I’ve been thinking of television, in much the way people think of upcoming root canals or IRS audits.
Sure, there are imaginative, fun shows that explore the limits of probability with great dialogue and well scripted plotlines: American Gods, Stranger Things, Pro Wrestling. Then there’s “Reality” TV.
The biggest advantage of Reality TV is that the more of it there is, the less time I have to spend choosing what to watch.
The Reality genre is much larger than I usually think of it as being. In fact, it’s been around as long as TV has, as far back as a 1948 show called Candid Camera. In its widest definition, it includes everything from game shows to one of my favorite programs, Mythbusters.
So let’s narrow this down to a new sub-category, which I invented about five seconds ago: We’ll call it “Stupid Hateful Underhanded Reality”, or SHUR.
This brand of show presents people at their worst: hateful, back stabbing, stupid, and/or untalented. Like Congress, only with better approval ratings.
I remember the first time I heard about the TV show Survivor. What a great concept, I thought: A group of people must bond and work together, meet challenges, and show off the best of humanity.
Silly me. The best of humanity doesn’t sell. The worst of humanity, that does.
As a result, Reality programming has become an advance sign of the oncoming collapse of civilization, alongside fast food, the IRS, and teenagers who can’t keep their pants pulled up. (Just kidding, IRS!)
Then I realized something else could be a SHUR thing, something good: profit. For me. So I studied everything from Survivor and The Real World (which SO isn’t) to that cooking show with the screaming guy having a stroke, and the show set on the East coast with all the orange skinned female Umpa-Lumpas. Armed with a keyboard and a barf bag, I boiled them all down into my proposal, the perfect Reality TV show:
The Real Rehabbed Bachelor Celebrity Brother Kitchen Talent Makeover Wrestling show, hosted by Jerry Springer.
Two groups will be stranded together in an isolated mansion on an island, where they’ll be forced to compete in silly competitions. Each week, the losing team has to remove one article of clothing.
The first team will be celebrities. As usual with these shows, we’re setting the celebrity bar pretty darn low, but the more spaced-out rehab veterans, the better.
The second team will consist of aspiring models and rich debutants. They must be less than 24 years old and have a body mass index below 1%, excepting breasts. Points if they’re nudists who drink heavily.
Each week the teams will compete in cooking each other dinner, renovating the mansion, giving each other a makeover, and going through a maze in which giant rubber instruments smash them into walls. In the climax, each will have to sing an Elton John hit. If the audience votes against them, they face being a backup singer in a Barry Manilow tribute band.
The ultimate winner of the show gets a million dollars and the chance to join the pack of Democratic Presidential nominees.
Of course, we’ll have to gather certain, shall we say, interesting characters:
A celebrity who skates on the edge of falling off the wagon, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphors.
A former military man who will do absolutely anything to win.
Someone who screams at everyone:
“How dare you put me down, you slut. I’m out there doing!”
Someone who will get badly injured, in the tradition of the Doomed Sidekick. We won’t tell them, of course, although their code name will be Dead Meat.
The teams will have two people who are ultra-controlling and want to be in charge of absolutely everything; they’ll be together on the same team.
There’ll be a spoiled rich girl who tends to dress, shall we say, down. There’ll also be a woman who’s willing to sleep her way to the top – maybe the same woman. I’m not saying there won’t be a guy who’s willing to sleep his way to the top; but they don’t seem as popular with the audience or the other contestants.
There will be an incredible cute kid who will have one amazing talent. Sure, it might not be something useful, but the main thing is that it will cause all the judges to stand open mouthed, with tears in their eyes.
There will be a gay couple.
There will be someone who’s overcoming some huge emotional or physical disability. Oh! It could be one of the gay people! I’m a genius, write that down. Wait, I just did.
There will be someone who has a crisis going on back home, who will be encouraged to dramatically quit the contest halfway through. Not until we have footage of tearful phone calls, of course.
There will be an idiot. A Jessica Simpson type who can say the silliest things that will have people talking about him/her for weeks. You know: “Is this tuna? ‘Cause it says chicken on the can.”
For some reason, people love to see stupid people acting stupid, and mean people acting mean. Honestly, I don’t understand it myself; I’d want to see real people being at their best and doing good things. However, this isn’t about what I want, this is about what will be SHUR to make me money.
So here’s the clincher, the thing that’s going to sell The Real Bachelor Celebrity Brother Kitchen Talent Makeover Wrestling show and make me a fortune:
You know how these shows focus on all the back stabbing that goes on? Well, my contestants will each be furnished with one real knife.
Let’s see Big Brother beat that.