A lot of reality shows have fallen under the stigma of being fake and completely staged over the years and it’s been happening ever since The Real World aired on MTV back in the day. Swamp People however isn’t as fake as lot of the others, but it is very staged and not as pure as people might think it is. This is the way that people in this part of the US make a good living and have been doing for a while, at least until hunting was shut down in order to allow the alligator population to recover. Throughout the years however their livelihood has been carefully monitored and regulated in order to keep their traditions alive and keep the alligator population from completely disappearing. As far as being fake it’s not completely fabricated, but the show has been ‘slowed down’ in a way so as to make people pay attention and think that it’s a little more interesting than it really is.
Now let’s be honest, what they do is dangerous and therefore pretty interesting. They go hunting alligators, one of the most dangerous creatures around, and they do so in order to make a living. It’s not something that carries absolutely no risk, but the individuals on the show are part of families that have been doing this for generations and thus have figured out the trick of it a long time ago. But despite being a very real profession the idea that it’s not influenced by the production team that’s been assigned to the show is a bit naive. For instance, the shots you see of the hunters in their boats coming and going from the sites are staged for the most part. When they catch a gator there’s a certain element of risk for the camera crew, but not enough that their life is in danger.
When you see the hunters put their hands and arms in the water you can rest assured that there’s no danger, as no one, especially a trained and skilled hunter, is going to immerse any part of their bodies in alligator-infested waters when they know just how quickly a gator can attack and how hard they can bite. So yes, some of the shots are faked, or staged, and for the most part it’s to show people a bit of drama and build the suspense. But the moments in which you see the gators emerge, when they’re being wrestled onto the boats, and of course the moments leading up to just before they’re shot, are all too real. You’ll notice that you might hear the shot, but you won’t see the actual killing, as this is no doubt deemed a little too brutal for a reality TV show. So yes, there are shots that are faked, and there are moments when the production team have set the scene in order to make it seem authentic. But overall, the practice itself and the hunting is very real.
What might make it seem less than real is the fact that while they can make a decent living from hunting gators, these people still need something else and are thus seen at conventions and events throughout the country in order to promote the show and earn a secondary income so that they can make it through the year. They do have other jobs closer to home and they do manage to survive throughout the year doing other things that produce a steady income. What we see on the show is only a part of their lives, and while it’s mostly real, some if it is a bit contrived and not at all how things tend to go when the cameras are off.
There other instances in which the show is made all too real. For instance every single person on the show needs to wear boots, they absolutely have to take antibiotics, and they have to follow the rules of the hunt in whichever region they happen to be in. Different states do have different rules and and regulations when it comes to gator hunting, but there are a few constants, such as having to fill all your tags, having to have a minimum amount of tags, and having to abide by the laws of the land. Plus, there’s only a 30-day period in which the hunters can operate, so it’s a quick and very busy season in which they try to fill their quota and film the show at the same time. You can imagine how busy these guys are during the season, and how down to the wire things must get since production has to be on point so as to let the hunters fill their tags and get each episode filmed.
So is it fake? Not entirely. Is it staged? In some ways, yes.