This is getting to be a little ridiculous.
As a fan of reality shows, I don't like to think often of the "reality" behind them. Yes, yes, I followed "Paulagate" earlier this year on American Idol, where it seemed clear that her responses to the acts were at least outlined before they were actually performed, if not outright scripted. It disappointed me, a little, although I also found it to be a relatively reasonable practice — in the churn of weekly live television production, you probably try to minimze surprises to whatever extent you can, and so giving the judges a chance to see dress rehearsals seems reasonable.
The scary part, obviously, was that this might mean the producers of Idol were acting as the not-so-secret puppetmasters behind the comments offered by the judges in an attempt to influence the voting and help ensure that their favorites made it to the end of the competition. (The scarier part? Paula's so nuts that not even scripted answers can contain her insanity.) There have been accusations of actual vote-rigging before, deep in the dark underbelly of post-ironic reality show blogging, but this was different. This was less an actual lie than a non-admission of manipulation. And Americans will let you lie to them upside and downside, but they do NOT take too kindly to manipulation.
During season one of So You Think You Can Dance, when the bloom was still fully on the rose, I could lull myself into a false sense of "reality," that hazy dream state where you can embrace the ridiculous manufactured drama of a reality series and yet still deep down understand that it's really no more "real" than the scripted nonsense that comprises The Hills. This usually happens for me with a reality show - I jump in with both feet, sometimes blissfully ignoring for years the nagging logic deep in my gut that tells me what I'm seeing isn't "real" at all. I still buy into Big Brother every summer, for going on nine summers now, and have convinced myself it's not rigged to the heavens, even when we all know their idea of "casting" is trolling D-list nightclubs in LA and convincing bartenders to submit their headshots to the producers.