Alan Sessions, a friend of mine, presented me with an idea that could be the next reality television series. His idea is to have a gentleman’s competition among the four or five coffee shop groups in our fair city, using “reality television” as a model.
First of all, let’s agree on a definition for “reality television.” Let’s use the highest resource known to man for a definition … Wikipedia.
Reality television (also known as reality shows) is a television programming genre that presents unscripted situations, documents actual events and usually features unknowns instead of professional actors. Such shows usually have various standard tropes, including frequent interviews with participants that double as the show’s narration, and sometimes an emphasis on drama and personal conflict.
Competition-based reality shows, a notable subset, often have additional common elements such as one participant being eliminated per episode, a panel of judges and the concept of immunity from elimination.
Now let’s apply the television model to the coffee shop environment.
We are definitely not scripted. Our guys don’t even know what a script is. Some of our guys are so old, they think it’s money (“scrip”).
The term “actual events” seldom appears in conversation at our coffee shop. When a man begins a sentence with, “I’m telling you the truth!” or “This actually happened!” you immediately evaluate everything he’s said prior to that.
We are truly unknown. Not one of us has ambitions to be “known.” We are pretty much OK with being little fish in a little pond. Some of us are just smaller than others.
Let’s agree not to use the word “tropes” that’s in the Wikipedia definition. None of us knows what it means.
The term “… emphasis on drama and personal conflict” is good for our purposes. We do have stories of drama and personal conflict in our group. Many times, we hear of “situations” (see definition above) during which one of our men offers (or has offered) to whip somebody, or has been threatened with a whipping himself. This is high drama no matter where you are or who you are.
Now let’s think about the possible format for the show:
On a given date and time, the teams would be in their respective places in their respective coffee shops. (I believe there are four groups in town.) The television people would be there with their recording equipment.
On a pre-determined cue, a piece of paper would be given to each of the teams. On the paper would be written the topic for each team to discuss. One of the team’s members would read the topic aloud. Cameras would be rolling. Mics would be open. The floor would be open to hear what comes from the composite mind of each group as they discuss topics selected from a list like the one below:
- Tax Reform
- What’s gone wrong with politics?
- What would make things better in our country?
- The Kennedy assassination.
- Turf on our local football field: A good idea or no?
- What explains the failure of the Edsel automobile?
- Gun control
- Foreign aid
- Homeland security (How many pocket knives have YOU given up at the airport?)
- Spanking vs. time outs
- Health care reform
- Cloning animals
- Cloning politicians
- Cloning real people
- Stem cell research
- Do we have too much government? Not enough government?
- How should the government handle illegal immigration?
- The death penalty
Imagine some of the possibilities if this reality television show became popular!
We could sell designer coffee cups, or we could have our own line of cologne (probably named something like “Methane Madness”).
The future, like our list of topics, is limitless.
Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.