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One of the most popular segments in TV dramas today is taken directly from a retro playbook when family dramas ruled the airwaves. Some might find it amazing a TV show like CBS’s Blue Bloods presents family problems being discussed around a dinner table in the 2010s.

While CBS is known for maintaining quality family programming, one would think a family dinner scene like this would be considered a 40 or 50-year throwback.

Those dinner segments on Blue Bloods continue being celebrated every season. Even if the discussions during these scenes aren’t always civil, it’s created a lot of curiosity by fans in how they go about filming so it looks real.

It turns out there’s a real secret to making dinner conversations look so real and convincingly casual.

Yes, the food is real

Blue Bloods
Blue Bloods | Jojo Whilden/CBS via Getty Images

No doubt more than a few avid watchers of Blue Bloods think the food isn’t real, despite the actors eating occasionally. It’s obviously simple to create fake food as we’ve seen from food photography for years, yet the BB cast are true experts in elements of fake eating of real food.

In truth, the show hires a catering service to bring in dinner items. The foods brought in are usually requested by the writers with the actors also consulted about the foods they prefer.

What makes this more interesting is the dinner scenes are typically started in the mornings, so you’re witnessing the true magic of television. These segments also aren’t always pleasant to film. As entertaining as the dinner scenes are, the time element involved in shooting them is often grueling.

We hate to give you a picture of a spit bucket, but it’s very much a hidden standby prop.

Selleck says the dinner scenes aren’t as fun as they look

The biggest drawback to working as an actor on TV or in movies is the sitting around and waiting, waiting … and waiting. Long hours are involved, mostly due to directors/producers making protracted decisions, or for crew to set up certain shots.

What many viewers don’t realize is the Blue Bloods dinner scenes sometimes take up to eight hours to shoot. Tom Selleck has called the scenes “miserable” due to having to eat the same foods over and over to get the shots needed. Part of this involves using a spit bucket during the day.

If this ruins your vision of how those dinner scenes play out, don’t let it get you down. For at least some consolation, the spit bucket is reportedly seldom used by the other cast members.

Most of the cast do something arguably an acting art form on its own: Mashing food to pretend they’re digging in.

Feigning a good meal

Pay a little more attention to those dinner scenes and you’ll notice the actors are frequently picking away at their plates of food. They never have a mouth full of food when they talk, which is a requirement by the production staff. Obviously, it’s a necessity so each line can be said with clarity and to prevent spitting food in a fellow actor’s general direction.

All the food picking/mashing is what they do through each scene to mimic enjoying dinner, if occasional bites. Plus, the sound of silverware clinking on the plate always helps fill in on creating the illusion.

Now you know what the adult actors do, even if the kids reportedly never fail to eat on the clock. Everyone else is afraid of consuming too much food to avoid feeling sick.

Considering it’s all Irish-American gastronomy to reflect the Reagan family’s heritage, let’s give them a break for not wanting to eat pot roast and dinner rolls during the entire day. Maybe we’ll eventually find out what they really have for dinner when a shooting day is done.