There”s a certain stigma placed on reality TV shows. But reality television it is a reflection upon our society”s recent obsession with participation. Even scripted TV shows now air with a hashtag in the bottom right-hand corner. They do this so that the viewers can start conversations online about the show.
As video games become more and more cinematic, it would not be a huge leap for movies to become more interactive as well.
That may sound cool, but sometimes participation entertainment is just the wrong call.
1. Penitents Compete (2009).
A rabbi, an imam, a priest, and a monk walk into a reality TV show. This isn”t a joke, this was a real show on Turkish TV. The fab four were pitted against each other to convert 10 atheists to their religion per week. Before it went to air though the Turkish Caliphate refused to allow the imam to appear on the show and it all fell apart.
2. “Susunu! Denpa Shonen” (1998).
Challenges of this reality show included being forced to live naked alone in an apartment, living only on commercial sweepstakes and being locked in a room with only a TV screen that showed games of your favorite sports team. If your team wins you get to eat, if they lose you don”t. (It was as insane as it sounds.)
3. Gaki no Tsukai (1989-present)
If you get a question wrong in this popular Japanese tv game show, a man is slowly dropped with his butt and/or genitals directly in your face.
4. All My Babies” Mamas (2013).
Atlanta rapper Shawty Lo fathered 11 children with 10 different women over the years. The point of this (awful) show was to throw them all into the same house and see what happened. The NAACP petitioned against it and eventually Oxygen cancelled the show before it even aired.
5. Megan Wants a Millionaire (2009).
Reality shows are sometimes accused of purposefully casting “crazy people” or people on the spectrum of mental instability, but it wasn”t until Rock of Love contestant Megan Hauserman”s spin-off show that people realized that might not be such a great thing. After the third episode aired, it was discovered that one of the contestants had murdered his ex-wife and had put her body in a suitcase.
6. The Swan (2004).
Each contestant was given a beauty team. Each time included a coach, therapist, trainer, cosmetic surgeon, and a dentist. The goal was to have an “ugly duckling” transformation into a beautiful swan. It aired for two seasons. The cancellation was probably a direct result of the horrible message it sent to kids about accepting their appearances.
7. Welcome to the Neighborhood.
Several decidedly non-rich and non-white families (for example: a black family, a gay couple, a poor family, etc.) vie to be in an exclusively rich-white suburban community in Texas. During the first episode, one member of the judging panel (which consisted of members of the community) openly declared that he would not tolerate homosexuals in his neighborhood. The show was cancelled before it aired to sponsors pulling out.
8. Mr. Personality (2003).
The concept of this show wasn”t actually that weird: twenty bachelors competed for the love of one contestant, forbidden to talk about their jobs and forced to wear creepy phantom of the opera masks so that she couldn”t see their faces and rely solely on personality. The concept could have survived if it wasn”t for the bizarre choice of host. Monica Lewinsky hosted this show for a season until viewers I guess were like, “Well, that was that, but I”m done with this.”
9. Man vs. Beast (2003).
“Hey I wonder if orangutans can climb things fast than humans can?”–some stoned Fox executive.
10. Mars One (2024)
Because the cost of a one way trip to Mars goes about 6 billion dollars these days, most of the funds for the Mars One trip will be recovered by a global reality television show that will begin with the astronaut selection, and continue through the first few years of living on the new world.
There you have it. Reality television may be the future, but it”s up to us how weird we want that future to be.