Many people wonder why television broadcasters keep producing terrible reality TV shows. The answer is simple – because they rate. And what’s more, the more terrible they are, the more they rate. This maxim has recently been proven by Married At First Sight, a show on Channel Nine with a premise so disturbing that it’s compelling. So much so that it was renewed after the first episode scored 1.5 million viewers.
So, how can the industry possibly top/sink beneath Married At First Sight? I’ve gazed into my television crystal ball and come up with a few suggestions.
(Note all concepts below © Dominic Knight 2015. Bigshot TV executives should speak to my agent* upon immediately realising that they want to buy them..)
Tattooed At First Sight
Marriages are relatively easy to undo nowadays – but agony is guaranteed when you try to get rid of tattoos! Twelve young people meet twelve veteran tattooists. They spend an hour getting to know one another and then the tattooists get to tattoo whatever they like, wherever they like. But look out – one of the tattooists will end up being tattooed with the same designs they ink on one of their client/victims!
Divorced For No Reason
A happily married couple agree to “divorce” – that is, spend three months apart for no reason beyond viewers’ entertainment. They’re both encouraged to get back out there and go a little crazy with the ol’ dating to “get back on that horse”. Then, at the end of the month, they have to decide whether to separate permanently. Maybe their happiness was just a mutual illusion? It’s hard to come up with an idea that debases the institution of marriage more thoroughly than Married At First Sight, but this might just do it!
Dog Eat Dog Food
Could you survive on dog food and crawl around on hand and knee for 13 whole weeks, unable to speak because you’ll receive a severe electric shock when you do anything more than bark, growl or whimper? Of course you can, as long as there are regular walkies! At the end of the series, contestants will get to decide whether they want to return to their human lives or live out the rest of their days as a doggie. Except they won’t be able to speak while deciding, so the producers may deliberately misinterpret their intentions…
Very Important Parents
Kids from ordinary, happy families are adopted by über rich celebrity foster parents for 30 days, and taken out of school to go jetsetting around the world visiting theme parks, riding ponies and helicopters and, in the grand finale, getting to go backstage with Beyoncé who will ask them the ultimate question – do you want to keep living like Jay Z and me, or go back to your real mum and dad? Obviously they have to go back to their real parents because the show’s budget isn’t unlimited, but those families whose kids chose to leave will not only win four tickets to Bey’s next Australian tour, but be left with a lingering mutual resentment until the end of their days.
Dancing With The Scars
We’ve all seen dancing competitions, but not one with stakes as high as these! Literal stakes spread all over a huge pit in which contestants are trapped while they’re forced to do ever more complicated and dangerous dance routines. Ropes will only be lowered down if they get consistent 9s from the capricious judges.
Ten ordinary Australians are plucked from obscurity and placed in the national spotlight. They appear on every major TV and radio show in the country, are paid to drink in the VIP areas of exclusive nightclubs during “promotional appearances” and are constantly being begged for autographs and to appear in selfies. Then, after six weeks of this, it abruptly stops, and we watch as they try to continue their celebrity careers in the face of universal indifference. Hosted by Sara-Marie Fedele until midway through the season when she’s abruptly replaced by Grant Denyer.
Ten To One
Could you run a television network? Channel Ten gives ten young hopefuls a week each to run the station, on the balance of probabilities that at least one of them will do a better job than the people responsible for Ten Breakfast and win the prize/punishment of staying on.
The Garbage Compactor
We all know the famous scene from Star Wars where our heroes are stuck in a room whose walls are slowly coming together. We construct a replica at Seaworld on the Gold Coast and see whether our plucky contestants can improvise a way out using only popular hardware items supplied by sponsor Bunnings Warehouse before the walls pulverise them and/or the strange tentacled creature drags them underwater.
The Real Big Brother
Contestants are trapped in the dystopic supercontinent of Oceania, eking out a miserable existence producing propaganda for the Ministry of Truth until a brief and delightful romance sees them confined in the Ministry of Love for brainwashing. We watch their every move recorded through the ubiquitous telescreens.
The Reality Show Reality Show
The contestants are locked in an underground dungeon and fed stale bread until they come up with an idea for a reality show that’s good enough to go into production and achieve ratings as strong as Married At First Sight. After the show they created goes on air, they’ll be released, but obliged to spend 18 hours a day editing the tedious raw footage from their show into something vaguely airable. At the end of the series they’ll own a generous 0.1% of the rights to their show, potentially setting them up for life (depending on how well it does).
* Obviously I don’t actually have an agent. Hey, do you want to be my agent?!