Only in Reality… Cast Wranglers

Welcome to Only in Reality… a series in which I explore the events, philosophies and positions that only exist or occur in Reality TV.

In today’s edition we look at the crew position known as the Cast Wrangler.  

Now, Cast Wranglers do pretty much what their title implies: they wrangle the cast. So, in any scenario, a Cast Wrangler is the point of contact between Production and the so-called Talent. However, exactly what a Cast Wrangler does differs depending on the genre of Reality they’re working in.

On a show like The Bachelor (AKA Everlasting on UnREAL), that is, a Competition Show, the Cast Wrangler is pretty much a human herder. The first of these I met was a louche German we’ll call Tristan whose every move seemed an expression of petulance. Tristan’s responsibilities included: keeping eyes on cast at all time (even living with them); herding them to and from set; ensuring that none of them had somehow gotten access to a phone or computer or any other item with which they could contact the outside world; and spying on the cast and reporting their personal and interpersonal problems back to the Story Department. Tristan was one of those for-sure psychopaths I’ve worked with who took strange pleasure in denying cast members the right to speak or even pee.

However, on a show like Housewives or Love and Hip Hop (DocuSoaps), the Cast Wrangler is less of a prison guard and more along the lines of a Personal Assistant. They build a relationship with the cast members and massage their egos (no one gives a shit about cast egos in Competition). They ensure that cast arrives on set on time and in the right wardrobe (a big deal in Docusoaps where we often shoot story out of order). They also, like their Competition compatriots, spy and report back to Production on where the cast is at emotionally (we then take that info and develop story lines accordingly). On shows like Love and Hip Hop there is actually one Cast Wrangler per cast member (which is quite unusual) whereas on Housewives there is generally only one for the whole cast. The job is not only stressful but can actually be dangerous. One cast Wrangler I knew actually had a gun held to his head. He’s still in Reality. Go figure.

Cast Wrangling is a thankless and soul-destroying job. Wranglers have to manage extremely difficult (and sometimes violent) personalities and deal with 2 am calls and texts. In fact, the Cast Wrangler on my current show may not be long for this production. She’s burnt out from a relentless stream of self-important D-list celebrity cast and their non-stop shenanigans. Update: she quit.

In case you’re wondering why you’ve never seen the credit Cast Wrangler on a show, that’s because they are titled as anything from Production Assistant to Co-Executive Producer. I was once promised a Co-Executive Producer credit on a Housewives show (rhymes with – Have Mercy) if I did–basically–a Cast Wrangler’s job. I thanked them for the kind offer, but replied that I’d rather stab myself repeatedly in the chest with scissors.

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