Dispatches from Suburbia

If I played an instrument, I would have a band called "The Simon Thomsen Sex Tape"; and other musings, rants, and disconnected ramblings.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


"It's no use reminding yourself daily that you are mortal: it will be brought home to you soon enough."
-Albert Camus

My countless hours of T.V. this week has gotten me thinking about ways in which to make a reality T.V. show that actually means something.

Ever since "The Real World" got this reality T.V. ball rolling, we've been watching the same basic format: The network places several incredibly vain human beings in one house or on an island and pits them against each other.

What these shows are lacking is this: there is really no sense of humanity. The competitors, though they weep and wail, are in no real danger. Would the network really risk killing somebody? They just choose very dramatic people that make mountains out of molehills in order to make things seem worse than they really are. I watched an episode of America's Next Top Model yesterday in which a competitor threw a fit because she could not room with her new friend. Big deal.

Anyway, we know that a television show would never actually put a life on the line. But what if those in front of the camera were already doomed?

My idea for a far more compelling reality T.V. show is to take the cameras and crew and follow a terminally ill person who is willing to broadcast themselves on national television for the remainder of their lives following the diagnosis. A substantial portion of the show's proceeds would be donated to a charity concerned with the person's disease.

So, somebody is diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live. He or she chooses to be the subject of this show, and we watch them deteriorate before our eyes. When he or she ends, the season ends, and then the show ends (or chooses another terminally ill person).

It's a brilliant idea, and I trust those reading this post not to steal this idea and run with it (seriously, if my show gets on T.V. without my knowledge, I'll hunt you down. You can consider yourself an acceptable subject for this morbid show).

Of course, this could be considered capitalizing on a very sore spot, but the subject of the show, whomever they happen to be, would be instantly loved by television viewers. Right now, we are watching shows in which the subjects are so lame that we can't relate and therefore we despise them. But how can we not sympathize with one on an undeserved death sentence?

It's brilliantly dark, and strangely uplifting. Still, there is something so sinister about this concept that I'm not sure I could see myself actually pitching this to a network. Not yet, anyway. I dunno, I feel that there may be something rather evil about minimizing a person's deathbed struggle to a reality T.V. show.


At 4:01 AM, Blogger ShadowFalcon said...

I still thing "the real world" was the best reality TV show cos most of the people weren't playing up for the camera. I like the death idea but the real world beat you to it in the san fransico series with Pedro. He died of Aids and there was a lot of focus on him, cos well he was a nice, smart guy and I remember crying when he passed even though I was just a kid.

At 5:08 AM, Blogger Sheila said...

They won't risk putting someone in actual danger because there are too many lawyers around who would jump at the chance to sue.

At 6:52 AM, Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Simon,

I also remember Pedro, like Shadowfalcon. But I think your idea is even edgier with the whole known death thing looming. I suspect that is what will happen to poor Danny Bonaduce, a grisly show that I'm addicted to!

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Bird on a Wire said...

VH1 has a new show starting on Sunday that documents Tom Sizemore's downfall. It looks similar to "Breaking Bonaduce."

At 3:21 PM, Blogger Erik Donald France said...

Another one that looks good is Tammy Faye's son's One Punk Under God. Is Tammy Faye still alive? She was dying last I read. The memoir is Son of a Preacher Man -- can't believe this title hasn't been used for a book already. The other reality show is in Iraq. But this is a good idea.


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