The R Word: Reality TV Turns to Fiction

What programs would you like to see spun off into reality series?

By Jere Hester
|  Wednesday, Sep 2, 2009  |  Updated 10:45 PM CDT
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"The L Word" is getting a reality show spinoff.

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Reality TV is getting unreal.

At a time when scripted TV programs are being supplanted by reality shows, a program about the real lives of six lesbians in Los Angeles reportedly is being spun off from "The L Word," the Showtime drama that recently wrapped a six-year run.

The news represents the latest evidence that the entertainment industry is short on ideas – or is at least bent on playing things safe. Old TV shows and toys are being turned into movies. An old movie – “Teen Wolf” – is being turned into a TV show for MTV (this one program that – hopefully – has no possibility of a reality show spinoff).

The new “L Word” show isn’t the first time the reality TV world has dipped directly into the fictional TV realm. TBS, a few years back, ran a show based on “Gilligan’s Island” – though, if you think about it, any setup in which strangers from various backgrounds are dropped into a confined or remote spot owes a debt to the Skipper’s little buddy.

Lines have been blurring for a while: “NYC Prep” is “Gossip Girl.” “Lost” is “Survivor.” “The Office” is a brilliant comedy presented in reality show/documentary style. “Desperate Housewives” brought us noxious “Real Housewives” from all over the country.

Perhaps we’re in for a bunch more reality spinoffs. There’s got to be a real “House” out there, even if no healthcare provider would pay for all those tests. NBC wouldn’t have to leave 30 Rock to shoot a “30 Rock” reality show about “SNL.”
 
Maybe the Hollywood suits will turn to TV classics: “All in the Family” (a real-life Archie Bunker in the Obama era? Watch the sparks fly!); “Friends” (Just hit any New York City Starbucks); “The Flintstones” (the Geico Cavemen could star – wait, no, they already had a sitcom and it flopped).

So, assuming we’re in for more of the same, what shows, past or present, would you like to see turned into reality series?

Use the comments section below to offer your stranger-than-fiction suggestions.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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