Just as with country songs, it’s getting more and more difficult to tell the legit from the parody when it comes to reality-TV shows. (Heard “Redneck Crazy”? It’s a bullet to satire’s skull.) Since The Only TV Column That Matters™ hasn’t a damned thing to write about this week—it’s a cruel, cruel summer, leaving me here on my own, etc.—and you were already on your way to the astrology column, anyway, let’s see if you can tell which of the following is an actual reality show on the air right now, and which I’ve just completely fabricated:
Summer Camp (USA)
The network says: “Meet an eclectic group of 16 adults from all walks of life … Campers pack their bags and head to an idyllic lakeside retreat, where they indulge in over-the-top competitions inspired by classic camp games.” True TV says: If Big Brother seems far too “complex,” “thinky” and “hygienic,” Summer Camp is for you!
Fat Cops (CMT)
The network says: “Follow the on- and off-duty antics of the police department of Trinity, Texas, population 2,697. They may not have the world’s-highest crime rate to contend with, but keeping their small town safe from danger is a full-time job for this fun-loving crew.” True TV says: It’s the gelatinous mashup of Reno 911!, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and a diabetes PSA no one ever dared asked for.
Hillbillies for Hire (CMT)
The network says: “Hillbillies for Hire follows pranksters as they use their backwoods ingenuity to concoct the most outrageous pranks imaginable. Jeremiah and Big Ox, well-known for pulling pranks on their family and friends, also run a for-hire prank business, making themselves available to anyone who feels the need to enact a little ‘redneck revenge’ on someone they know.” True TV says: If there’s ever an epic crossover event wherein the Hillbillies are gunned down by the Fat Cops in a poisoned-donuts-gone-wrong prank, we will break Twitter with #Hicknado.
Pregnant & Dating (We)
The network says: “The spotlight will be on all the drama, conflict and inherent comedy that ensues when these very spirited and single moms-to-be embark on their quest to find Mr. Right, or at least Mr. Right Now … Whether their pregnancy was planned or unplanned, these take-charge mothers-to-be laugh at convention and aren’t going to miss a beat on their quest to have it all.” True TV says: Gaaahhh …
City Girl Diaries (Style)
The network says: “These 30-something, talented and beautiful best friends will take viewers on a high-class journey through their fast-paced New York City lives, from epic girl-talk sessions to their dating mishaps, tumultuous love lives and demanding careers.” True TV says: None of these “girls” are talented, beautiful or anywhere near 30, but they’re at least shattering the stereotype that Style only employs likable humans.
Below Deck (Bravo)
The network says: “The series follows a group of crewmembers living and working aboard a mega-yacht … The upstairs and downstairs worlds collide when this young, single crew live, love and work together onboard the luxurious, privately owned yacht, while tending to the ever-changing needs of their wealthy, demanding clients.” True TV says: Am I the only one who can’t get Arrested Development’s Tobias Fünke saying “hot seamen” out of my head?
The Vineyard (ABC Family)
The network says: “Set against the idyllic backdrop of Martha’s Vineyard, The Vineyard follows a mix of locals and ‘wash-ashores’ working, living and playing together for the summer. Everyone is at a significant crossroads in their personal lives as they juggle romance, friendships, rivalries and career choices.” True TV says: When the yachts arrive, this place is just going to be covered in hot seamen.
Answers: ALL of these shows are real. You’re welcome, ’Merica.