cable makes me feel dirty (and not in a good way)

The over name-changing SPIKE TV (formerly The NEW TNN, formerly The National Network, formerly The Nashville Network) debuted their entry into the reality TV world tonight. Now, genrally speaking, I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE Reality TV shows. I don't want to see a bunch of idiots acting like scumbags. That's why I don't watch C-Span. (rimshot) Give me scripted comedies any day. But, I was intrigued with the new Joe Schmo Show as its a genuine twist on the genre. Its a satire of reality shows AND a reality show. The show is based around a fake reality show with actors and writers all manufacturing the fun. Well, except one guy.

One guy isn't in on the joke. With good reason. The show is really all about him and how he thinks its all real and all the effor that is being put in to the effort to deceive him. Its an ambitious effort, to say the least. And the guy is just so damn sad. He's a law-school drop-out who lives with his parents and delivers pizza. And his efforts on the show are just so patheticly awkward. I mean, he's got self-confidence, you have to give him that, but it just feels squirmy when he's out there fashioning himself as a leader of the "contestants" and you know the joke is on him. I had trouble watching some of it, actually, just because it was so sad to see someone so earnestly embarassing himself. It also gives you an appreciation for the effort reality shows must put in to ensure people like Joe Schmo don't get on air. I mean, he just doesn't know how to handle himself. He speaks awkwardly and unintentionally foolishly. He just comes off like the dumb pitiful schmuck he probably is. Which really is reinforced by his obliviousness to what is going around him. The actors around him repeatedly screw up and over-act, but he doesn't get it. In many ways, its really a reality show about the actors and how they are trying to deal with this. I'm sure they didn't mean to, but they come off about as pathetically as the lead, just in a different way.

As brilliant a satire this is, you can't really escape how impossibly cruel it is. This whole great big production, all for the benefit of one helpless loser. Indeed, it all seems too much. He seems too effortlessly awkward with the camera. He seems too oblivious to what's going on around him. You have to wonder if they'll satire the usual "twist ending" of reality tv as we discover that he's been in on the joke the whole time and it was really the hired actors who were made the fools. Indeed, its so obvious that I'd be a lot more impressed if that's not true and they stick to their intended cruel satire. Not sure I can get into, though, as it just makes me feel so dirty. I don't like watching people embarass themselves. It's always bothered me when a character is going to do ths stupid thing we all know they are going to do and can't stop them from doing, even though they will end up horribly humiliated for even thinking it was a good idea. Even though I think it'd be a bad idea for the show, I almost want to find out that the lead is in-on-it. Just to know all this pitiful behavior wasn't real.

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