#4. Armed & Famous (2007)
Armed & Famous took celebrities, mostly the bad kind, and gave them jobs as police officers. This wasn't that crazy an idea when it was 600 pounds of aikido action star, but when it's La Toya Jackson, that's irresponsibly insane. 80% of physical activity violates the warranty of her face parts. And isn't there an Indiana state law about giving a badge to hissing necrotic tissue stretched around a mannequin? The other celebrities involved were Jack Osbourne, Trish Stratus, Wee Man, and Erik Estrada. You shouldn't ever send the actual Erik Estrada to arrest someone. Think of how few psychoactive drugs it would take for you to see something like that and decide nothing around you was real.
It turns out that celebrities with badges didn't only produce bad entertainment; they produced bad police work. Jack Osbourne and the animated remains of La Toya Jackson got the show sued when they mixed up their addresses and ransacked a woman's home searching for two people the woman had never heard of. I wrote several punchlines for this, so please end this paragraph with any of the following:
A. Those two people that she'd never heard of: Jack Osbourne and La Toya Jackson.
B. The woman sued for smoke damage because La Toya Jackson's vaginoplasty lit every one of her Bibles on fire.
C. CBS's lawyers responded to the lawsuit by starting production on Attorney Frank Stallone: I Am Da Law.
D. It could have been worse. If Michael and Ozzy were cops, they'd molest your bats and bite the head off your kids.
#3. Secretos (2004)
You might have heard of the American show called Cheaters where a film crew uses hidden cameras and trickery to bust people being unfaithful. It's most well-known for being the show where an angry cheater stabbed the host. Strangely, this stabbing generated no official police or medical reports. Why, that's almost... suspicious. And it takes less evidence than that for a cynic to see a show like Cheaters and decide it's staged. Most people reading this are certain that all reality shows are fake, but it's not nearly as bad as you untrickable geniuses think. Some of those horrible people really are cheating on their girlfriends in front of hidden cameras. Probably.
Secretos is a Mexican knockoff of Cheaters with one missing element: reality or anything close to it. They didn't even try. They assumed, like most viewers, that they were watching bad actors pretend to cheat on each other and figured, "Shit, we can make that!" The problem is, without the drama of actualish infidelity, a show about catching cheaters is mostly footage of sloppy failed actresses changing their clothes in front of security cameras.
The Secretos surveillance gear is so unbelievable that Mexican Batman gets jealous when he watches it. They zoom in on thumbprints in Mac Image Viewer. The vanity mirrors in their SUV's sun visor tracks your DNA from space. And without exception, each episode involves their agents installing spy cameras in likely cheat locations. These "cameras" are any random chunk of metal they find lying around-- a zipper, a peseta... they don't give a shit. And while the spy is distracting the mark to install the secret "camera," several non-secret cameras film them both. You're never quite sure as a viewer when the show is calling you stupid or just hoping you're stupid.
They have to know that we know that it's fake, but the show is clearly paying its performers reality wages. You can tell because the women aren't getting enough money to kiss the actors. Their spies will watch a six hang out in her underwear until the married man she's fucking comes shows up, and then the two of them will share a polite hug. If it's a steamy episode they'll pretend to neck. I swear the pitch for this show was, "I propose we try to understand these baffling human monsters better by hollowing some out and recreating their worst entertainment."
#2. Boy Meets Boy (2003)
Boy Meets Boy was a reality dating show for gay people where half the contestants were only pretending to be gay. The only reason I can think of doing something like that is because it was a Nazi plot to trick their enemies into revealing the secrets of gaydar.
The fact that the show's producers set heterosexual traps for the clueless gay man was controversial, but I'll let you in on a secret: if a man is willing to be gay for the minimum SAG day rate, he's not that straight. Plus, who cares? Whether you're straight or gay, if you go on a reality show to win sex you don't deserve happiness or anything close to it. Half the bachelors should have been filled with wasps.
#1. WMAC Masters (1995)
At first glance, WMAC Masters might look like Jean-Claude Van Damme's colonoscopy footage. That's because it is. It was a combination of Mortal Kombat and Saved By the Bell set in some kind of karate future where Battlezone warriors lived and smashed ice. The plot was almost entirely spin-kicks-- it's what a throwing star would write if it could type. The cast was made up of martial arts stunt performers who never learned how to deliver a line because every director who gave them notes is dead. Their names were Great Wolf! Red Dragon! Striking Eagle! Star Warrior! They made the American Gladiator names sound like Toyota hybrids. WMAC Masters is the first union show without a full time caterer because every week the actors simply nourished themselves on the soul of the weakest among them.
If you explain this show to someone, your fists start to glow. For example, there's an event on WMAC Masters called a Ninja Challenge. It's like a normal fight between six cyborg and wizard martial artists only someone shoots actual ninjas at you. It's not crazy that WMAC Masters became a show. What's crazy is that WMAC Masters didn't become every show.