5 Foreign Reality Shows That Put American Ones To Shame
Toddlers And Tiaras, Real Housewives Of Bel Air, that episode of Flavor Of Love where Flavor Flav watches a woman shit on the floor -- America is the best at making the worst reality TV shows. But that's disregarding the can-do spirit of other countries. While America might have found the bottom of the reality show barrel, the rest of the world scraped it clean, and might have put a bunch of human rights violations on the air in the process. For example ...
Iraq's Put Him In Bucca Punked Celebrities With Fake Terrorist Threats
Some folks think of Iraq as an eternal Call Of Duty stage full of nothing but terrorists, car bombs, and soldiers with itchy trigger fingers. But that's forgetting about all the regular Iraqi people -- decent, hard-working folks who have to spend every day in fear of terrorists, car bombs, and soldiers with itchy trigger fingers. And like the rest of us, all they want is to get home, sit down, turn on the TV, and watch a wacky reality TV prank show about terrorists, car bombs, and soldiers with itchy trigger fingers.
Put Him In Bucca was named after Camp Bucca, the dreaded American prison for terrorists and, save Atlanta, the most horrific place imaginable to host a reality show. The show played out like Punk'd, whereby the host would drive around with unwitting celebs and prank them during the trip. But instead of having Zach Braff beat up a child or making Justin Timberlake cry, this show pulled only a single prank, with a very Iraqi twist: They put a fake makeshift bomb in the victim's car, then had them drive through a military checkpoint. LOL.
Of course, the (very real) soldiers would do their best to terrify, with alarms ringing and gun barrels thrust in faces. It seems like it has to be staged to avoid copious lawsuits and potential murders, but it's hard to claim the victims were in on it when you see them running from the soldiers, afraid they're about to get cut in half by a machine gun.
The show received a lot of complaints from both viewers and the press. Iraqis protested the show on social media, and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann called the producers "the world's worst." The producers defended Put Him In Bucca, claiming, "The show is an educational one ... so that they are alert and check their cars before getting in," and further asserting that getting people to laugh at al-Qaeda is a victory over terrorism.
Even the celebrity victims were all incredibly good sports about it. One later said, "I could've died, but it's all worth the sacrifice to make Iraqis laugh." Wow. Comedy is a game with far higher stakes over there.
Britain's There's Something About Miriam Tricked Bros Into Dating A Trans Woman
The 2004 British show There's Something About Miriam featured the first-ever transgender dating show contestant. It could've been a great leap forward for trans people everywhere. It was not.
Over six episodes, six British party dudes fought for the affection of Mexican model Miriam Riviera aboard a party boat. But there was a twist: The show intentionally led the male contestants to believe Miriam was a cis woman instead of a pre-op trans woman. When it came time to hand out the final rose and take the last jello shot, the twist was finally revealed. All the dudes laughed hysterically at the winning bro, who refused the cash prize and hightailed it out of there.
But their laughter quickly turned into anger, and the contestants successfully sued the show, forcing it to shell out half a million pounds in damage. They claimed they were part of a sexual assault conspiracy, because they never gave consent to get their groove on with "a man." And that was a thing you could do in 2004 UK, because the British government didn't legally acknowledge transgender people until 2005.
Amazingly, the show's creator, Remy Blumenfeld, a longtime collaborator of Piers Morgan, still insists that trans people should thank him for his service, claiming that "just by casting a trans person in the title role, we were helping the audience to get to know one trans character very well. And while today, that in itself might not be groundbreaking, at the time it felt important." He also claims the only bigots involved were the contestants because they got so angry about getting tricked, and definitely not the creepy reality show producers trying to squeeze out some ratings by treating transgenderism as a punchline.
China's Wonderful Friends Featured Celebrities Mistreating Zoo Animals
When Chinese producers pitched a reality show called Wonderful Friends, wherein celebrities would take care of zoo animals, it mixed three of China's favorite pastimes: famous people, cute animals, and serious rights violations.
Wonderful Friends tracked a group of B-list Chinese stars as they interacted with a variety of exotic animals in a zoo. But the producers wanted to jazz things up a bit, by which we mean "engage in some dangerous animal cruelty." Participants were tasked with things like hugging a whale shark, giving pedicures to elephants, and dressing up monkeys in superhero outfits. And while that seems cute in theory, try not to forget that both animals and celebrities are known for impulsiveness, ill temper, and an utter lack of empathy.
Zany little speech bubbles accompanied every horror, like the one that read "No more talk. Let's fight!" as a bear took a swing at a chimp, followed by the chimp chasing the bear with a bat. Another chimp plunged his teeth into an actress named Ni Ni and sent her to the hospital. After that, it didn't take long for Chinese animal rights activists to condemn Wonderful Friends, accusing them of being "hugely misleading to the public about the needs and welfare of captive animals and so while putting their welfare and health at risk."
After the ensuing groundswell of indignation, Wonderful Friends producers saw the error of their ways. The show was canceled, and their next venture was called We Are Friends. It featured no humans, just an adorable chimp named Miya and a French bulldog named DongDong who go on adventures. It was the target of a boycott after PETA Asia accused the show's trainers of beating and abusing the small animals so they would obey every whimsical demand. So basically, if you see a Chinese TV show featuring animals in cute outfits, it's safe to assume someone is violating ethics rules somehow.
India's Axe Ur Ex Put Dead Bodies In Your Ex's Trunk
Getting your heart broken is never easy, and the healing process differs from person to person. Some need to spend a few weeks crying on the couch and binge-watching Friends, while others need to chug a whole lot of liquor and fistfight a tree. For another select few, there's no getting over heartbreak until they get a reality show to put a body in their ex's trunk and call the police on them.
India's Axe Ur Ex was a prank reality show for people who wanted to torture their cheating exes without the risk of jail time (probably). Hosted by what we'll assume is India's biggest douchebag, the show's setup was always the same. The host would introduce some heartbroken goober who simultaneously hated and couldn't get over their ex, and then the show would think up some downright criminal prank to restore their bruised ego.
The shenanigans ranged from wacky run-of-the-mill harassment, like hanging a banner in front of a girl's work that called her a gold-digging hussy ...
... to horrific staged police interrogations, where exes and their new beaus got slapped around by actors in cop uniforms and thought they were going to wind up in an unmarked grave in the wilderness.
Geez, what's wrong with renting a Ferrari and "casually" driving by your old flame's house a hundred times to make sure they see you? Sometimes the old ways are the best.
Czechia's Holiday In The Protectorate Was Set During The Nazi Occupation
For a brief period there, historical reality shows were all the rage. The Czech Republic wanted to get in on the action, but what fascinating part of their proud historical legacy could potential contestants relive? The Holy Roman Empire? Artistic Bohemia during the 19th century? The 1938 Nazi occupation? It's the last one, isn't it?
Holiday In The Protectorate referenced the brief-lived Nazi puppet state Czechoslovakia was turned into from 1938 to 1945. And for two months in 2015, a family of reality show contestants relived it all. They were put in a remote backwater built to resemble the living conditions of a Nazi-occupied village. Not only did they have to do all the regular old-timey chores, like milk cows and churn butter, but they also had to build an air raid shelter and beg for rations while actors dressed like the Gestapo routinely kicked down their doors and searched the barn for rebels. If the family managed to survive two months under the yoke of fascism, they won $40,000. All in good fun!
The Times Of Israel summed up the problem pretty well: "Fortunately, for the family, they will not be treated like the 82,309 Jews who lived in the protectorate." Though another critic feared the exact opposite: "What are they going to do next? Big Brother Auschwitz?" We assume the producers chuckled at the suggestion at first, then said, "Actually ..."
E. Reid Ross has a couple books, Nature Is The Worst: 500 Reasons You'll Never Want To Go Outside Again and Canadabis: The Canadian Weed Reader, both available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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