Reality TV - Where's the CHALLENGE, man?

In the hoopla over the new spate of “reality TV”, there’s been one issue that I’ve yet to see addressed…namely, what’s the point?

I base this on The Mole (not watching but reading about) and Temptation Island (watching). Let me begin with the latter. There are no prizes. No challenges. No tasks. Just a bunch of dates with attractive singles and the resultant embarrassment. And occasionally they tweak the format of the dates a little! Yawn. That’s what’s wrong with this show: How compelling is it to watch a bunch of people in (pretty shaky, IMHO) relationships get it on with a bunch of people not in relationships with nothing at stake but potential breakups?

As for The Mole, there is a fair amount of prize money at stake…but the tasks! Do laundry. Punch in an ATM number. Get through town. Find something or other. A kindergartener would not find this exciting.

I’m reminded of Big Brother, which was a monumental flop because, due to CBS’ insistence on “no extraneous influences” or whatever, that left hardly anything for the contestants to do. (C’mon, were they really expecting wild monkey sex or bloody territorial battles?) Survivor, on the other hand, had the harsh reality of life in an untamed wilderness, reward and immunity challenges which strongly affected how well each castaway fared, real-life politics, powerful emotions, and a cutthroat elimination process where no one was safe. They gained ground when they succeeded and were penalized when they failed. And this has become even more apparent in the current Survivor, where everyone’s now playing to win.

A “reality program” is really nothing more than an exotic game show, and to make it work, it needs people going after each other and fighting for something. You know, competition. That’s what I see in Survivor and don’t see in The Mole and Temptation Island. Screw the bare midriffs and endless “will they or won’t they” arglebargle. I want a contest.

To be fair, some of the challenges in The Mole are more exciting than others (like the bullfighting one and the maze)…and even the laundry challenge was not simply going to a laundromat and doing a few loads. They had to do 8 loads of laundry in a town with no laudromats, never doing more than one load in the same place, where they can’t communicate with the locals very well because of the language barrier, in a few hours. Sure it wasn’t the best of challenges but it was a bit more difficult than simply “doing laundry.”

I do agree with you about Temptation Island though.

I’m starting to enjoy Temptation Island more, now that things are getting ugly… I just can’t get enough of that skank-ho Mandy and her hypocrisy and weak-ass girly-girl crying fits. I have to say, though, that I’m VERY disappointed that this show is not the televised prostitution I was hoping for! As you say, where are the prizes for bedding half of a couple? There’s no reward for the “sexy singles” other than maybe sex. Lame. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to be a problem; I can’t fathom being so horny that any problems would arise for me in this situation, (in fact, I would probably spend as much of the time as possible holed up with a book; almost everyone there seems incredibly lame) but these people seem pretty randy. Call me evil, but watching the lame and deserving get hurt it goooood TV.

I just used the word “lame” three times in a post. I’m so lame.

Temptation Island reminds me of Jerry Springer without the chants of “Jerr-y! Jerr-y!”

The challenge of reality TV is making people think that it’s an accurate reflection of reality. How many people would seriously cheat on their GF if they effin’ KNEW that it was being taped?!? I think TI is staged.

Here’s one where they seemed to have encountered some reality, plus lifeboat, coastguard, and nearly a rescue helicopter. Basically, this was a Japanese T.V. crew making some sort of castaway programme.

When advised by a coastguard to put the woman into a sleeping bag to help keep her warm, the TV crew aapparently said that they didn’t have one.

Am I alone in personally boycotting ‘reality’ shows? I despise the producers for creating environments specifically designed to fuck with peoples lives and I despise the participants for casting off every shred of self-respect for the sake of ‘being famous.’

I actually do like real reality shows like Hoop Dreams or the Farmer’s Wife. These documentaries are far more compelling to me because the situations are real. The human drama is genuine. These are not people who signed up for pain or humiliation, but faced it head-on as it came to them.

DKW, you want a contest in reality TV? How about pitting modern people against pioneer people? Could the modern people survive?

Canada’s History Channel sporadically runs updates on two couples who have agreed to live for a year as the pioneers did in 1870s Manitoba. Their televised adventures go by the name Pioneer Quest.

There are no immunity challenges, no bare midriffs, and the contestants would never be on Temptation Island or Survivor II. But for a year, these people have to live like the pioneers did on the Manitoba prairie and through the show, we watch them set up a homestead, feed themselves, build their houses, and work the land using only the tools and resources that were available then. They have to put up with mosquitos (without bug spray), contaminated water, and outdoor plumbing. The producers supplied them with many of the things they need (team and wagon, tools, cow, blankets, clothing, etc., but all according to what was used in the 1870s), but if they need to buy anything more, hire a neighbour, or purchase livestock, it comes out of their annual budget of $500 in 1870s currency.

If they manage to last a year, they get $100,000. If they don’t, they get nothing.

The point is educational, but I have to admit that it is pretty entertaining as well. How will they manage their next task? What happens when winter comes? It’s an interesting show, and a good glimpse at what the pioneers had to do. And far more preferable, IMHO, than any other unreal “reality” show on TV.

Spoons - Mmm…not sure if we even get the History Channel (and history really isn’t my thing), but I’ll check it out when I have the time.

My point is, if you’re going to have people sniping at each other and getting into compromising positions for sport, let’s make it a sport. I remember shows like American Gladiators and The Grudge Match. Yeah, the cheese factor was there, but the action was intense and undeniably real. The contestants knew what they were getting into and played hard. It made for pretty thrilling TV. With Temptation Island…which I do intend to see the rest of, by the way…dishonesty is rampant (does anyone REALLY think their relationship is going to improve from this experience?), what few rules there are are ridiculously contrived, especially the token “blocks”, and all the couples, as far as I’m concerned, went in with blinders on. Yo, Mandy, it’s called Temptation Island for a reason…if you didn’t want your beloved to embarrass you, you shouldn’t have gone in the first place! (Not licking that guy’s chest might also have helped. :rolleyes: ) These people just don’t seem to realize that there are no rules and they can’t control what anyone else does.

Huh…well, here’s hoping something will come out of all this, and at this point, it doesn’t even need to be positive…

Have you guys heard about this amazing new reality show - it’s called “Going Outside.” It’s cool. Here’s the deal: you actually turn the TV off, open your front door and walk outside. Talk about extreme reality! Check this out, you get to walk around and touch things, pick things up, talk to people - they even interact with you. It’s soooo real! There’s no limits. You can go anywhere you want to go. You can actually feel the heat from the sun, the hardness of the ground, the sent of the air. And if it’s raining, you actually get wet. And if you want temptations, well, it’s got that too! If you see someone you’re attracted to, well, you get to chose weather to speak to them or not. Talk about a compelling situation, whoa! Sometimes, you can even form a relationship with that person. Man, things are getting steamy now! I checked it out the other day and man, I was blown away! It sure got my heart racing. I think I’ll do it again and again.

Come on guys, you know what the deal is with all these shows. They’re all train wrecks. They appeal to the lowest common denominator of society. I’ve said it before on these boards - it’s equivalent to slowing down on the freeway to see the dead bodies from a car accident. Why don’t they just bring back real gladiators? Yeah, two guys fighting to the death! What’s next, televised executions? Why not? How about just dragging people out of their homes in the middle of the night and shooting them in the head? Hey, as long as it’s not me, I’ll be watching! Actually, if they did that, it’d probably be the highest rated program in television history.

Like Homer Simpson says, “It’s funny because it’s not me.”
Homer is funny because he’s so wrong.

I’ll tell you what shows I WOULD watch:

  1. REAL SURVIVOR - In Real Survivor, sixteen ordinary shmoes are left on a deserted island rigged with a lot of hidden cameras. A pool of $10 million is split evenly between anyone who survives a month. Killing other contestants is allowed. No assistance is offered except the blockading of the island to ensure nobody gets on or off the island. If you starve or bleed to death, too freakin’ bad. If a batch of contestants proves to be passive and happy just staying away from each other and there’s no combat, add a $500,000 bounty for every kill.

Think of what a terrific game this would make. Do you ally yourself with others or become a lone wolf? IF you do join a “team,” imagine the dynamics and the paranoia over who’s gonna kill who! Or do you hide somewhere and try to just last thirty days and get whatever your cut will be, or do you actively seek out and kill the other contestants? If you thought scheming was fun, imagine the 33-year-old programmer from Sunnyvale and the 29-year-old schoolteacher from Des Moines forging an alliance, slaying the 25-year-old phys. ed teacher from Albuquerque, and then betraying one another and engaging in mortal combat with handmade stone axes on prime time! Holy moly, I wouldn’t miss a minute of that.
2. EAT BUGS FOR MONEY! - In this game show, which IIRC was named by Dave Barry, the contestants would be asked to eat huge, hideous insects for cash and prizes.

It would work like this; three contestants, carefully screened to ensure you don’t get any nuts who actually enjoy eating bugs, would be presented with a series of filthy, disgusting bugs, working from small routine bugs (flies, maggots, small spiders) to really awful bugs like those giant insects they have in South America. Each contestant would be given a pool of $1 million to work from and would have to “bid” on the amount of money they’d be willing to eat the bug for. The bids, however, must always add up to $1 million, so whatever you have left during your last bid is automatically your bet. The LOWEST bid would then have to eat the bug and would be paid their bid. The contestants therefore have to balance their bids; do you big high early on so you can have the lowest bid when they bring out the humongous bugs, or do you bet low and just take a little money and avoid eating the giant beetle? At various points during the contest, contestants would be asked a variety of trivia questions to earn advantages during the game (“Okay, Cindy, if you can tell us who the President of France was during World War One, we’ll coat your praying mantis in chocolate before you eat it.”) If you refuse to eat a bug, you lose your winnings and you have to give all your worldly possessions to the other contestants.

At the end of the game, the player with the most total money gets all the money, a new car, and some mouthwash; the losers only get 10% of their winnings. And some mouthwash.

  1. AMATEUR CROCODILE HUNTER - In Amateur Crocodile Hunter, the object of the game is to survive a set amount of time in a cage or pen with an extremely dangerous animal.

Contestants would be offered two choices, each presenting a different degree of risk, but with the riskier one offering more money. (e.g. “Okay, Bill, do you want to spend five minutes in a fifty-foot pen with a gigantic polar bear for $100,000, or ten minutes in a ten-foot cage with a king cobra for $250,000?”) The contestant would then attempt to answer three trivia questions in ascending difficulty; every right answer gives the contestant some advantage over the animal, e.g. thick leather knee-high boots for dealing with the cobra, or an aluminum baseball bat to try to fend off the big hungry panther.

If you survive the set period of time with the animal, you win the entire pot. If you don’t, 10% of the pot is paid to your family.