May 18, 2004
Real or Unreal?
It's easy to tell if you're watching reality TV. The less like reality a show seems, the more likely it's reality TV. It's not so easy to tell where reality producers will actually draw the line though, or whether they even have a line. Exactly how tacky does a reality project have to be not to make it on the air? The following quiz might help answer that question. All of the following are either planned reality shows or completely fictitious. Can you tell which ones are real?
1. Two straight men compete to see who can do the best job of appearing gay. Each man will be given gay roommates, hang out at gay nightclubs, and even go on a blind date with a gay man. The winner will be determined by a "jury of their queers" -- a panel of gay men who will pick the contestant they believe is actually gay. Grand prize: $50,000 and perhaps a whole new lifestyle.
2. The Assistant Night Manager: Sixteen college-educated men and women who can't find a decent job because of the Bush Administration's economic policies compete to be the Assistant Night Manager of a fast food restaurant. Each week, the Night Manager of the McDonald's on the corner of Vine and Main Street will fire one contestant until finally one lucky winner is left. Grand Prize: Minimum wage but no benefits.
3. A man who has never had sex before in his life gets to choose that special someone from among a group of equally inexperienced women. But this dating show has a twist. When he finally chooses the woman with whom he wants to spend the rest of his life, he finds out that she's not a virgin. She's actually a porn star. Grand prize: One porn star.
4. Each week, a five-member team of male and female models will show up in a small town and help the town members solve a community problem. It's sort of like Superfriends but without the superpowers. Grand Prize: A small town's disturbing lack of hot models is suddenly solved.
5. Ten men and ten women are dropped off at a cheap motor lodge just off the Interstate with no air conditioning and sheets that haven't been changed for weeks. Romance blossoms when the cast is told that nobody can leave until they all hook up with one another. Grand Prize: Several new friends, plus possible athlete's foot from the shower.
6. Five Amish teenagers and five non-Amish teenagers are placed together in a house in a city. Viewers will get to see how these Amish youth can handle all that the big city has to offer. Will they freak out? Will they lose their way? Or will everything work out just fine? The show manages to combine both the Amish tradition of rumspringa, in which teenagers are given a year to decide whether they want to continue living the Amish lifestyle, with MTV's "The Real World," in which adults who look like teenagers do pretty much whatever the hell they want. Grand prize: All the sin you can possibly find, plus free MTV for life.
7. Two straight dwarves compete to see who can do the best job of appearing gay. Each dwarf will be given gay roommates, hang out at gay dwarf nightclubs, and even go on a blind date with a gay dwarf. Grand prize: $50,000 and perhaps a whole new lifestyle.
1. "Seriously, Dude, I'm Gay" comes to Fox on June 7th. The network has since apologized for using the phrase "jury of their queers" in a press release, though not for the show itself.
©2004 Joe Lavin