Reality TV is way too real
My eldest son is a freak when it comes to mornings. He wakes up at 6:00 and is told that he must stay in bed until 7:00. This is to ensure that he spends the first hour that he is up reading rather than watching TV.
Recently, he has discovered Hulu and the endless variety of reality TV Game shows available for viewing. Having worked his way through numerous seasons of the (in my opinion) repetitive, insulting and nearly unwatchable “Wipeout,” he has moved on to other things.
Recently, “Other things” has been a new show called Expedition Impossible. The show is basically “The Amazing Race” on steroids. Teams of three have to traverse rugged terrain and do lots of repelling down cliffs so they can win $150,000 and a Ford Explorer (TM). I haven’t verified this but I believe that Ford may be a sponsor of the show.
Anyway, the teams have really great descriptive names like “The Gypsies” and “The Cops” and “The Country Boys.” It seems like they did a talent search for teams of stupid people with a lot of mountaineering experience and they asked them to come up with the dumbest possible name for their team. Then they said “we are going to kick the shit out of you for a few weeks and three of you get to split $150,000 and you also each get a new Ford Explorer (TM)!”
They all, inexplicably, decided that sounded awesome.
What really amazes me about the show is the interview segments. Having distilled the teams down to one easily defined character trait, that is the only trait they ever reference.
“The Cops,” for instance, when called on to give a sound bite, will say something like “you know, being police officers, we are used to making decisions on our feet and we were on our feet when a decision needed to be made.”
“No Limits” is a team with a blind guy on it so since they can’t really refer to their team name all that often, they just talk about the fact they’ve got a blind guy on their team. Either the blind guy talks about the fact that it is a real hassle to kayak down a river when you are blind (which shocked the hell out of me – what a fucking whiner) or one of his teammates talks about how hard it is to be the teammate of a blind guy.
I imagine if I had my brain sucked out with a straw and found two equally challenged geek friends to be on this show, we’d have a team name like “The Geeks.” Every time we got interviewed, I imagine we’d say stuff like “well, climbing a mountain is pretty tough but if Frodo, a mere Hobbit, could do it, so can we!”
What I think happens in these interviews is they basically let the people talk until they run out of interesting stuff to say and have to fall back on the “defining characteristic” commentary. You know, the “New York Fireman” can only talk about the important stuff for so long and eventually, as the cameras keep rolling, they start saying stuff like “we’re from New York and there aren’t a lot of mountains in New York. There are tall buildings, though, and as firemen, we sometimes have to climb the stairs in those tall buildings to get to the fire and that’s a little like climbing a mountain.”
Then they go to their tent and say “wow, that was some stupid shit I said right at the end there but we’d been climbing a mountain all day and the cameraman wouldn’t stop filming us. I’m sure they’ll put the interesting stuff I said at the beginning of the interview on the show.”
Later, they turn on the show when it airs and, in front of their friends and family, “The Fishermen” are horrified to discover they said “hey, wading through a river is no sweat for us because – you know – we fish a lot and fish live in water. So we’re used to water. Unlike the Football Players, who play football on grass.”
But hey, it could be worse. They could be the host, whose job primarily consists of saying “you came in last place – if you are in last place tomorrow, you will be eliminated.”
“You came in last and today is an elimination day. As you know, the team that comes in last on an elimination day is eliminated so that means you have been eliminated. Because you came in last. How does that make you feel?”
All in all, I find myself pulling for the team with the blind guy because I want them to hand him the keys to a Ford Explorer(TM) and have him say “I’m supper happy to win but because I’m blind, I won’t be able to drive the Ford Explorer(TM).”