If there truly were a Big Brother watching over TV today, he might not be able to suppress his bully instincts.
The U.S. version of reality-competition mainstay Big Brother returns for its 14th season Thursday, July 12 on CBS and Global. The series has been around since 2000, and a Canadian version of the same basic format will be coming to Slice early in 2013.
Back when Big Brother debuted, it would have been understandable had you observed, "So they get a group of people, isolate them in a house, watch them fight and back-stab and banish each other, at the end someone wins a prize, and this is the future of television? Really?"
But alas, here we are.
Over the past dozen years, reality TV has spun off into countless sub-genres. Yet all of them are based on the concept of plunking down cameras just about anywhere, heavily editing the results, and, you know, not paying actors.
In 2012, Big Brother actually seems like one of the most sane reality-TV offerings. So what are the goofiest projects we've witnessed since Big Brother began?
Temptation Island (debuted 2001)
This was only one step removed from MILF Island, the show championed by Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) on 30 Rock.
Mr. Personality (2003)
Hosted by the classy Monica Lewinsky, guys wore masks so girls could judge them on what was in their hearts, not their appearance. In real life this fails nightly in dark bars.
The Swan (2004)
If this show taught us anything, it's that women would be happy if only they were more beautiful. Thanks for clearing that up.
The Littlest Groom (2004)
For some reason, people thought having a 4-foot-5 groom was exploitative. But don't little people have the same rights as big people to look foolish?
The Biggest Loser (2004)
Here's a suggestion: How about not becoming morbidly obese in the first place?
Who's Your Daddy? (2005)
It would have been more interesting to pair off different pro sports. This week, NBA vs. NHL; next week, NFL vs. MLB, that kind of thing.
A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila (2007)
The less-talked-about sequel was called A Shot of Antibiotics.
Farmer Wants a Wife (2008)
Speaking of 30 Rock again, this reminds me of a line from Kenneth (Jack McBrayer): "A wedding is a simple and beautiful ceremony where an old man and a crying girl get pushed into the coupling shed."
Paris Hilton's My New BFF (2008)
In our celebrity-obsessed culture, this sadly might be the most cherished prize of all. Still waiting for the racier spinoff, Paris Hilton's My New Sex Tape.
Our Little Genius (2010)
Child prodigies could win money for their families. No pressure there, kids. Mark Burnett was behind this one, but due to last-minute issues about competitive integrity, it never made it to air.
The Glass House (2012)
Basically a Big Brother copy. Ah, the circle of life.