Reality TV shows don’t have “writers,” per se. They have what are called “story producers.”
Their job is pretty much twofold. First, they come up with the wacky situations for the contestants to get into. They’re the ones who send the rich debutant to a farm, and the ghetto-fabulous girl to Morton’s.
Once all this is shot, the story producer must trim hours and hours of footage into a manageable story. In some cases, they go so far as to write a “script” from dialogue that’s already been spoken. It’s basically screenwriting in reverse.
A while back, I was working on a classy show I shall not name. We were several seasons into the series, and the well of ridiculous situations had run pretty much dry.
So, a story producer came into the office and explained to everyone that the show runner wanted a list of 50 “complications” for our cast. Things that would impede them from reaching their goal. If any of us had some brilliant ideas, we should let him know.
And I thought to myself, Not only is this your job, it’s the ENTIRETY of your job. It’s the only thing you have to do right now.
Argh. How do people like that get work?