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Reality TV Show Mansion

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"Seven strangers, picked to live in a mansion..."

A Reality Show staple, typified by an extravagant mansion complete with a fully stocked bar, and a Confession Cam. The reality TV show mansion usually has no television and no single rooms, encouraging maximum interaction among contestants and limited contact with the outside world.

Typically, these high-end homes are vacation homes rented from wealthy private citizens for the duration of the show. Hence, the reason that some Reality TV Show Mansions appear very similar... they may in fact be the same house. When they're not the same, many a viewer has wondered what happens to the house and everything in it after the season is over.

Nonetheless, the luxury of the reality show mansion may arguably be viewed as one of the attractions for signing up to be a reality TV show star.


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    Live-Action TV 
  • Almost every 'elimination-style' competitive reality show takes place in a mansion:
    • America's Next Top Model: Usually a lavish, loft-style apartment complete with runway for practice, with every inch of wall covered in pictures of host Tyra Banks.
    • American Idol: The first 2 seasons showcased the lavish house in which the singers lived, but this was dropped starting with the third season.
    • The Apprentice: The Apprentices usually live in lavish penthouses in Manhattan, with the exception of Season 6, where the losing team was forced to live in "Tent City".
      • The UK incarnation saw the teams living in a succession of high-class London houses, although in Season 5 it was downgraded to a far more modest, but still pretty nice apartment.
    • Making the Band
    • Last Comic Standing
    • The Joe Schmo Show
    • Even The Next Food Network Star used this trope, until Season 7 got overloaded with so many Soap Opera-ish elements (in large part thanks to the I'm Not Here to Make Friends-quoting Alpha Bitch Penny) that the following season featured a retool that has so far resulted in the show reverting back to showing the strictly food and presentation-related aspects of the drama and relocated the contestants to hotel rather than a mansion, apparently making Season 7 a Genre-Killer as far as this trope and many or the related tropes are concerned.
    • Big Brother. Some editions of Big Brother had a system with two connected houses: a luxury house and a poor house. The contestants were initially all put in one of them (the other one being hidden), but later divided into two (sometimes competing) groups with fluctuating memberships, one for each of the houses.
    • Estate of Panic is a subversion; the show does take place in a mansion, and it is properly extravagant in its design, but the contestants don't live there - the mansion is the challenge of the show, a freaky fun house built as the playground for the elimination-based competition.
    • While not the setting, the competitors live in such a mansion in Face/Off. We only see a few minutes of it at the beginning of each episode, usually focusing on their reaction to the previous episode.
      • Their makeup lab may be a closer example - it has just about everything an effects artist could want, generally producing a "kid in a candy store" effect on the competitors. It's also quite open, allowing the competitors to see what the others are doing.
  • All of the competitive dating shows, including:
    • The Bachelor and The Bachelorette
    • Beauty and the Geek
    • Joe Millionaire
    • Flavor of Love
      • All of its spin-offs use a redecorated version of the same mansion.
    • I Love New York
    • Rock of Love
      • The most recent season averted the trope by having the contestants living on buses that followed Bret's tour bus around the country. Lavishly appointed buses yes, but spacious? No. The reason? A lawsuit was filed by the owner of the mansion after the second season, seeking compensation for all the damage the contestants did to the house.
    • Paradise Hotel
    • Excused
    • Frank The Entertainer In A Basement Affair subverts this. The contestants expect a Reality TV Show Mansion, but end up all living in Frank's parent's house. Then again, the show's name might have been a clue.
    • I Wanna Marry "Harry" has Englefield House, which is a real English country home.
  • Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrrls: The mansion where the 10 potential Grrrls move in has a dance studios and a gym... with a bar.
  • The Real World: Though the first season of the show featured fairly modest accommodations, starting with the third season the cast members have lived in extravagantly decorated mansions.
    • The luxury suite in the Palms hotel from the Las Vegas season is available to rent.
  • The Surreal Life
  • In Survivor, contestants who are eliminated are taken to a hidden camp or hotel where all of their amenities are taken care of while they wait out the remainder of the game. This has traditionally never been seen on the show, but Australian Survivor opted to make a short online companion show out of it, named The Jury Villa, where the eliminated contestant of the week reunites with their fellow castaways and enjoys a full meal and hotel room for the first time in weeks.
  • WWE Tough Enough's first season hosted the contestants in a hundred-year-old rural Connecticut mansion, a fairly short distance away from the WWE headquarters and other facilities. The mansion itself was owned by a WWE producer and was rented by the company for use in the show. During the first episode after the selection process, host Al Snow laid down the law, warning the contestants that they were guests in this man's home and that if there were any damage to the building because of them, there would be hell to pay.
  • The Ultimate Fighter: The fighters from both teams live in one large house. Occasionally, a fighter cites interpersonal issues as part of his motivation for beating someone in the octagon.
  • Many Music Videos take place in something like this, especially those for Glam Rap.
  • Marriage Boot Camp
  • Netflix and Fuji TV's Terrace House is a variation of this, where the young boys and girls live together in a fancy mansion, but they can go out anytime, just passing their freetime there. All of this is later commenting during the show as a talk show by the hosts and guest stars who see everything that happens in the house.
  • The UK and US versions of The Traitors are both set in Ardross Castle, complete with a free bar (which contestants are only too happy to take advantage of). Lush. The Australia version is set in a hotel in the Southern Highlands, playing pretty much the same role.
  • Obscure British reality show Back to Reality put 12 "reality TV stars" in a million-pound house in a studio. It certainly looked a million dollars, and it probably was, as it cost 10% of Channel 5's network budget.

Fictional examples:

    Fan Works 
  • Prior to Super Smash Bros.. Brawl's Subspace Emissary mode giving the series an actual story for the first time, many Smash Fan Fiction took place in "the Smash Mansion", where all the Smash Bros. characters live together while they're not fighting.
  • Fandemonium. Nearly the entire plot takes place in Fandemonium Mansion. Occasionally, they go outside. That's about it.

  • House Arrest, in the Ben Elton novel Dead Famous
  • It's a Madhouse, in the Kim Newman short story "Going to Series". The story focuses on the behind-the-scenes machinations of the showrunners to manipulate the environment in ways that encourage ratings-boosting conflict between the contestants.
  • Subverted horribly in Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted (2005). All the writers are put up in a well-stocked private complex (a former theater), but each of them has the idea to sabotage their own stuff with the intent that their subsequent tell-all book deals would be more compelling. In short order, the place has become an unlivable nightmare.
  • Deconstructed, then subverted altogether, in A Head Full of Ghosts. There's a Confession Cam, it's huge, and it's considered a very appealing settling because of its Gothic architecture, but it's also falling to pieces, they can barely afford to eat most days, and they also live there after the show is finished until their deaths.
  • The Hunger Games: Tributes live in the lap of luxury for the few days leading up to the actual Games.

    Live-Action TV 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Sex House appears to be set in one of these. Until the contestants realize there literally IS nothing consumable in the house but booze and moldy bread. And the house is incredibly poorly constructed and have no garbage disposal, making it a severe health hazard in several ways. And they're locked in.
  • Referenced in The Strangerhood when the mysterious voice attempts to force the cast into a reality show setup to learn about them. It would have been on a deserted island too.

    Web Video 
  •, a 24/7 livestream similar to Big Brother, takes place in a large suburban house, complete with four bedrooms, a sizeable kitchen/dining area, and a garage. While participants are free to wander around, they aren't allowed to leave. Aside from the other contestants, there isn't any entertainment besides some books, board games, and a copy of Stuart Little 2.

    Western Animation 
  • Drawn Together: The mansion is one of the consistent features of this otherwise continuity-void cartoon.
  • Life's a Zoo is set in such a mansion, which the houseguests are competing for.