They Made a Show Out of This? Stupid Reality TV Shows: Part 2 – The Pickup Artist to The Briefcase

Well, we’re off to a great start. Note that I have to put pictures on these to show my reader that these are real shows. But as you go on with these shows, some of them might seem familiar to you. Some of them might be ones you’ve never heard of before. Out of the last bunch, I’ve heard of Kid Nation and I Wanna Marry Harry. And though I didn’t remember some of the Fox ones, I can recall that the network was known for a lot of sleazy reality shows back when I was a teenager. And you will see more from them. But other networks weren’t far behind. And for a time, PBS did some reality series but they were mostly historically based for educational purpose. Yet, those were also stupid, too. To be honest, I did a lot of the research into these shows months ago, but I’m doing a series right now since I haven’t had much to write about since last week. And yes, a lot of the stuff I found did greatly disturbed me but I can be rest assured that I didn’t miss much. Or at least miss what was worth missing. And so I give you my second installment of dumb reality shows you might remember but would like to forget.

11. The Pickup Artist


Here we have a show about a guy in a big furry black hat and piercings giving guys dating advice on how to pick up chicks. His advice: guys, if you want to get the girl, it helps that you treat her like crap until she falls for you.

Station: Vh1

Premise: 8 ordinary men who had severe problems with women are attempted to turn into “master pick-up artists” with the help of some bleach and kissing tips. All this with the men entering a mansion prepared to be guided in the ways of love by a soul-patching hat-feathered enthusiast named Mystery. Mystery challenged these guys to learn skills like “negging.”

Why It’s Stupid: To make a short story short, this show gives terrible relationship advice for men, particularly when it comes to women. For one, according to the Urban Dictionary, “negging” means giving women low-grade insults meant to undermine their self-confidence in order to make them more vulnerable. Second, for men who have been in unsuccessful relationships, such advice will not help them in the long term. Third, it teaches men the highly sexist advice that in order pick up women, you have to treat them like garbage. Look, if you’re a guy who’s unsuccessful with women, just remember that there are plenty of women who are looking for men who want them. Some women may be looking for a challenge. But there are some women who are so desperate for boyfriend that they’d subject themselves to such stupid shit and date any jerk who gives them any attention. Then there are single girls like me whose lack of social skills and tendency to be bullied throughout school really don’t respond well to such tactics. Perhaps a better way for men to know women should consist of approaching them, treating them with respect, and getting to know them as people. But if a guy just wants sex, he should just go to Tinder. Still, if you’re a guy who’s been unsuccessful with women, while you should make an effort to improve yourself, understand that not all your relationships failures are your fault or their fault either. And sometimes if a woman rejects you, it might be because she doesn’t think it would work out.

Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, but it ran 2 seasons.


12. The Swan


The Swan is a show in which a bunch of self-conscious women with severe appearance insecurities get major plastic surgery that conforms to impossible beauty standards. Oh, and they also compete in a beauty pageant. Still, these women didn’t look that ugly in their before pictures. Jesus Christ.

Station: Fox

Premise: Women who are judged as ugly are given extreme makeover including several forms of plastic surgery. Each contestant has a panel of specialists – a coach, trainer, therapist, cosmetic surgeon, and a dentist- who together design a program of total transformation. Their work ethic, growth, and achievement are monitored over the course of 3 months. Each episode, two women were featured, one went home while another was selected to move to compete in the Swan pageant at the end of the season.

Why It’s Stupid: In a gist, according to journalist Chris Hedges, “The Swan’s transparent message is that once these women have been surgically ‘corrected’ to resemble mainstream celebrity beauty as closely as possible, their problems will be solved.” Not only that, but it also sets impossible beauty standards for women and says that altering their appearance with plastic surgery will solve their social, financial, and family problems. And to make things worse, it even featured a beauty pageant at the end for these women to be judged by a national TV audience. Seriously, there are plenty of women who look like trolls but they still find happiness to their lives without subjecting their bodies and faces to plastic surgery.

Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, but it ran 2 seasons. Also, had its own SNL parody with Amy Poehler.


13. Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?


The Fox special Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? was inspired by the Bachelor and was condemned across the political spectrum as an exploitative show. However, what this show also taught him was the importance of background checks since the guy was later found to have a restraining order against him by an ex-girlfriend for domestic violence. The marriage was never consummated and was later annulled.

Station: Fox

Premise: It was a special that was structured like a beauty pageant with 50 women (one from each US state) compete to be the bride of an unknown multi-millionaire whom they didn’t see except in a silhouette. Included a swimwear and question-and-answer portion.

Why It’s Stupid: Despite high ratings, it was harshly condemned as exploitative and the show was condemned by the liberal-leaning National Organization for Women and the conservative-leaning Media Research Center. Also, it emphasized the importance thorough background checks. Not only was the groom’s net worth questioned, it was also discovered that he had a restraining order against him for domestic violence. And the guy wasn’t even using his original name. No wonder the bride annulled their union less than 2 weeks.

Did it Get Canceled?: This was a 2 hour special.


14. The Anna Nicole Show


Yes, Anna Nicole Smith had her own reality show, too. I know we all made fun of her for marrying a rich old dude for his money. But we have to concede she wasn’t doing very well and later died suddenly. Kind of makes me feel horrible.

Station: E!

Premise: Well, it’s a reality show that takes an intimate look on former trophy wife Anna Nicole Smith.

Why It’s Stupid: Well, it’s basically a show made to exploit an obviously troubled woman, whose slurred words and unsteady gait were played for laughs. And yes, we all made fun of her for being a gold digging tramp. But she died of an overdose in 2007, which came as a massive shock. Now that makes you feel bad about yourself, doesn’t it?

Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, but she died of a drug overdose 4 years later.


15. Pretty Wild


Now I don’t remember this show being on. However, one of the sisters was implicated in the infamous Bling Ring in which a bunch of teenagers stole jewelry from celebrities like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Partridge, Megan Fox, and Orlando Bloom. Interestingly, Alexis Neiers occupied the same cell block as Lindsay Lohan but the two never spoke to each other.

Station: E!

Premise: It followed the day-to-day lives of 3 wild child sisters called Alexis and Gabrielle Neiers and Tess Taylor.

Why It’s Stupid: Well, Alexis Neiers was arrested and accused being a member of the now infamous Bling Ring in the very first episode. But that didn’t stop her from taking a vacation to Cabo, throwing a massive party for her younger sister complete with a stripper pole, and hanging out with football player Vernon Davis. She also angrily confronted Nancy Jo Sales for her 2010 article called, “The Suspect Wore Louboutins.” Alexis would later plead no contest to felony burglary and was sentenced to 6 months in prison. Andrew O’Hagan wrote about the series principals: “If real fame is a mask that eats into the face, then pseudo-fame, the current kind, might be a decoy that eats into the brain. You often meet those people in California, people who have forgotten that you are real, that you watch the news, that you know who they really are. They begin to lie to journalists and themselves with the same grim hope: if I say this and no one contradicts me it might be true. A sense of entitlement stands in for personal values. They don’t mind if they’re fooling you and fooling themselves, so long as they can keep the show on the road.”

Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, and thank God it did. Only lasted 9 episodes for obvious reasons. But Alexis was played by Emma Watson in the Sophia Coppola movie.


16. Married by America


Married by America is a show in which 10 singles have their matches arranged by online voters and are engaged on the spot. Next they’re sequestered to a spot for an engagement period with all but two getting eliminated. The final two couples remaining opted not to get married.

Station: Fox

Premise: Viewers played matchmaker for complete strangers. The newly created couples were engaged to be married and sent to live together while cameras filmed their unconventional courtships while receiving relationship pointers.

Why It’s Stupid: Let’s just say setting people up together works much better if you actually know the people, personally. Also, critics believed that this show demeaned and exploited the institution of marriage. Unsurprisingly, the two remaining couples decided not to get married and went their separate ways.

Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, and we’re glad for it.


17. Who’s Your Daddy?


Yes, they actually had a show like this. It follows a woman who’s trying to find her real father. I know what you’re thinking. We already have a show like this. It’s called Maury.

Station: Fox

Premise: A young woman who’s adopted as a child tries to win $100,000 by picking her biological father from a group of men claiming to be her real dad. If one of the imposters managed to fool the adopted woman, the fake daddy would win the $100,000 prize instead.

Why It’s Stupid: A sensitive issue is turned into a reality show. Enough said. And no, there’s no Maury Povich DNA test either. Seriously, we already have Maury Povich exploiting uncertain paternity all the time. We don’t need this.

Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, and thank God and mostly due to objections by adoption rights activists.


18. The Will


When a loved one dies, nothing brings a rich family together like fighting over who gets the estate as The Will shows. Of course, if I want to watch a family fighting over a will, I’d just watch Masterpiece Mystery.

Station: CBS

Premise: An Arizona millionaire’s potential heirs competed for his estate.

Why It’s Stupid: This is actually a great premise, assuming you’re writing a soap or a murder mystery. Nevertheless, like adultery, fighting over a rich dead person’s estate can bring out the worst in people but in a very different way. I mean a lot of people get killed over inheritance issues in Agatha Christie stories.

Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, and there was much rejoicing.


19. Temptation Island


In Temptation Island, couples’ relationships are tested when they’re whisked away to a tropical paradise, are separated, and are tempted to cheat by attractive tempters. 30 Rock made fun of this with “MILF Island.”

Station: Fox

Premise: Couples are sent to a tropical island where the men were separated from the women. Sexy tempters and temptresses were thrown into the mix to see if the separated couples would be enticed to cheat on their mates.

Why It’s Stupid: This show is basically setting people up to cheat on each other as well as testing their relationships is the most horrifying way possible.

Did it Get Canceled?: Yes, but it ran 2 seasons. Had its own 30 Rock parody called, “MILF Island.”


20. The Briefcase


The Briefcase is a show in which poor people are given a briefcase full of money while the production crew toys with their emotions and makes them feel guilty. Yes, exploitative reality TV at its most despicable. Why do networks even make shows like this?

Station: CBS

Premise: Impoverished families are presented with a briefcase full of $101,000 but there are strings attached. Either these families can keep the money they desperately need or give all or part of it to another family in need. But they aren’t told that the other family has received a similar briefcase and instructions.

Why It’s Stupid: This is basically manipulating and exploiting innocent and desperate people for entertainment. These are people who are desperately trying to keep their homes, feed their kids, and pay their medical bills. And this show puts them in front of the cameras with a Faustian bargain, which is just highly unethical as well as cruel and unusual. Some people consider this psychological torture.

Did it Get Canceled?: I sure hope so.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s