I was invited inside Telemundo’s most controversial house.
The network’s hit reality TV show, La Casa de Los Famosos, returned last night (Jan. 23), and I was exclusively invited inside the famous residence before the celebrities arrived to kick off season 4 officially.
Though reality TV is unfamiliar territory for me, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to experience being on a reality show with no phone, no internet, no TV, no music, limited food, and cameras everywhere. In today’s digital world and being glued to our devices, I was intrigued by the idea of being without my phone.
For those unfamiliar with La Casa de Los Famosos, it’s Telemundo’s version of Celebrity Big Brother. It’s also become the number-one reality TV show on Spanish-language television. Just ask your tía; I’m sure she knows all about the drama inside the house as the celebrities compete for a grand prize of $200,000 each season.
When I first got the invite, I immediately called all of my tías who’ve tuned into their TVs during past seasons, and their reactions were priceless. One said in Spanish, “Oh my god, you’re going into the house that has the potential to bring out the scariest version of yourself.”
The invitees did not compete for a grand prize, but we still had to anonymously vote each other out at the end of the day. The voting at the end had all of us sweating because we also had to say why we were voting for that specific person. I was a nervous wreck during the confessional, which you can watch here.
Before going in, producers took our phones away, and we were only allowed to go inside with a change of clothes. I packed two comfortable options: one pair of sandals, a hairbrush, and a few toiletries. Though we were only locked inside for eight hours, I made sure to pack a toothbrush because I’m the type of person who vomits when I get very nervous. Thankfully, I didn’t throw up inside, but I did get sick once we wrapped. The nerves won.
As part of the show, you are supposed to wear your mic at all times, and believe me when I say that they hear everything. So, if you ever wondered if anything is ever missed on reality shows like this, the answer is ‘no.’ There was a moment when I quietly whispered to myself that I was starting to get a headache halfway through the experience. Later that day, my mom called me to ask if my headache had disappeared, and I was shocked. I said, “There is no way you heard that. I said that to myself.” It immediately made me think, “Oh god, what else did I say to myself while filmed?” Note to self: remember the mic is always hot. In production world, “mic is hot” means the mic is on.
During the eight hours, our experience was livestreamed on all digital platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, X, and TikTok. We were being watched all day as we lived in total isolation, surrounded by numerous cameras and microphones, exposing our lives to the public exactly how the show participants do.
As soon as you walk in, you meet La Jefa, not face-to-face, but she is the voice of the house. She watches your every move and calls you out if you’re doing something you’re not supposed to be doing. Though we’ve never seen La Jefa’s actual face, her voice is viral all over social media. I admit my toes curled every single time she would say my name. Absolutely nothing was sugar-coated.
Something that immediately stood out to me was there were no in-ear pieces. Usually, when you’re a talent on a show, you have an earpiece where you have the show producers in your ear directing you what to say or do. In this case, there is no in-ear, which means all the drama and fights you see between celebrities are very much real. Producers do not get involved, and the only one who communicates with the contestants is La Jefa.
In addition to being livestreamed, the contestants play games the show’s producers curate. The participants play each game for food allowance, so depending on how well they do determines how much food allowance they receive. In some cases, the participants could have done better, which means limited food and arguments because you have to decide collectively what food ingredients to order for the entire house. Yeah, you read that right, “ingredients” because you must cook your own food. Shocker.
For us, the ingredients we received were tortillas, tomatoes, avocados, cheese, soda, ham, rice, cucumbers, bread, and coffee. The kitchen is where the personalities come out because everyone is eager to do something. I peeled and sliced the cucumbers and washed many of the dishes. To my surprise, there was a camera in my face the entire time I was doing dishes, and I was live-streamed cleaning. I hope I made my mom proud with that one.
It immediately made me think, “Oh god, what else did I say to myself while filmed?”
My biggest shock of all was how tiny the bathroom space is. There is little to no privacy, and you can hear everything. Can you imagine having the runs? Everyone can hear.
This opportunity didn’t just bring us the experience; we also learned more about the newest season. Five additional personalities were announced during the Livestream to join season 4: Leslie Gallardo, Guty Carrera, Robbie Mora, Cristina Porta, and Rodrigo Romeh. There will be a total of 23 participants in season 4, which is the most that this show has ever had. For context, seasons 1 and 2 had 17 participants, and season 3 had 21. Since more celebrities were added, the house has an entire new bedroom to fit accommodations, and we’ll see who breaks the ice first.
With more participants, there is the opportunity for even more connections. As seen in past seasons, romantic connections have been made between celebrities, and since everything is live-streamed, we see it all. As for how they cast the show, a producer exclusively told me that the network is always keeping an eye out.
But back to my experience. At the end of it all, I found myself not even thinking about my phone as much as I thought I would. There were moments where we’d all do the “where’s my phone?” panic, but it’s inevitable. Overall, I left the house motivated to be more present with my loved ones and to trust myself more. Though I’m naturally an extrovert, I was shy and observant en la casa. I promised myself to practice “being offline” more.