#4. Reality Show: The Reality Show
In a Nutshell
Every week, a bunch of reality TV show editors are handed many, many hours of raw footage and they compete to see who can edit together the most compelling story.
If you work in reality TV, you're probably familiar with the term "Frankenbiting," a practice that involves mixing and matching random bits of audio and constructing an entirely new sentence. The example given in that Time magazine article I just linked to is from a show called The Dating Experiment. One of the contestants wasn't attracted to any of her suitors, which made for bad television. So the crew of the show got her to admit to loving something ("I really love Adam Sandler"), and then removed Sandler's name in editing and swapped it out for the name of the male contestant that the show wanted her to love.
Sandler was never an option.
I've talked to lots of reality show editors, because this is absolutely fascinating to me. This sort of thing happens all the time. Villains are created, feuds are manufactured and whole conversations are built out of random, unrelated words recorded across days and days. The film crews have literally hundreds of hours of raw footage and audio to work with, after all, so it probably isn't that hard to make your characters say almost anything.
Reality Show: The Reality Show would be a contest that focused on reality TV editors. Five teams of editors would all be given the same pile of raw footage of, say, a bunch of people living together in a house (or, in season 2, a zoo!). There is no immediately clear narrative in the footage -- it's just a bunch of people hanging out and talking, and it's up to each team of editors to edit together the most exciting and dramatic story by manipulating the footage using all of the tricks they've accumulated over their years of distorting footage.
"... splice in the CNN footage, fade ... annnd there. Snooki just orchestrated the Rwandan genocide."
It would be a fun deconstruction of reality TV because it would highlight better than any other show exactly how fake reality TV really is, plus it would be fun to see a bunch of wildly different stories all being told with the same material.
Why It Probably Won't Ever Be Made
Because at some point in the pitch meeting, someone will have to say, "You know all of the SEXY and EXCITING reality TV stars? This show would be about the hairy people who point cameras at them."
#3. The Truman Show + Nightmares
In a Nutshell
A guy thinks he's just one of many contestants on a reality show, but he doesn't realize that everyone else is an actor. In the middle of filming season 1 of "the show," a zombie outbreak happens, and we see what this guy decides to do.
Back in 2003, Spike TV aired The Joe Schmo Show, a reality show about a bunch of strangers living in a house together (and getting real), with a twist: Every person on the show was a trained comedic actor following a script, except for one. This was a fake reality show with only one "real" person. It featured a young Kristen Wiig, Rickity Cricket from It's Always Sunny and the always awesome Ralph Garman as the "host."
Of all the shows in history, it was one of them.
The show was fun and a refreshing change of pace at a time when reality shows seemed to dominate all of television (a time I've come to refer to as "Forever, now, I guess"). As much as I enjoyed it, I do think it fell short, because at the end of the day, they were still just doing the tired old "bunch of people living in a house and stuff happens" bit. I say if you're going to make a (mostly) fake reality show, don't pull any punches.
That's where the zombies come in.
I don't want to watch a fake reality show that does a convincing job of looking like a real reality show; I want total anarchy. With this show, we have six people living in a house on some remote, tropical island. All of them are actors except for one, our Joe Schmo. The first few episodes will seem like a standard reality show (people hanging out in a house), but then weird things start happening. The reality show "contestants" lose contact with the creators of the show, then all of the phones stop working, and before you can say Sex House, zombies (or some other supernatural element) show up.
And now we get to see how our Joe Schmo reacts when he's faced with what he believes are actual, real zombies. The other actors would be around to make sure he didn't kill himself (or anyone else), but mostly they'd just watch things play out.
"... see? I knew it'd be a good idea to smuggle this gun out here."
I've seen how "real" people deal with lots of alcohol, and surviving on an island, and marrying millionaires. I have never seen a dramatic reality TV interpretation of an actual zombie attack. I want to see if an everyday guy could step up and become a hero if the situation called for it.
Also, selfishly, if this show ever gets made, I would like to be considered for the role of the guy who doesn't know he's on a reality show and gets a chance to totally John McClane all over some zombies. Just putting it out there.
Why It Probably Won't Ever Be Made
I think it's technically a kind of torture.