Jumping the reality shark is much more difficult. In order to do it, a reality show has to do what it has always been doing, but to take it to the extreme. I thought of this last night when I was watching The Biggest Loser. Most of our loyal readers know that The Biggest Loser is one of my favorite shows. Based on my sliding weight scale, I can relate to the contestants (both the before and after), but now they've gone a little too far. During the first few seasons, the people were definitely fat, but the kind of fat where you can say 'hey I think I saw that lady at Wal-Mart last night.' In order for TBL to jump the shark, they had to get fatter and fatter contestants. Instead of guys weighing a solid three bills and women tipping the scales at a deuce, or deuce and a half, they are moving toward TLC fat. This season they've got a guy that weighs over 450 and a girl over 320. The only way that they can push the fat envelope any farther would be to start taking some people from TLC or Discover Channel, like that 1,300 lb dude in Mexico or the lady that eats 32,000 calories per day. Oh, and their also getting older contestants. There's like some 70 year old guy on this season who nearly had a grabber during the first day of working out. I'm thinking that maybe TBL is looking for some kind of product tie-in with defibrillator paddles or something.
It's not just The Biggest Loser. Extreme Makeover Home Edition is also getting more and more ridiculous. It started out with plot lines like 'parent died, let's build 'em a house' or 'kid is sick, let's build 'em a house.' I guess that got sort of stale. They've now moved onto things that sound as if they were inspired by a country song (wife left, lost job, dog ran away, kid in the service, dust bowl took all the crops away, etc). I have a theory that Ty Pennington has something to do with this. Not that he's embellishing the stories, but that he's actually harming the families to make better stories. Like he's got a family that is almost downtrodden enough for Sunday night, but then thinks to himself "yeah, it's good, but it would be better if the dad didn't have any legs." I'm not saying that he's doing it, but I think he's involved. The Real World isn't much better. The last season actually had a meth head stripper, a chick with an eating disorder, and an alcoholic. I'm not sure how much further they could go.
So this got me thinking about other reality shows that I watch and what they could possibly do to jump the reality shark:
Survivor - Start killing off people. Maybe not all of them at first, but eventually it would be like Surviving the Game. You know, the mid 90s movie starring Ice T. Where a bunch of hunters went into the woods and started hunting humans. Yeah, it would be like that.
Real Housewives of Atlanta - I've got a couple of thoughts here. First they could give the stars stun guns during the reunion show. I'm pretty sure that Nene would use hers on Kim. If that wasn't enough to boost ratings, maybe they could add Amy Winehouse to the cast. True, she's not a housewife, and she's not from Atlanta, but she is batshit crazy, which seems to be the only requirement for getting on that show.
Jon and Kate Plus 8 - They could make Jon and Kate take custody of the Pitt-Jolie children, which would be Jon and Kate Plus 14. But I'm afraid that would probably make Jon snap and maybe we'd end up with Jon Minus 15. It would just be Jon. Sitting alone in a dark apartment. Shaking.
American Idol - Lots of people think that adding the 4th judge was jumping the shark. Still others think that when Paula went from being a little tipsy to being full on sweating scotch drunk that this was a sign of shark jumping. I don't think it was either of these things. I think it's when they went from highlighting bad singers to highlighting bad singers with mental problems. Honestly, when was William Hung not bad enough? Did they really have to put on kids that have special needs in addition to a bad voice?
Alright. That's all for now. If you've got any thoughts of reality show shark jumping, post it as a comment. It doesn't matter how obscure the show is, I probably watch it. Or your comment will motivate me to start watching. Unless it's Big Brother. That show is lame.