We currently remain inundated with multiple reality show concepts on both network and cable. On the shows that take off, these contestants have their 3 or 4 months in the spotlight and then are never heard from again. On talent shows like American Idol or The Voice, many have the easiest option for extending their brief flirt with nationwide popularity because they have a discernible talent, but for shows like The Biggest Loser or Big Brother, it is much more challenging. For those not looking for an acting career, it may not be such a big deal, but if you ever looked at the roster of Big Brother contestants each year, the vast majority appears to be actor wannabees. No matter how many claim to be “cocktail waitresses”, “bartenders” or “advertising executives”, it’s quite evident, they are looking for a quick, but delusional path to stardom. Let’s face it, the majority of these people we don’t remember a month after the season has concluded let alone a year or two.
Reality show producers are missing out on a golden opportunity to feature a show that focuses on contestants years after their season’s have ended. Just like Biggest Loser contestants, some cope well and others don’t and while fading back into obscurity, return to being the people they were before they were thrust into the spotlight. On Big Brother, in many cases it was even worse.
If you do a quick search on some of the media stories involving former contestants, you’d find out that Season 3’s Tonya Paoni was arrested for reckless homicide from a drunk driving incident and Season 9’s Adam Jasinski and Matty McDonald both were arrested and are currently serving sentences for distributing Oxycontin. As readers and former viewers of these individuals, we read this kind of thing, dismiss as a bunch of idiots and move on with our lives. But the real story (or “the pitch” as I call it) would be to delve into why these things ever happened to these people.
In the case of Matty McDonald, a former construction worker from Boston, I got not only a glimpse of why, but an amazing recount as to the events that led up to his current incarceration. I must say, for someone with marginal talent on the show, he sure showed a penchant for telling a story through his monthly (when possible) blog posts. Like many new series, Matty wasn’t exactly sure where he was going with this whole blogging thing. It started off a bit sketchy with his jailhouse surroundings and how bad they were – boo hoo boo hoo. But things started to really perk up as he recounted the events that turned him from Big Brother “Celebrity” to Jailhouse “Nobody”. Like a good book he slowly recounted how he always thought he had control of his surroundings and he had difficulty letting go of his 3 months of fame, leading to the details as to the first moment he realized that he no longer was able to have control of his drug usage, to his double life as a drug courier/construction worker, non-celebrity rehab and eventual prison. As a fan of the fictional show, The Cleaner, a short-lived Benjamin Bratt series about people trying to kick a drug habit, this story ranks up there with the best of those scripts. I highly recommend you check out http://mattymcdonald.wordpress.com/ and be sure to hit the archive back to the first post. You don’t have to be a Big Brother or even a Reality Show fan to appreciate this. Note, that like a good novel, each chapter ends on a cliff hanger and it also makes you reflect on yourself. Most of us have a dark side we dare not share, but not all of us choose to act on it. And his story isn’t over yet folks.
I have to imagine there are other great stories out there. Probably for every well-adjusted returnee to the real world, there are 3 or 4 not so well adjusted. So what do you say Reality Show producers, get moving on this idea!
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