Sometimes I am completely blown away by the ridiculousness of our society. This happened last night. We were both a bit tired last night and opted for a night in, watching a couple of shows and relaxing. The clocked rolled around to nine o’clock, and, flipping through the channels, we landed on NBC, and the most ridiculous (I really can’t think of a better word for it) idea for a reality show I have ever seen.
It was The Baby Borrowers. For the unfamiliar, the show involves several teenage couples being given a house and, you guessed it, a baby. The whole thing is dressed up as a social experiment, and that makes it okay, I guess. Think about it for a minute: couples willingly volunteered to loan their real babies to teenagers they have never met before. The teens keep the kid for three days and nights. Sure, the parents watch the whole thing via CCTV cameras, so supposedly that makes it safe. Has no one thought about the impact that being abandoned with total strangers for three days will have on the kids?
The whole idea is that we are supposed to be wrapped up in the drama within the couples. Will their relationships survive? Are they ready for this kind of responsibility? Instead I’m thinking, How many sessions with a therapist is this kid going to need because his parents had to have their fifteen minutes of reality TV fame?
The show gets even more ridiculous (again, I can’t think of a better word), when every three days the kids are replaced with an older set: toddlers, pre-teens, teens, then finally, the elderly. Why the elderly? I don’t know. My favorite moment of the show was when one teenage “Father” threw in the towel, walking off the set. The “Mother” stuck with it yelling, “I’m not going to leave this little boy alone!” Not an overly interesting event until the camera panned over to show the little boy. It was during the Teen Stage, and the “Little Boy” was the same age as the “Mother.”
I’m not railing against reality shows; I watch several, and do, in fact, work in reality television. It’s not the genre I’m confused by, it’s this new low that we’ve sunk to. This show was aired in the UK and it faced heavy criticism there. The obvious answer was, of course, to bring it to America. We’ll apparently watch anything.
I like the attempt to justify the exploitation of the kids involved, especially the babies, by calling this a social experiment. They try to hammer home the point that ‘this is not entertainment, it’s science’ by using the word Experiment every thirty seconds or so. I’d love to see the researchers’ notes. And what journal will this study be published in?