Reality Shows Based On Action Movies Might Be the Downfall of Civilization

By  · Published on June 23rd, 2015

Twentieth Century Fox

Life imitates art all the time, but that doesn’t mean Hollywood needs to capitalize on this fact. Especially if it means the increased chance that our reality entertainment options will one day be true versions of Death Race 2000, The Running Man and The Hunger Games, etc.

It’s not often that we hear of reality shows being based on fictional films. Other nonfiction works, maybe, as in the case of Catfish. For the former, there was, briefly, The Real Wedding Crashers, basically a version of Punk’d involving wedding ceremony pranks. Also briefly, Randi Zuckerberg was inspired by The Social Network, a movie based on the life of her brother, to produce Bravo’s Start-Ups: Silicon Valley.

Most we hear about never come to fruition. Mark Wahlberg once planned to do a reality show inspired by the women characters on The Fighter, which itself was based on a true story. And apparently there was an attempt at a Saw-based reality series.

There actually already was a reality show on The CW called Capture (aka The Hunt), which many compared to The Hunger Games, noting the irony. A new show, The Briefcase, has also been likened to that franchise due to its exploitation of the poor. Much more innocently, there is currently an a-capella competition program inspired by Pitch Perfect called Sing It On.

Well, now get ready for a potential reality competition series based on Mr. and Mrs. Smith — you know, the action movie about married assassins (played by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie). It seems this is the next step given the 2007 fictional TV series didn’t work out. Of course, Variety’s report doesn’t have specifics, so we can’t know for sure that the married-couple contestants will or won’t be taking out assigned hits on people.

Chances are the premise will merely feature married couples who have to compete against each other on various missions. And then they team up in a home good store and have to try to perform a shopping spree while shooting their way through an attack by armed men. Or maybe it will be a dance competition show where the couples have to master the tango while removing each other’s concealed weapons?

So, what’s next? A reality series based on Leon: The Professional? Another on Mad Max: Fury Road? How about something like Predator (and other movies akin to “The Most Dangerous Game”) or Deliverance? How about a version of Wife Swap inspired by Face/Off, so she doesn’t know you’ve even switched places with another man?

The possibilities seem as endless as our civilization now seems to be the opposite.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.