Have Yourself an Ambivalent Little Christmas


The Golden Age of Spam

Will the Real Renaissance Please Stand Up?

My Life of Crime

My Life of Crime, Pt. 2: The War of the Dandelions

Black (and Blue) Friday

Going Home

How Not to Celebrate a Holiday

Traffic Report Fall Down
and Go Boom

O, Holy Weekend

You Mean My Vote Actually Means Something?

Side Disorders

Lessons for Hurricane Preparedness as Taught By Example in Raleigh, North Carolina

You Mean My Vote Actually Means Something?, Pt. 2: Are They Gone Yet?

The Last Reality Show

It Builds Character

Sink the Flu

WTF (in C Major)

Intruder Alert

Kneel before Za

I Got Your Breaking News Right Here, Pal

Christmas in July...or April...or maybe even December


Why I Hate "The Little Drummer Boy"

The Last Reality Show

How easy it is for the critic manqués to bemoan the death of quality television, quality entertainment, or even Western civilization itself by pointing to the spectacle which is reality television. How easy, and yet how false. First, let's get one thing straight: reality television will never destroy Western civilization, because the introduction of the shootout to hockey has already done that. Second, there are in fact some really good reality programs out there. Dirty Jobs is great entertainment. Faking It was pretty good. Oh, sure, most of it is crap, but that's true of most genres of television, and most genres of art in general, for that matter. For every M*A*S*H there are a dozen Hello Larrys; for every Beatles there are a dozen REO Speedwagons.

That being said, the sheer proliferation of reality shows has led to such third- and fourth-rate offerings as For the Love of Ray J and Tommy Lee Goes to College. It is clear that reality shows are suffering from overpopulation. And unlike lemmings, reality shows are unlikely to run en masse off a nearby cliff (well, I wouldn't put it past Fear Factor, but for the most part this holds true). Therefore, we must cull the herd. You might think we can rely on poor ratings and cancellations to handle this, but allow me to point again to For the Love of Ray J. Clearly, cancellations are not addressing the situation sufficiently. Therefore, we need to find another way. I have just the idea: We need a reality show to get rid of all the reality shows.

Here's my proposal. The show is (somewhat misleadingly) entitled The Last Reality Show. We start by sticking all the hosts in a secluded location. A tropical island, you say? No: no one wants to see Donald Trump in a loincloth. My first thought was an island just off the coast of Antarctica, but on second thought an iceberg in the middle of the Arctic would be better. That way we can make this show be educational by giving a day-by-day account of global warming. It also increases the drama if the iceberg breaks apart midseason, and drama is always a good thing.

The contestants will then be asked to undergo a series of contests which are derived from other reality shows: singing (American Idol), cooking and eating blubber (Hell's Kitchen meets Fear Factor), redecorating the iceberg (Trading Spaces/Changing Rooms), apprehending polar bears before they can eat seals (Cops), et cetera. The highlight of the season will be the Dancing with the Stars-inspired episode; nothing says "hilarity ensues" like people trying to dance on an iceberg.

The winner of each contest gets immunity. The remainder are eligible for elimination, which works like this: Viewers call in to vote for the contestants whose shows they want to continue. Once the votes are tabulated, the various contestants are put a set distance away from the center of the iceberg, depending on how many votes they got (the fewer votes, the closer to the edge). Then a polar bear is allowed to come onto the iceberg and eat someone. Gruesome? Absolutely, but still less painful to watch than The Surreal Life.

In any case, the real punishment isn't being eaten by a polar bear. The real punishment is that once you're gone, so is your show. Any show whose host gets eaten is cancelled, and can never be brought back with a different host. Furthermore, the network will not be allowed put another reality show in that time slot for a minimum of three years. I realize that this rule will probably cause VH-1 to go off the air for lack of shows to broadcast, but it's not like that would be a great loss.

The host of The Last Reality Show will, incidentally, also be a contestant. He or she will be eligible to be eliminated at any time that he or she doesn't win immunity. (The early votes will be rigged to keep this from happening too soon.) When the host of this show gets eliminated, then it will end just like any other eliminated show. I leave it to your imagination who the host should be. Me? I want it to be Michael Vick. Simply put, the man deserves to be eaten alive for what he did to those dogs, and I don't care how good a quarterback he was, that son of a bitch can't outrun those bears forever.

Once the show ends, all the surviving hosts of other shows will be allowed to return to their homes and their shows, and those shows will be said to have survived the cull. We'll even be nice and guarantee that none of them can be cancelled before completing two more seasons.

And if, by some miracle, the host of this show is the winner? Well, then we have a couple of problems. First, it means that Michael Vick lives (I say we feed him to the polar bears anyway, or at the very least just leave him on the iceberg and watch him freeze to death.) Second, that would mean this show would be guaranteed to continue for another two seasons, but since it feeds (literally) off the other reality shows, it wouldn't be able to continue without a format change. My suggestion: find another genre in need of culling. For the second season, we do crime dramas. Since crime dramas don't have hosts, we get the actors playing the main characters. Every time a host gets killed, the show is allowed one more episode, where the remaining characters solve the crime of how the main character got killed. (Hint: The polar bear did it.)

For the third season, we go after the hosts of shows on twenty-four hour news channels. This could be the most popular season ever, because if you don't want to see Bill O'Reilly get eaten by a polar bear then you probably want to see Keith Olbermann get eaten by a polar bear, and vice versa. And I could be wrong, but I'm convinced that at least one of them is going down.

And once we've gotten rid of them, the two guaranteed seasons are over and the show can gracefully retire. The Last Reality Show will have lived up to its name, and it will have served its purpose. As a final tribute, we will gather all the people who were involved with the show and have a reunion. Conversations from the reunion will be interspersed with "confessional" style interviews filmed beforehand. They'll toast the show with champagne. And then, as the final twist (even if it is a twist we all saw coming), they'll all be eaten by a polar bear.

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