Keeping it real: TV show moments so real, viewers assumed they were faked

Yahoo Contributor Network

TV fans can be a finicky bunch: When it comes to great TV moments based almost exactly on reality, many think they were faked. For example, the series "Game of Thrones" introduced the character of Tywin Lannister in a particularly memorable scene that involved the skinning of a deer carcass. Fans took to the Internet in droves after the episode, complaining that the deer carcass looked fake. But strangely enough, the actor playing Tywin was skinning a real deer, making the complaining fans look pretty silly.

Another prime example is from the short-lived Joss Whedon series "Dollhouse." Eliza Dushku needed to play a blind character, and so the producers brought in an actual blind woman for Dushku to observe. However, the blind woman moved with ease and grace, almost like she could actually see. When Dushku imitated the way the woman moved, crew members watching the taped scenes thought that Dushku's portrayal of a blind person looked fake.

Even when TV shows use historical events as the basis for their plots, there can be backlash from fans who don't believe that the event could have really played out that way. A great example of this phenomenon from recent years was the Season 5 opener of "Mad Men." The episode involved employees at an advertising agency dropping water on a group of African-American protestors below on the sidewalk. Critics said the scene felt forced, with special critique given to the on-the-nose line "And they call us savages." But this water bomb incident really happened, and a woman present at the event really said the "savages" line.

Speaking of period dramas, "Downton Abbey" is frequently targeted for moments that feel unrealistic for the period. Some viewers felt that the scene where Bates is arrested in Season 2 felt a bit off, in part because the arresting officers were reading Bates his rights. While the reading of rights didn't become standard in the U.S. until the 1966 Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona, the reading of rights in the U.K. was established as proper arrest procedure all the way back in 1912.

"The Wire, " a nother show with a devoted following, also took some flack for "unrealistic" events. In particular, there's a memorable episode where Omar Little survives a leap from the fourth floor of a tall building, which most fans assumed was impossible. But in fact, Donnie Andrews, the real-life inspiration for the character of Omar Little, also survived a fall from a building. The only difference? The real-life fall was from six stories up, not four.

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