Monday, October 16, 2006

Reality TV: carnivals of cockroaches or nights of the living dead?

Are reality TV shows carnivals of cockroaches?

"Final five!" exclaimed relieved Project Runway 3 contestant Michael at the close of Episode 9. He and fellow designers, Jeffrey, Kayne, Laura and Uli figured three of them had Olympus Fashion Week in Bryant Park all sewn up. Little did they know: two unexpected twists awaited. One was bad, the other good. The bad news: in Episode 10, previously outcast contestants Angela (in Episode 8) and Vincent (in Episode 9) would be brought back during a L'Oreal party to compete in the Black and White challenge. The good news: four designers would show at Bryant Park and compete for the grand prize.

Kayne's, reaction to the unexpected unkind twist described a common reality TV show practice:
These bitches get to come back?! It's like cockroaches.
You step on them once and they just keep crawlin' around

Or nights of the living dead?

Comparing reality show castoffs to cockroaches implies they won't die. But that's not exactly true. Isn't the ousting of contestants really a symbolic sacrifice? If so, revived castoffs who participate in subsequent shows are not cockroaches, but zombies (the living dead). Prime time TV is crawling with them, too.

These are a few standouts:

  • Perhaps the most famous and resilient reincarnate of all times, judging by the record-breaking popularity of her VH1 shows, is NEW YORK. The poor little 'ich girl's time was up when Flav rolled with Hoops in the Flavor of Love 1, but she was given more [h]airtime in The Flavor of Love 2. New York was killed off a second time when Flav clocked Deelishis, and will live again! The black-chelorette's next reincarnation: as star of The Flavorette. Apparently, some things that kill you can make you stronger (and richer).
  • In a reversal of the Igor/Dracula relationship, contestants fired from The Apprentice and Top Chef are brought back to assist (sometimes sabotage) the last two living candidates. The reincarnated helper who people most love to hate is Apprentice 1 castoff, OMAROSA.
  • The Bachelor booted TRISTA, who ultimately won big by starring in The Bachelorette and marrying an on-air suitor in Trista & Ryan's Wedding.
  • After being rejected by Prince Lorenzo Borghese in The Bachelor: Rome, LAURA returned to haunt the other gals.
  • Survivor:Palau castoffs BOBBY JON and STEPHENIE competed in Survivor: Guatemala. They were ultimately voted out in the 10th and final episodes, respectively.
  • Most Survivor: All Stars candidates had lost earlier challenges, including ROB (who placed second the second time around) and AMBER (the sole survivor) whose prizes included cars, a combined $1.2 million and engagement to each other. Following their nuptials on prime-time TV - Rob and Amber Get Married - Romber went on to compete (but not win) The Amazing Race.
  • This month, Rob's baaack! The show giving him new life: Celebrity Paranormal Project. ###