Quality reality shows exist. Basic cable has made a cottage industry of reality shows featuring talented chefs, artists, and designers. Sure, those shows are interesting enough if you enjoy watching capable people do something constructive, but where is the spectacle, the drama, the public embarrassment? We viewers can meet dozens of competent, courteous people in real life; reality television needs to step it up (or down) and take bargain abasement to the next level. Here are a few shows the networks might just want to consider.
A nature show along the lines of the venerable “Wild Kingdom,” this series would focus on Lindsay Lohan in various native habitats. Watch Lindsay stalk the wary Samantha Ronson. See Lindsay drink at communal watering holes, sharing space with prey as her thirst makes her docile. Observe Lindsay’s nocturnal lifestyle and how it conflicts with getting a real job. Like a stick insect’s bizarre shape, the wild Lindsay is a master of camouflage; watch her don an increasingly ridiculous array of boots to hide her SCRAM bracelet. A poignant episode features a sorrowful commentary on the modern judicial system as Lindsay attempts to chew off her own leg just above the SCRAM device like a bear caught in a jaw trap.
The program will be narrated by Tara Reid, an expert in the migration patterns and favorite watering holes of unemployable actresses.
Her Price Is Right
Popular romance-driven reality shows like “So You Want to Marry a Millionaire?” and “The Bachelor” meet the traditional game-show format of “The Price is Right” in this fast-paced program. We all know reality show contestants sell themselves, but no show has heretofore put a literal price on their services. “Her Price is Right” features various small games during which contestants guess the actual retail prices of common goods to win another contestant’s affections. For example, the “Bullseye” game asks male contestants to price familiar name brands–Trojan, Valtrex, Rohypnol–to earn enough dollars to meet a female contestant’s target price. The show will alternate weekly with a similar program called “His Price Is Right.”
The “showcase” round of the program highlights various activities that female contestants require before leaping into bed with a male contestant. If the contestant guesses within a hundred dollars of the woman’s actual price, he wins both showcase prizes plus a crisp new twenty-dollar bill and a mention on TMZ–the ultimate prize for any fame-loving reality-show romance artist!
Real Housewives of the Uncanny Valley
We’ve seen the “Real Housewives” of numerous American locales, but there’s one area that television has not yet conquered. The “Uncanny Valley” is a concept developed by Masahiro Mori, a Japanese roboticist, to explain why humanoid robots and zombies are scary. The brain perceives these almost-human mock-ups as grotesquely off-putting compared to actual human beings. Clowns, ventriloquists’ dummies, and dolls with teeth are some examples of creepy things that lurk in the uncanny valley.
Thanks to their appallingly bad plastic surgery, the women of the “Real Housewives” shows and countless celebrities have plummeted into the uncanny valley as gleefully as kids on a Slip ‘N’ Slide. Viewers get to watch the no-longer-quite-human women try to counterfeit emotions on their frozen faces. The finale takes a more dramatic turn as an actual fist-fight breaks out between Jocelyn Wildenstein, Lisa Rinna, and Danielle Staub. It wouldn’t do to spoil the drama, but producers have released a teaser scene of Staub tearfully searching under Star Jones’s bed for her missing bolt-on boob.
Kate Minus Eight Divided by Child Welfare
The authorities finally step in and put a stop to Kate Gosselin’s attention-grabbing and chronic child neglect. Her freshly Botoxed brow is declared a Superfund Site while her uterus is labeled unfit for human habitation. The kids find new homes with people who have truly come to cherish them, love them, and see to their needs on a daily basis–the camera crew of “Kate Plus Eight.”
Hurr Hurr, They’re Funny-Lookin’!
Shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Dance Your [Rear] Off” aren’t really about people of different shapes or sizes improving themselves as much as they are about giving the slack-jawed segment of the population a chance to point at the screen and say, “Lookit that!” “Hurr Hurr, They’re Funny-Lookin’!” will give that audience the opportunity to see what they most want to see without being bothered by the human-interest side of others’ life stories.
As this is a potentially sensitive topic that could offend individuals who have uncommon appearances themselves, producers will not focus solely on one type of “funny-lookin’.” Episodes will include not only large people, but also small people, homely people, and people whose mothers dress them funny. Anyone who is not already a celebrity (reality-show or otherwise) or a model is a potential candidate for “Hurr Hurr, They’re Funny-Lookin’!”
Reality television doesn’t have to be a dull wasteland of fundamentally decent people plying a real trade and competing against respected opposition; that stuff’s fine for basic cable, but too dull for the next generation of reality programming.