Reality Nadir

In Fox's new reality show, Trading Spouses, two Dallas moms switch families, houses and husbands.

Salt Lake City Weekly | July 15, 2004
Reality Nadir

Has TV hit bottom with Trading Spouses and Amish In the City? Not likely.


This one goes out to the TV critics: The Fox network, a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox, is simply spelled capital F, small o, small x. Until you can tell us all just what the hell F-O-X stands for (Foreign Old Xenophobe? Rupert Murdoch will have your arse, mate), knock it off with the FOX. Better still, knock everything off—The Only TV Column That Matters™ isn’t just a clever name; we have the people covered, thanks.

Fox was all over the TV-development radar last week for a couple of reasons: First, NBC whined about Fox stealing all of their crap ideas and claiming them as their own crap ideas—NBC’s boxing reality series The Contender begat Fox’s Next Great Champion, superrich-bastard reality series The Apprentice begat The Billionaire, etc. Then ABC joined the fray by accusing Fox of swiping their upcoming, self-explanatory Wife Swap for something we’ll get to in four paragraphs. There are grown men with six-digit salaries and tailored suits arguing over this. God bless America.

Second, Fox announced the 2005 launch of the Fox Reality Channel, a 24-hour cable net devoted to reruns of American Idol and The Simple Life, as well as such past classics as Joe Millionaire and Temptation Island—and perhaps even some closure on recently snuffed Fox flops Forever Eden and Playing It Straight. FRC will come to the game later than Reality TV (already operating on the Dish Network) and Reality Central (starting this fall), but with bigger bucks and a redonkulous back-catalogue to work with.

How often does anyone need to revisit past Fox masterworks like My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, Bachelorettes In Alaska or the flashpoint of our descent into reality-romance hell, Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire? Who knows? All logic seems to fade when clicking into those upper-tier digital channels (I still refuse to believe there’s actually one dedicated to golf—golf!), which is why I’d like to see the introduction of the Fox Cancellation Network, nothing but great scripted shows killed off in their prime: The Tick, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Wonderfalls, Arrested Development (just wait), Undeclared, The Lone Gunmen, Action, Get a Life; the list is staggering. There would have to be an FCN2 to adequately cover all of Fox’s genius axings of the past.

But no, we get Fox Reality and future filler like Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy (Fox; debuts Tuesday, July 20), the series that finally answers the question, “At what point in the reality-TV arc do I just gouge out my own eyes?” Two Dallas moms switch families, houses and spouses (without the marital privileges—this isn’t Showtime); everyone learns a Valuable Life Lesson about walking a mile in someone else’s Payless mules or some such bullshit. Method & Red is looking like Mensa programming right about now.

As is Amish In the City (UPN; debuts Wednesday, July 21), the seemingly Fox-y reality show that somehow wound up on UPN, the network that’s been quieter this summer than, well, UPN any other time of the year. Three male and two female Amish kids move into a Hollywood Hills mansion with “a handsome swim teacher, a fashion-forward party girl, a colorful club promoter, a busboy/musician, an inner-city student and a strict vegan,” says the network PR, which even went so far as to dub Amish In the City “ultimately, very thought-provoking.” You know, like a ballpeen hammer to the forehead or huffing Liquid Plumr.

Yes, with quality offerings like these, the future looks bright for all-reality networks—if they expand the criteria to include extracurricular work like various Real World stars’ court appearances or Survivor Jenna Lewis’ “stolen” honeymoon sex tape (her finest work to date … so I hear), we’re talkin’ solid gold.

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