By Patricia Gallagher Newberry
TV executives are missing a big opportunity - and I mean huge, pump-up-the-ratings, jump-up-the-ad-card big - in ignoring Marrieds with Children in reality programming.
I mean, what voyeuristic, blood-thirsty, thrill-seeking viewer would dare turn the channel on say, Last Mom Standing, or, maybe, a WWF-enhanced Big Brother Whoops Little Sister? I'll give you reality.
And so, as a public service, for which I ask only my fair share of eventual syndication revenue, I propose a MWC reality show called, simply, The Family.
These pilot episodes are sure to get picked up by a network - or at least a cheesy cable outfit:
Episode 1: Twelve finalist families compete for America's affection and their own 24-hour camera crew. The winning family will be mixed in gender, race and age, with good teeth and plenty of life crises on the immediate horizon. Families who sprinkle conversations with drug references and blue language will be referred to the Osbournes' producer.
Episode 2: Crisis No. 1 hits, as mom and sis of the selected family go head-to-head when sis dons a micro-mini and tube top for an afternoon at the mall.
As perimenopausal mother and premenstrual teen rip each other about their moodiness, little brother takes refuge on the PlayStation in the basement and dad heads out to mow the lawn.
Episode 3: Dad takes a turn as family cabbie, a la The Great Race, executing the streets of Anytown USA during rush hour. The goal: Get one kid to the orthodontist and the other to a birthday party, while pit-stopping for the dry cleaning, a gallon of milk and three fast food drive-throughs for the kids' preferred brands of burgers and fries.
Episode 4: The kids get a heaping dose of reality when they get cut from the school talent show.
Despite weeks of rehearsing a really cute Cher medley, the Gladys Knight-like judge disses them, saying their voices are sure to improve with age while complimenting their great stage presence.
Episode 5: After being grounded for watching the forbidden Paradise Hotel, the kids turn the reality tables on mom and stage their own version of Who Wants to Marry My Dad.
Mom calls the cops when a dozen nipped-and-tucked blond beauties show up at the house, all under the impression that they get the first hot-tub date with dad.
Episode 6: Financial ruin threatens as mom blows the Christmas savings on a day at the spa, complete with a seaweed wrap and chunky highlights in just her bangs.
Sis sulks away the day in her room when she realizes Santa won't be bringing hoped-for tickets to an upcoming John Mayer concert.
Episode 7: The family, in an obvious Survivor ripoff, is dumped on a tropical island without benefit of Gameboys, Bic lighters or pina coladas. Tensions mount when li'l bro refuses to eat his wild boar weiner without a bun.
Episode 8 through cancellation: Mom and dad feud over mom's habit of dozing off during dad's exciting work stories, sis stages a major meltdown when passed over for a job at The Limited, brother jams the family computer downloading pirated music and the family dog's mysterious weight gain is diagnosed as an untreatable thyroid problem - all as The Family builds toward a dramatic season-ending cliffhanger.
In the final episode, the family sits in the emergency room, cameras rolling, with a broken skateboard in dad's lap and a clump of blond hair in mom's fist providing the only clues to what might happen as the series resumes.
The Family. All real, all new, bringing a reality you don't really want to see right into your living room.
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