Reality Bites Back: New Show Ideas Are Endless-And Depressing-When Real Life Is the True Basis of TV

By Clarke, Kevin | U.S. Catholic, June 2008 | Go to article overview

Reality Bites Back: New Show Ideas Are Endless-And Depressing-When Real Life Is the True Basis of TV


Clarke, Kevin, U.S. Catholic


THANK YOU, HEIDI MONTAG AND YOUR CASTMATES--I mean friends--from The Hills, and you, too, good ole grumpy Simon Cowell. You deserve all the inexplicable celebrity you can squeeze out of your 15 minutes. You've saved me from the Real World!

After a day thumbing through the mayhem-fortified national papers of record, wading through stories of child homicides, school shootings, housing meltdowns, and the big muddy on the Euphrates (is that anxiety or newspaper ink rubbing off on my fingers?), it's a relief to take a break from all my worries with a full lineup of reality TV shows each night. A guy can really clear his head and reconnect with the important stuff by watching all the unscripted (kinda) TV out there, just keeping it all-too-unreal for the general public.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In your face, Omarosa! Oh no you di'n't, Kristin Cavallari! And, Oprah, I offer the big Kleenex wave of approval to your Big Give. I can't get enough of this stuff. Reality shows cover the gamut of today's hard-hitting social questions, from how a smug bunch of egocentrics can survive each other and their pedicures in the Hollywood Hills to how a smug collection of egocentrics can survive each other and their sand blisters in Micronesia.

Now that there are something like 472 reality shows on cable, I worry that Hollywood might be running out of fresh ideas for new reality-ish shows. Not to worry, I've got some ideas to share (for 10 percent of the gross):

Survivor Waukegan: A group of low-skilled American manufacturing workers get laid off unexpectedly when an overseas corporate raider moves their worksite to Vietnam. Watch these intrepid urban survivalists battle over the few remaining low-wage jobs left in their rust-belt Chicago suburb, navigate what's left of Illinois' social support network, and struggle to avoid being voted off the show and into a "volunteer" tour of duty in Iraq.

The Uninsured: Fifty gorgeous women with little coverage meet the handsome, ineligible PPO of their dreams. Only one will walk home with a family plan!

Dancing with the Four-Star Generals: The guys from the Joint Chiefs of Staff dance around the president's Middle East policy in a delicate pas de deux with the American public and conditions in Baghdad. …

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