Reality TV? I don’t think so

I don’t know if you get WGN on your 325 channel cable/satellite television package, or whether you get the BS channel, which features nothing but pseudo-documentaries about global warming, or SMUT TV out of California with its “adult” viewing (so I’ve heard), or the EXFX, which features extreme sports and specials on people with room-temperature IQs looking for ghosts with fake electronic equipment. But if you do get WGN, perhaps you and your remote clicker stumbled upon a new reality show that invaded the already depressing airwaves last week.

I don’t know if you get WGN on your 325 channel cable/satellite television package, or whether you get the BS channel, which features nothing but pseudo-documentaries about global warming, or SMUT TV out of California with its “adult” viewing (so I’ve heard), or the EXFX, which features extreme sports and specials on people with room-temperature IQs looking for ghosts with fake electronic equipment.

But if you do get WGN, perhaps you and your remote clicker stumbled upon a new reality show that invaded the already depressing airwaves last week.

Maybe you surfed right on past, and if so, congratulations — you missed yet another ridiculously low point in the history of television.

It’s called Wrestling With Death and it follows the large and typically whacked-out family (Big Daddy Latham’s family) who happen to be professional wrestlers and who also happen to own a mortuary business. Now doesn’t that sound like the perfect premise for reality TV?

I can just imagine the production meeting at WGN:

Boss: “Gentlemen and our one token lady producer, what WGN TV needs is totally fake reality show to add some money-making sleaze to our otherwise fairly popular programming schedule. Any ideas?”

Producer 1: “How about a show where celebrities have to do belly flops in a Olympic size swimming pool from a high diving board, and there are judges and. …”

Producer 2: “No, listen, I’ve got it. A reality show about plastic surgery! We get a bunch of really ugly women and they undergo a painfully and graphic face lift and some Botox injections and then judges decide who is hottest and. …”

Producer 3: “Sex! Sex sells! There’s this rapper dude who has fathered 11 children by 10 different women, and we could follow the daily hijinks as he tries to figure out who’s who and there could be some judges and. …”

Producer 4: “Or maybe … just maybe there’s a family of questionable breeding from Arkansas who embalm deceased people, and, oh, I don’t know, are also professional wrestlers?”

Boss: “Bingo! Let’s go with that last one! Good meeting everyone!”

You get the idea. I mean, just a brief couch potato channel surfing session brings up (and I mean “brings up”) such riveting television entertainment as: Wives with Knives, Sex Sent Me to the E.R. and Honey Boo Boo’s Mom Goes to Jail.

And if you know these shows I just mentioned are more or less actual shows currently on TV, then you, like me, might be spending a tad too much time in front of what they used to call the “boob tube.” (Which is now quite literally the boob tube when you accidentally click on one of those naked people programs that seem to pop up on your high definition television when you least expect it.)

What’s next? Celebrity Toe-Nail Clipping? Dog’s In Heat? Or for a change in pace: Watching Paint Dry?

Which brings us back to Wrestling With Death. It remains to be seen whether viewers will latch onto watching really bad scripted wrestling in a homemade ring with a few bored spectators (no doubt well paid to be there) for a few wretched minutes before cutting back to unfortunate dead bodies being much too explicitly worked on by those very same really bad wrestlers.

Already the reviewers have weighed in on this low point in reality television, and it’s not pretty.

Flavorwire.com puts it this way: “At its core, Wrestling With Death is nothing more than another terrible entry into the Southern hillbilly genre of reality television. And it’s a big step backward for WGN America.”

The venerable New York Times review went like this: “Wrestling shows are dumb by definition; Wrestling With Death is dumb and dumber.”

All I can say is, if this turns out to be hit, then it proves once again beyond a shadow of a doubt that the average viewer has about as much good taste and sensible judgment as an eggplant.

I was just about to whine that it couldn’t possibly get any worse than a reality show of wrestling morticians, but then I realized that I may, unfortunately, be quite wrong. Were you one of the unfortunate few who remember these cancelled reality shows?

— Tommy Lee Goes to College (the emotionally unstable drummer for Motley Crue attends classes with kids at college). Review: “Mostly scripted, as fake as Lee’s ex-wife Pamela Anderson’s breasts.”

— Fat March (12 overweight people walk over 550 miles [10,000 km]. Finishers share $1.2 million.) Review: “Potential health risks. More contestants dropped out for medical reasons than were voted out.”

— Who’s Your Daddy? (A contestant who was adopted as an infant has to identify her biological father from a group of 25 men.) Review: Thank goodness the negative reaction was so vociferous this mess was cancelled after one episode.

I could go on, but in reality, it’s getting to the point where it’s just not that funny anymore.

Oh, and by the way, that pretend producers meeting I scripted earlier? Every one of those suggestions turned out to be an actual reality show.

So those people who say there’s nothing worth watching on television? Now they’re for real.

Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.