The Reality of Unintended Consequences

Today's cuppa: fast-food coffee (no milk for morning tea), coffeeshop English breakfast tea (in the afternoon), topped off with evening decaf tea (remembered to get the milk).

First up, a little business.

In mid-May, I spent a long, strange night at the Canyon Country, Calif., location for ABC's new hit game show "Wipeout" to watch parking-lot guard Guillermo Diaz from "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" attempt to take on the Wipeout Zone -- and wrote a story about it. Despite original plans for the bit to air on "Kimmel" the week before the show's premiere on Tuesday, June 24, I'm now told it actually airs on Friday the 27th. I hope it's as funny on TV as it was on location.

And now, a few thoughts about the real-world effects of reality TV.

Years ago, I met reality producer Thom Beers ("Deadliest Catch," "Ax Men," "Ice Road Truckers," etc.) on location for his Discovery Channel show "Monster House," at a San Fernando Valley tract home being remodeled to look like a Chicago-mobster hangout. Since Beers didn't have a globe-trotting budget for this show, all the houses "monsterized" were located somewhere in the greater Los Angeles area.

In the course of the day -- during which I noticed that host Steve Watson was leaning on a two-by-four that was the sole support of an entire roof, prompting a safety meeting -- I learned that some "Monster House" alumni had formed a social group and would attend get-togethers at each other's wildly remodeled residences.

This is not a unique phenomenon.

If I went to a "Survivor" season-finale party, I would see alumni from earlier seasons, later on joined by former contestants from "The Apprentice." "Apprentice" finales would feature earlier "Apprentices," "Survivors" and "Contenders," and "Rock Star: INXS" and "Rock Star: Supernova" tapings could include any of the above, in various configurations, all from the universe of Mark Burnett reality shows.

Like "Monster House," most people featured on Style's clutter-busting "Clean House" live somewhere in the vicinity of L.A. At one "Clean House" garage sale, two families from earlier episodes stopped by (and, yes, host Niecy Nash chided them for being supposedly reformed packrats who appeared to be willing to buy another packrat's discarded junk).

While I was at "Amazing Race" HQ last Friday, creator Bertram Van Munster said that former teams from the show have stayed in touch with each other.

I wouldn't be surprised if this happens to people who were on "The Bachelor," "Big Brother," "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?", "Hell's Kitchen," "Top Chef," "Project Runway" and on and on.

These shows are creating an entire subculture of men and women who might never have crossed paths had they not been thrown together in the superheated confines of a reality show, forming bonds that only people who've been through similar experiences could truly understand (or, indeed, would want to).

Friendships have formed (and more than a few lifelong enmities, no doubt), people have probably dated or married, children could be born if they haven't been already ... in five, 10, 20 years, who knows what will become of the unplanned social cross-currents of reality television?

I don't know, but it sounds like a reality show to me..

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