Wait, What Type Of Show Am I On Again?
Programmers look to keep the reality-show mystique going at all costs, if not for viewers, then perhaps for participants -- who may not be on the show they think they are on.
Viacom cable-network Spike, which has a decidedly young-male target, is bringing back a fake reality show. Get that? (Neither do I.) "The Joe Schmo Show: The Full Bounty" is about a real guy who believes he is on a reality show looking for America's next bounty hunter, but is actually surrounded entirely by actors.
What, actors on a reality show? No!
This is the second time around for "Schmo" on Spike. It originally aired in 2003-2004 during the initial heyday of reality shows with crazy schemes. Remind yourself that this show wasn't the only one of its kind. Remember all those female contestants looking to marry a millionaire, only to find out the guy wasn't a millionaire? That was Fox’s "Joe Millionaire," also in 2003.
The voyeuristic nature of TV shows has never gone away. Think "Candid Camera." Think "Punk'd," where the situations are kind "Schmo" in reverse -- celebrities don't have a clue about the pranks. Oh, by the way, "Punk'd" started in 2003 as well.
Now many early forms of reality shows -- even initial big hit "Survivor" -- had plenty of contestants whose real-life professions were "actor." But they weren't in on the joke and plans like "Joe Schmo."
Marketing-wise, you might wonder how anyone can get cast in this kind of show and not know about the gimmick. Given the scores of reality shows on a dozen or so cable networks as well as broadcast networks, there can be a lot of confusion out there.
Seems like this kind of stuff will get exponentially more complicated. Perhaps actors in the future will only be in on part of the joke, and will, in turn, get "punk'd" at the end the series.
Will that keep viewers’ interest, and will marketers continue to buy in? I'm looking to fake, fake-reality shows -- either that or quadruple-double agents in a dramatic spy thriller.