The problem with reality competition shows (as I see it) is twofold: they’re too damn serious and there’s far too little audience participation. For example, take the show Top Chef. What do you (the viewer) do while some guy chars a duck terrine to the chagrin of the professional chefs and food luminaries that make up the judges panel? You sit on your butt realizing that you’d do the exact same thing, because you already do it to your grilled cheese sandwiches. Or how about with America’s Next Top Model? Do you get to participate? No, you just sit there feeling fat and wondering why none of the winners ever become an actual supermodel who gets to assault their personal assistant.
American Idle. That’s you, sitting there doing squat while the TV spews out humorless tension. But that’s about to change because I have a lighthearted new show where real people get to have fun acting as live judges. Here’s the first episode of my show America’s Next Top Spokesperson:
A sharply-dressed woman in a blue suit with a lapel pin strolls up to the microphone. She’s hoping to become the spokesperson for a major oil company. She leans into the mic with a big, confident smile and says:
“We remain committed to minimizing the environmental footprint of our Arctic offshore operations.”
The audience laughs and hoots. Someone yells “Riiiight”, just before a water bottle bounces off the woman’s head. She scurries for cover under a hail-storm of garbage while a guy in a pinstripe suit marches up to the mic. He hopes to one day become the public face of a major bank. He adjusts his wire-frame glasses and says:
“We don’t take trust for granted. We know we have to earn it every day in our conversations and actions with our valued customers.”
The audience howls with laughter. They jump to their feet, flip the bird, and start chanting “SUBPRIME!! SUBPRIME!!”. The banking wannabe sprints to Stage Right and then dives into his rented limo.
The last contestant strolls up to the mic. He’s a grumpy-looking guy in a brown suit with a too-wide tie. He’s gunning for the job at a chemical company that just turned a pristine river into a toxic sewer. He flicks his lit cigarette into the front row and says:
“Truth be told, we just don’t give a damn. It’s all about the stock price. So blow me.”
The audience launches into a standing ovation. They just can’t stop clapping for their winner. They love being the judges and it’s been years since a spokesperson told them the truth.