Each year, of the many, many (some might say too many) years I have had the privilege of writing this column I have, at about this time of year, unashamedly abused my position to launch my new career in the glamorous world of creating reality TV shows. For I feel, in my waters, to this very day, that reality TV is something that is never ever going to go away and, therefore, if I can somehow crack that first show, then great wealth awaits me as I knock off copies of that show around the globe.
Thus far my reality TV success rate has been a long way short of ideal. In fact, after all these years of trying to be a try-hard I have managed to palm off precisely none of my brilliant ideas. This is not a good state of affairs and my bank manager wholeheartedly agrees.
In 2012 alone, as New Zealand gorged itself on a diet of cooking shows, renovating shows, shows that attempted to find out whether or not we had talent, a show about people with no discernible talent looking for gold across the ditch, and a show whose name we dare not speak these days because the name involved was Ridge. And not one of these shows was my idea. Zero. None. Or, as someone from The GC might say: "eh?" But this year, 2013, all that changes, because I have finally figured out what makes reality TV tick: putting stuff that works together with other stuff that works.
Yes, this is the year of the spicy combo, where something that is derivative of something else will get combined with a rehash of an old format to create a gumbo of new and exciting possibilities.
Baked! is a series about a bunch of young New Zealanders who to many eyes are a complete waste of space so have decided to relocate to somewhere else where they are not shunned as the dregs at the bottom of the gene pool. While they are in Australia, before they get deported, our cameras will follow their wacky exploits as they attempt to cook a meal for their flatmates. Except instead of cooking they will get drunk and accuse each other of sleeping with each other and then order takeaways when they have the munchies. In many ways this is a serious, in-depth look at a cultural group, but in other ways it is full of gratuitous tits, abs, shouting and sulking.
Cooking meets home renovation in Gingerbread House in which teams of young, telegenic couples too poor to afford their own first house (just like every other young couple) are given the opportunity to build their dream home - but only out of edible materials. At the end of each episode the celebrity judges will lick the walls of each newly constructed room to determine the winner. The overall winners will get to live in their dream home until it melts and/or is carried away and eaten by ants.
New Zealand's Got Talentless pits demi-celebrities-but-only-in-New-Zealand against each other in a series of degrading quests to see who can behave the worst. Each week a panel of expert judges made up of gossip columnists and women's magazine editors will determine who of the has-beens has humiliated themselves enough to survive; and who will suffer the ultimate indignity of being starved of publicity for an entire seven days. I can't tell you who will host this show, because that is a commercially guarded secret, but I can hint that their last name rhymes with Smidge.
So there you have it, three series ideas that could re-write the record books of reality TV. And the beauty of them is if they don't work in their original format then it is entirely possible to merge one failed format with another of the failed formats with no shame whatsoever, in the search of TV gold.
Baked House! or New Zealand's Got Gingerbread or Talentless and Baked! or The Smidges Get Baked: each of these shows is equally as possible as any of the other shows, which makes them both dispensable and indispensable at the same time which is, to me, the very essence of reality TV.
Because at the end of the day it is the content of reality TV that matters. Unless that content is so vacuous that it truly doesn't matter and has no actual content, at which time you invent other content that looks like it matters or create faux-content that seems like it matters but doesn't really, as long as it fills the half-hour.
And then, if all that fails, come talk to me, because have I got the show for you. It is called Baked New Zealand's Got Talentless Gingerbread House and it is a sure-fire ratings winner.
Or possibly not.By James Griffin