Thanks to the pandemic, I’ve finally caught up on all the TV shows that I meant to watch, but somehow missed over the past twenty years. Now that I’m up to date, though, I’m finally in sync with Newton Minow on that whole “vast wasteland” thing.
Way too many shows are predictable claptrap or so-called reality shows that have nothing to do with the real world that most of us inhabit. Bachelors and Bachelorettes and Kardashians and Tiger Kings and frustrated hotties and…really, there’s nothing out there that reflects my reality, or yours.
I’m tired of watching people who are cooler and richer and better looking than I am doing things I’ll never get a chance to do, especially since I have spent my entire life watching people who are cooler and richer and better looking than I am doing things I’ll never get a chance to do. So, no, that’s not the kind of reality I’m talking about. What we need right now is a reality show that connects with us as we are, a show where we can see ourselves not only as contestants, but as winners. Isn’t it time we had something more approachable, something along the lines of:
Endless Zoom: Young parents must navigate 12 hours of Zoom meetings for work while caring for two children, a side job and a custom-bred labrapoodledoodle. Challenges include feeding an infant while delivering a PowerPoint, toilet training a toddler during a sales call, and remembering to mute while interviewing for a better job.
Meme Swap: This will remind everyone of wife swap, but there will be much more violence. Each contestant is required to post horrific, offensive and fraudulent content to social media for 18 hours per day, but the content must be the exact opposite of whatever they post otherwise. Challenges include: Convincing your friends your account wasn’t hacked, setting up a GoFundMe account for your worst nightmare, and flaming your grandmother.
Vaccine Nation: A group of 20-somethings with no pre-existing conditions or relevant jobs must move up in line for a vaccine so they can attend an immune-only gathering of A-Listers. Challenges include relocating to a state with excess vaccine supplies, creating exotic diseases that change their status, and catfishing a senator. (Actually, the last one probably isn’t much of a challenge at all.)
Monotony Island: Senior citizens who have been isolating for the past 10 months must prove they should still have their wits about them. Challenges include: “What day is it?”, “Did I eat lunch yet?”, and “Why am I in the closet?”
Local sponsors: Now that all the restaurants and local businesses have shut down and there’s nobody to support the park district sports teams, contestants will be required to sign up as sponsors for the summer season. Challenges include: stenciling 50 matching team shirts, feeding the kids and their families after the games, and making sure all the kids get exactly the same amount of playing time.
Pot luck dinner: Maybe we should call this lotsa luck dinner, because survival is not guaranteed. Contestants must assemble dinner from whatever items in the kitchen are well past their expiration dates. Challenges include: “Was it this color when we bought it?”, “That mold is penicillin, right?” and “Where’s the Ipecac?” (Actually, we think Top Chef already did this a few seasons ago, so never mind.)
Now these are the reality shows we’d all watch, and for two very good reasons. First, of course, they’d feel much more real to the rest of us and, second, they’d give us a chance to feel superior to the contestants instead of marveling at their wealth/style/looks/skill. And really, don’t we all need to feel superior to something these days?
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.