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Making up reality: five fake shows

Courtesy photo
"Bet on Your Baby" has parents competing for a college fund by trying to predict their toddler's actions in various situations. Yes, this is a real show. It premieres at 8 p.m. Saturday on ABC. (Photo by Nicole Wilder/ABC)
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's a whole bunch of terrible reality shows premiering and returning this week -- everything from deer hunting on rich people's land to a family of feral pig hunters to fighting over storage units to an adult show choir. I've had a list of a few terrible reality show ideas sitting on my computer for a really long time now (probably not long after I mined the topic two years ago, actually). With so much awfulness about to hit the air, I thought this would be a good time to dust some of them off and throw them out there:
1. "The Unemployed Bachelor": All these dating shows are theoretically about finding true love, right? So let's really put that to the test and give the competitors someone they'll have to love based on his personality — because he won't have anything else.
Dates could include dining on meals off of fast food dollar menus and thrift store shopping for job interview attire. Plus, you won't have to have a special "meet the parents" episode because he'll already be living in their basement.2. "America's Next Top Reality Star": Many reality show participants try to parlay their 15 minutes of fame into a career, so why not cut out the pretense of doing it for other reasons?The show's challenges would simulate the real challenges reality stars will face in their struggle to remain relevant once the show ends: how to get their name in the tabloids, the most effective way to attract paparazzi, how to start a feud, where to go for rehab and, most importantly, how to shape their character for future reality shows.3. "The Amazing Wal-Mart Race": Think these teams on "The Amazing Race" with their globetrotting challenges have it tough? You've clearly never been to Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon.The goal here would be to make it from garden supplies to groceries with requisite stops at all the store's departments. Challenges could include returning unattended children to their parents, picking a good cart, exchanging opened electronics, navigating crowded aisles with a full cart, finding a working scanner for a price check and having a money-saving extreme coupon showdown. 4. "Tree Huggers": Combine the survivalist and competition genres with this one, which would pit people against each other in a showdown set high above the ground in a redwood forest. The idea is simple: send several contestants to perches high atop redwoods, armed with basics like water, matches, a knife, a tarp and a few freeze-dried meals, and see who can last the longest.Will they succumb to catching and cooking birds? Drinking their own urine? Conversing with squirrels? Long stretches of isolation can make people do crazy things, so who knows what bizarre behavior might ensue.5. "Roadside Assistance": We've all seen them, the people along the highway selling everything from firewood to fruits and vegetables to yard decor. But what are their stories? That's what this show would find out.
It would get the back story on the sellers and follow them in their work for a few days to let viewers peer into the lives of people they believe are beneath them. Then, so it's not all about exploiting those we feel superior to, at the end of the show, the people will receive money or other assistance for their business.

*****Scripted series premiere: "Defiance," 9 p.m. Monday, Syfy (drama set 30 years after an alien invasion where a small town's human and alien residents struggle to coexist).Other series premieres: "The Moment," 10 p.m. Thursday, USA (average Joes try out their dream jobs); "The Killer Speaks," 10 p.m. Thursday, A&E (crimes from the criminal's perspective); "Chasing Tail,"10 p.m. Thursday, History (blue collar deer hunters in wealthy suburbs); "Bet on Your Baby," 8 p.m. Saturday, ABC (game show where parents bet on their kids' next move); "Life with La Toya," 10:30 p.m. Saturday, OWN (La Toya Jackson series); "Naked Castaway," 10 p.m. Sunday, Discovery (surviving 60 days on a desert island with no supplies); "Who Gets the Last Laugh?" 10 p.m. Tuesday, TBS (hidden-camera prank competition); "Off Pitch," 10 p.m. Wednesday, VH1 (adult community show choir).Miniseries premiere: "The '80s: The Decade That Made Us," National Geographic. Six-part retrospective narrated by Rob Lowe; each hour focuses on a different topic (entertainment, visionaries, etc.). At 8 and 9 p.m. Sunday and 9 and 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.Sneak previews: "Dog & Beth: On the Hunt," 8 p.m. Sunday, CMT (the bounty hunters help struggling bail bond businesses); "7 Little Johnstons," 10 p.m. Sunday, OWN (family of little people).

Season premieres: "Iyanla, Fix My Life," 9 p.m. Saturday, OWN; "Oh Sit!" 8 p.m. Monday, CW; "Storage Wars," 9 p.m. Tuesday, A&E; "Deadliest Catch," 9 p.m. Tuesday, Discovery; "Don't Be Tardy," 9 p.m. Tuesday, Bravo; "Awkward," 10 p.m. Tuesday, MTV; "American Hoggers," 10 p.m. Tuesday, A&E; "Locked Up Abroad," 9 p.m. Wednesday, National Geographic (Vietnam POWs, including John McCain).Season finales: "Go On," 9:30 p.m. Thursday, NBC; "Archer," 10 p.m., and "Legit," 10:30 p.m. Thursday, FX; "Dallas," 9 p.m. Monday, TNT; "Suburgatory," 8 p.m. Wednesday, ABC; "Boston's Finest," 9 p.m., and "Southland," 10 p.m. Wednesday, TNT.Specials: "Josh Groban: All That Echoes," 9 p.m. Friday, PBS; "Once Upon a Time: The Price of Magic," 8 p.m. Sunday, ABC (behind-the-scenes/retrospective); "2013 Movie Awards, 8 p.m. Sunday, MTV (pre-show at 7:30 p.m.); "Wonder Women! The Untold Stories of American Superheroines," 10 p.m. Monday, PBS; "In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul," 8 p.m. Tuesday, PBS (celebration of mid-to-late '60s soul with Justin Timberlake, Mavis Staples and more).Guest stars: Lindsay Lohan on Charlie Sheen's "Anger Management," 9:30 p.m. Thursday, FX; Jimmy Buffett on "Hawaii Five-0," 10 p.m. Monday, CBS.Of note: "The Voice" competition rounds begin, 8 p.m. Monday, NBC.W.Va. alert: MTV will show a "Buckwild" marathon beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday leading into the special "Buckwild: From WV to the NYC" at 8 p.m.  

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