Friday, May 30, 2008

Top 5 Worst Ideas For Reality Shows That Actually Made It To Air

To define terms: loosely, think of a reality show as anything that could win the Emmy category. I used the word "idea" on purpose, so that we are free to criticize shows we haven't actually seen. (For example, one doesn't have to watch much or any of that Britney Spears show, whatever it was called, to know it was God-awful.) This website helps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_reality_television_programs#Reality_game_shows.2FReality_.22Playoffs.22

Ryan's Top Five

1. Bonds on Bonds, ESPN - Here's an idea--let's take one of the biggest jerks in sports and give him a public forum to talk MORE about how he's been victimized. Count me in! This show epitomizes everything that is wrong with ESPN (let alone humanity, American culture, etc.). In a nutshell: excessive (to use understatement) coverage of stuff we don't want to watch. Patriots Spygate stories, endless Yankees and Red Sox games, news, etc., a phony GM press conference involving Steve Phillips (I have not forgotten), Steve Phillips in any capacity that doesn't involve him trading away Mets prospects (Kazmir for an old paint can and Victor Zambrano), "Who's Now?" bullshit, etc. etc. etc. Look. You cover sports. SPORTS. JUST SHOW HIGHLIGHTS ALL DAY LONG.

2. Celebrity Paranormal Project, VH1 - A common theme on this list has to be the "Just add celebrities" paradigm that reality show producers seem to follow. For this stratagem to have any merit, the celebrities would have to be big, or, you know, bigger than someone you wouldn't be surprised to see cutting the ribbon at a new used Kia dealership. (Off topic, but in Celebrity Fit Club, these celebrities are playing for ACTUAL PRIZE MONEY--not for a charity.) The D-List celebrities angle is one thing (examples, hm, examples...I think Chyna Doll was involved...), the having-them-examine-old-mental-hospitals-and-prisons is another. The fact that this was often done in a heartfelt spirit of challenging one's fears... No. (I'll not address the fact that VH-1 was at one point a music video channel...)

3. Rich Girls, MTV - You know who I love to hang out with? Pretentious rich assholes. I especially love to hear their world views. An added bonus of this show: if you listen closely, you can actually hear your brain shriveling while you watch.

4. Kid Nation, CBS - Hah!

5. Skating with Celebrities, Fox - This one has to win the Spirit Award for most ludicrous. You know what I'd rather watch than D-Listers trying to ice skate? Actual figure skating. You know what I'd rather watch than actual figure skating? Paint dry.

Dan's Top Five:

1. There's Something About Miriam, Sky One - "Hosted by Tim Vincent, it featured six men wooing 21-year-old Mexican model Miriam without revealing that she was a transwoman until the final episode... Responses from critics were generally unfavorable, calling it 'the cruellest reality show idea yet' and part of a trend in shows that exploit unwitting contestants. A British reviewer noted, 'The whole premise of There’s Something About Miriam was not a celebration of transgendered life. It was designed to elicit horror from the winning contestant discovering that his dream date had a penis.'"

2. The Swan, FOX - Want to up the ante on makeover shows? Move over, queer eye guys, we're here to do plastic motherfucking surgery! Sure, you could change your clothes, your diet, and your routine of preparing yourself for the day in front of your bathroom mirror, but real beauty lies in the sharpness of the scalpel.

3. The Big Break, The Golf Channel - I just have to regurgitate what wikipedia tells me... "The Big Break was a reality show in which aspiring golf players competed against one another and were eliminated. The show's premise is to award an aspiring professional golfer exemptions into selected events on certain tours. The series debuted on October 6, 2003, and has become very popular, spawning eight subsequent editions." Yeah, read that last part again.

4. Tommy Lee Goes to College, NBC, VH1 - I'm not exaggerating when I say that I laugh every single time I read this title. Hahaha.

5. My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, FOX - "An elementary school teacher named Randi Coy is offered $250,000 for herself and $250,000 for the rest of her family if she takes part in a fake wedding engagement to a man named "Steve Williams". However she has to convince her family of the engagement and have a wedding arranged in 12 days time with all her family members attending in order to win the money." Here's the sad part, though... "The German broadcaster Sat. 1 adopted the format and aired Mein großer, dicker, peinlicher Verlobter in late 2004. In France Mon incroyable fiancé was aired on TF1 in summer 2005." I am truly ashamed of American culture.

Tim's Top 5:
I have superb news for people here, which is that I am utterly unaware of things on TV. So I'm going to have to do this armed with wikipedia and a vague memory of shows that I know of but have not seen.

1. American Idol - I've gone on this rampage many a time before, but while it has value in the abstract, it suffers from all the deficiencies of all other reality shows -- its premise is utterly abandoned for the conclusion -- after actually having people judge them on their merits for months of prelims, they turn it over to people who will vote for people based on race, sex, attractiveness, or Sanjayacity. The first few weeks of the show, as I understand it, are basically oriented around mocking people who really want to be on the show. The last few weeks are supposed to determine who gets the grand prize of a record contract with Clive Davis.
So...to recap...beginning of show = schadenfreude, middle of show = karaoke to Stevie Wonder songs performed by people who've never even heard Songs in the Key of Life, end of show = votes that can't be counted accurately, not that it matters, since the votes are based on things other than musical talent. Oh, and the vote total doesn't really matter because unfortunately, the ratings for this awful show are really good, so even people who finish sixth on the show get record deals with legitimate labels (and I only know this because my mom bought one of those albums -- John Stevens' Red). So -- premise is abandoned near the end in favor of direct democracy, which so rarely works in any system -- and premise is faulty because the winner might actually get a less lucrative deal anyway (see Clay Aiken). After the Beatles helped us push the talentless hacks who play no instruments and don't write songs down the fame charts, this show has given us people whose whole goal in life is to sell records of other people's work. If everyone who participated in this show in any way, shape, or form were to disappear tomorrow in some American Idol rapture, I suspect those of us who were left behind would live in a much richer world. Oh, this show is also responsible for the god awful movie American Dreamz. I shall never forgive.


2. Flavor of Love - If you can watch Flava Flav for more than five minutes, you obviously hate Chuck D. If you can watch women fawn over the opportunity to...uh, I don't know exactly, with Flava Flav, you are enjoying what is a misogynistic minstrel show. Everything about this show offends me, and I'm not easily offended. A celebration of women whose dream in life is to be a whore would be fine, so long as it wasn't dressed up as something else -- but that programming's already been taken care of by Cinemax and its legions of movies called "Diary of a Prostitute", "Hooker Nights", etc. Strange Love, this show's would-be predecessor, also warrants mention, and is hereby incorporated by reference.

3. Last Comic Standing - I've seen absolutely none of this show -- not one second of it. That said, it is the biggest culprit for the faulty premise of a reality show, because the first season had Kathleen Madigan competing. Kathleen Madigan. Read that again. If you are even incrementally aware of stand-up comedy, Kathleen Madigan has already crossed your radar. This is not taking comedians who are opening for the opening act at the Improv (which is already making it, as far as I'm concerned), it's taking people who are already headlining the Improv and then giving them a chance to be "famous". It'd be like if American Idol required you to sell 100,000 albums before you could be a contestant or if Richard Simmons was a contestant on the Biggest Loser.

4. The Contender - I don't remember what comedy album this is from, but I have to attribute it to someone far funnier than I am (in other words, not Larry the Cable Guy, not Jeff Foxworthy, not Ron White, not Dane Cook). (I've done some research, it was Greg Giraldo -- "Anyone watch The Contender, where they have this show to see who the best boxer is? That kinda reminds me of this other show where they tried to find out who the best boxer was. It was called boxing. Remember that? It was a good show, boxing."

5. The Real Housewives of Orange County - This gets credit for having some douchebag husband on the show get arrested and then say "this proves that celebrities don't get special treatment in the court system". Douchebag, you're not a celebrity. Your show is on bravo or some network that eighteen people are watching at any given time, you're not even one of the titular (I think that word is spot on here) housewives of Orange County. Basically, if you want to watch conniving women act like ... conniving bitches and their husbands act...like conniving bitches, you can watch this show. But I remember another show where you could see people being miserable bastards. It's called going outside. Try it. Then again, if you watch this and enjoy it, please don't. Please never encounter another human being, unless it's to purchase some sort of one-way ticket off this miserable planet.

Honorable mention: absolutely anything MTV has done. I hate MTV and all its works, but The Real World really was the reality show that launched a thousand ships and shut down music videos being played on MTV. Road Rules, The Osbournes, Punk'd -- all these shows should be punishable by death. For some reason game shows like Deal or No Deal get mentioned in this category -- given that it's a game show with absolutely no skill involved, it has to be mentioned; Grease! You're the One That I Want! -- for having a god awful title and bad premise, again, this show already existed, it was called open auditions; Kid Nation - Alas, I know far more about this program than I can disclose.

Just for the record, this top 5 has made me more angry than perhaps any other. I am so furious at the absolute trash that people voluntarily subject themselves to that I may not be able to sleep. I enjoy irony, but man...there's a line, and everything mentioned above (on any of these lists) crosses it. I have watched no reality show that I know of, though I know educated people who enjoy The Amazing Race, so I will assume it to be less horrific than most (even though I know from my limited experience in viewing it, that it also suffers from any number of faulty premises).

3 comments:

Roughly Speaking... said...

To defend Steve Phillips, it was actually Jim Duquette who traded Kazmir for Zambrano.

Steve Phillips still sucks, mind you. But he didn't make that stupid trade.

Vulpes Ryanis said...

Re: Phillips. Touche.

And yes, I set out with this list in the hope of being, you know, jovially funny...and I just ended up hating things.

Vulpes Ryanis said...

re: Last Comic Standing. Doug Benson was on LAST season (not even a few years ago when I suppose you could argue he was only marginally famous), and he lost because an audience voted him off, which is reason enough not to watch the show.