Mediaplex announced at a press conference Friday that it would launch a new cable channel dedicated to the distilled essence of reality TV programming: schadenfreude.
The new venture, called The Humiliation Channel (THC), will feature vulnerable, often desperate people placed in situations specifically engineered to “fast track them to the spectacular personal disasters on the brink of which their lives have always been teetering.”
When asked how the new channel would differ from traditional reality TV, Mediaplex director of programming Megan Grindstone said, “Up to this point, most shows have had a premise that involved some chance of redemption or even triumph. While that kind of classic drama has its place, our focus groups have shown that the majority of viewers watch to see losers wallow in shame as they hurt themselves and people around them.” She continued, “It makes them feel better about their own lives.”
New York Review of Books media critic Dwight Brighton said of this twist on reality programming, “To call it ‘emotional pornography’ is an insult to the pornography industry. It’s more like psychic snuff cinema. Once they find the ‘stars’ of these shows, all they have to do is place them in an environment conducive to their self-destruction and let the cameras roll.”
Wall Street, however, seemed to have no qualms with the moral aspects of the venture, as Mediaplex’s stock rose 32 percent on news of the launch.
Although the full lineup of the first season of the Humiliation Channel has not been finalized, Grindstone released descriptions of a few of the shows that are in development. “Crash and Burn” places hopeful yet untalented participants into situations where they are guaranteed to fail and suffer emotional and physical pain on an epic scale. “I Hate My Kids” features difficult children, terrible parents, and regular appearances by CPS. “Malpractice” sets up doctors with checkered pasts and shaky credentials in group practices and opens the doors to an unsuspecting public. And finally, “Junkie Business” is similar to the popular “Celebrity Rehab”, except that instead of rehabilitation, the addicts are offered unlimited access to their substances of choice.