Big Bad Bag Boys
July 16, 2013 6:24 AM   Subscribe

Last month, New York PBS affiliate WNET launched a subway ad campaign that promoted several fake but totally plausible reality shows, to poke fun at the state of Cable TV. To follow up on the successful campaign, yesterday, the network released 3 TV spots with a similar theme. (Kinda previously...)
posted by schmod (57 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
These are pretty shuckin' hilarious.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:30 AM on July 16, 2013


That married to a mime one is up in my subway station. I never even thought twice about it not being a real show until now, even though I'd known about this ad campaign.
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:33 AM on July 16, 2013


Awesome. Particularly the interrupted title cards at the end, which make me think of the USA network for some reason.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:37 AM on July 16, 2013


It's not reality, it's *actuality!

*if by actuality you mean "actually" not real.

I think truTV should be forced to change their logo to air quotes.
posted by Debaser626 at 6:38 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would love to read a break down of these reality shows from a physiological/neuroscience perspective because I'm pretty sure that they have been perfected to such a degree that there are all kinds of real (and uncomfortable) insights into the human psyche and how our minds can be influenced.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:39 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's sew on!
posted by dabug at 6:40 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


We shall not rest until we get TINY HOUSE!
posted by unixrat at 6:44 AM on July 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


But Bayou Eskimos has become my favorite dramatic deconstruction of reality television shows. It tells the story of three American Inuit who inexplicably wake up trapped one morning in a pocket reality that bears a slight but not complete resemblance to Louisiana. Each episode depicts their noble but ultimately futile attempts to break free of the unseen forces that are compelling them to act in the most stereotypical way possible while interacting with an endless stream of other prisoners who have already accepted their doomed fate to forever live as human caricatures.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:44 AM on July 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


I'd totally watch Long Island Landscapers
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:47 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd read an article about how reality television works in terms of say, how the very deliberate, heavily-edited narrative structure of shows create very specific expectations in a credulous mind about what a person is going to experience next and then gratifies them.

(Some) Television is an excellent constructor of stony monuments of ego.
posted by sibboleth at 6:50 AM on July 16, 2013


Life's a pickle!
posted by ian1977 at 6:55 AM on July 16, 2013


I'm a little disappointed there wasn't a trailer for Bayou Eskimos. I would definitely watch that show.
posted by oozy rat in a sanitary zoo at 6:56 AM on July 16, 2013


I'm currently pitching a crossover reality / game show which combines elements from "Let's Make a Deal" with "The Bachelor."

I call it "Let's Make a Baby." I think it would get high Nielson numbers.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:59 AM on July 16, 2013


Mitchell and Webb really nailed it on the editing and graphics of reality shows.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:59 AM on July 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


I would watch the shit out of a show about bag boys.

The Nick Kroll Show - which is great, by the way - is still the reigning champion when it comes to aping reality show forms. Their running skit about the PR firm is painfully accurate on a number of a levels.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:02 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


These are really funny until you think how popular they would potentially be.

(And I say this as a fan of some crappy television. And I would probably also watch Bad Bad Bag Boys.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:04 AM on July 16, 2013


I love this. Public media advertising with teeth. Let's not pretend PBS isn't smarter than the other guys.
posted by Think_Long at 7:04 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


And I thought we were at peak Reality Show when I saw a commercial for a show about towing companies.
posted by stltony at 7:07 AM on July 16, 2013


I ride the subway every day and have yet to see any of these posters.
posted by jonmc at 7:07 AM on July 16, 2013


I'd totally watch Long Island Landscapers

There used to be a show like that called (IIRC) "King of Dirt."
posted by drezdn at 7:09 AM on July 16, 2013


It must be harder and harder for Rockstar Games to come up with fake TV shows for their fictional GTA worlds. NBC's Thirty Rock avoided this problem by going off the air before MILF Island seemed entirely plausible.
posted by General Tonic at 7:16 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah. I'd totally watch Long Island Landscapers. It looks like one of those things that The Onion would make.
posted by schmod at 7:16 AM on July 16, 2013


Given that there is a show that seems to consist of old people sitting around nervously laughing at the gun wielding production crew that is holding them hostage until one of them pisses themselves, all of these fakes have a shot at actuality.

I also love that Long Island Landscapers airs on the Smart Channel.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:22 AM on July 16, 2013


I can't tell the difference between parody and reality anymore.

The last time I was in NYC I saw quite a few subway ads for a veterinary plastic surgeon. I was sure that they were a plug for some sort of comedy show as they appeared to perfectly parody the vanity and conspicuous consumption rife in NYC. It was only later that my significant other advised me that, indeed, the ads were real and people pay to give their bulldog a facelift.

After that experience, if I saw the channel thirteen ads without the disclaimer, I would have assumed they were legit.
posted by banal evil at 7:24 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I honestly wouldn't doubt that these are actual ideas that have been pitched and rejected. Then, someone at WNET gets a call from a friend at History channel..."Amanda, you won't believe some of the idiot ideas this guy pitched us!"
posted by Thorzdad at 7:24 AM on July 16, 2013


I see these ads in the subway all the time, and find them really bothersome. For one thing, a lot of these would be pretty baller shows; I would absolutely like to see a show about clam diggers, or a Dill Pickle magnate, or asshole teenage bagboys at a grocery store.

But more than that, it smells of desperation; the network's not advertising what they actually have, just saying that other TV is shit. It pushes public television further into the realm of its own worst stereotype: that of the "good for you" stuff that one only watches because one feels "above" commercial TV. Doesn't matter what the content is, it's just the thing you OUGHT to be watching.

More than anything, it reminds me of the last-ditch attempt to capture a "hip" "edgy" audience in Slings And Arrows; don't advertise the actual play, just appeal to shock and self-consciousness to drive viewership. I find these ads way more saddening than the types of shows they mock.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:28 AM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


If a show like Tanked is real, then The Dillionaire is completely within the realm of possibility.
posted by slogger at 7:32 AM on July 16, 2013


After that experience, if I saw the channel thirteen ads without the disclaimer, I would have assumed they were legit.

Which some might say - at least I suspect so - says a lot about the state of TV.
posted by Naberius at 7:32 AM on July 16, 2013


The last time I was in NYC I saw quite a few subway ads for a veterinary plastic surgeon. I was sure that they were a plug for some sort of comedy show as they appeared to perfectly parody the vanity and conspicuous consumption rife in NYC. It was only later that my significant other advised me that, indeed, the ads were real and people pay to give their bulldog a facelift.


Your SO was mistaken and you were right. Those ads were for the Nick Kroll Show. The veterinary plastic surgeon is a character who has a spin-off reality show from the PR firm's reality show.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:34 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The TINY HOUSE ad from geico was great.

This all reminds me just how strange a concept "The Vanilla Ice Project" was/is. But that show is legitimately entertaining.
posted by kiltedtaco at 7:35 AM on July 16, 2013


This is hilarious! Makes me think of Raisin Brahms
posted by Bistle at 7:35 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It pushes public television further into the realm of its own worst stereotype: that of the "good for you" stuff that one only watches because one feels "above" commercial TV.

I get what you're saying, but I prefer to see it as PBS refusing to keep running from its stereotype. They're going to call you a snob no matter what, so why bother acting otherwise? Also, it's not a particularly elite opinion to think all of the schlock reality out there is really dumb, the marketers are just trying to capture that market of people who agree.
posted by Think_Long at 7:36 AM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Given that there is a show that seems to consist of old people sitting around nervously laughing at the gun wielding production crew that is holding them hostage until one of them pisses themselves, all of these fakes have a shot at actuality.


Wat.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:40 AM on July 16, 2013



We shall not rest until we get TINY HOUSE!


I'm 6'4". That was like a documentary of my life....
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:40 AM on July 16, 2013


I get what you're saying, but I prefer to see it as PBS refusing to keep running from its stereotype.

Public media really suffers when it tries to run away from its stereotype. On the radio spectrum, I can't stand The Takeaway, and I would really just prefer listening to Morning Edition.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:42 AM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


But more than that, it smells of desperation; the network's not advertising what they actually have, just saying that other TV is shit.

PBS is, in some respects, a cult brand and has been for a long time. The reputation for intelligent programming ensures that there's a large subset of viewers who not only watch PBS, they want you to know that they watch PBS, in the hope that they appear thoughtful and intelligent for watching Masterpiece instead of Entertainment Tonight. A giveaway tschotske with the PBS logo on it is a lot more valuable than one with, say, CBS on it for that reason. My daughter has a PBS Kids bag (which I got at my public TV job), which often leads to parents asking us where we got it.

The distinction between public broadcasting and the bulk of TV helps it survive. I can certainly understand how emphasizing it might seem distastefully elitist, but it's not desperate. These posters are a proven strategy, albeit executed in an unusually visible and aggressive way.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:06 AM on July 16, 2013


But Bayou Eskimos has become my favorite dramatic deconstruction of reality television shows. It tells the story of three American Inuit who inexplicably wake up trapped one morning in a pocket reality that bears a slight but not complete resemblance to Louisiana.

I like the concept, but can we add the Sleestak to it and hire Larry Niven and D.C. Fontana as writers? Then I'd definitely watch it.
posted by smoothvirus at 8:27 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I stumbled upon the charming POV documentary "Only the Young" last night and also saw the The Tanners trailer. I chuckled.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:28 AM on July 16, 2013


I'd pay to see a show about Poe's Law.
posted by signal at 8:30 AM on July 16, 2013


I would absolutely like to see a show about clam diggers

Here you go.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:31 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I honestly don't have much beef with reality TV shows that are "Hey, this person does a weird thing for a living and is kind of kooky, let's follow 'em around!" or "These idiots agreed to be humiliated and act like prats on TV for a tiny bit of fame!" They're mostly stupid, but, so is a lot of TV. These seem to fall into that category and really aren't any dumber than the rest of them.

It's the ones where you realize you are seeing people not get adequate help for their mental illness/substance abuse/family dysfunction that makes me feel like the aristocracy visiting the madhouse for giggles. There are waaay too many that fall into that category. You get to where you really hope they are playing to the cameras and not really that messed up.
posted by emjaybee at 8:49 AM on July 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't consider myself much of a snob but I'm really not sure how you can all say you love the real atrocities these posters are based on. I was tickled pink to see these in the subway, because that's totally how I feel about shows like Long Island Psychic or any of the other link-bait-type shows that only exist to create short-lived buzz around the concept. You actually watch these things and they're a boring, sad, predictably-edited disaster.
posted by Mooseli at 9:19 AM on July 16, 2013


It's the ones where you realize you are seeing people not get adequate help for their mental illness/substance abuse/family dysfunction that makes me feel like the aristocracy visiting the madhouse for giggles.

Absolutely this. Also the ones that take the Antiques Roadshow formula, but make it really just about scrounging through junk/abandoned property for pretty marginal gains, or straight-up pawnbroking (when did we stop looking at pawnbrokers as one step above pimps?).

Of course, the networks passed on my pitch for Temptation Bootcamp back in 2002, so what do I know?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:25 AM on July 16, 2013


I don't consider myself much of a snob but I'm really not sure how you can all say you love the real atrocities these posters are based on.

There's a huge gulf between premise and execution. The two versions of Battlestar Galactica both had the same premise, but only one of them will be remembered as anything but "the other version of that good show." And at the same time that BSG v2 was one of the best shows on television, a reboot of Flash Gordon died on the vine because it wasn't executed well. The list goes on -- there are many shows that rose above their premise with good writing and acting, and there are just as many with fascinating ideas behind them that just couldn't support the premises.

Ditto "reality" shows -- The Amazing Race has lost some of its quality, but it was a great show in its early days, and there is absolutely nothing about its premise that guarantees that (similar race-type shows have been tried and failed). Antiques Roadshow is great fun; Storage Wars is its sad reflection (that I can't stop watching, even though I hate myself for it).

Dismissing a show as an "atrocity" because you're not interested in the premise is a pretty close-minded attitude.
posted by Etrigan at 9:35 AM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


These a fantastic. These kind of shows make me sad for humanity.
posted by bongo_x at 9:45 AM on July 16, 2013


(when did we stop looking at pawnbrokers as one step above pimps?)

I dunno, maybe around the time we needed to pawn stuff for money?
posted by Hoopo at 10:13 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sneering is a bad way to win hearts and minds. How many people who aren't PBS donors/viewers are seeing this and thinking "Gosh, I should watch less reality TV and more PBS."? How many more people who aren't viewers/donors but who don't have anything against PBS are seeing this and thinking "Hunh. I guess they're right about them being elitists who think they're better than everyone else."?
posted by Zed at 10:18 AM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


stltony: "... we were at peak Reality Show ..."

I submit that we passed peak reality TV with Bridalplasty
posted by wcfields at 10:18 AM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man. I've never been able to figure out why Antiques Roadshow has such a strong and universal appeal. There's nothing about the show that, on paper, would make a normal person even want to consider watching it. It sounds like it should be the television equivalent of eating sawdust...

And, yet, if you put it on a TV in the background, it will eventually attract the attention of everybody in the room, and usually pull more people into the room as well.
posted by schmod at 10:43 AM on July 16, 2013


I thought this was a real show the first time I saw this commercial.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:49 AM on July 16, 2013


And, yet, if you put it on a TV in the background, it will eventually attract the attention of everybody in the room, and usually pull more people into the room as well.

Which is why my affiliate seems to play it every . single. night.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you.
posted by Think_Long at 11:24 AM on July 16, 2013


My theory about Antiques Roadshow (and for that matter, Pawn Stars and the like) is that they work as a sort of vicarious gambling. You go in with some old relic that's been lying around the house and show it to an expert. You've always wondered whether it was worth anything, but lacked the expertise to find out. So you give it to some expert, and after a few seconds of looking they either tell you it's priceless or worthless. The whole thing is easier to identify with then traditional gambling, because most people don't really gamble money, but it seems like just about everyone has some kind of weird family heirloom lying around.

Of course, there's more to it then that. There's also a sort of voyeur aspect to it: you get odd insights into the lives these people lead. And there's the informative aspect: you about little slices of history that you might otherwise never hear about. And then, of course, there's the practical aspect: maybe after watching Antiques Roadshow, you'll realize that that $5 box is worth $5,000.
posted by Green Winnebago at 3:21 PM on July 16, 2013


I dunno. I'm not sure that any of that necessarily attracts me to Antiques Roadshow. I don't really have any antiques of my own, nor am I necessarily interested in collecting any (which, I suppose connects me to all of the people who want to sell the crap in their attic).

I'm also not terribly interested in the people, or else I'd probably be more entertained by shows like Pawn Stars. AR might have a small edge in this genre, because the "stars" are believable human beings.

Personally, I think that the suspense, slices of history, and seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of the appraisers make the show fascinating.

In reality, the show's universal appeal likely comes from the fact that it's inoffensive, and offers a variety of characteristics that individually appeal to a wide range of audiences...
posted by schmod at 8:28 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Personally, I think that the suspense, slices of history, and seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of the appraisers make the show fascinating.

Pretty much. I don’t know about suspense, curiosity maybe. There’s usually interesting stuff on the show. Isn’t that reason enough?
posted by bongo_x at 8:37 PM on July 16, 2013


Potomac Avenue: "I'd totally watch Long Island Landscapers"

Me too. I have a brother who used to own a landscaping business on, you guessed it, Long Island. I just posted the video on Facebook. He's going to hate me.
posted by deborah at 1:30 AM on July 17, 2013


See also Sex House [SLYTPL]
posted by smammy at 7:07 AM on July 17, 2013


My friend has a long-held theory that the appeal of Antiques Roadshow is just like that of porn - several minutes of buildup then the moneyshot release.

Can't watch it in the same way since hearing that.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:17 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


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