Pondering the recent lineup of reality TV shows this past week, I couldn't help but wonder: If it's so cheap and easy to produce these voyeuristic peep shows that have captured the imagination of the mass culture's lowest common denominator, shouldn't network producers be flocking to Colorado Springs, the realest of real realities!? I don't know about you, but I found my childhood here in the Springs to be inordinately real. Sure, I moved away after high school for many years and lived in places like Chicago, Tucson and San Francisco. But it was so fake! When I moved back two years ago, I rediscovered that Colorado Springs is realer than ever. In this spirit, I have become convinced that we deserve our own place in the spotlight. Here are some of this summer's hottest reality shows (Them) and those that Colorado Springs could do even better (Us).
Them: Fame (NBC, Wednesdays). The concept: amateur talent show, but with complicated dance routines.
Us: Obscurity (Any local club, any night of the week when a band is playing). The concept: amateur talent, but no matter how much song and dance they do, no one ever seems to notice.
Them: Star Search (CBS, Thursdays). The concept: unknown wanna-bes competing in talent tournaments from acting to singing and dancing.
Us: Bar Search (Colorado Springs, Sundays). The concept: unknown ne'er-do-wells just trying to find a drink on Sundays.
Them: For Love or Money (NBC, Mondays). The concept: 15 single women and one single guy. The woman at the end of the show who wins the man's heart gets to choose between the guy and a cool million!
Us: For Lunch or Nothing (Acacia Park, every day). The concept: 15 homeless people, one sandwich. The person who doesn't get hauled off by the po-po for loitering or panhandling gets the sandwich.
Them: Paradise Hotel (Fox, Mondays). The concept: Six single men and six single women in a fancy, exclusive resort act ridiculous and vote each other off.
Us: Hell Hotel (Motel 6, anytime before the apocalypse). The concept: Six evangelical Christians and six death metal pagans in a crappy motel compete for each other's souls.
Them: Fear Factor (NBC, Mondays). The concept: Ordinary people or celebrities are asked to do really creepy things like put their heads in boxes full of tarantulas and eat bull testicles. The person who does all of this the fastest or longest or best for the most rounds wins.
Us: Beer Factor (Any bar in Colorado Springs, any day). The concept: ordinary people drinking a lot of microbrews. Bartenders are frequently asked to refill their glasses. No one really competes, nor does anyone really care.
Them: Cops (Fox, Saturdays). The concept: Take the cameras where the cops are -- you know, poor neighborhoods where most of the residents are minorities. Then just let the cameras roll.
Us: Water Cops (Anywhere in Colorado Springs, Tuesdays and Saturdays for odd-numbered houses, and Wednesdays and Sundays for even-numbered houses). The concept: Cameras go where the utilities enforcers are, which is mostly just driving around and eating doughnuts, while residents across the city violate the watering restrictions. Every once in awhile they bust someone with a really emerald green lawn going willy-nilly with their tractor sprinkler, or slap a fine on a fool trying to shirk with a fake "Well Water" sign.
Them: Fraternity Life (MTV, Wednesdays). The concept: Watch frat guys while they're rushing, boozing, fighting and objectifying women as they try to handle the stress of being over-privileged and under-accountable.
Us: Maternity Life (Throughout Colorado Springs, every day). The concept: Watch single mothers raising children, fighting with derelict spouses, cooking dinner, washing clothes and trying to handle the stress of being underprivileged with no health insurance and a full-time minimum-pay job.
Them: Are You Hot? (ABC, Thursdays). The concept: 128 hotties, male and female, ("talent and personality not required, just physical beauty") strut their stuff as judges Lorenzo Lamas and others humiliate them. One man and one woman crowned sexiest people in America.
Us: Are You Brain Dead? (Colorado Springs roads and highways, coming soon). The concept: Everyone who drives a Hummer or an H2 is taken aside and tested for vital functions like a pulse and brain waves while bystanders humiliate them and/or cheer them on. IQ and genital size are also measured.