Think ‘Train Your Baby Like a Dog’ was bad? There’s been far, far worse on TV
Up until this week, a survey of the dumbest, crassest reality-based television of all time would invariably have brough up titles like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Snog Marry Avoid?, Naked Attraction, The Jeremy Kyle Show and Fat Pets, Fat Owners.
But that was before Train Your Baby Like a Dog showed up on Channel 4 earlier this week. You can hardly have missed the tsunami of outrage that greeted it, since it was all over the newspapers and the breakfast TV shows like a dose of chicken pox.
And yet, as bad as it was (and it was really bad), it looked like an episode of Arena or The South Bank Show when compared to some of the stuff you can drag to the surface after a deep, deep dive into the seemingly fathomless lake of American TV.
Since we started with a show featuring babies, let’s continue the theme with Bet on Your Baby, in which parents tried to correctly predict their toddler’s next move. Will they pick up the teddy or will they pick up the ball? That sort of thing.
The idea was that whatever money the parents won — and on the original US version the prizes ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars — went into the child’s college fund. Not many kids got a first-class education from the show, though, since it was dumped after two seasons.
Not bad enough for you? Okay, how about Who’s Your Daddy? You know those charming programmes where a panel tries to get which cute little kid videotaped doing adorable things belongs to a particular celebrity?
Well, Who’s Your Daddy? wasn’t like that at all. An adult who’d been given up for adoption at birth had to guess which one of 25 men was his or her biological father.
If they guessed correctly, they won US$100,000. If they made a wrong choice, the money went to the non-daddy, and the other 24 — including the real biological dad — walked out empty-handed.
Mind you, real biological dad was happy to walk out of the hospital empty-handed after his kid was born, so he was probably used to the experience.
We’ve all heard of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Rather less well-known is Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? — hardly surprising, since it was one of reality television’s earliest and most spectacular failures.
It featured a live, two-hour beauty pageant-style competition to find a suitable bride for a supposed multi-millionaire called Rick Rockwell, who’d marry him live on air.
It was later revealed Rockwell wasn’t a multi-millionaire and lived in an ordinary house with a discarded toilet lying in the backyard. In fact, he wasn’t even called Rick Rockwell and had once been done on a domestic violence charge.
The programme’s “winner” was Derva Conger (yes, that was her real name), who quickly came to regret her decision.
And by “quickly”, we mean almost immediately. The marriage was annulled after a month.
Apart from babies, marriages seem to be a particular favourite among producers of crap reality television who are looking for the next big idea.
Bridalplasty featured 12 brides-to-be competing to win a dream wedding, plus various plastic surgery procedures. Whether the plastic surgery turned the union from a dream to a nightmare for the poor groom we’ll never know.
Meghan Markle is getting a rough time from the British tabloids right now, but at least she married the real Prince Harry.
Not so the 12 bimbos who took part in I Wanna Marry Harry, believing they were competing for Harry’s affections, when in fact they were cosying up to a lookalike.
The weirdest show of the lot, though, might be Date My Mom, in which singletons went on a date with three mothers who tried to convince them to marry their daughters.
Compared to that, telling your toddler to “Sit!” while waving a Bonio at them seems normal.