McAdams On: Reality or Something Like It

There is but one booming industry left in the United States, and that would be reality television. I have, up to now, dismissed reality television with such utter disdain as to appear self-delusively sophisticated.

In what reality do people allow themselves to be screamed at by a psychotic grill cook or some ropy personal trainer while surrounded by camera crews? And the premises, for heaven’s sake. Radical plastic surgery? Mega birthing? Eating larvae? Competing to date a middle-aged man with seven children who wears a clock medallion the size of a frying pan around his neck?

I coped for many years by dissociating, pretending as best I could that this part of my beloved culture did not exist. Could not exist. Was indeed a bad dream brought on by airborne spore yet to be ferreted and destroyed. And yet...

There we were, my roommate and I, casting about for a big payday, like you do when you’re an unemployed bilingual super model with a grad degree from Pepperdine or a trade hack disabused of all notions of nobly upholding that amendment. We considered threatening to burn sacred texts, leaking a randy video on the Internet, adopting a school bus full of children and pretending to launch them in a weather balloon. Except for none of those things actually captured our interest, so she went back to reading “Foreign Affairs” and I picked up my “Scientific American” with the “Us Weekly” tucked inside.

And so it was we abandoned our career in reality TV before it ever had a chance when I received a press release from Doin’ Time Entertainment LLC. That is correct. Doin’ Time Entertainment Limited Liability Corp., no pun intended, I’m sure. Seems Doin’ Time Entertainment has developed a new... wait for it... reality show pilot. That would be, “Inmates With Talent.”

Now one might reasonably deduce that such talents are why these individuals became inmates in the first place. Are said talents of a type that people will want to see on TV? Of course they are. (See second paragraph.) Plus, the show has the added advantage of starring reality TV veterans; people who first appeared in “Cops” as sputtering sots, sobbing to be let go. Then there’s the Pilipino prisoner Thriller-dancing viral video, lending to the general incarcerative environment that certain je ne sais quoi.

“The scene is Putnamville Correctional Facility in Indiana,” we imagine Det. Sgt. Joe Friday intoning in the Doin’ Time flackage, “where inmates including singers, comedians and spoken-word artists entertain fellow inmates by staging a talent contest. The show is certainly entertaining, but the lessons learned are serious and lasting.”

For example, landing in prison could make one a reality star.

“Doin’ Time also completed a related project, ‘Inmates With Talent Comedy Concert,’ focused on a stand-up contest between inmate comedians.”

I guess if they’re laughing they’re not wreaking havoc or just being stupid. Doin’ Time says its shot about 100 hours of footage for various projects, including the TV shows. Will they ever get picked up by a network? (See second paragraph.)

I’m thinking of “Girls With Talent Doin’ Time Gone Wild in 3D.” Jeff Gaspin, are you listening? I’m there for ya, man. I got your back.