Reality Show Relationships Invented For The Camera

After the concept of reality TV went mainstream in the 21st century, networks found a seemingly cheap business model, and random people found a way to become celebrities. We guess Andy Warhol (or whoever actually said it) was right about that whole 15-minutes-of-fame prediction. But with whatever sheen this type of guilty-pleasure programming ever had already wearing out for some viewers, you'll almost sound like conspiracy theorist if you think what's happening on the screen is 100% actual reality. Perhaps former "Bachelor Nation" contestant Chris Bukowski summed it up best when he claimed in a 2016 interview with The Cut: "You can be on that show and not say a word, and they can do whatever they want to you. I mean, they took me and made every kind of character out of me, and I signed up for it."

At this point, some viewers might just assume that every single reality television relationship is fake, but believe it or not, there are certainly some outliers and exceptions to that rule. Remember Trista and Ryan Sutter? That OG Bachelorette took home a poetic fireman and welcomed a litter of kids. They've been together since 2003 and seem to be going stronger than ever. We continue to wish them well, but we're not here to talk about them. Hello, Brody Jenner and Lauren Conrad. Nice to see you.

As our title suggests, we're here to give you a deep dive into reality show relationships that were invented for the camera. These are their stories.

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries

Unless you've just recently been found in ice by scientists and thawed out, you're most likely well aware that the 72-day fairytale marriage of Kim Kardashian and former NBA baller Kris Humphries was at least in part fantasy. According to Radar, aspects of the allegedly faked relationship were exposed by a producer of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," who admitted to scripting, reshooting, or editing certain scenes in a deposition pertaining to Humphries' court battle with Kardashian — supposedly including the proposal scene.

In their drawn-out divorce proceedings — which unfortunately lasted much longer than their union — Humphries claimed that their televised and famously lavish wedding was also contrived by the show's producers for ratings. In his 2019 NBA retirement announcement in The Player's Tribune, Humphries didn't exactly mince words about his high-profile fauxmance, writing in part, "I should have known what I was getting into." Meanwhile, Kardashian has also spoken out about their short-lived marriage, even stating during the "KUWTK" 2021 reunion special that she felt "pressured" to tie the knot (via People).

Not to mention, during an episode of the Hulu series "The Kardashians" the following year, when Kardashian asked Scott Disick for advice for an upcoming wedding speech she was to deliver at Simon Huck's nuptials, she seemingly threw shade at her marriage to Humphries. "I feel like after 'SNL' the pressure is mounting," she said (via Yahoo! Life). "So I think I'll say something along the lines of, 'I love a gay wedding. I haven't been to one since my second wedding!'"

Lauren Conrad and Brody Jenner

When it comes to reality television romances, Brody Jenner and Lauren Conrad's faces would appear on the genre's Mt. Rushmore if we had that sort of thing, right? But for fans of "The Hills," your fairytale romance dreams are probably more like the stuff of nightmares. If there was an award for most convincing fake relationship ever, Jenner and Conrad would take home the prize. The original MTV series aired from 2006 through 2010, but Jenner continued playing his role until 2014, when he finally came clean on his podcast (via E! News). 

"Lauren and I have always been just friends," he admitted, adding that "we had to pretend like we were dating but we never dated." Jenner did admit to hooking up with fellow "Hills" alum Kristin Cavallari when they were younger, but said he was never romantically entwined with his co-stars during filming. The silver lining? If Jenner could be that convincing on camera, we're going to assume he's never really off the market.

In 2019, Jenner sat down with ET's Keltie Knight and stated the "chemistry" they had as friends had the producers salivating. "I think that they, the producers, really wanted us to keep that going, even though we just wanted to be friends," he said. "It was so easy to film scenes with her and do stuff and act like we were [together], because we really did enjoy each other's company. We really liked each other, just not in that romantic way."

Caitlyn Jenner and Candis Cayne

What else can we say about Brody Jenner? He had a great teacher. Faking reality TV romances seems to run in the family, as Caitlyn Jenner has also come under fire for a potentially faux relationship on "I Am Cait," a show we assume was pitched by E!'s accountants.

According to Radar, all that flirting and snuggling between the former Olympian and trans actor Candis Cayne was reportedly staged for dramatic effect. Rumor has it, Cayne auditioned to be on the reality TV show and, after landing a spot, was then introduced to Jenner. "Caitlyn didn't just meet all of these already famous transgender people by accident," a source claimed to the gossip site, adding, "They were cast and, yes, they are getting paid."

It seems Jenner was more in the friend zone with Cayne, who told Access in 2015, "We're just really, really good friends," and then added that she's attracted to men. Although her career in reality television has since come to an end, Cayne has remained on the small screen with guest spots on shows such as "Transparent" and "Grey's Anatomy." In 2021, she described a run-in with a "CSI" director to ensure an accurate portrayal of trans women, which led to a rewrite in the script and showcased the star's impact behind the scenes. "I went up to the director and I said to her, 'Listen, I'm trans and no trans woman would go into the men's bathroom. ... I can't do something that a trans person wouldn't do on camera,'" Cayne recalled to E! News.

Kenya Moore and Walter Jackson

"The Real Housewives of Atlanta" star Kenya Moore always seemed to be unlucky in love, leaving fans of the show wondering if she would ever settle down. That all changed in 2012 when she started dating Walter Jackson. But once again, Moore quickly found herself in a relationship that fizzled out fast. Why, you may ask? Well, in 2014, Jackson revealed that the entire relationship was fake — cooked up by Moore to giver herself more screen time.

"Kenya is a great actress; you have to give her that," he said (via The Richest), going on to claim, "She's very good entertainment, and the viewers want to tune in and watch what she's going to do or say next, but nothing you see is real, I mean come on, does anyone actually believe what she says anymore?"

In 2017, Moore found love offscreen and married restauranteur Marc Daly. But perhaps Daly should have sat down with Jackson and bought him a beer or two before saying "I do." Four years and one child later, Moore filed for divorce, citing the marriage as "irretrievably broken" and revealing that the couple had been living in a "bonafide state of separation" since 2019 (via Radar). At the time of this writing, Bossip reports that Moore and Daly's divorce battle still rages on as Moore had been waiting on a confidentiality agreement before turning over any financial documents.

Farrah Abraham and Brian Dawe

In January 2014, Radar exposed a VH1 scandal for the reality TV history books. According to the site, "Teen Mom" alum Farrah Abraham was scheduled to appear on the network's hit show "Couples Therapy" with her supposed boyfriend, Brian Dawe. The only catch? The couple reportedly wasn't a couple. Dawe apparently got cold feet before filming, which landed him in hot water with Abraham and Irwin Entertainment, the reality show's production company. According to legal documents shared on the site, Dawe was reportedly told he'd face serious legal ramifications if he didn't participate on the show.

Despite the alleged pressure, Dawe didn't break. "I decided my morals and integrity were worth more than any amount of money," he told Starcasm. "I stepped out of the security line [at the airport] and made a life-changing decision to stand up for what I believe in and turn down the check I would be receiving for my appearance on this show." 

For her part, Abraham still went through with the televised therapy, saying her boyfriend "disappeared" — and later claimed on social media that their relationship had been the real deal.

Joshua Albers and Tenley Molzahn

Still reeling from her breakup with "Bachelor Pad's" Kiptyn Locke, Tenley Molzahn joined the 2015 cast of "Bachelor in Paradise" in search of love — by using the same franchise that had burned her twice before. This time around, a smarter, more experienced Molzahn reportedly charmed co-contestant Joshua Albers and convinced him to stick with her through the season finale to supposedly cash in on the publicity.

That's according to Reality Steve, anyway, everyone's favorite Bachelor-Bachelorette guru. "She was never going to continue a relationship with Josh outside of this show — but she sure made him think she would," Steve alleged (via the International Business Times). Former Disney Princess turned brilliant badass? We can't say for certain. But Molzahn eventually got married to another man named Taylor Leopold in 2018, and the pair welcomed their first child in 2020, per People.

For his part, Albers railed against the producers of "Bachelor in Paradise" for allegedly editing scenes to make it seem like he struggled with drug addiction. "I don't know how 'Bachelor in Paradise' producers sleep at night," he told TMZ. After a quick scroll through his Instagram, it appears that Albers is now happily married to a former Army officer, and the couple have two children. We guess everything worked out okay for everyone, huh?

Justin Bobby and Audrina Partridge

You might want to sit down for this shocking news, because we're back to "The Hills" again. We feel you clutching your pearls as you read this. One of our favorite reality TV show relationships was the tumultuous coupling of Beverly Hills girl-next-door Audrina Partridge and James Dean-drawn-from-memory Justin Bobby. 

Alas, Bobby told the Los Angeles Times in 2009 that their romance was a farce and described his love life as a "dating montage." Like Brody Jenner and Lauren Conrad, he claimed the pair were just good friends and said producers edited their scenes to make it look and feel like the couple was an item. When straight up asked if he and Partridge were ever romantically involved, he stated, "Realistically, no. I've only had two loves of my life." He then claimed he never watched any of the episodes, saying, "I'll hear about it and if I hear about it, I don't want to be near it."

The show has been around so long that it eventually got what everything does that's popular — a reboot. Bobby and Partridge crossed paths once again in "The Hills: New Beginnings," and the status of their relationship sounded more like acquaintances running into each other at a funeral. "We're cordial," Partridge told Us Weekly in 2020. "I haven't seen him since the finale, but I'll be seeing him again once we start filming, I'm sure."