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Tapeworm TV

Your first clue should have been when your goldfish, Sparky, threw himself out of his bowl rather than face the prospect of another night of watching you eat a Lean Cuisine in front of Joker's Wild reruns.

Your life is boring. Congratulations. Wanna be on TV?

Network television executives, the same ones that felt the urgent need to publicly display that "The '70s" miniseries, have decided that ordinary people are the stars of the future. Three new shows revolve around everyday people living their everyday lives in front of TV cameras. Voyeurism is here to stay.

This all started a few years ago with the intestinal parasite of television, The Real World. Just like a real tapeworm, it snuck into MTV's schedule unnoticed and settled into the gut of the lineup. Fulfilling its parasitic destiny, The Real World clamped onto a soft, fleshy time slot and wouldn't let go, voraciously devouring time that should have been spent on actual music while spewing out offspring like Road Rules, "Real World Reunion," "Real World-Road Rules Challenge," "The Real World Casting Special," etc.

You know how the medical profession kills intestinal worms? Poison. Pump the patient full of noxious toxins and hope that they kill the parasite faster than they kill the host.

That doesn't really have anything to do with my Real World-as-tapeworm metaphor, but it would make for a really cool episode.

Now there are more voyeur shows on the way. CBS' Survivor is The Real World on a deserted tropical island. I'll wager my first born that this particular desert island will have the world's largest per-capita density of bikinis and Speedos. Big Brother, also on CBS, is The Real World in a house... um, The Real World in a city... no, wait, that's not it either. Just what the hell is Big Brother's hook? Oh yes, Big Brother is The Real World with microphones in the can.

Way to push the artistic envelope, CBS!

There was a German version of Big Brother which was recently banned for being in dubious taste. This from a country that gave the world Siegfried and Roy. How bad must this show be?

ABC is jumping on the bandwagon with a show about a startup webzine and the journalists behind it. Now I don't know what you think life at a high-powered webzine like TeeVee is like, but believe me, it's not all helicopter rides and blowing stock options on leopard skin seat covers for the new Ferrari.

Putting a camera in the vast expanse of the TeeVee corporate campus probably isn't a great idea. Sure, while you'd see myself hard at work, completely focused on producing top-notch comedy, the rest of the other Vidiots might not come off as overwhelmingly dedicated.

Look over there! There are Collier and Michaels arguing over who charged a six-month subscription to FancyFunbags.com on the company credit card. Over in the corner office, Rywalt and Schmeiser are taking hits off the bottle of ether Chris swiped during his recent hospital stay. Down in Ops, Snell and Knauss, plastic lightsabers in hand, are challenging each other to a Perl vs. AppleScript deathmatch. Up on the fifth floor, a trademark string of Boychuk invectives reduces yet another intern to tears.

Maybe you'll get lucky and catch a quick glimpse of Ko, one of the most popular Vidiots before the release of his Manifesto and subsequent withdrawal to Utility Closet 184B. Sometimes we see him scurrying about under the light of the full moon, scouring the room for day old crullers.

Come to think of it, TeeVee would make a hell of a show.

Chances are, though, ABC will not be showcasing us. So they're stuck with the uninteresting lives of cynical, drunken blowhards that populate all the other webzines. Plus, as those of you that have worked at a newspaper know all to well, the only reason print journalists are print journalists is that they're too ugly to be on television.

That's two strikes against ABC, but then again, the success of The Real World has me befuddled. I don't know these people, you don't know these people, why the hell do you care what happens to them? Do you regularly approach strangers in the produce aisle and ask if they hate their roommate or enjoy country music? Didn't think so. Then why do you care when people on TV hate their roommates or enjoy country music?

It's not like The Real World is actually the real world. It's a basic-cable soap opera from producers too cheap to hire writers, with a buffoonish collection of stars that are barely even untalented improv actors. The whole show is just one very bizarre episode of Whose Line is it Anyway? without the studio audience.

Back in school a couple of years ago I unknowingly shared a class with Cori of Real World San Francisco fame. We talked a few times and she seemed like a perfectly normal college student, one who never mentioned she was fresh off the show. After another classmate told me who she was, I managed to sit through almost 45 minutes of the show. Cori cried approximately 27 times.

She had never broken down in class, not once. No sobbing over the midterm, no blubbering at the mention of the term paper. She even managed at least three conversations with myself without bursting into tears, a feat which, sadly, few women are capable of.

Yet there she was on TV, singlehandedly sending the good people at the Kleenex company into crisis production levels not seen since the video release of "Ol' Yeller." The next day I said something like "You sure cry a lot."

She never spoke to me again. However, the question still haunts me: why the constant waterworks? Did someone spike her food? Were her shoes too tight? Or did the producers simply tell her "You're the hyper-sensitive, over-emotional crybaby?"

For those of you that missed it last weekend, "The Real World Reunion Special Two" dominated MTV airtime. Guess what? The cast members are still whining, self-absorbed, one-dimensional, untalented hacks who, if there were any justice in the world, would be vinyl siding telemarketers struggling to meet their Sioux City quotas.

Wait, I take that back. One of them is in medical school. Another one has Lyme disease. That's pretty much the pinnacle the Real World alumnus achievements. Except for Janet. She's a hottie.

Since no one ever listens to me, the prospects for future voyeur shows seem very bright indeed. Just go ahead, then. Take your alcoholic nudist lesbians and philandering backwoods hicks and tune in every week to see them living their lives. But I've had enough of the real world. The Friends world is the one I want to live in.


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