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 TV Bites With Neena Louise

Realer than Real

by Neena Louise

As the reality television genre begins to wane, the networks - increasingly desperate to keep audiences hooked - have taken the lazy and unimaginative route and have started adding soft porn. Considering that the horny-teenage-boy demographic they seem to be targeting does not have much discretionary income, here are several viable alternatives that don't necessarily need sex to sell:

American Idol Survivor

Contestants literally sing for their supper while living in an insect-infested jungle. The other contestants secretly vote on the performance to decide what the singer eats for the night - prime rib or cockroaches. Every three days, contestants must perform an arduous task (such as taking insults from music critics without crying, describing the other contestants without using the words "family" or "love", singing opera, or having their hair styled by Ryan Seacrest) in order to win the Immunity Idol (an effigy of Simon Cowell). Tribal Council has them voting each other out and host Jeff Probst sends the eliminated contestant off down a lighted runway to the tune of "Happy Trails". At the end of the contest, the last two contestants are voted on by America. The winner gets his or her own concert, with the audience voting to decide whether they're worthy of a recording contract. The other contestants get nothing.

Big Brother's Extreme Makeover

The "Fab 5" of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy get locked up in a house with ten macho, homophobic men. The Queer Eye gang take turns insulting the contestants and pointing out how they can improve themselves with etiquette lessons, wine education, wardrobe choices, hair style alternatives, etc. The Fab 5 are the only ones that can vote contestants out, based on the willingness of the contestant to take the Queer Eye gang's advice. The winner gets whatever plastic surgery he desires. The Fab 5 also chooses a new wardrobe and house decor for the winner.

Temptation Island Boot Camp

Young, attractive semi-committed couples are lured to Temptation Island, thinking they will get to cavort with other hot young thangs. To their surprise, they are greeted by real boot camp drill sergeants who immediately start screaming at them - calling them idiots for having to come on a national television show in order to decide whether they're truly committed or not - and tossing their luggage, throwing all luxury items in the trash. One half of the couple is put through traditional boot camp paces while their partners watch. The first one to cry must leave the island immediately. Their accommodations consist of army-issue tents and field latrines. Though the contestants don't know this, the drill sergeants decide who leaves and who stays, based on how helpful and considerate the couple is to each other while performing arduous boot camp routines. The winners get a free wedding and a house. If they decide to split up, they get nothing.

American Junior Trading Spaces

Five-year-olds are let loose on other five-year-olds' bedrooms or playrooms to make them over as they please. Adults have no say, but designers Hildy and Doug are forced to do the kids' bidding. Finger paint and modelling clay are heartily encouraged.

Joe Poorman's Mole

A good looking, very rich, marriage-minded man pretends to be a poor country hick that lives in a dilapidated mobile home in a rural area. Lured by the promise of a good looking husband-material man and a large monetary prize (but not told of the accommodations), women come to the mobile home. Once there, they are told they must live in tents with bathroom facilities consisting of an outhouse and outdoor shower. Laundry is done (by them) with a washboard in a tin tub. They each take turns doing the cooking. With Joe Poorman playing hick to the hilt, they go on dates such as fishing in a pond, cooking roadkill, beheading chickens, planting a vegetable garden and painting the trailer. Their big outing is a county fair, complete with cattle judging and tractor pull. Unbeknownst to the other contestants, a spy is embedded in their ranks that reports all the whining and complaining to Joe Poorman, who then decides who goes. If any contestant feels it's too much and decides to leave, she is immediately told the truth about Joe Poorman and shown video of his lavish lifestyle (she cannot change her mind after viewing this). The other contestants are not told the truth until the very end of the show. Whoever Joe Poorman feels is the least gold-digging woman (helped by information garnered from the mole), wins $500,000. If he wants to pursue a relationship with the winner and she agrees (before being told the truth about Joe Poorman's wealth), she gets a million dollars.

The Bachelorette's Amazing Race

Ten marriage-minded men pursue a single woman all around the world. Along the way, they are forced to perform tasks in order to get directions to their next clue. On each leg of the race, the bachelorette chooses a contestant to accompany. The bachelorette is the only one that gives the instructions for the task, and is free to give vague instructions, wrong instructions, or no instructions at all. At the end of each leg of the race, the woman decides which contestant is eliminated, based on what position he made it to the pit stop, his personality as he undertook the tasks and whether she likes him or not. At the end of each leg, they are all given an opportunity to socialize. The final contestant is chosen by the bachelorette and is the only one allowed to run to the finish line. The winner is told he will receive no money or prizes other than the possibility of the bachelorette's heart. If they choose to pursue a relationship, they split $500,000. If they choose not to, the bachelorette decides how much of the $500,000 to keep and how much to give to the winner of the race.  
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