The trajectory of Showtime’s The L Word from a soapy drama about L.A.-based lesbians to The Real L Word, a reality show set in the same world, is enough to fill any struggling TV writer with dread. Because who really needs to pay someone to put words in the mouths of actors when shooting the real thing is cheaper and often just as compelling? Take Bravo's Real Housewives series. Please. No, but seriously, consider how The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills serves up high drama as enthralling as anything to unfold on Dynasty or Dallas in the ‘80s—and what’s more, it’s all real. (Sort of.) It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but reality TV draws viewers, and, in the case of The Real L Word, extends the franchise life of a show that would otherwise have simply been put out to pasture. Showtime’s announcement last week that the series would be renewed for a third season, possibly bringing it to the East Coast, got us thinking: What other shows could benefit from a reality spinoff?
The Real Bones
There are only 88 forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. Certainly one of them, preferably photogenic and with piercingly soulful blue eyes, and who is perhaps locked in a state of perpetual sexual tension with her FBI liaison, would be willing to have her cases explored on camera.
The Real Archer
Certainly the world of global espionage is a rich, untapped reality TV subject, and what better way to introduce subjects to covert operations than through a lovable, mother-son-run family business? It’s like Cops meets Cake Boss, but with assassinations, gadgets, and deadly ninjas!
The Real New Girl
Audiences instantly warmed to this indie-twee twist on the Odd Couple formula; and there’s no reason an actual, Real World-style living arrangement between an impossibly doe-eyed ingenue who recently left her boyfriend and three sloppy dudes couldn’t result in non-scripted primetime magic, as well.
The Real Bob’s Burgers
Reality TV loves families and loves workplaces and REALLY loves families in workplaces. Voila! The Real Bob’s Burgers, following the exploits of a hard-working couple running a family diner in economically choppy times, and their three, deeply weird children.
The Real Breaking Bad
Granted, finding a dying-chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin willing to put his life on camera would be a development challenge for any reality producer. But once someone finds the guy—and he’s out there! We just know he’s out there!—well, the rest of it “writes itself,” as they say.
Can you think of any other scripted shows that you'd love to watch a reality version of?