Monday, March 17, 2008

Two ideas from opposite ends of the awesome spectrum

When I finally kowtowed to American Idol back in January, I mentioned my general distaste for reality television. I try to avoid most of it on principle, but considering I work for a company that has an alternative (read: the fancy industry word for "reality") department, it's kind of difficult. What I do love, shamelessly, is hearing which alternative pitches have been picked up by various networks. I heard about two such pickups this weekend while at dinner with some friends.

Welcome to the March edition of "Good Idea, Bad Idea."

Good Idea

While I'm not a huge horror movie fan, I absolutely love the strange, scary and supernatural. MTV's Fear is one of the best shows they've ever produced. I heart Ghost Hunters. Anything with vampires brings me great joy. I love it when my pulse races and my heart pounds and something threatens, just out of sight, to jump out and scare the bejesus out of me.

The CW recently picked up eight episodes of 13, a horror-themed reality show that uses freaky, fear-inducing challenges (no doubt, many will be homages to scenes from scary movies of yore) to weed out the scaredy cats one by one. Though EP Sam Raimi and company have yet to decide on a locale - a creepy small town, an eerie lakeside retreat and a dilapidated cabin in the woods are all under consideration - expect lots of screaming, heavy breathing and bleeped out curses from the contestants staying there.

Might I suggest this lovely abode?

I love this concept. I think it's fresh (well, as much as you can be in an increasingly tired and contrived reality universe) and absolutely bursting with potential. If done well, not only will the audience be titillated and thrilled watching other people freak out on camera, it will actually force the contestants to confront their own fears and anxieties (thus adding depth to the show and making it more fun to watch).

Bad Idea

WTF MTV?! I Wanna Be Paris' New Best Friend? Really?!?!?!?!

I had no words (beyond a horrified "NO WAY!") for this when I first heard about it. A reality show where people actually compete for the right (misfortune?) to be Paris Hilton's new best friend? How did this get green lit? Who thought this was a good idea?

This is a classic example of the reality genre being abused and reduced to the least common denominator. People are actually auditioning via videoblog entry to participate in the show. Hopefuls are supposed to convince America, vie blog posts and vlogs, why they "deserve" the "privilege" of being the newest member of Paris' entourage. Net users are asked to view these online pleas for attention and free "fame" and vote for their favorite(s). The top vote getters make it on to the show.

You'd actually compete for this?

I shudder to think of the challenges...or the degree of empty-headed, vain, desperate wannabes that will end up actually allowed to be on television. I admit, the huge online element is the only interesting part of the concept. The posting of vlogs and blogs as "auditions" and the fact that the casting process is actually being done by participants/potential viewers is an intriguing twist on the reality concept. I think that using the Internet effectively is the next frontier for reality programming...and it has yet to be harnessed really effectively.

I'll keep an eye on the development of this otherwise completely inane and useless show for that reason alone. I'm seriously ashamed that it exists at all, however.


danielletbd said...

I hate to break it to you, but the online aspect was how last season's "Real World" was "cast," as well, and THAT didn't turn out so well.

Amanda said...

I'm not saying that the result of the online casting process is going to be great...I'm saying that I find the Internet component to be the most compelling (and potentially interesting) part of the show.