Lesson #1: Always Dress Your Contestants In Bug Suits
THE CONCEPT: Say you've got an idea for a show and it's not particularly exciting - like one where the contestants have to push a sliding door really far, and if they can't do it, a woman eats something stinky and blows her gross breath in their faces through a glass tube. On its surface that might sound like a recipe for failure, but here's an idea: put the contestants in bug suits and make the woman with the terrible breath a spider. Within hours you'll have an smash TV hit on your hands, and you'll be scrambling to think up spinoffs and find a decent sweatshop to mass produce bug suits emblazoned with the show's logo. Soon you'll be rich and you'll have your own TV network where everyone wears bug suits on every single show, but by then the viewers will be burned out on watching people run around in bug suits and your company will go bankrupt. Then you'll be like, "Why, Ross?! Why did you tell me to always dress my contestants in bug suits?!" and I'll be like, "Why didn't you read any further than the first lesson?! Way to start a company and fail, dipshit."
AMERICAN TV APPLICATIONS: American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Deal or No Deal
Lesson #2: Human Anguish Is Funny
THE CONCEPT: There is nothing more satisfying to the average television viewer than watching a fellow Homo sapien experience excruciating pain. Whether you're baffling your contestants with oddly-placed obstacles, tormenting them with vile-tasting powders, or causing permanent damage to their spinal cords by having them slip and fall on a well-greased staircase, the "people hurting themselves for money" format is a tried-and-true formula for success that is guaranteed to do wonders for your bottom line.
But why stop at physical torment? Try dangling some spiders in front of arachnophobics, or forcing a guy to put together a jigsaw puzzle over and over and over again in a clockless, windowless room. Glue a pair of headphones to a contestant's head and force them to listen to "Sugar, Sugar" day and night for a month straight. Sure, they'll complain at first about being psychologically tortured, but they'll pipe down after you tell them they've won FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!
AMERICAN TV APPLICATIONS: The Hills, Survivor, The View
↓ Continue Reading Below