We'll just call it Extreme Reality TV, dude. I know what you are thinking - such an awesome (surely one of the most underused words in the English language) title had better live up to its name. Well, I think it does.
Even the most jaded viewer of “reality television” realizes that not only have producers scraped the bottom of the barrel long ago, but have begun digging their way through its morally encrusted bottom with their fingernails, desperate to find something . . . anything . . . that would satisfy the emotional needs of people who think that working class America is represented by men and women with bad teeth who are one step away from being Mudlarks (what a show that would make! An entire family being so poor they walk all day long picking up bits of string and animal excrement, and then walk home again!), shows about workers thinking that if their boss spends a day or two at their jobs, worker Solidarity is created, ghost shows where folks on this side of the vale of tears assure ghosts that they “won’t hurt them,” and grotesquely overweight deputy sheriffs.
Romance shows where nobody really gets married. Dysfunctional (but wealthy) families get to screech at each other while working on various mechanical devices.
Okay, I like Top Gear.
But honestly, we’ve hit the fence a long time ago, which is why it may be time to try something new, something thrilling, something which can provide the same amount of stupid participants, rage and high ratings these networks only fantasize about.
A show about families who watch reality - and we use reality in the kindest possible sense - TV. Movies bore them, they don’t have the time to invest themselves in the intricacies (such as they are) in a plotted series, but will gladly rip open a box of Pop Tarts and a two liter bottle of Coke (not that diet crap, either) and really get to know the folks on a reality show, to care about them, and worry about them, and quiver with rage if anyone (even their smart ass kids) dares suggest that a lot of this stuff is shot, and reshot over and over again.
“Not Billy Bob Sidebottom!” comes the reply. “He wouldn’t put up with any of that reshooting scenes business. He’s the real deal. You can tell.”
Just like Leonard Nimoy was able to tap into his human half to play Spock so convincingly, I suppose; the camera never lies.
The series could start off with the family - maybe they could invite some neighbors over - settling in to watch Survivor: North Korea, or a show about ghost hunting. As the cameras focus on the folks watching the shows, tension can be introduced gradually.
Maybe the folks next door don’t bring enough snacks? Or they bring generic? Maybe they expect better seats just because they are “company” - where do they think this is, GoodMannersville?
A little sexual tension doesn’t hurt, either, as perhaps someone who should be watching the screen is watching a shapely set of muscles, instead, and the glances are more than returned. Cameras follow the couple to the store as they go on a “snack run” - and, like most Americans with a camera in the room, they seem to believe that it requires them to tell the entire world of their true feelings for each other.
Now our friends start to look around the house, and find housekeeping not quite up to their standards, and a few innocent remarks are blown way out of proportion. In the meantime, the kids are experimenting with meth, because . . .well, just because.
Dad locks the house one night so they can’t come in, causing Mom to break down in tears. The door is only opened when producers get a court order forcing them to allow their neighbors in.
The neighbor’s SUV is mysteriously firebombed just as a ghost hunter tells the spirit of Billy the Kid that he thinks he’s a wuss. Mom moves out, and begins to wear matching outfits with the man she is now living with, and still coming over to watch TV with - they all signed a contract, after all.
One grandfather suggests skipping the reality shows for one night and watching Fringe instead, drawing insane wrath from his son. Son is now written out of the will.
Neighbors start bringing a large black dog over with them when they come to watch TV; they will not tell their hosts the dog’s name.
One night a network executive comes in, and explains to both families (families in name only at this point, as there is so much animosity) that their program has been cancelled. The resulting melee, though not shown on television, is posted on YouTube, and has five million hits within the first week.
So, I’m just looking for two willing and not terribly bright families for my pilot episode. Think it’ll work?
I’m a sucker for alternate earth stories, and this is still one of my favorites
As the back of the book says, “Worlds lived. Worlds died. And the DC Universe was never the same.” Ah, yes, after decades of offering multiple universes, and parallel Earths, in 1985 DC comics decided on a grand experiment to tie hundreds of loose ends together, and streamline their mythos once and for all.
The result was Marv Wolfman’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, collected in a 364 page collection. And along with the worlds that die, so do some treasured friends from the DC universe.
This is just such a fun book that I enjoyed rereading it a few months ago.
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