Keeping it Real: Making the Case for Reality Shows
Here's a flash of white hot chutzpah: Darva wants her life back. Darva, of course, being Darva Conger, the comely lass with the eye of the tiger and fangs of a weasel who beat back the competition to claim the ultimate prize in all of chickdom, a chance to pledge eternal love to a total stranger's wallet. Unfortunately, the total stranger came attached to said wallet and before credits rolled on "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?" the match made in ratings heaven was doomed.Rick Rockwell, Mr. Multi -- or as those of us who worked with him on the comedy circuit during the late 80s knew him, Mr. Thieving No-Talent Hack -- committed the social faux pas of planting a big wet one on Darva's lips shortly after meeting/marrying her. This totally creeped Darva out, who, like many in her line of work refuse to mouth-kiss their johns.The kids were splitsville before the honeymoon began. Then Darva hit the talk show circuit to say the whole episode was a big oopsy-daisy, silly-me, boo-boo and she wants to reclaim her life. Her old pre-celeb life, exactly the same, except she'll now be sporting a $35,000 hunk of wedding ring and tooling round town in a brand new fully loaded SUV, part of the package of lovely parting gifts she snagged.But what about the lives of the viewing public? Those have been ripped apart and rendered meaningless. All because Darva, if that is her real name, couldn't go to the mattresses with Rockwell, couldn't put some kind of positive spin on their unholy union for a few measly weeks until the furor died down.With pundits picking through the charred wreckage of Rick and Darva's nuptials, executives at Fox decided to pull the plug. Not just on other loveless stunt insta-weddings, but on all their reality shows. Just like that. Gone. Snatched from the schedule.Which means no more "When Animals Attack," "World's Scariest Police Shootouts," "Plastic Surgery Nightmares," "World's Scariest Soup Spills," "When Pets Aren't Housebroken" and "Picking at Scabs Caught on Tape." How unspeakably cruel. First they get us hooked on these manipulative low-rent sphincter-clenching quasi-dramas, then they cut us off, cold turkey. And what hurts most is the wealth of material available now. We're awash in patently exploitable crud. A potential golden age of reality shows awaits, if Fox had even a sliver of spine.For example, figure skater and Camaro skank, Tonya Harding, was recently charged with assaulting her boyfriend with a hubcap after a long evening of booze and video poker. Follow her around with a camera, overdub a vocal track and whammo, you've got a gripping new special, "When Hillbillies Go Bad."Dick: Hello and welcome to the White Trash Pairs Competition. I'm Dick Button, and with Peggy Fleming, we'll be offering analysis of tonight's event, which should be a dazzling display.Peg: That's right, Dick. This marks something of a comeback for Tonya Harding who is teaming with new partner, Darren Silver. And now I believe they're drunk enough to begin.Dick: Ooh, there's that signature move from Tonya we've heard so much about, a flying spiral backhand hub cap whack.Peg: Tonya's execution was flawless! The key to that move really is the footwork and she positioned herself just beautifully to deliver a stinging blow.Dick: Darren does a double spin then into a one and a half flip with full-back landing. Tonya completes a double skull crack and then into a layback spin. Such flexibility! Now she's sitting astride Darren's chest delivering a series of brutal yet crisp overhand punches.Peg: This is the compulsory portion of the program, one of Tonya's strengths. And just look at that extension! Her posture is perfect, her back forming a beautiful line as she keeps her shoulders square. Tonya's showing poise and determination and she's getting good rotation from Darren's head as it snaps from side to side. That's exquisite teamwork.Dick: But Darren seems to be drifting in and out of consciousness. That will hurt their presentation marks unless they can regain focus. The judges like to see smiles, even be they toothless ones. Wait! Tonya has seized Darren by the crotch and executed a splendid one arm lift! Judging from the death grip she has on his testicles, I think she's going to attempt the triple salchow scrotum spin! This is exciting.Peg: The success of this maneuver will depend on Tonya's upper body strength and the elasticity of Darren's sack, which she is using to swinging him around. Oh no, she's lost her grip on his nards!Dick: I'm afraid that's going to cost them. Darren has crashed head first into the cigarette machine.Peg: But look! The force of the collision caused the machine to issue a free pack of Camel Non-filters! That's the kind of magic the judges were looking for. Fabulous, simply fabulous.Dick: I think it's safe to say, Tonya Harding is back! And we'll be back after these messages. But keep it tuned to Fox for another wildly popular, "When Winos Defecate in Public," followed by "Who Want's to Marry a Publicly Defecating Wino?" hosted by Darva Conger-Rockwell-Trump. Remember, if it makes your skin crawl, it has to be Fox.