Reality TV – Crazy Telly

2014-08-12 18:45

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It’s not right, it’s outrageous – and it’s impossible to look away. Thinus Ferreira tells us about a batch of new reality shows featuring children

Your jaw will drop. You’ll get a creepy feeling. You don’t want to watch it – you shouldn’t – but before you know it, you’re hooked.

The new crop of crazy telly, featuring a cotillion of contestants willing to do crazier and crazier things is making what came before it seem quaint by comparison.

What started with Toddlers & Tiaras (TLC Entertainment) – little muppets dressed up for beauty pageants and fed Sprite laced with Red Bull by their moms to keep them awake and perky for the stage – led to the spin-off Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (also on TLC).

Toddlers & Tiaras offered us the mother who dressed her three-year-old as a “Pretty Woman prostitute” from the Julia Roberts film.

You might have seen them recently making a reappearance on E! Entertainment’s The Drama Queen, a reality show where the pageant mum is now shopping her cutie to Hollywood agents. Bless.

That was nothing compared with M-Net’s newest toddler offering, Bet on Your Baby.

In this new US game show, parents literally take bets on their precocious kids.

After all, what good parent would pass up an opportunity to use their child as a money-spinner?

While the little things might not fully know or realise what they’re doing, the grown-ups in Bet on Your Baby place bets on what they think their little ones will do, how they might possibly react, behave or complete tasks, or how quickly.

Don’t say Bet on Your Baby is evil and exploitative. Please. The tots, who are between two and three years old, win money for their future education.

You’re never too young to learn – or to compete on television.

Just ask Abby Lee Miller, whose show Dance Moms (Lifetime) is filled with educational life lessons that teach kids their real place in the world.

Miller stacks the children in her class into a human pyramid. Because life really is nothing but a food chain and the better you are, the higher the spot you get on the pyramid of life.

The little girls attending the Abby Lee Dance Company are motivated because the better you are, the more you get to step on other people instead of getting stepped on.

In Pittsburgh, Dance Moms follows talented little ones and their determined mums who will stop at nothing to reach the top. What’s a few tears and mothers screaming at each other in front of their children if you have a dream and a goal?

If you’ve ever pushed someone off a diving board, you know how much fun that can be. There’s a lot of fun to be had with the new reality competition show Celebrity Splash! which is yet to be shown here.

In this show, speedo-clad celebrities dive for our viewing pleasure. They lose clothing, injuries abound and you see it all close-up on the springboard.

As challenge television offers up the building of human pyramids and catastrophic high dives, you can bet there will always be new lows for producers to explore in the quest for higher ratings.

» Bet on Your Baby is on weekdays on M-Net at 6.30pm.

» Dance Moms is on Tuesdays on Lifetime at 7.10pm

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