Germany has seen the failure of several reality TV shows, most recently including Big Diet, which ABC is considering showing to U.S. audiences. Has the bloom come off the reality rose, or are we just getting more discriminating in what we want to view?
The folks who brought the world Big Brother seem to be producing flops. BB itself has not been a ratings giant in the U.S., Chains of Love did not meet expectations in this country either. And now, Big Diet (see photo above) has failed as well.
According to both the DPA news wire and the BBC website, the Big Diet reality spinoff show in Germany has been cancelled. The reason given is that contestants failed to reach their weight-loss goals, a network official at RTL II, the German television station carrying this show, said last week.
The same RTL II spokesman said the reality show, the premise of which was to have contestants compete to lose the most weight during a set period of time, would go off the air on July 29. It was originally scheduled to run all summer.
This spoof-spinoff of Big Brother had overweight contestants holed up in a luxury spa with personal trainers, but there were booby traps like chocolate cake and other goodies placed in strategically located places. The contestants learn how to eat healthy, count calories and work out. The winner was to have been awarded the weight he or she had lost in gold. Each of the 12 constants eats 1200 calories a day. Those who fail to reach their weight loss goal are kicked out weekly.
But Diet has been a ratings disappointment. According to the BBC, the first show pulled in 1.27 million viewers but the second show dropped to 660,000. RTL II had hoped to corner a 8 percent share of the market, but pulled in only 2 percent.
The presenter of Big Diet, Jenny Elvers, said “It was very difficult to turn around the ratings in such a short time. We all made a great effort, but in the end the viewer decides.”
But the spokesman said it was not the “slim” ratings, but rather the failure of contestants to slim their waistlines that prompted the network to axe the show.
And according to the BBC again, the German version of BB was pulled off the air halfway during its run because of dismal ratings. Yet another reality show appearing on German TV, Girl’s Camp, a show featuring a group of women on a desert island and a man tasked with seducing them, also flopped.
But German television companies are preserving the reality genre as ARD gets set to launch a show about life in the Black Forest 100 years ago. Sounds like 1900’s House, which appeared on British TV and PBS last year.
Only last week it was reported that that the ABC television network was considering an American version of Big Diet. According to the Hollywood Reporter, ABC was in negotiations with Edemol Entertainment USA for a 10-episode commitment for the project.
Is it escaping anyone’s attention that this premise was just plain silly and perhaps no one wanted to watch a group of obese people exercise, sweat and eat in this society obsessed with “thinner is better”? Or that perhaps what looks great on paper might not work in reality? When is the last time you thought about an Edsel?
Susan Schechter works for a multinational Financial Markets/News company as a Research Analyst/Biographer covering the UK, Australia and other Commonwealth countries.