I have a love/hate relationship with many of the shows on Vh1. I hate that I lose so many brain cells while watching their poorly scripted, mind-numbing brand of entertainment…but I can’t turn away. It’s a train wreck of epic proportions.
After several years & several “reality” shows, I’ve come to see that every show on Vh1 is really following the same formula. Let’s see…
Start with a central theme, something related to fame that the viewing public will watch & criticize – whether it’s athletes, musicians, addicts, mobsters, or the women who love them. Most regular people are obsessed with celebrities & their lifestyles, because of the aspirational factor. So you don’t need A-listers on these shows, just those who are close enough to the celebrity lifestyle for viewers to tune in.
Find some people who will do anything for a check & a mention on the blogs – there’s a reason why you see has-beens,
formerly broke folks & those trying to make a come up on Vh1 shows. They need money, but more importantly, they need to be the center of attention. They need people to be talking about them on Twitter, in the blogs, in beauty shops, etc. Who cares if they are discussing how dumb you are for having 4 kids for a man who left you with no money, the point is they are talking about you now, right? The key is to find people who are desperate for both money AND fame, because that’s means they will do pretty much anything on-camera, and they will do it for cheap.
Appoint someone as the ringleader – This could be the main character of the show, or it could be the most likeable of the randoms who signed up for a check. Whoever they are, the ringleader has to pretend to be friends with all the other characters on the show, so that manufactured outings can be filmed & pseudo-drama can erupt. Sometimes the ringleader is in the drama, and sometimes the ringleader sits back and watches as two characters fight in a nightclub. The ringleader needs to remain a character that the viewing public will like, or at least tolerate as the other characters act a damn fool.
Find a villain, even if they don’t even fit into the theme of the show – The key to these shows is drama, and you gotta have a bad guy to make the drama really happen. So you can either make a villain out of the cast you already have, by turning the characters against each other, or you can go out & find one who has absolutely nothing to do with the theme of the show…like a video girl hanging out with the wives & ex’s of D-list basketball players. The villain is a person who is willing to do even more to get some shine than the rest of the cast. They truly believe in that old adage “there’s no such thing as negative publicity”, and thus are fine with being the bad guy if it means more mentions on Twitter. I wonder if they get an extra $50 in their check for playing the villain #hmmm.
Put together some random outings, including drinks, meals, and at least 1 trip where the drama is maximized – Vh1 producers have learned a lesson from their Viacom brothers at MTV – if you keep the cast drinking, you will keep the drama flowing & the ratings up. So make sure you schedule lots of outings involving liquor & keep the cameras rolling. This is a guaranteed way to get folks to act a damn fool & more importantly, have folks tune in. The ringleader will be facilitating these pointless events & leading the characters in pretending that they hang out like this all the time, while they look at each other stupid & encourage the one married character to get a divorce.
And finally, when you start filming your next season, check out whatever the show before you did so you can top it – Just like how Wall Street investors aren’t happy unless a company has record profits year to year, reality show viewers aren’t satisfied with the same level of drama as last season. You’ve got to up the ante if you want to keep viewers & folks talking about your show on Twitter. And that’s how you go from yelling at each other in the finale, to having a fist fight in the first episode of your next season. What’s next – hiring a hitman on-camera? Wait, don’t actually do that yall.
Think about it – every Vh1 drama-filled show falls into this same formula…from Basketball Wives to The T.O. Show to Mob Wives…they all follow the same pattern.
So why the hell are we still watching???