It’s a Real, Real, Real, Real, Real World

Forget ‘Temptation Island’ and ‘Survivor II.’ What if reality TV were based on, well, reality? We unearthed one network’s internal memorandum outlining some of the hottest new ideas for gripping television based on real life.


Ms. [REDACTED]:
Here are the abstracts, as you requested. Development should be making the first cut early next week. Let us know if you see something you want to green-light sooner.

Respectfully,
Bob [REDACTED]
VP, Development

cc: dvt, act, adv, lgl

attch’d:reality_pitch.doc {converted}

Bums Away!
When you’re old, mentally ill or not in possession of a full complement of limbs, remaining unfrozen during a New England winter can be a real challenge, particularly if you live beneath a highway overpass. We’ll pick a real-life “Dirty Dozen” of contestants who are just crazy enough to try it! In addition to standing around garbage-fed fires and curling into fetal positions to conserve body warmth, our contestants will compete each week for “Bum Bucks®,” which can be exchanged for things like potato chips, cigarettes, malt liquor, or a sock — almost like real money! Spend your Bum Bucks® wisely, and you might come away with nothing more than frostbitten toes. But fritter them away, and your cardboard-box “condo” could be your coffin!

(In regard to the product-placement team’s question about fortified wine, a focus group of hobos confirmed that red goes with meat, as well as fish and fowl. It also compliments mints, squash, mayonnaise, crackers, stale hoagie rolls, and other fortified wines.)

Lord Of The Fries
Our gaggle of downtrodden contestants will think they’re sitting in the catbird seat after we give them full-time, minimum-wage gigs plus daily food discounts at a Peoria, Ill. Burger King. But they’re in for a real “Whopper” of a surprise when management reveals that one ambitious team member will also receive “Employee of the Month” honors. That means a handsome plaque displayed above the condiment station — and $30 in cold, hard cash! Will it be the lovable senior citizen? The single mom? The recent immigrant? One of the hip teenagers who lives to provide superior levels of customer service? All bets are off as these hard-working, fun-loving food-service specialists do whatever it takes to make it to the top!

(Note to Legal: The phrase “sitting in the catbird seat” is not meant to imply that employees may assume a seated position during their assigned shifts.)

Lost In (A Very Confined) Space
Bureaucratic apathy and ineptitude transform contestants’ light sentences for jaywalking into indefinite incarceration in a maximum-security penitentiary. One lucky winner will be released after the state discovers its mistake and loses an expensive and protracted legal wrangle. But to get to the outside, contestants will first have to stay alive on the inside! That means our prime-time inmates will learn the subtle arts of shank craftsmanship and improvisational tattooing. They’ll hit the weights to prepare for gladiator-style yard fights. Some will find religion; others will find trouble in the showers! One thing’s for sure: For these new fish, it’s going to be sink or swim!

(We’re thinking “Shawshank Redemption,” but minus scenes of birds being set free or other metaphorical imagery suggesting redemption, liberation, glints of humanity, etc.)

Run for the Border
Plucked from their comfortable suburban townhouses in the dead of night, our contestants will be blindfolded, transported and deposited by helicopter into the scorching desert of northern Mexico, where they’ll set out on a mad dash to the Arizona border. First person to reach US soil wins! These tough hombres will have to contend with smugglers, bandits, INS agents, vigilante ranchers, desperate thirst and ignorance of regional geography, ensuring plenty of high-adrenaline high jinks. May the Speediest Gonzales win!

(Legal: Contestants will be provided with tortillas and pond water while off-camera, just to keep things interesting, and to avoid unnecessary and expensive wrongful death suits.)

Toxic Town
Life is pretty sweet for people in Appleville, Neb. That is, until we buy Old Man Johnson’s creekside property and sell it to a business consortium that builds a massive petrochemical factory and a pair of industrial-size hog farms. Suddenly our contestants, lifelong residents of Appleville, are getting sicker by the minute! By the fifth episode, the creek is clogged with porcine feces and the local groundwater is toast! Folks will be coughing up blood and sprouting tumours like turnips. The faint of heart will gather up what’s left of their families and flee, but our winner will stick it out until the end! What makes a winner? Just good, old-fashioned determination, plus freakish immunity to organ-shredding toxins.

(Possible downside: Advertising can skip pitching ad time to Jimmy Dean or Exxon.)

Social inSecurity
Get ready for a terminal case of senioritis! We’re going to whisk a dozen ailing octogenarians from the squalid basement apartments and converted family rooms where their offspring have stashed them to the deceptively serene Rainbow Vista ContinuCare Village, where they’ll soon realize that only the toughest oldster survives. Alliances will be formed and diabolical measures taken as our contestants coax and connive their way to the medicine, food, and oxygen tanks they crave! Backstabbing desperation and a massive outbreak of bedsores should ensure plenty of humor and drama every week.

(Casting is shooting for a good mix of ambulatory and bed-ridden contestants. Legal is still determining fair market price for contestants who do not win, in order to estimate familial compensation at show’s end.)