#3. The 1950s Quiz Show About Crushing Poverty and Product Placement
In the 1950s, television was still a new medium, but watching human suffering was already a well-established pastime. Strike It Rich began as a radio show on CBS in 1947 and did well enough to make a successful jump to the small screen in 1951. Ostensibly a quiz show, the questions weren't particularly hard. That didn't matter, as the real draw was the contestants themselves -- they were selected because their lives were an impoverished disaster.
Like folks on Cantando and Bailando por un Sueno, the contestants on Strike It Rich were flat broke or needed quick cash for medical crises. Only those with the most heart-string-tugging tales of woe made the producers' cut.
"There are 31 tumors between the four of us."
The target audience -- bored housewives -- ate this stuff up and made the show's sponsors bundles, thanks to the graceless in-show advertisements. The combination made for some surreal moments -- one television historian notes, "This juxtaposition provided some astounding sights, such as a single mother answering quiz questions to earn money needed to keep custody of her child followed by a glamorous model cheerily plugging underarm deodorant."
Here's a clip of dapper host Warren Hull sitting in front of two boxes of strategically placed laundry detergent. Watch as he segues from smarminess to googly-eyed deep concern in 3.5 nanoseconds, holding up a newspaper while describing the devastation of a recent flood.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I couldn't give less of a shit about this."
Nowadays, Strike It Rich is considered one of the worst television series ever produced, and its exploitative nature didn't escape the audiences of its era. Hell, in one episode of The Honeymooners, Ed Norton disparages his mother-in-law by describing her as "so mean, she watches Strike It Rich for laughs."
It offended a guy whose best friend's hobby was threatening to punch his wife.
#2. The Show That Tests the Viability of Human Sperm
Back in 2005, German reality TV conglomerate Endemol sought to showcase the most intense race on Earth, more colloquially known as the Fallopian Tube 3000. Yes, for the proposed reality show Sperm Race, 12 men would pit their flagellum-wagging racers against each other to fertilize a human egg.
We're guessing that it was something like this, but with CG sponsor logos a la NASCAR.
No, they wouldn't be all at the same time, like a bunch of naked circus clowns trying to cram into a comically tiny VW Bug. We're not sure why you were imagining that. Instead, the 12 sperm donors' ... uh ... "teams" were to be frozen and shipped to a studio, where the chemically induced race could be observed by doctors. The reward would be bragging rights as the most fertile man in Germany (and a new red Porsche).
Which is weird, since Porsches are usually driven by men who question their fertility.
Although there was no promise that the egg would be fertilized by the end of the show, Sperm Race never made it to air, nor did its sister reality show Make Me a Mum. For that program (also by Endemol), a woman would pick one man from a list of donors, and scientists would pick the other contestant. They would then actually impregnate the woman and -- using a paternity test -- see whether "love" or science had triumphed in the end. It's unclear if the resulting child would receive lifelong residuals from being born of a media clusterfuck that would make The Truman Show look like a Dr. Spock-approved child-rearing documentary.
#1. The Georgian Show About How Stupid Women Are
As tasteless and downright offensive as some of the shows on this list are, we only know of one that resulted in an actual protest -- like, crowds with signs and shit -- in front of the makers' studio. That show comes from Georgia (the country between Europe and Asia, not the American state).
In spring 2012, the Georgian television broadcaster Imedi TV unveiled the quiz show Women's Logic, hands down the most famous game show ever to come out of the Caucasus Mountains region. Its premise? Models are invited to the show and asked a variety of questions. Meanwhile, teams of men are awarded points for guessing exactly how the beauties will answer each question incorrectly.
We're going to take a wild guess that "Feminist Issues" isn't a category.
See, that's why it's called Women's Logic: The show isn't about getting the right answers -- it's about logical, smart males trying to guess the mental workings of those stupid, shallow, vapid humans known as "women." They could easily have gotten the same funny moments by just featuring stupid people of both sexes (you could call it Idiot Logic or something like that), but no, that wouldn't make the point they were looking for (i.e., "men good, women bad.")
"Tee hee!" the creators of Women's Logic must have tittered when the show debuted. "We're trash-talking half of the planet's population like a bunch of sexist assholes! There's absolutely no way this show can blow up in our faces!" Just imagine their doe-eyed dismay when it did (and on an international scale).
The dude in the back is clearly shocked by this.
So how long did this one last before somebody cancelled it out of sheer embarrassment? Actually, it was still on the air the last time we checked.
For more instances of terrifying insanity, check out The 7 Most Soul-Crushing Series Finales in TV History and 6 Shocking Ways TV Rewires Your Brain.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 3 Accidentally Offensive Moments from the 12/12/12 Concert.
And stop by LinksSTORM because you never know. You just never know.
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