- Below Deck -Kate Casey Interviews Reality Stars For A Living, And Lives The Real-Life Dream
There are some people who just get what it's like to be a TV fan, and Kate Casey is definitely one of them. The southern California mother of five has a love, a passion, and a critical eye for good (and blissfully bad) reality TV like no one else, and she graciously decided four years ago, after a career in strategic media consulting for global law firms, that she should take her TV-love to the airwaves. The podcast Reality Life with Kate Casey was born, and so was our new obsession.
Twice a week, Casey dives deep into the glorious world of unscripted television as she seeks to uncover the real reality behind some of our favorite former and current reality stars, from the executive producer behind Down To Earth with Zac Efron to the showrunner of Below Deck Med to Brittany Banks from 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way. With over 300 episodes, if you're a fan of reality TV, there will be something there for you.
Below, Casey answers some of our questions about what it's like turning a passion into a career, her most memorable guests, and what she thinks about that whole Denise Richards/Brandi Glanville thing.
On What It's Like Interviewing Reality Stars
What inspired you to start your podcast, and who was your first big get?
I created the show based on my interest in tracking down people who were on vintage reality shows like The Real World. What happened to them? How did TV change their life? My first show featured Ashley Iaconetti from the Bachelor. She was known at that time for always crying on TV.
When you're recording, what does a typical day look like?
I record Monday through Friday, and the times vary in accordance with the schedule of the guest and my kids. I tend to record early in the day. Often times a story or show pops up and I am fitting in a last minute guest. Every day is so different, and I am usually working on the fly.
What's it like having a career built around reality TV? Can you still enjoy the shows, or has it become work?
I feel so grateful I figured out a way to get paid for what I really love to do. I still enjoy almost everything I watch, but some I enjoy less that I used to.
Is there an interview you'll never forget?
There are a few I never forget. Marcus Lemonis from The Profit talked about being a victim of abuse and finding out about his birth parents. Michael Jordan’s biographer talked about ESPN’s The Last Dance and I cried when he spoke about Kobe Bryant. The author Garrett Graff of the Oral History of 9/11 was a great story teller. Leah McSweeney from Real Housewives of New York was funny, irreverent, and surprisingly self aware.
My favorite interview was with the Executive Producer of Surreal Life, Rock of Love, and Flavor of Love. I laughed so hard I cried.
Which guest surprised you the most, and why?
Mike “The Situation” from Jersey Shore was surprisingly sweet and reflective. Jon Gosselin was pretty honest and reflective, too. Sometimes tracking down people who have the benefit of time can be the most interesting guests.
On The Future Of Reality TV
The Dipp's CEO Kate Ward argues that social media has changed the role of the reality TV villain. What do you think?
Yes, the meme culture is extraordinarily influential. They can make and break a reality star. Now reality stars are terrified how things will play out on TV for the viewer. I also think meme culture has made reality stars less authentic. Now they worry they have to be extra to keep their jobs. To be called boring, for example, as a housewife is the death of you.
What reality show is underrated and should be appreciated more?
I love this show on TLC called Long Lost Family, which is about people trying to find out their birth story and their birth parents. It is enormously emotional and fascinating. I think the early seasons of 90 Day Fiancé were fantastic.
What do you think the future of reality TV looks like? Are we all gonna be watching two-minute shows on Tik Tok?
I foresee a shift in television with more focus on uplifting stories showcasing the grind and not the image. People want to see people building businesses and communities. We are rejecting the vapid and entitled.
On The Shows We Love
How real do you think the Denise and Brandi drama was on RHOBH this season ... scripted, or nah?
Very real. I think all parties thought it would play out differently on TV. There’s how you feel while you are filming, there’s how you feel when you hear your castmates in their interviews, then there is how the rest of the world feels once they watch it. I think in the last two years Real Housewives are finding what they expect of the audience is totally off the mark.
Do you think 90 Day's Jenny and Sumit will last?
Absolutely not. These couples rarely stay together once the cameras leave and there is no financial gain from being together. That’s the problem with 90 Day Fiancé.
And what about Jax and Brittany, from Vanderpump Rules?
Possibly, they seem to be very similar. I think they will end up in Florida and own a bar. Maybe they will call it Britax?
Should Hannah have been fired on Below Deck Med.
Yes, she didn’t follow protocols. The boat owners could have been fined, they had no choice. I also think Malia is a horrible person for invading her personal space and taking photos of her medication..
Thoughts on Dorinda's exit from RHONY?
She needed to take a lap. Sometimes people need to take a break.
What was your favorite show of 2020?
I loved Pursuit of Happiness on HBO Max and The Vow on HBO is outstanding. You feel like you get a masters in psychology and cinematography each Sunday. I like really deep story telling. I want to know about people who live in another pocket of the world.
Are there any shows you're really looking forward to?
I appreciate the honesty of some of the Real Housewives of Potomac. I think streaming TV is putting out outstanding programming. Showtime has had some incredible projects. Netflix is killing the game.
What can we expect from your show in 2021?
I will continue to have my finger on the pulse of great unscripted TV. I am proud to say I have had some of the best guests and showcased great projects before the rest of the world falls in love with them. I have also developed a show I hope to sell this year. I’d love to host some reunion shows. Skies the limit!
For More On Kate Casey...
You can jump in her Facebook group Reality Life with Kate Casey to discuss all your favorite unscripted TV shows and series, follow her on Twitter at @katecasey, and on Instagram at @katecaseyca. She has bonus episodes of her podcast on Patreon.