From Scrolls To Screens: A Reality TV Historical Glossary

Just like finance or biomedical engineering, reality television is a field with jargon all its own. To truly “speak reality TV,” it is crucial to master the relevant terms and understand their various implementations. While this is by no means an exhaustive list — after all, we’ve been watching Real Housewives since 2006 — this glossary offers a wide-ranging introduction to the intricate language of reality TV. For further learning, try the “Bravoleb” language program on Duolingo, launching later this year.

Alliance noun

An agreement among contestants on a competition show to work together to increase each member’s chances of advancing further into the game.

Example: Parvati, Amanda, Cirie, and Natalie made a final four alliance, which would ultimately leave Erik on the outs.

Bible Kardashianism

A modifier intended to convey that you like, really mean something.

Example: I heard that sales of Kylie Cosmetics have really been in the toilet the last few years. Bible.

Bravo Bravo Fucking Bravo slurred utterance

A tactic employed by Bravo cast members to have unflattering moments cut from the edit, due to the desire of production to maintain the fourth wall (see below).

Example: Denise Richards must have really been pissed about that Brandi rumor to yell “Bravo Bravo Fucking Bravo” in the middle of dinner, but thank God the editors kept it in!

Can I Steal You For a Sec? cliché

Question used by contestants on the Bachelor franchise to obtain extra time with the lead, usually by way of interrupting another contestant’s intimate conversation.

Example: Joey was trying his best to make connections, but it was hard with women saying “Can I steal you for a sec?” every two minutes.

Chicken of the Sea food group

A popular brand of packaged tuna fish… or is it chicken?

Example: It’s been 20 years and I still think of Jessica Simpson every time I see Chicken of the Sea in the grocery store. 

Clip slurred utterance

A simple, yet effective directive intended to let another cast member know that you’d like them to stop speaking.

Example: Other diners in the restaurant seemed confused when Dorinda Medley began yelling “CLIP!” at the other Housewives.

Confessional contractual obligation

One-on-one interviews with production in which cast members reflect on events that occurred during filming, often with the intention of adding context or dragging their castmates.

Example: Crystal doesn’t always speak up when she’s with the ladies, but in her confessionals, she’s shady as hell!

Fourth Wall vague concept

Within a reality television show, the imaginary divide between the real world and the show world, occasionally broken in moments of heightened tension by addressing or showing crew members.

Example: Heather Gay really smashed through the fourth wall when she slammed the door shut on the producers in Bermuda.

GTL lifestyle

Gym, Tan, Laundry: the three things that matter most in maintaining a guido lifestyle at the Jersey Shore.

Example: The Situation wasn’t happy because his definitely-real job at the t-shirt shop was getting in the way of his GTL routine. 

I’m Not Here To Make Friends cliché

A popular declaration, particularly among competition show participants, to establish that they care more about winning than forming relationships.

Example: Tyra may have paired us together for this week’s shoot, but I’m not here to make friends.

It’s Not About the Pasta figure of speech

A repeated insistence by James Kennedy that the source of his frustration was not Lala eating Raquel’s pasta, or another substance that one might share on a night out.

Example: Things got pretty tense in the SUR alley when James kept yelling “It’s not about the pasta!”


Mactor fake job

A man, likely in his 20s or 30s and living in Los Angeles, attempting to find success as either a model, an actor, or both—whatever works!

Example: Jax Taylor and Tom Sandoval may not have made it as mactors, but they did alright as shitty reality TV bartenders. 

Momager Kardashianism

A mother who acts as a business manager for her children, usually pursuing opportunities within the entertainment industry; Kris Jenner.

Example: A mother’s love is free, but a momager always takes 10 percent. 

POSCHE insult/small business

Piece of Shit, Cokewhore, Homewrecker, Everyday: acronym used to degrade a fellow cast member during a heated verbal exchange; A clothing boutique in Wayne, New Jersey.

Example: Teresa got creative with the meaning of POSCHE during her disagreement with Kim D, the owner of POSCHE. 

Prostitution Whore insult

A pejorative conflating a fellow cast member’s numerous failed engagements with sex work.

Example: You were engaged 19 times, prostitution whore!

Receipt vague concept

A piece of evidence, physical or digital, that proves the veracity of one person’s version of events in a given situation. 

Example: Monica brought a Burn Book full of receipts to the reunion, but TBH, they fell flat. 

Reunion contractual obligation

A special episode taped at the end of the season, in which the entire cast sits down with a host to rehash moments from the season, often leading to moments of intense drama.

Example: Toward the end of that reunion, even Andy Cohen was getting tired of listening to the Housewives yelling over each other.

Sanasa catchphrase

A chant, made up by Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie on The Simple Life, with no real meaning or purpose other than to fill time and get attention.

Example: Sanasa, sanasa!

Sashay Away stinger

RuPaul’s parting words to eliminated queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race, sending them off the runway to pack their belongings before going home.

Example: Alisa Summers, you are a queen for all seasons. Just not this one. Now, sashay away.

The Morgan Letters proper noun 

Historic documents relating to the ex-in-laws of Sonja Morgan, namely John Pieront Morgan.


The Note proper noun

A missive, written by Snooki and JWoww during the second season of Jersey Shore, intended to notify Sammi that Ronnie was cheating on her.


The Tribe Has Spoken stinger

The words spoken by Survivor host Jeff Probst as he snuffs out the torch of contestants voted out at tribal council.

Example: Parvati, the tribe has spoken.

That’s Hot catchphrase

Incantation used by Paris Hilton to denote that a person, place, or thing is desirable, physically or otherwise.

Example: He’s six-foot-two and registered to vote? That’s hot.

Turtle Time vague concept

An expression used by Ramona Singer to refer to fun time, most commonly after a few glasses of pinot grigio.

Example: Bethenny, can we do Turtle Time for 15 minutes?

Whoop It Up catchphrase

Vicki Gunvalson’s trademark demand that the rest of her castmates start having fun.

Example: We’re in Mexico, it’s time to whoop it up!

You’re Out, Auf Wiedersehen stinger

The goodbye message used for eliminated Project Runway contestants by host Heidi Klum, playing on her German nationality.

Example: In fashion, one day you’re in, and the next, you’re out. Stephanie, you’re out, auf wiedersehen.

Dylan Hafer
Dylan Hafer
Dylan Hafer has watched over 1000 episodes of Real Housewives because he has his priorities in order. Follow him on Instagram @dylanhafer and Twitter @thedylanhafer for all the memes you could ever want.