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The Joe Schmo Show
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Joe Schmo Show is a funny, but adult-oriented series designed to fool one person into thinking he is competing in a reality show. It contains some strong, sexually oriented language ("t-ts," "d-ck") and references, plus some unbleeped use of "s--t." Cast members are sometimes shown in skimpy clothing (partial buttocks visible; nudity is blurred). Weapons, explosions, and physical competitions are frequent and sometimes lead to injuries (some with blood). Characters drink champagne, beer, and wine regularly. The set-up is a hoax, but the focus is more on keeping the illusion going rather than humiliating people.
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What's the story?
THE JOE SCHMO SHOW is a scripted series that relies on fooling one man in order to be successful. It stars Chase Rogan, a landscaper from Pittsburgh supposedly competing in a reality competition called The Full Bounty for $100,000 and a one-year job contract. The catch? Chase doesn't know that he is starring in a fake reality series, and competing with comedy actors committed to pushing him to the limit without letting him know that he is being set up. Ralph Garman plays host, and seasoned bounty hunter Jake Montrose, along with his ditzy wife Wanda (played by Amanda Landry), leads Chase and his fellow "contestants," including ex-con Chico (Lombardo Boyar), deaf competitor Karlee (Jo Newman), and Lorenzo Lamas, playing none other than down-on-his-luck actor Lorenzo Lamas, through a variety of challenges. Throughout it all, the actors must stay in character, improvise when necessary, and keep Chase on the course the producers have planned for him in order to keep the hoax going. If he makes it to the end of the competition without uncovering the truth, he gets to take home the cash -- and whatever is left of his dignity.
Is it any good?
Like the original The Joe Schmo Show (2003-2004), which also starred Ralph Garman as the host, the series features lots of hilarious moments as the actors and producers stay on their toes to maintain the illusion of a reality show production. Most of the humor comes from the actors' improvisations during challenges, individual conversations with Chase, and when they vote each other off the show. Also fun are the moments when actors make mistakes, panic, or when something in the production unexpectedly goes wrong.
Granted, it feels a bit like The Truman Show, and some may feel uncomfortable with the idea of setting up an unsuspecting person on cable television. But the focus is more on the different scenarios the actors must perform and how well they perform them, rather than humiliating anyone. It also highlights some of the absurd stunts and stereotypical characters one has come to expect from reality entertainment, as well as how far some folks are willing to go to win a prize. Even if you are not a reality show fan, this series will probably make you chuckle.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about when a hoax or prank goes too far. Do you think this show crosses a line? How do you think you would react if you were in Joe Schmo's position?
With today's use of social media like Facebook and Twitter, how long do you think it will be before everyone will know about the show and/or the people who appear on it? Do you think the show will be able to be produced again?