Some viewers noticed something peculiar during Hunted‘s 10 episodes: For 28 days, the hunters in the command center all wore the same clothes.
That’s led to at least one theory that scenes in the command center were all shot (or reshot?) at the same time, after the competition was completed, perhaps even suggesting that they were faked. But it’s also not uncommon for reality TV show cast members to wear the same clothes—though I cannot recall that happening for a full month on a non-survival/stranded-with-the-clothes-on-your-back show.
So I asked one of the hunters, Dr. Max Wachtel, on Twitter, and his answer explained everything very clearly:
“Same clothes, every day for 28 days.”
He said that each person had “had 3 sets” of clothes, and joked that they didn’t quite fit the same way at the end of the month. Having multiple sets means they weren’t wearing dirty clothes for an entire month.
And to address those conspiracy theories—born, as always, of the show’s lack of transparency to viewers—Max confirmed in a follow-up tweet that Hunted was shot in real-time in the Command Center. The same clothes helped the editors.”
Same clothes, old technique
Having cast members wear the same clothes is standard reality television operating procedure, though with a potentially problematic purpose: It allows the show’s editors to use footage from any day at any time.
I first learned about the practice in 2002, when I was on location with Trading Spaces for an entire episode to write this behind-the-scenes story. The cast all wore the same outfits, allowing the editors to use footage from all three days of filming in either of the two “days” on screen. Of course, that kind of flexibility can be used in benign ways, or to manipulate reality, changing the sequence of events.
Also standard operating procedure for unscripted TV: having producers approve a cast member’s clothes, which Max referenced in an earlier tweet about his tie choice. That’s necessary to make sure that clothing reads well on camera, but also can be used for story and character purposes.
Survivor goes so far as to buy clothes for cast members that producers think illustrates that person’s character. Perhaps the most notorious example: Survivor winner John Cochran’s famous sweater vest was not his, nor did he even wear sweater vests; it was bought for him by production.