Sunday, July 24, 2005

About reality - the showtime version

I don’t get it. In a time that the number of terror attacks in major cities and popular holiday destinations worldwide are increasing, so does the public's thirst for reality shows.
I find this bizarre, especially since they are in general quite boring.
But I have some suggestions to spice them up a bit.
Let’s first look what is around – thanks to cable and satellite: worldwide.

First, there are the dating ones – one guy/girl goes on dates with around 12 members of the opposite sex who have nothing better to do that being humiliated in front of millions. That of course explains why all of them were single to start with and will remain single long after the show’s grand finale. I must confess, I wouldn’t mind at all dating a bunch of losers in exotic (and 100% paid for!) locations.
My suggestion would be that they come to the home of the bachelorette and do useful stuff: fixing her washing machine, checking the tires and oil of her car, putting up shelves, entertaining that boring aunt during holidays, go shopping for groceries, etc. Let’s face it, getting roses is nice, getting rid of a tedious chore is great!

The next group is the swapping one – a person swaps lives with another frustrated person. Needless to say, this leads to misunderstandings, anger and – in short- extremely boring television. The switchers have boring lives to start with, so I don’t see the point. Now let’s put some substance in the concept. Let’s have Bush swap places for a few days with the president of France – that’s entertaining! They don’t have to worry about the language barrier-nobody listens to them anyway. It might even end the war in Iraq…

Then there is the misfit show – you put some celebrities on a remote farm or something like that and see them suffer. Funny enough, it seems that only the poor locals are suffering – the celebrities themselves survive very nicely. I suggest that they change the show’s concept and combine it with the swapping one. Let’s have Paris Hilton work as an underpaid maid in the Hilton Hotel in Guam, sans dog and beauty treatments of course.

Survivor shows are popular as well – a group of C-list actors are thrown together in the middle of a jungle and have to survive. Variation: they have to conquer their greatest fear by sticking their face in buckets with worms or cages with spiders. I didn’t hear the WWF complain about the mistreatment of those poor animals yet, which is a Serious Omission on their side.
Both of these shows are based on the wrong concept: we all know that the biggest fear of an actress in waking up with her original body before plastic surgery. So let’s make a show bout that – starting with Michael Jackson.

Peeping Tom shows follow a group of people or a small business (hair dresser, restaurant) 10+ weeks long for no apparent reason.
I strongly advise the makers to select a high tech company next time: weird people, lots of intrigue, scheming and backstabbing, topped off by a spectacular crash in the final episode. I will be happy to provide the script.

Apprentice shows – my favorites. A prospective employer gives a group of 10-15 candidates all kind of tasks over a 3-months period and declares a winner.
They are clever enough not to make the decision alone, but sharing the blame, but not the fame, with some of their minions or business friends. Good PR for them and the candidates make a cake of themselves, no matter how smart they are.
I like the concept: I would love to have my own. I will interview a bunch of people to become my cleaner. I will test them by giving them different cleaning tasks and rating them. After stretching this for weeks (and not paying them of course!) I will select one. My cat will be one of the judges. I know, that doesn’t make sense, but at least he has better hair than Donald T.

Networks love all these shows – cheap to produce and great viewers numbers, so the advertising dollars come rolling in.

The funny thing is, these reality shows have nothing to do with reality as we know it.
So what's the deal here? I wish George Orwell was around to make some sense of it all.....

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