Jerry Seinfeld is finally returning to TV with a new reality show, The Marriage Refs. To help him learn the fine art of generating strife, The Daily Beast presents some lessons from the very best and very worst moments in reality TV history.
DO SHOW WASHED-UP CELEBS IN ACTUAL PAIN One could argue that the opportunity to take this advice is so rare it doesn’t deserve mentioning—until you see this clip of Erik Estrada and on the 2007 CBS show Armed and Famous.
DON’T LET CHILDREN DECAPITATE CHICKENS It really happened. Check out this clip from CBS’s Kid Nation.
DON’T EXPLOIT DWARFS
It’s a bad sign with a show’s premiere inspires the CNN headline, “Dwarf-date show sparks controversy.” Fox’s The Littlest Groom (2004) lived down to expectations in so many ways, including its heavy-handed use of product placement.
DO FEATURE CELEBRITY MELTDOWNS If Seinfeld’s new show doesn’t have any celebrities yet, he should find them and give them a reason to cry. We suggest Paula Abdul.
DO LEARN EVERYTHING YOU CAN FROM PROJECT RUNWAY However staged most reality shows may be, it’s the authentic emotional moments no fictional show can match that keep us coming back. See, for example, Jeffrey in season three of Bravo’s Project Runway slowly bringing a competitor’s mother to tears.
DON’T PERMIT CHARACTERS TO DESTROY THEIR ACTUAL LIVES How a reality show cast member comes across is largely determined by the producers. But they were powerless to save Stephen Fowler in ABC’s Wife Swap.
DO SET THE BAR HIGH FOR CATFIGHTS Because you will never, ever top the contestant known as “Pumkin” spitting on the contestant known as “New York,” and the ensuing melee, from season one of VH1’s Flavor of Love.
DON’T HAVE A PREMISE THAT MAKES ALL BUT THE STUPIDEST VIEWERS MOCK YOU The premise behind The CW’s The Farmer Wants a Wife is to take The Bachelor but set it… on a farm! Though the last laugh may be on us: the show is set to air more episodes.
DON’T LET THE HOST GET STABBED Joey Greco of Cheaters knows first-hand the perils of interceding in domestic strife—n.b., Mr. Seinfeld—as when things got out of control with a shirtless man and a fishing knife. Too bad he didn’t bring a Tazer.