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Is Ice Road Truckers Staged?

"Ice Road Truckers" was on air for 11 long seasons until its cancellation in 2017. One of the major pull factors of the show was its cast of eccentric, larger-than-life characters who never shied away from getting into dangerous situations or making controversial remarks. While their bravado and colorful demeanor proved to attract viewers, these same characteristics led some fans to question the show's authenticity. 

Another aspect of "Ice Road Truckers" that made people think that some of the documentary's segments are scripted or staged derives from the fact that pretty much every episode of the show pictures the truckers getting into life-threatening situations that are full of drama and suspense. Understandably, some of these moments could come off as being carefully orchestrated to increase the shock value and attain higher TV ratings. As it turns out, while "Ice Road Truckers" is largely a faithful depiction of one of the world's most dangerous professions, the showrunners have taken certain liberties to make the show more exciting.

The danger is real, but the drivers' personalities are produced

"Ice Road Truckers" only featured three women drivers all throughout its 11 seasons, with only the fan-favorite Lisa Kelly staying on for longer than one season. Maya Sieber, one of the two other women who took part in the show, addressed the concerns about some of the show's dangerous sequences being scripted in an interview given to TruckerNews in 2011. She said that "Ice Road Truckers" is "definitely not staged." As one of the very few drivers who came onto the show without much prior experience driving on ice roads, Sieber recalled that she was convinced the job was going to be much easier than it actually was. She went on to say that "you can't really capture how crazy it is on television," suggesting that the stunts caught on camera only represented a fraction of the dangers ice road truckers are accustomed to. 

While the adrenaline-pumping moments of the show are not staged and captured in real-time, the same cannot be said about the truckers' personalities. In a Huliq interview, Rick Yemm, who was on "Ice Road Truckers" until Season 6, claimed it was rather frustrating to have to comply with the character archetypes pushed by the network. "We get slated in these character roles and there's nothing we can do about it (...) I'm brash, I'm not always the most politically correct person and all that stuff. But that's not ME. That's a small part of me that they exploit." He went on to allege that this was done with most of the cast members, including Hugh Rowland, a staple of the series who appeared in eight "Ice Road Truckers" seasons. According to Yemm, Rowland refused to watch the show at one point due to this producer manipulation.