I was thinking recently about the craziest reality shows that TV has seen and I started making a list. This is going to have to be a two-parter because I don’t have time to write everything I’m thinking about this subject before work and not be noticeably late.
Jersey Shore – Ummmmm is this for real? Have you seen this MTV atrocity? I had heard a few things about it but I finally watched about 10 minutes of an episode this weekend. I will give you a synopsis. Eight over-tanned, self-obsessed, spoiled brats live together for the summer on Jersey Shore and party every night and make out with each other in their hot tub. I know this doesn’t sound like a far cry from most reality shows that are out there right now, but this one is the first to exploit Italians. Also, apparently in one of the episodes one of the girls got punched in the face at a bar. Jersey Shore is definitely one of the more extreme reality shows that has been produced. SO extreme that I am putting it up there on the shock spectrum with the following shows.
The Chair – This is a game show and doesn’t really fit in here, but not a lot of people saw this so I wanted to bring it up. The Chair lasted only a few episodes, I think, and I watched all of them. The idea was that contestants were strapped to a chair and asked trivia questions while subjected to life-threatening surprises. The questions were pretty mild but the trick was they had to keep their heartbeats under a certain rate. I never saw anyone get past the first round. After I saw flames suddenly shoot up and engulf one contestant, and another contestant fall rapidly into a wind tunnel, I wonder what else they could do to scare people strapped in a chair. The answer: dangle an alligator in front of their faces. If the show had any credibility, that’s when it was lost. Right around this time, The Chamber came out on another network with generally the same idea. It was all “You stole our idea!” “No, YOU stole OUR idea!” I’ll settle this: both shows were terrible.
Temptation Island – There are a couple shows out there that are specifically designed to ruin relationships. I think it’s interesting that given how invested we (the TV watching American public) are in setting people up, e.g., The Bachelor, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, etc., we are equally interested in breaking people apart. This show featured a big sexy island wherein couples lived with good-looking people of the opposite sex to see how long they could go without cheating on each other. I never really watched this show but I can imagine it was rife with scandal and heartbreak. Especially with Mark Walberg as the host. I think that would be a pretty good gig—hosting a reality show. There’s no acting, no hard work, just walking around and observing things. Well, that is what I do all the time. I think I’ve found my calling.
Little People Big World – Whenever I watch reality shows I can’t help but take myself out of the theater of it and think about how there is a crew of, like, 8 people standing around whoever is giving a monologue. Especially on shows like Survivor, where everyone is so isolated anyway. When the contestants on Survivor were eating rice and tree bark, were the cameramen allowed to eat soup-in-a-cup right in front of them? What’s worse is when people on reality shows are in trouble, isn’t hard for the crew to just stand there and watch people fall into fire pits and get punched in the face? Little People Big World is pretty tame compared to some of these other shows (other than the unabashed voyeurism that is watching people with medical disorders), but I would think this one would be the hardest for the crew to sit idly by and watch the people struggle. Come on, he’s trying to reach something on a shelf—just get it for him!