "Real Housewives of Everywhere," it does not surprise me that so many seasons end in divorce (or suicide).
  4. I've never forayed into the fake orgasm. Imagine my dismay when forced to fake excitement over the bidet in a sh*t hole I would never in a million years consider living in, let alone pay a real "real" estate agent or fake one to take me to.
  5. I made the right decision, choosing English over a career in Soaps.
  6. Reality stars are definitely underpaid.
  7. Reality stars are under-appreciated for their talents. (I mean, the Gorgas must be, like, "Wire" good.)
  8. Reality stars are exploited workers. Our four-day, fourteen hour shoots must have been in violation of something ethical.
  9. If you are getting paid to appear on a reality television show, knocking down the proscenium arch is in bad form. (Go ahead, call my foul!)
  10. "Before" & "After" is a matter of perspective...and editing.
  11. I will never force my kid in front of a camera crew ever again.
  12. A "take two!" three or more for cuteness' sake does not a happy toddler (or mommy) make.
  13. Reality stars who parade their children in front of reality television cameras as a rule should probably be investigated by child protective services.
Let me stop right there for a moment. My family and I were paid to appear on the show, as such I am not going to delve into all of the "Matrix"-y specifics. Like, okay, so maybe our Before occurred a full two years after our real after. And our ever After happened two weeks before our Before. But I will share with you this, the most important lesson I learned about armchair entertainment whilst appearing in a reality television show: there is no such thing as reality television.

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Regretting my wardrobe choice, not realizing I'd have to repeat this outfit three days in a row. Sans bra! Call my bluff: I'm an exhibitionist, ever after.

But still we watch, we read, we judge, we escape. Reality television is voyeurism at its basest, a peek through the neighbor's curtains. Why are we surprised that with the curtains thrown wide open -- even on HGTV -- the watched are merely putting on a show?