There’s a reality TV show for um, just about everything, so it should come as no surprise that the Discovery and Science Channels—both owned by the same media company—plan to feature a reality show competition in which contestants race…to the moon.
This new show comes hot on the heels of Google's announcement of the Lunar X competition, in which teams of scientists will strive to be the first to build a robotic spacecraft that can land on the moon. Oh and the (hopeful) lunar landing winner will bag a cool $30 million.
Considering the last (and only) live broadcast from the moon to in-home TVs was in 1969, there is an air of novelty to this—but we’re a little skeptical that a team-built robot landing on the moon in order to win $30 million from Google will have the same national appeal as Neil Armstrong beating the Soviets to the final frontier...
Then again, let’s not underestimate our culture’s voyeuristic obsession with the mundane aspects of strangers’ lives (thank you, Facebook and Twitter!). We’ve all been known to watch some wacky reality TV about, well, nothing. Throw in any kind of interesting twist, and there’s a chance we just. can’t. look away.
Let’s look at some other odd outer-space-based reality TV shows, shall we?
SPACE CADETS 2005
One of the biggest hoaxes in reality TV history was a show called Space Cadets (2005): twelve contestants thought they were training to be Britain’s first televised space tourists—doing fun stuff that totally prepares you for a space mission—like training in a Russian military base, making balloon animals, and memorizing the planets, of course. The show culminated with the contestants embarking on a five-day space mission in low orbit, after which point it was revealed to them that they actually never left England (the audience knows the entire time).
Props to the studio for thoroughness— they even made the film crew smoke Russian cigarettes so the contestants wouldn’t get suspicious! Viewers were shocked the cast didn’t figure it out, but psychological research shows that authority figures and groupthink can be quite convincing.
Just last year, Netherlands-based Mars One launched an application process for people willing to become the first people on Mars—and have it all filmed for global television, of course. The ship is set to land on Mars on April 22, 2023, but the television opportunities start way before that. Mars One has watched and learned from the pros (ahem, American Idol), and they’ll be letting viewers vote to choose the final cast. They want viewers to learn the cast’s life stories, to feel a connection with them—after all, this is a one-way trip.
And that, dear Ravisher, is the source of my intrigue—see, if Mars One really does successfully get people to Mars, they can do whatever the hell they want once they’re there. They can give the camera the finger before smashing it to bits, appear nude, eat eat chickens or anything else they want. Now that is unscripted TV. Sure, the network doesn’t have to air it, but I have a feeling that’s when things will get good (or really, really bad).
MILKY WAY MISSION
Another Dutch project called Milky Way Mission also made news last year when it announced plans to air a game show competition with the winning prize of flying into space. Sony Pictures Television is partnering with Dutch broadcaster Nederland 1 to launch a reality show featuring ten celebrities who go to astronaut bootcamp where they undergo physical and mental training and challenges with eliminations each week. The winner will be awarded a seat on a rocket launch just out of earth’s atmosphere. The show will start with Dutch celebrities, but if it catches on they’ve promised to expand for a global audience. I can already see Miley twerking in a spacesuit…
Now doesn’t The Amazing Race just seem so parochial, confining its contestants to one planet?