5 Billionaire Reality Shows That Couldn’t Buy An Audience
America loves money, arguably more than pretty much anything else. Sure, “parents” might slightly edge out cash, but only if they’re your parents. Somebody else’s parents come down with an expensive ailment, and the government better not come knocking come tax time for their health care, or else people are liable to go politically insane and buy 12 very aggressive yard signs. Cash rules everything around us, as Wu-Tang Clan succinctly put it.
Plenty of our entertainment is centered around money as well. We watch game shows to see people win money, we watch prestige dramas about people with a lot of money, we watch Pawn Stars to experience things being converted into money. And one particularly serf-like pastime is to watch reality shows about extremely rich people, like peasants gossiping in the slums about the King’s new paramour. But sometimes, even filthy rich people prove to be so boring that no amount of money can maintain eyeballs.
Here are five billionaire reality shows that couldn’t buy an audience…
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
Before Donald Trump was a piece of shit as president, he was a piece of shit in the private sector, and maybe the peak of his fame was on the NBC show The Apprentice. Whether you’d love to see him fall victim to heart failure on his own gaudy gold toilet or not, to pretend that The Apprentice wasn’t an absolute smash hit of a show is a bald-faced lie. After all, watching a short-tempered, piggish drama queen is a lot more fun when they don’t have access to nuclear weapons.
After three seasons, NBC thirsted for more viewers to toss into their infinite maw, and ordered a spin-off starring Martha Stewart. This show, unfortunately, was a complete flop. Why, exactly, is cause for debate, but a fair guess is that Stewart, outside of a dab of insider trading, seems to be a perfectly reasonable person, which is reality show poison. The most enduring thing that came out of the show was a long feud with Trump himself, who blamed the spin-off for hurting the ratings of his own Apprentice, despite the fact that ratings had been dropping before the spin-off ever aired.
Kocktails with Khloe
I’m not a particularly big fan of the Kardashian family, but I’m not going to pretend that’s a particularly interesting stance. However I feel about it, the family’s built a media empire over monetizing their personal lives, and the demand seems to be depressingly unceasing for anything related to them. The shows, the family and the memes produced by both are here to stay, and whining about it is about as useful as talking about how nice Pangaea used to be.
They’re not infallible, however, and their consistent success must have made it hurt a little more when Khloe set out to headline her own reality show, which went over like ketchup on pancakes. Known, unfortunately, as Kocktails with Khloe, it was meant to be a talk show hosted by Khloe Kardashian on a network called FYI, which is apparently the sputtering, braindead remains of the old Biography channel.
The big mistake here was thinking that the success of Keeping Up with The Kardashians was due to their unique worldview and talent for banter, and not whatever it actually is. The show was cancelled “despite great viewership,” which we can raise eyebrows at given that the only public number to base that off of is a thoroughly underwhelming 496k viewers for the first episode. Khloe was also apparently a nightmare to work with, which is a whole lot more believable.
Funnily enough, failed talk shows seem to run in the Kardashian family. The Kardashian matriarch and woman who has never blinked, Kris Jenner, tried her hand at a talk show years earlier on FOX. The show, called Kris, never made it out of a six-week test run. The ratings were apparently mediocre, not terrible, but here we get some feedback on why the show failed, direct from Senior Vice President of Programming Frank Cicha, and, well, there’s no indication of any PR massaging here.
Cicha told The Hollywood Reporter, “I think she was pretty uninteresting” and that it was an attempt to “capitalize on a name.” Evidence that well-crafted insults are fun, but straightforward truth can be just as brutal. Not that he didn’t add a little more figurative language to clarify, saying, “When the camera was on, she looked not just like a deer in the headlights, but like a deer that already got hit.”
Yeesh. But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
Mark Cuban might have found his reality TV role nowadays on Shark Tank, helping other hopeful billionaires (that have the capability to make him more money). Long before he was deciding if he was in or out on those businesses, though, he was front and center on a show called The Benefactor, which you are a whole lot less likely to have seen. The show broadcast on ABC and lasted only one season.
Despite a generally cool-sounding name that, to me, suggests some sort of murder in a mansion and mysterious will, the show was neither original, nor, if its track record is anything to go by, entertaining. It was, as you might be able to guess, a pretty straightforward attempt to rip off The Apprentice. Unfortunately, The Apprentice had already had nine months to establish itself, and as Martha Stewart would find out later, people only had the appetite for one episode a week, however it was presented.
Oh, and it also created yet another Donald Trump feud kicked off by a particularly salty letter.
I Wanna Marry Harry
Our last show features maybe the richest and most powerful person on this entire list. Or at least, that’s what they told the contestants. I Wanna Marry Harry, a show which, ironically, often takes the crown among lists of the worst reality TV shows ever, followed the common reality show premise of “lying to people.” A grip of suitors were brought in and told that they were competing for the hand of Prince Harry — you know, the one in that royal family over in England. The most difficult part of casting must have been finding people stupid enough to think that the Royals were keen to give American reality TV control over their bloodline.
The show was a failure on pretty much every level. The contestants, even after exhibiting impressive gullibility to get involved in the first place, had a lot of doubts that their co-star was actually Prince Harry, probably because he didn’t really look like him. The show then desperately tried to convince them they were wrong, having a fake therapist gaslight them, telling them it was indeed Prince Harry, and anything else would be a delusion. In doing so, they found exactly the line of ick reality audiences won’t cross.
It didn’t make it through a single season, being pulled from the air after four episodes.