In this, the second golden age of television, there exists a remarkable dichotomy.
On one side is some of the greatest television ever produced in the history of the medium. Shows subvert expectations, push boundaries and elevate the medium that has traditionally been thought of as the lowest form of entertainment to heights it has never before achieved.
Seeking to keep television in its place on the lowest level of the media hierarchy is reality television, which is abhorrent. I long ago lost my appetite for “stupid porn” wherein television producers contrive situations that facilitate vapid, despicable people to behave in vapid and despicable ways to each other.
Like anything else (except for possibly smooth jazz, which pretty much always sucks), there are exceptions to this blanket description of reality television, of course. I’m enthralled with Face Off on SyFy that showcases professionals at the top of their craft creating interesting projects. We’ve already discussed Bar Rescue.
Whenever I watch anything, I tend to insert myself into the proceedings. Since I have no artistic talent whatsoever, I don’t fit in the world of Face Off. And the histrionics of Jon Taffer would be a bit too much to bear. However, following are three roles on reality shows I could definitely get on board with:
1. Boom mic operator on “Drinking Made Easy”
After looking this up, that’s apparently Chad the Sound Guy. He’s appeared on camera a few times, and it’s always been to join in drinking whatever hosts Zane Lamprey and Steve McKenna are imbibing in. If you’ve ever been around a camera crew, you know that sound guys always have a ton of annoying bullshit to cart around basically all the time. You’re essentially a pack mule, and you’re pretty much always the reason (unless the camera guy is bitching about light, which is also always) everyone is standing around waiting.
What separates you when you’re on “Drinking Made Easy,” is that you’re pretty much always guaranteed to drink your fucking face off. Not noted for its technical prowess or aesthetic beauty, “Drinking Made Easy” is known more the ghastly quantities of alcohol its hosts consume on air. Even cast iron livers wilt eventually, so you’re right there to catch the spillover. This is the alcoholic’s equivalent to roadies scoring Motley Crue’s throwaway trim while on tour, which is a sweet (and totally prideless and shameless) gig.
2. Compiler of high speed footage on “Auction Hunters”
Even before the controversy, I found “Storage Wars” grating and contrived. I happened upon “Auction Hunters” once and found myself charmed by Allen and Ton, our intrepid garbage diggers and dealmakers. They have an easy chemistry like old friends, and despite some criticisms and speculation this too is staged, a simple disclaimer at the beginning of each episode stating “these are their rarest and most valuable finds” is more than enough to suspend my disbelief.
Amazingly (or not, depending on your level of cynicism), Allen and Ton find some obscure gun in most of their units and sell it to some guy with affected facial hair at its conclusion. Following the rule of good form, if you introduce a gun in the first act, you have to fire it before conclusion. And fire it they do.
Do you like watching glass shatter in incredible slo-mo? How bout an exploding balloon? Or a watermelon getting totally discombobulated? Of course you do! You’re American! The more explodey the better for you! There can’t be enough of this.
I’d re-learn Final Cut Pro tonight if someone from Spike TV called me and told me I could edit the footage of them shooting weirdo archaic guns at shit that goes boom. There needs to be a supercut of all of these right in a row. I’d watch it for four straight days. I might make this myself. I need to move on before I lose you completely.
3. Evil genius basket creator on “Chopped”
Have you ever watched “Chopped?” If that answer is no, I encourage you never to watch it. Why? It’s rigoddamndiculously addictive. Four chefs begin and they have 20 minutes to create an appetizer using a basket of mystery ingredients. Three judges try and critique all the dishes and chop one of the chefs. Three chefs then have 30 minutes to create a main course using a different basket of mystery ingredients. Another round of tasting, and another chef gets chopped. Final round is dessert – 30 minutes, another basket. Winner of that round is champion. Loser gets chopped.
The greatest job in the world is whoever gets to think up these cockeyed baskets and watch chefs flail covered in flopsweat as they try to make something that doesn’t taste like it was scraped off the grill hood from one of the shitty restaurants on Bar Rescue. On the most recent episode, the appetizer basket had pickled pigs’ feet, tres leches cake, jicama and culantro. The entrée basket contained goat chops, churros, tequila and huitlacoche. And for dessert, a whole coconut, pepitas, Mexican unrefined cane sugar and yucca. I don’t know what most of that shit is, but sonofabitch if it didn’t look positively scrumptious when they were done.
I feel like getting to assemble these baskets would be an undoubted exercise in evil – Here’s your main course ingredients, fuckers: Flavor-blasted pizza Goldfish, rutabegas, an ostrich egg, and Tofurkey – only to have the triumph of the human spirit surprise your cold, black heart yet again as creativity and unbroken will wow both your palate and soul. You turn into the narrator of Our Town at the end of every episode.
This job is the non-disgusting cousin of designing the diabolical challenges on Fear Factor. – Okay, today let’s see what we can do with scorpions. I’m thinking dropping them on someone’s face while they do long division. Then it’s off to play Skee-ball to see how many pig uteruses they’ll have to eat. We’ll close the episode with some sort of drowning analog. God, I’m so happy we work in TV!
Of course, this is to say nothing of the dream job that awaits you if you’re an epidemiologist and you get to collect samples from the hot tub on “Jersey Shore.”