A couple of years ago, I wrote a script for a short film that satirized reality TV shows. (Hey, it was a novel idea at the time.) It was called “Hard Knock Life”, and it chronicled 16 charismatic, backstabbing orphans competing for a chance to get adopted by a wealthy family. They played games like “Don’t Wet the Bed”, where they were forced to drink a gallon of juice before bedtime (the last one to wet the bed received immunity), and “Who’s Your Daddy?”, where they answered questions about who they imagined their biological fathers to be, and the answers were fact-checked against background investigations performed by the show’s producers (the reward for the top scorer was a warm hug). And every week, one loser would be sent back to his or her life of heartbreaking, motherless misery.
Well, it hasn’t quite happened yet, but we’re definitely getting closer.
It makes me wonder if my other joke reality show will ever come to pass. That one was called “Slave Ship”, and it centered around a group of white people kidnapped at random from Starbuckses across the country and tossed into the hull of a ship made to recreate conditions of a 17th Century slave ship bound for the U.S. It would be a nail-biting thriller, it would be a valuable history lesson, and, most of all, it would be karmic retribution for the atrocities committed by past generations of American jerks. To ensure authenticity, participation would, of course, not be voluntary. Following months at sea battling constant floggings, meager rations and disease, the ones who survived would be put to work for twenty years in a foreign land where they knew no one and didn’t speak the language. The goal: emancipation. The winners: no one.
That one may still be ahead of its time. But I’m keeping an eye on the trades, just in case.