Reality Television

Fear Factor: Guantánamo Bay

Idea: Captured “militants” are stripped, hooded, fondled, and put through a series of rigorous trials of the sort that Rush Limbaugh calls, “people having a good time,” and “[an] emotional release.” The most resilient competitors move on the the nipple-electrodes bonus round, with winners receiving the right to eat, sleep, bathe and pray.

Fashion Tie-in: The mullet was “in” last year; let's make next year the year of the hood!

American Gladiator: Seniors Division

Idea: Ten geriatric Americans are armed with cudgels and released into an octagonal cage, at the center of which is a small bottle containing a single dose of the high blood pressure medication that they all need to survive. The last one standing wins a free month’s supply of prescription drugs from the show’s corporate sponsors.

Promotional Slogan: This medicine is to die for!

Survivor: Hostage

Idea: A group of American journalists are captured by Iraqi insurgents who attempt to ransom them in exchange for political prisoners while a film crew follows the proceedings, reporting on the day-to-day life of the prisoners.

Revenue Opportunity: The audience will be given the opportunity to use pay-per-dial voting to determine the order in which the hostages are beheaded.

Like the Dickens!

Idea: Following the success of Frontier House, this show concentrates on the exploits of a formerly working class family of six living in a single room after they’ve fallen through the newly widened gaps in the American social safety net.

Sample Episode Plot: Converting the children from a cost center to a profit center through the President’s new “early employment” program.

Marketing Tie-in: A full line of Like the Dickens! oat-gruel products, possibly distributed through school lunch-room vending machines.

This entry is part of my journal, published February 3, 2005, in New York.