I Survived a Japanese Game Show exists on American television for a reason: Japanese game shows are absolutely ridiculous, and we like to make fun of them. Maybe we aren't ready for crazy stunts involving large pools of dirty water and fat suits. That would be too wild for us. We're responsible for tame shows like Fear Factor and Jackass, after all.
Here are five more bizarre foreign reality shows -- past and present -- that set the bar pretty high for the US of A:
1. Battle of the Blades (Canada): You have to hand it to our northern neighbor for creating a reality show that perpetuates the long-standing stereotype of its residents. This show will pit professional hockey players and figure skaters against each other in a competition. Though the airdate, location and format have yet to be determined, we do know that the show will have a live studio (rink?) audience and that viewers will be able to vote from home, Idol-style. Sounds fun, eh?
2. Penitents Compete (Turkey): You'll wish your cable service included the Kanal T station after you hear this one. Four religious leaders -- a Muslim imam, a Greek Orthodox priest, a Jewish rabbi and a Buddhist monk -- will soon attempt to convert ten atheists to their respective faiths. If the atheists are "reborn," so to speak, they win a trip to their newly acquired Holy Land (Mecca, Jerusalem or Tibet). The show is stirring a lot of controversy, but Ahmet Ozdemir, deputy director of Kanal T, was blunt about the show's intentions. He told a Turkish newspaper, "The project aims to turn disbelievers on to God."
3. The Big Donor Show (the Netherlands): Two years ago, the Dutch aired a show in which candidates -- not contestants -- competed to donate their kidney to a terminally ill patient. Viewers were even allowed to vote for the person that they felt was the best match, but the patient -- an actress -- made the final decision. The show was intended to raise awareness for people awaiting organ transplants but was condemned internationally for its unethical and unrealistic portrayal of the organ donation process.
4. Sperm Race (Germany): The name says it all. In 2005, twelve male competitors donated their sperm to be sent to a lab in Cologne. At the lab, three doctors then observed the sperm as they "raced" toward an egg with a bit of chemical encouragement (sperm steroids?). The man with the fastest sperm won bragging rights to his own goods as well as a new red Porsche -- but the race never aired on TV. We'd like to know what happened to the kid!
5. Japanese Tetris (Japan): As if the game shows weren't enough, Japan took its kooky costumes and inventive props one step further last year by inventing a human tetris game (which we later adopted for ourselves). You have to see it to believe it:
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story did not mention that the star of The Big Donor Show was an actress or that Sperm Race never aired on television. The story has been updated with the correct information. Thanks to users skokeloor and Tardis HQ for alerting us.