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"Getting Real"

September 5, 2001

Satire by
Lauren Weinstein


Rod Bleemer was insistent. "C'mon, Lauren, you live in L.A. and you know a bunch of Hollywood film and TV types, right?"

"Well, I know some people, but I really don't think that ..."

"So you gotta help me pitch this show!"

"I don't think I can really be of much help, but go ahead and tell me about your idea," I said.

"OK. You know that reality shows are the latest, hottest thing on TV, right? No expensive actors. Just a bunch of non-union nobodies, so you can shoot each segment for a fraction of the cost of regular programming," said Rod.

"Uh huh," I replied.

"But the biggest complaint about the shows is that they're not really real. They're not scripted in the traditional sense, but there's a lot of control imposed by the producers that the viewers don't see, so there isn't true spontaneity."

"Rod, my biggest complaint about the shows is that they're totally asinine and degrading. But yes, you're right about most of the complaints."

"OK, then get this. I want to do a reality show that is totally real."

"A real reality show as opposed to a fake reality show?" I asked.

"Yeah, that's it," said Rod.

"What have you got in mind?"

"The show's got several parts. In part one, we take a loving couple, put them both together in a coffin, then bury them six feet underground. We provide air that will last only two days if both of them are breathing the whole time. Microphones and mini-cameras are scattered around the coffin of course, along with a number of knives and other small weapons. We dig them back up after three days to see how they've handled the situation."

"It certainly sounds dramatic," I said.

"Right! I originally wanted to call it 'Premature Love' but I figured the censors wouldn't go for it, so I changed the show's name to 'Deep Love' instead!"

"Wise move."

"Now for part two," said Rod. "Contestants are each left to wander around an underground chamber, which has a large pit full of rats at one end. When they ..."

"Didn't NBC already do the rat pit bit?"

"They did? They're gonna be hearing from my lawyers! Never mind, I don't really need that segment anyway. Onward to the big finale!"

"I can't wait ..."

"Each participant is tied down to a large stone slab, with a massive, razor-sharp blade swinging above them, gradually getting lower and lower. We'll even have a blade-cam, giving the blade's-eye view of the scene!"

"That's unique," I said.

"You bet! Anyway, each of the contestants has a small chunk of cheese. The winner is the one who first entices some rats to chew through their ropes so that they can escape before the blade slices them in two, then all the other participants have their cheese confiscated ..."

"I'm glad to hear you found another use for those rats," I said.

"Yeah. So Lauren, whaddya think?"

"I think in today's TV climate you have a real shot at it. I do have one question though."

"Shoot!" said Rod.

"What ends up happening to the losing contestants in the coffin and blade routines?"

"Oh ... naturally, they're off the program! But their families get a selection of consolation prizes."

"Well, I guess that's show biz," I said.

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Lauren Weinstein

For information about the author, please see: http://www.vortex.com/lauren

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