Do you want to know what the most enjoyable show on television is? No, it’s not True Blood, The Wire, or even that prank show on ABC3 (quality stuff). Bearing in mind that I have no subscription TV and don’t really watch all that much of free-to-air (in other words, I’m terribly unqualified to judge and critique, so hack away at me), this title goes to Wipeout. If you haven’t seen it, you really must; it consists mostly of people attempting an obstacle course, and then getting embarrassed on a global scale when they get punched in the groin, or something along those lines. For such a simple and admittedly repetitive premise, it has shown remarkable staying power; not once have I even considered changing the channel when I come across it. I was going to haiku-ise about it, to demonstrate my point in a manner reminiscent of the iconoclastic Jack Kerouac (don’t act like you’ve never heard of him!), but then I remembered about my poetic retardation. So I’ll just say something about why it’s so good, and why you should watch it.
The main reason that this show is popular, you may assume, is that it appeals to our baser instincts and harks back to a simpler time when we got bounced by big red balls and pulverised by a wall of a thousand fists. The humiliation of these (constructedly arrogant) contestants has a certain karmic essence, largely due to our incessant, unyielding belief in Tall Poppy Syndrome. Plus, it’s god damn funny to watch all this happen, backed by a ridiculously over the top yet appropriate commentary team. And these are all good reasons, but they’re not the real reason, which is this: the show is a manifest of our backlash against reality television shows.
Now, I’m not talking about ones like Big Brother or Jersey Shore (a new American show which is quickly redefining unintentional comedy, shown by J-Woww’s confession that “I left the club early because I didn’t want to cheat on my boyfriend. And I felt like drinking water and eating ham. [holds packet of ham up to the camera] Ham.”) These are reality shows inasmuch as they show people who seem to have no outstanding areas of expertise; in other words, like most people. No, I’m talking about Australian Idol and the likes: basically, any series devoted to finding metaphorical diamonds in the rough that is civilisation. For a few years, we were amazed as ordinary people, people like us, became stars in their own right due to possession of an incredible talent. But we have realised that these individuals are not, in fact, like us, for we are generally uninspired, untalented slobs. And by rebelling against the former ideology, we have alternately embraced the supposed silliness of Wipeout: after all, who are we more like- the R ‘n’ B sensation on Idol, or the fat, out of breath guy on Wipeout?
I rest my case.