Posts Tagged ‘Reality TV’

Poor Mindy McCready…

February 19, 2013

1361153207_mindy-mccready-reported-suicide_1

You know, I’d rather be repeatedly punched in my monkey parts than watch a minute of ‘Celebrity Rehab’… but seriously —

THIS headline:

‘MINDY MCCREADY MARKS FIFTH ‘CELEBRITY REHAB’ DEATH’

Fifth. Out of about 50.

Strange… it’s almost like Dr. Drew and Co. were more concerned with exploiting people with emotional problems purely for entertainment purposes, rather than helping them or something???

I’ll say it again – day by day, inch by inch, we struggle closer and closer to television finally giving up and just embracing the dystopian future of ‘The Running Man‘…

I'd seek help from Richard Dawson circa '87 before I'd speak to Dr. Drew, any day o' the week

I’d seek help from Richard Dawson circa ’87 before I’d speak to Dr. Drew, any day o’ the week

Which does not work for me. At all. I for one still look shitty in a lycra bodysuit, and cannot effectively wield a chainsaw whilst in hand-to-hand combat.

Not whilst on camera anyways.

Rest in Peace, Mindy.

BPM

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Writing for (Reality) Television 101

February 17, 2013

“Your story is only ever as strong as it’s antagonist”

                                                     – Old Jungle Saying

It’s been simultaneously fascinating and disheartening to see ‘My Kitchen Rules’ once again become an Australian TV ratings behemoth over the past few weeks, based primarily on some of the oldest character stereotypes in the book.

Every ‘reality’ show needs a villain (of course). Enter the ‘Spice Girls’, Jessie & Biswa from New South Wales…

412868-jessie-khan-and-biswa-kamila

Who, in a matter of weeks, used their unparalleled charm and sophistication to become seemingly the most hated duo in the country (sorry Tony & Julia). They tick every single ‘HAAAAAAATE-watch’ box for a Channel 7 audience. Lets count ’em off:

  • Gen Y? Tick.
  • Female? Tick.
  • Horribly entitled? Tick.
  • Dumb as a post? Tick.
  • And most importantly, an ethnicity just ‘brown’ enough to offend white Australia? Indian and Bangladeshi MEGA TICK!

Observe:

You wouldn’t have guessed, but the judges and their fellow contestants voted these clowns off of a cooking show for the piddling offense of being unable to cook. Terrible, I know. Goodbye Spice Girls! Goodbye guaranteed ratings draw!

What are we to do now, MKR???

If your answer was  to introduce a new group of muckraking, gatecrashing contestants for no real reason other than to create conflict less than a month into the show, then you win… uhh… well… not much.

They haven’t even come up with something as clever as the SPICE GIRLS this time for fucks sake!!! ‘Gatecrashers’?!?!

* smacks head *

And yes, our most notable team of Gatecrashers are…

389755-girls

  • Gen Y? Tick.
  • Female? Tick.
  • Horribly entitled? Tick.
  • Dumb as a post? Tick.
  • And most importantly, an ethnicity just ‘Asian’ enough to offend white Australia? SUPER MEGA HAPPY TICK!

From the network that brought you ‘Border Patrol’… ladies and gentlemen, ‘MY KITCHEN RULES’!!!!!!!!!!

It’s made me pause more than once in the writers room of the TV show I work on to wonder why the hell we’re bothering to try to create boring shit like ‘well-rounded antagonists’,  ‘in depth backstories’, or ‘character arcs’. All that work, when really all we need to do is make our villain each and every week a spoiled stupid Gen-Y ditz with a complete lack of self-awareness.

The Hannibal Lector era of villainy is over, people. Long live Jessie & Biswa, the new breed of supervillain, soon to be enshrined in the Richard Hatch Hall of Infamy.

Take the tour.

It’s frigging horrible, sure, but it’ll only take 15 minutes.

BPM

‘The Voice’ KNOWS hyperbole!

May 8, 2012

I call the guy on the left ‘Urban Warfare’

A quick note on the Australian television juggernaut that IS ‘The Voice’, and in particular this week’s Battle round, where contestants will battle one another in a series of head-to-head battles in a battle to see who can use the word battle more in their allotted 8-10 minute segment.

 

bat·tle

Noun   A sustained fight between large, organized armed forces.

 

Waterloo. Gettysburg. Normandy. Gallipoli. Thermopylae. Helm’s Deep. These were battles. Two back up singer’s doing shitty covers of Rihanna songs I don’t even want to hear Rihanna sing? Meh… notsomuch.

I have to assume that the whole ‘battle’ concept is the red-headed stepchild of what ‘The Voice’s producer’s think a ‘rap battle’ is.

“I got the moves like Jagger, I got the moooooooooooves like Jagger… OK, now your turn!”

But… rap battles (as far as I, the whitest man in Melbourne, am aware) stereotypically consist of 2 angry young men dropping tasty rhymes about their own incredible sexual prowess and penis size whilst simultaneously denigrating the prowess/penosity of their opponent. There’s an innate sense of aggression and conflict there. Two middle-aged guys over-singing the shit out of Coldplay? Where’s the conflict in that?

For the record, Chris Martin ranks a zero on the Penosity Scale

As part of my job I’m privy to the primetime ratings of Australian free-to-air TV every morning, and ‘The Voice’ is managing to sustain a huuuugggeeee audience night after night. Basic rule of thumb is that if any show in the evening time slot has a million viewers, then it’s doing well.

‘The Voice’ is doing more than double that. Every. Single. Episode.

And once again, I don’t get it, and I wonder how much longer it can continue to draw such a large audience. Because once the novelty has worn off (Spinny chairs! Seal! Maybe Delta Goodrem’s a robot!), aren’t you left with the same Achilles heel every show of its ilk has?

That essentially you’re just watching amateur musicians sing adequate live cover versions of songs you can watch the original artist sing much better anytime you feel like it on Youtube?

But what about the human drama of it all, Monkey?

Ughhh… all just so much artifice. When ‘human drama’ consists almost exclusively for every contestant of either:

  1. i) They’re chasing their dream, one they’d almost given up on before kids / marriage / a serious accident,
  2. ii) They, or a close relative (ideally a parent), are dealing with Cancer, and they’re doing it for them, or
  3. iii) They need to learn to believe… (wait for it) in themselves…

Then you can count me out.

If I’m going to force myself to watch any reality television show at the moment, it’ll probably be ‘The Block’, purely because it’s managing to combine the perils and everyday nightmare of home renovation with a degree of cruelty and Phillip Zimbardo-esque psychological trauma that you just don’t find in scripted drama these days.

Sure you have to rebuild this entire house in 5 days with your bare hands and go 60 hours with no sleep, but it could be worse… you could have to compete in a ‘battle’ with the couple next door and sing “Lady Marmalade”…

Side note: As I’ve said before, I work in and around the periphery of television drama. And you have no idea how much the viewing habits of most of the people responsible for scripted drama in this country seems to exclusively revolve around shows like ‘The Voice’, rather than ‘Mad Men’, or ‘Breaking Bad’, or ‘Game of Thrones’.

I guess if I really want to be able to discuss whether Stannis Baratheon is the man for the Iron Throne, or the sense of morality of a Don Draper, I’m going to have to try to finagle my way into working on a reality television show instead.

God help me…

BPM

MasterChef contestants forced to eat steaming bowl of “I forgot I’m on a Reality TV show”

June 29, 2010

Sure you can all cook. But which of you can cry on cue AND make me a croissant at the same time???

The ‘MasterChef’ phenomenon rolls on in this country, with people apparently friggin flabbergasted at the ‘shock twist’ on the show this week.

What was this thrilling 180°???

Previously eliminated contestants re-entered the competition to once again throw their hat in the ring for the cookbook / recording / dance contract, or whatever it is they’re furiously hand-making pasta for.

I’m lucky as I’ve been afforded almost complete objectivity on ‘MasterChef’. Why? Well, I’ve never watched a whole episode for starters. I was born and raised with simple culinary tastes (Tomato AND Barbecue sauce?!?!). And I have a stomach illness which generally makes everyday food the Lex Luthor to my Bowel’s Kal-El.

But the kids seem to love this show about three fat men telling Australia that using mayonnaise bought from the supermarket is tantamount to starting the Holocaust anew. So what’re you gonna do?

I WILL, however, ask one question:

Each and every one of the contestants appears to have watched either season 1 of ‘MasterChef’, or at the very least are well versed in Reality TV and it’s inherent storylines. They know how to present themselves on camera, they know the patter (talking about “my journey”, “this is my life”, “how hard it is being separated from my kids”, etc etc). After years of prime-time indoctrination, they ‘get’ it.

So if the previous season of ‘MasterChef’ had contestants come back late in the series… and ‘The Biggest Loser’ had contestants come back… and so did ‘Big Brother’… and ‘Australian Idol’…

How shocked can you really be at one of the most played out tropes in this format?!?

Guess what Cookie, your fame as Australia’s most successful amateur kitchenhands – it’s probably fleeting (you’re only attending 1 Logies Awards, at best). There’ll probably be surprise guest appearances on your program by a celebrity chef or two. At some point you’ll receive a heart wrenching letter / phone call from your loved ones. Footage might be edited to make at least one of you appear to be ‘The Bitch’ character. Should we keep going?

I guess if you become immersed in that 24/7 competitive lifestyle for any stretch of time it can be easy to forget you’re just a puppet in an apron, whose life and hopes and dreams are so much fodder for our viewing entertainment, 6 days per week.

Just keep staring. So long as these idiots keep believing that Lychees are a pantry staple then we're RICH, bee-yotch!

Never forget people, that YOU, the Viewer… the Fat Man in the cravat don’t care about how well you cook, or your families health, so long as you keep sucking at the Glass Teat and buying all your obscure vegetables and condiments from Coles – the proud sponsor of ‘MasterChef’.

Chew on that.

And lets hope that someone warns these poor ‘MasterChef’ contestants about another Reality TV shocker –

Upon completion of the season 2 finale… whoever finishes 2nd… might ultimately enjoy more fame and success than the actual winner!!!

Stranger things have happened…

That's wot I'M talkin bout!

BPM

The TV police are coming to gitcha

May 16, 2010

This will probably be a little sprawling, but bear with me, please.

Da Authorities

Anzac Day came and went this year, and for an Essendon supporter like myself, way too much of the day focused around the AFL.

Well… at least for the first quarter… friggin Collingwood…

What was especially notable about Channel 7’s coverage of the game, and earlier the morning services, was their commitment to cross-promoting ‘The Pacific’ whenever and wherever the opportunity might arise.

I mean, I dig that score by Hans Zimmer too, but playing it non-stop for 3+ hours? I’m sure if Channel 7 had their way not only would they have flown cast members in to appear at the dawn service, but Joseph Mazello would also have lined up at Centre Half Forward for the Bombers.

Might be worth actually considering Joey M, Essendon. This dude has already schooled Velociraptors AND Jap's... you barely beat Carlton this season

“Yes, we’re here to commemorate the incredible sacrifice so many men and women made for our country. But surely we can kill two Jap’s with one stone… right?”

In between spruiking the next incredible installment of the most expensive television series ever made TM, Channel 7 did go out of their way to point out some of the other quality viewing they have lined up in 2010. One of these promo’s, with dramatic thumping music and voice-o-God narration, almost made me fall off my couch giggling.

Australia, prepare yourself for… ‘THE DOG SQUAD’!

It’s exactly what it sounds like: a reality based show about a police dog squad. For half an hour. Over several weeks.

It just sounded so much like some of the mock television shows ’30 Rock’ has created (‘America’s Next Top Pirate’, anyone?). But apparently, ‘The Dog Squad’ has enough of an audience to screen it at 7:30pm on a weeknight. Who knew?

Not only does ‘The Dog Squad’ have the juice to get up and air on a regular basis, but it’s not even the only dog-squad related program currently airing (see ‘Send in the Dogs’ on Channel 9).

One look at a programming guide is enough to make you weep when it comes to the amount of procedural, bust-your-ass reality TV brought to you by Channel’s 7 & 9 alone. How’s THIS for a roll call:

‘The Dog Squad’, ‘Surf Patrol’, ‘Trauma’, ‘Customs’, ‘Send in the Dogs’, ‘Highway Patrol’, ‘R.P.A’…

Channel 9 even has 2 MORE shows waiting to air. They are ‘A.F.P’, which focuses on the Australian Federal Police obviously. The other? ‘R.B.T’.

‘R.B.T’ is a half hour series about Random Breath Testing.

While I personally subscribe to the idea that if I don’t likes it, I don’t watches it, I STILL can’t help but feel irked by this kind of shitty television.Because do I feel like we live in a ‘Nanny’ state nowadays? Hell yeah. And how are we to effect real societal change? Is it by more stringently enforcing laws? Harsher penalties? A greater police presence?

Nope. Nope. And nope. Instead lets just air these crappy TV shows about how you WILL get busted the second you deviate from dead-eyed obedience, as soon as you step out of line at the airport, the pub, on the roads, in hospital, etc (provided there’s a camera around, of course).

And then, THEN we can just trust to hope that keeping the people in a constant state of fear via ‘entertainment’ and the media will be enough.

Cos that’ll work. It has to. Right.

Right?

People don’t even realize that there’s an attempt being made to indoctrinate them. And the police don’t seem to realize that you can broadcast as many shows as you want to ‘educate’ the public – so long as ‘Underbelly 24′ keeps pulling in a million plus viewers a week with stories about crim’s and crooked cop’s who are above the law, it’s all for naught.

And in the interim it means that I have to wait til 11pm on a good night to watch non-important broadcasting like ’30 Rock’, ‘The West Wing’ or ‘The Wire’.

‘COPS’, you’ve got a lot to answer for.

See, that clip kind reinforces my point, but in Spanish. Classy, no?

Latino Snake rocks,

BPM

The Biggest… umm… I’m not entirely sure…

April 19, 2010

Congratulations to Lisa Hose, the winner of this season of ‘The Biggest Loser’ on Channel 10.

Lisa managed to half her body weight over the course of the series, going from 121.9 kilograms…

You guessed it, this is the 'Before' picture

To a comparatively svelte 65.7 kilograms…

Not shown: 17 kilograms of excess skin

I’m sure the words ‘battler’, ‘incredible’ and ‘inspiration’ were bandied about more than a few times.

Congratulations Lisa! You did it! Now all you need to do to maintain the startling results of this physical transformation is abandon every aspect of your life that doesn’t involve training!

Job working with disabled children? Ditch it. Social life? Those slobs you used to hang around with have no idea how bad that glass of wine is for them! Two kids? Sorry, ignore em, you’ve got crunches to do!!!

"Now I've lost FOUR sizes, and I've never been happier!"

Now, please understand that I’m not belittling the effort and work ethic it must take to lose that amount of weight. But sustainable weight loss is reliant on a series of life changes. Teaching someone how to make a salad doesn’t cover all of these bases. What happens to the human body when over the course of six months it has come to depend on several hours of physical exercise, every day. Who can manage that AND maintain a life?

It ties in to why I thought this dude was a world-class douche:

Pie-fucker

In 2009, personal trainer Paul ‘PJ’ James decided he’d ditch his perfect, chiseled frame and stack on 40 kilograms of fat. He’d then have some life experience of what some of his clients dealt with every day, being unhealthily obese, before losing the weight through intense workouts and clever diet.

What a battler… incredible… an inspiration…

What PJ neglected to realize was that after reaching his peak weight of 120 kilograms, he would then have access to a gym. Every day. Where he is employed.

PJ doesn’t have children. He doesn’t work 40 hours a week as a chartered accountant. He doesn’t have to overcome an entire lifetime of accumulated esteem problems, body issues and shame. I gain no more inspiration from James than I would an amazing weight-losin’ robot.

As unsexy as it sounds, substantial weight loss is a very slow, drawn out process. We like the instant gratification concept of ‘The Biggest Loser’. We like the idea we could lose what amount to another human being in just 4 months or so. We like the idea of turning one’s life around, and being supremely fit. At least, we like eating chips and biscuits while we watch other people sweat profusely and jiggle. A lot.

Argue that it’s about changing your contestants ‘fitness’ levels forever and a day, Channel 10. But until you change the name and format of the show, you’re making a game show out of the long-term health of real people.

So don’t be outraged when they inevitably add a similar game show element to medical programs like ‘RPA’. We’ve been asking for it for a loooonnngggg time.

Ask and ye shall receive,

BPM

Every journey begins with a first step…

March 25, 2010

In this instance he's showing his protege how to rock the shit out of wearing a robe

And every Hero needs a Mentor.

This from dictionary.com:

men·tor

–noun: a wise and trusted counselor or teacher.

Typically that definition, along with our general knowledge of the archetype, brings to mind the image of an older male figure, bearded perhaps, the keeper of untold secrets. Think of some famous mentor’s over time… Aristotle, Merlin, Obi Wan Kenobi, Mister Miyagi, Miley Cyrus…

What?

Yep, Miley filled the role of mentor this week on the reality TV series ‘American Idol’.

The next contestant voted off American Idol... I'm afraid it's time for your journey to end... Billy

She’s 17.

My instinctual reaction is outrage, yet again. Bear in mind that this is the same marginally talented moppet who released her ‘memoirs’ through publisher Disney-Hyperion Books at age 16. On March 24th she’ll have celebrated 4 whole years in the limelight as a fully-fledged TV star/singer/jail-bait celeb. She has 3 studio albums to her credit. She ain’t Aretha, Madonna or even Pink, in other words.

But then, when you stop to really think about it, what better choice could American Idol exec’s have made?

  • It’s practically a family tradition to wring every last drop out of the meager stocks of talent you possess.
  • Thanks to a television show, she became famous for being famous a long time before anyone could adequately judge her performing abilities.
  • She knows what it’s like to be worshiped by a fan base comprised solely of legions of temperamental teenagers.
  • The girl knows how to milk every ounce of publicity out of any situation (Hi Liam!).

So maybe she’s not a mentor in the traditional sense of the word. But if your goal is to create a disposable bubble-gum album made by a flavorless pop star who’ll become a walking punch-line in years to come…

Tween dollar, We Want YOU!

Then you’ve found your Yoda.

Until next time, please know that I don’t WANT to continually bash Miley…

But she just keeps making it SO easy.

BPM

Jessica Simpson deserves to be taken seriously!

February 19, 2010

But I'm an Actress!

In an interview with Allure magazine, Jessica Simpson has emphatically stated that she will never, ever, EVER appear nude in a film or television show.

I will never do nudity… I don’t care if I frickin’ could get an Oscar for it, I’m not going to do it“.

That’s a direct quote. Yep, Jessica Simpson seriously thinks that appearing nude is what stands in the way of her receiving an Academy Award.

Personally…I think there’s other things you can do to show people that you have talent“. That one’s from an interview in 2005.

For those keeping score at home, this is a woman whose highest profile acting roles thus far have been:

  1. As herself on reality TV show ‘Newlyweds’, with then-hubby Nick Lache. It was all about being young, dumb, married and incomparably wealthy. Sadly we never got to see the proposed follow-up series, ‘Read the Pre-Nup again, Bitch’.
  2. And as a pair of hot pants in the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ re-make, where she ranked lower on the acting food-chain than Stifler and a guy who got shot in the nuts with riot explosives on ‘Jackass’.

However, credit where credit’s due, Jessica IS the Meryl Streep of dry-humping/washing a car in a bikini…

Dare to dream the impossible dream, Ms. Simpson. I’ll stand behind you.

It’s an awesome vantage point, after all.

BPM

The Biggest Loser (again): Who Dies Wins!

February 14, 2010

Don't you love the super-fit personal trainer running with them for 'moral support'? You've never even SEEN a cheeseburger, asshole!

Was I the only person who didn’t realize that this season of ‘The Biggest Loser’ in Australia is supposed to culminate in all contestants participating in a 42 kilometre marathon?!?

I’m not kidding.

The show claims that after 11 weeks of fitness and weight loss training, all contestants (minus eliminated kiddie-porn enthusiasts, of course) will run a 42 km marathon to see who will compete for the show’s $200,000 prize money.

Experts and assorted pundits have already been very quick to warn that this kind of stunt could result in serious health repercussions. A 150kg+ contestant has already been eliminated from the show after suffering leg fractures and suspected shin splints whilst trying to run 4 kilometres in one of their daffy trials.

There’s a legitimate chance that one of these stupid fatties could die attempting that marathon. My question is this; at what point do you disregard the entertainment value of watching fat people exercise until they go into cardiac arrest? Is a show like ‘The Biggest Loser’ perfectly within their rights to push their latest charge of moron’s to the brink of death? Over it? Where is the line drawn?

Ponder THAT for a moment.

I’ve never really had any interest in reality television, mainly because I find the entire process the antithesis of reality (I realize I’m stating the obvious, but whattya gonna do). There’s so much artifice involved in all of these fucking shows, I’d rather watch a drama that someone actually talented wrote.

Trivia note: Stephen King wrote a series of novellas during the late 70’s and early 80’s under the pseudonym ‘Richard Bachman’. The novella’s were invariably short, bleak and brutal, even for King. Several of these novella’s were compiled and released in 1 volume (entitled ‘The Bachman Books’) in the late 80’s. King wrote 2 stories in particular about futuristic reality TV-style competitions, where the goal wasn’t to lose weight, or win a recording contract, or dance like a muscular, spastic faerie. It was to survive the competition itself.

One of these novella’s was called ‘The Long Walk’, and has been in movie development hell for a lonnngggg time. The other was stripped of much of it’s theme and harshness, and made into the film ‘The Running Man’, starring the Governator himself.

‘The Running Man’ was set in the year 2019.

Place your bets now about how long it’ll be before we’re watching idiots die on our TV screens every night at 6:30pm, all trying to win a Big! Cash! Jackpot!!!

I say 2017. But then I’ve always been a pretty conservative gambler.

BPM

Reality TV delivers reality check

January 31, 2010

Welcome to our new talent show, 'Delusions of Grandeur'

The reality television cesspool ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ has been rocked this week by the news a contestant on their program has lodged a discrimination complaint against the show.

Emma Amelia Pearl Czikai has claimed a medical condition made it difficult for her to hear herself singing during an audition, which rendered her subsequent elimination from the show unfair.

Czikai boasted to judge Simon Cowell before performing that she had moved people to tears with her singing in the past, and that at the end of the day he’d be glad to have had the chance just to meet her. However mere seconds into her rendition of ‘You Raise Me Up’, both Cowell and fellow judge Piers Morgan buzzed for her to stop. A 3rd judge, Amanda Holden, lasted until the chorus began before following suit.

Czikai has since claimed that the show failed to take into account her medical condition, that she was unused to the microphone being used, and that the backing track supporting her singing was too loud. So it’s everyone’s fault but hers in others words.

The Guardian UK reports that Czikai feels justified in lodging the disability discrimination claim because she maintains that ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ can be classed as her employer as the auditions were a process of elimination in which candidates competed for short-term employment contracts for a road show.

Czikai also feels that being shown on television and YouTube has made her a laughing stock, which has had a significant impact on both her health and general well being.

It’s come to this folks… it was bad enough when these shows first emerged from the primordial depths of television hell to offer hope to the marginally talented singers, chefs and dancers amongst us. But now they’ve created a mindset where every man and his dog feels entitled to their obligatory 15 minutes of fame. You were saying, Mr. Warhol?

This is the clip in question:

I’ll let you make up your own minds.

BPM