What started as a supposed revelation of one New Jersey Housewife's alleged stripper past has turned into a larger scandal, with the rest of the cast accusing Teresa Giudice of setting her up. Of course it was a setup. They're on reality TV. But why aren't they pointing their fingers at the show's producers, who were clearly the ones who carefully orchestrated the drama, attaching microphone packs to everyone involved? One former producer of the show speaks out about how reality TV sausage is made.

Here's what happened: A scummy-type guy, wearing a body mic, approached Teresa at a salon in an awkwardly scripted moment and told her that her sister-in-law, Melissa Gorga, used to be a dancer at his strip club. Teresa, clearly uncomfortable, left the room. Later that night, the same scummy guy approached all the women at a "fashion show" and said hello to them all. That caused the rest of the cast to lose it, and were furious with Teresa for trying supposedly bringing this guy on to the show to embarrass Melissa.

They say that the proof that Teresa was involved was in the clip above, in which the guy, who forgot he was mic'ed, was in a different part of the bar talking about the incident, saying "They had me do this thing, ya know…" But couldn't he have been referring to the producers, who were actually the ones who gave him the mic?

Purveyors of Pop, the production company behind the show tweeted last night:

As far as we know Teresa was not involved in #STRIPPERGATE, but one thing is for sure Melissa is NOT a stripper.

One of the cast members, Jacqueline, said that she receive a text message that evening from a "mutual friend" of Teresa's that something was going to happen, that she was not "the target," and instructing her not to leave. Rumors began circulating that the text came from executive producer Cat Rodriguez, who communicated with all of the women except for Teresa. Some are accusing the producer of being biased against Teresa and stepping over the line, as far as reality TV manipulation goes.

In an illuminating interview, an unnamed production supervisor on seasons three and four of the show recently discussed how they come up with the storylines for each season, before they film:

At the start of the season the production team sits down and gives a general overview of where we want the storyline for the show to go. ALL of the wives are in on this. We discuss popular storylines from the season before, story lines that need tying up, and also ways of threading in new storylines that look organic to the story. Do you really think we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on just following these woman around with no plan? No, the season and the storyline has a basic outline from the first day. The feud [between Caroline and Teresa] that you are being fed is for television only and there are bigger issues there. It's up to the wives what they choose to put out into the public forum; nothing is forced on them.

And about the rumors surrounding executive producer Cat Rodriguez's involvement in the whole ordeal:

They are aware of the what is being said on Twitter and blogs. Cat hates Teresa and Teresa knows it.

Part of the job of being a reality TV producer is to meddle in the lives of the show's subjects, creating a filming schedule, clearing locations, arranging storylines, etc. Because their livelihoods rely upon capturing drama and conflict, they sometimes have to have a hand in creating it. The difference with a show like Real Housewives of New Jersey, though, is that the cast is comprised of family members, not acquaintances who don't have a problem cutting ties with one another once the cameras are turned off. And that's kind of what makes the show so compelling—the drama, however machinated, has a very real and lasting result on those involved. But it's also what makes the ethics of something like this so sticky.

REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY: Who Killed Seasons Three and Four of RHONJ… Maybe A Little Kitty Did! [Stoopid Housewives]
Manipulation and Viewer Mistrust / Flipping Out / Dance Moms / Housewife News [Lynn Fam]
Bravo Insider Says Jacqueline Laurita's Anger Stems from Failed Endorsement Deals, Which She Blames on Teresa Giudice [Fame Whorgas]