What if The Hunger Games were real? We know we’re not the only ones who have thought about that in the past week, as Suzanne Collins’ YA bestseller breaks box office records and thrills fans and critics. (We loved it, too.) Considering that plenty of Americans are already watching misery-porn programming like Teen Mom, My Strange Addiction, and Intervention, televised deathmatches don’t seem entirely out of the question. With that in mind, we’ve dreamed up a few reality shows that might just rival The Hunger Games for sheer darkness and brutality. But before we proceed, just in case it isn’t obvious, we want to clarify that we would actually be horrified to see these shows get made. Here at Flavorpill, we don’t want to watch anyone die. Not even celebrities.
The Ostentatious Wealth Games
In this variation on the Hunger Games, every year the ten richest people on the planet will be forced to fight to the death in a bottomless pit full of their own gold coins (think DuckTales) until a single victor remains. This isn’t just a compelling concept guaranteed to send ratings through the roof — it’s also an economic recovery plan. The combined fortunes of the fallen will be donated to charities that fight poverty, and no one will want to suck up too much more than their share of wealth for fear of being literally drowned in a sea of cash.
This mash-up of American Idol and American Gladiator pits extremist cult against extremist cult in a brutal deathmatch to determine which sect truly has God (or, you know, whatever higher power) on its side. Teams earn competitive advantages by converting viewers, who can call in weekly to declare their allegiance to the most attractive set of outlandish beliefs.
You’re a Celebrity… Get Out of Here!
A new twist on the popular global reality TV franchise, You’re a Celebrity… Get Out of Here! starts with a survey in which all Americans are invited to nominate the famous person they find most obnoxious. The top 20 candidates will be stranded in a jungle and told they’re competing for a major role in the second Hunger Games movie. In reality, they’ll be deprived of all the knowledge, supplies, and media coverage they need to survive. Six months later, a camera crew will return to the drop-off site and trace the celebrities’ trails to determine whether any of the contestants are still alive. They probably won’t be.
The Real World: Medication Vacation
They’ve been to New Orleans and Paris and even Brooklyn, but if we really want to see 18-to-25-year-olds stop being polite and start getting real, how about we take away their medications? Instead of the classic Real World types — the homophobic bro, the gay one, the slutty chick, the virgin — the cast will include an insomniac deprived of her Ambien, a suicidal depressive cut off from Prozac, a frequent panic attack sufferer without his supply of Xanax, etc. If MTV wants drama, Medication Vacation is sure to provide it in spades.
America’s Next Top Junkie
Just as there are pretty girls and there are supermodels, there are recreational drug users and there are helpless addicts. America’s Next Top Junkie separates the dabblers from the lifers by providing a selection of promising young users with a primo crash pad and an unlimited supply of their substance of choice. Gleefully concerned viewers tune in every week to watch their favorite contestant’s circle ever closer to the drain. The first cast member to overdose without dying wins a stint at Betty Ford followed by a life of Keith Richards-level luxury; everyone else is punished with a cold-turkey detox and an impassioned lecture from Tyra Banks on squandering their potential.
You’ve seen Colonial House and Frontier House and Manor House and 1900 House. But PBS’s next historically minded educational reality show is going to be a little different. In Scheherazade House, a gaggle of beautiful women live in a sumptuous palace in the Sassanid Empire-era Persian style. One by one, the ladies are forced to marry a famously cruel mythical king and entertain him with stories — but, as those familiar with One Thousand and One Nights will remember, each wife who doesn’t please the leader will be condemned to death. The first woman to go 1,001 nights without dying becomes queen of… the small lot in Southern California where the show is taped? Also: gold.
George Orwell’s Big Brother
First broadcast in the Netherlands, Big Brother premiered around the turn of the millennium and helped usher in the era of reality TV. But with its 14th US season on the horizon, it’s time to switch things up. What if, instead of simply locking contestants in a house with a bunch of strangers and forcing them to form alliances in an attempt to avoid eviction and win $500,000, Big Brother went back to its true roots — George Orwell’s 1984? This time, when you get kicked out of the house, you’re sent straight to the Ministry of Love (which has nothing to do with illicit housemate hook-ups) and thrown into Room 101, where you’ve got to either confront your worst fear or condemn another cast member to similar torture. Sounds doubleplusentertaining to us!