LEGALESE: “The Footage and Materials shall also include any and all material that I may create, writ, provide or contribute to in connection with the Program at any time, including, without limitation, personal journals, photographs, webisodes, vlogs, blogs, video diaries, emails, text/picture messages, and promotional advertising spots for the Program, the exhibitor of the Program, its advertisers and sponsors, and any of their representative products and services. Producer shall be the sole and exclusive owner of all rights (including, without limitation, copyrights) in and to the Footage and Materials.” (Item 2)
TRANSLATION: That’s right: Your journal, your email, your text messages—they all belong to Real Housewives, not you. Artists of all kinds, take note: Do NOT appear on this program, because anything you create while shooting it will no longer be yours. Yes, even that novel you’ve been working on for the past year or those photographs you were planning on using in a gallery show. Yikes.
LEGALESE: “I understand that in connection with the Program, Producer, in its sole discretion, may require me to wear clothing, costumes, accessories, and/or makeup selected by Producer.”(Item 4)
TRANSLATION: Nothing new here, but it kind of squicks me out to know that they might costume you depending on what stereotype they want you to represent.
LEGALESE: “I am not currently, and during one (1) year from today do not intend to be a candidate for any public office.” (Item 5)
TRANSLATION: You’re not allowed to run for public office for a year after the day you sign the contract. Presumably this is to prevent you from using the show as free publicity, but given that I don’t think ANY of us would want someone from Real Housewives working in the government, this one actually works out for the best.
The real doozies are coming up, by the way, so prepare yourselves:
LEGALESE: “I understand that and in connection with the Program, I may reveal or relate, and other parties… may reveal or relate information about me of a personal, private, surprising, defamatory, disparaging, embarrassing or unfavorable nature, and that my actions and the actions of others participating in the program may be embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavorable nature that may be factual or fictional… [This information] may expose me to public ridicule, humiliation or condemnation, and may portray me in a false light.” (Item 11)
TRANSLATION: You WILL be made fun of. People you’ve never met WILL hate you after viewing the show.
LEGALESE: “I agree that I will never sue Producer, Siren Media, LLC (“Siren Media”), NBCUniversal Media, LLC, Network or anyone because I do not like the manner in which Producer or its licenses or assignees took or used the Footage and Materials or used the Footage and Materials in the Program or in any other program or for any cause of action based on any of the Released Claims.” (Item 12)
TRANSLATION: Don’t like the fact that people you’ve never met hate you after viewing the show? Too bad; deal with it.
This, then, is why reality TV is such a cash cow: It’s cheap to shoot because no one gets paid, so the profit margin is incredibly high. At the same time, though, given what we’ve learned from this adventure, I would like to pose the following question: WHY WOULD ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WANT TO APPEAR ON THIS OR ON ANY OTHER REALITY SHOW? I am not at all exaggerating when I say that it’s comparable to signing away your soul. No amount of fame—or infamy—can be worth that, right? Right? Please tell me I’m not alone here, because GAH.
For the curious, the full contract (all five single-spaced, tiny typed pages of it) can be found here.
Tell us: Is there anything—anything at all—that would make you want to participate in a reality show?
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s senior editor.