I was going through some old paper work recently and I ran across a commentary that I had written about ten years ago for my then website regarding reality shows.  At that time they were just in their infancy  and I guess we were sure that they wouldn’t last.  This particular piece was written about NBC’s offering, “Fear Factor” which went off the air for several years but has recently returned.  Since that time back in 2002 there have been numerous reality show additions to the nightly tv lineup and I would have to guess that competition from the satellite networks has everything to do with it.

As I was reading what I had written back then, it dawned on me that things haven’t changed much in the world of nighttime network viewing fare.  So I decided to update it and share it with the world once again.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.


The other day I was driving home listening to the news on the radio and there was a story about the producers of the popular tv show “Fear Factor.” It seems that they have caught flack from some group or regulatory body concerning a stunt that they recently had their contestants perform.

It was so bad that the newscaster wouldn’t even mention what the stunt consisted of. All he would say is that it involved the contestants eating the part of a pig that no one (presumably in their right mind) would even think about eating. Now let’s see. . . hmm. You can get “calf fries” in Ft. Worth. Those are bull testicles. And we’ve heard of people out west eating mountain oysters; sheep’s testicles. What could it be that no one in their right mind would eat? Hmm. . .Yeech! Pig pe’ ???. . . No I won’t even go there!

How is it that we, as a civilized society, have denigrated ourselves to the point that, not only would we lower our threshold of propriety so as to make fools of ourselves in public for money, but the rest of us support legitimate businesses that sponsor such idiocy by watching their tv shows?!

Am I missing something here? Who thinks up this crap? I can only guess that the producers must have been “latchkey” kids. You know the kids who, after school let out, went home to an empty house because both mom and dad were working. We’ve always heard that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Well, I can think of no better place for such a workshop than a house with a couple of young kids and no adult supervision.


Picture this.  Ten years ago little Bobby goes to the fridge looking for an afternoon snack and finds the liver that mom has planned for that night’s dinner. “Mmmm”, he thinks to himself, “What if I Blind fold my little sister and tell her I’ll give her five dollars if she puts this in her mouth and holds it for a whole minute?”

Then to take it a step further, he decides that to finance his little escapade (why should he use the five dollars that Grandma gave him for Christmas?), he’ll call all the other latchkey kids in the neighborhood and charge them a buck to watch. Everybody wins. Little sister makes a cool sawbuck, Bobby, if he has enough sick friends, makes a buck or two and the neighborhood kids are entertained for the afternoon.

Do you kind of see where I’m going with this? Fast forward a few years. Bobby, now a college grad, works for the BABEL TV network. He’s a producer for the wildly popular reality show “Who Can Eat Themselves to Death?” and his audience just happens to be former latchkey kids like those from his old neighborhood. Of course, now little sister demands more than five bucks to eat pig . . . never mind, and Bobby’s two ex-wives are crucifying him with child support. So he and his present wife both work to support their two kids . . . kids that go home after school every day to a house without adult supervision! And what do you think they do while there’s no else at home? You think? Naaaw!


Okay, okay.  I’ll admit the above is a little extreme, but it could have happened.  On the other hand there are shows like ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. It is a decent show, I mean if you can deal with Bruno and Len’s constant bickering.  The music, in my opinion, is fantastic, the dancing is fun and the standup comedy of the host Tom Bergeron is entertaining.

But according to Wikipedia, many of the reality shows available for viewer consumption today are not reality at all; they’re scripted.  In other words everything is not ad lib and that includes not only the dialogue but the action as well.


In Bobby’s latest gem, “Who Can Eat Themselves to Death?” overweight contestants are given an unlimited budget to eat anything that doesn’t eat them first.  However, the “anything” they eat can only be in bakeries, ice cream shops, fast food restaurants and pubs around the world. Salads do not come under the heading of “anything”.  In short anything that is considered healthy by the cardiac health community is verboten.  They only have one month in which to succumb to cardiac arrest and if in that month they are caught eating one healthy morsel, they’re booted off the show.  The first contestant to die from heart failure in that thirty days, gets $1,000,000.00.  Well, their survivors get the million.  Can you see it now?  “C’mon daddy, you can do it, I’m getting married in two months and I need to pay for the opulent affair I’m planning!”


What the producers don’t tell you is that they provide kegs of beer and cartons of cigarettes to the contestants before each taping to help them get sloshed and revved up on nicotine.  Then, after the participants are set loose to forage for cholesterol, a pack of vicious Doberman Pinschers are set free to encourage them to find refuge in the nearest fat factory where they must stay until a certain amount of goodies are downed.  Once that happens, they are free to leave only to be hounded by the “Hounds of the Baskin Robbins” once again to find another eatery and repeat the routine.  And, racers are encouraged to display aberrant behavior toward the others in hopes that high emotions and blood pressures cause fellow contestants to drop out.


Brilliant, huh?  I must have been a latchkey kid in my former life!  But don’t even think about it folks.  I’ve already got the rights for the title and the concept!  What’s really troublesome about the whole thing is that tv execs consider this entertainment.  We don’t have to watch the six o’clock news anymore to see gore and violence, all we have to do grab a couple of cold PBRs and a bag of potato chips and turn on prime time and root for “Fatty Armbuckel, Thunder Thighs Thelma, and Fanny bRice Krispy Treats!”


You see, it doesn’t take much to produce one of these fine entertainment spectacles.  Just a few willing individuals ready to sell their souls to the network for their fifteen minutes of fame.  One reason; the overhead is so low  that the people participating in the program are unknowns who have no leverage in negotiating payment . . . that is with the exception of the Donald’s “Celebrity Apprentice” (half of CA’s participants are actors of one kind or another anyway).



Well, I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on the networks,  no one has ever accused them of having souls themselves. Oooops! Gotta go.  It’s almost time for my favorite show, THE AMAZING GILLIGAN’S ISLAND SURVIVOR BACHELOR .  Steve has formed an alliance with a rabid orangutan to secretly knock off Jessica so that he can win the heart of Babs, the great grand-daughter of Thurston Howell the III and Mary Ann (Aw c’mon now.  You didn’t think that Thursty didn’t fool around on that old hag Lovey now did you?)





NOTE: All original written material or original graphics are property of the originator and author of this blog (unless otherwise noted), can only be used or reproduced with my written permission and must contain a link or reference to http://quietstreams.wordpress.com when use is permitted.




  1. You really did hit the nail on the head – low overhead’s key with these babies! I’ve never been a fan, myself. I used to watch the odd episode of “Hoarders” with my mom, as a kind of warning to both of us to not let things get out of control. And I did watch that throw-people-off-the-island thing a few times its first year.

    Now, with the television gone, it’s a non-issue. I’ve got my own realities to deal with – don’t need to watch made-up ones on tv!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s