AMC is launching The Pitch this weekend, a docu-style reality show about advertising clearly inspired by the success of Mad Men. But why stop there? There are plenty of other ways to spin the network's prestige dramas into chintzy reality series.
So, obviously, meth cooking. But good luck finding drug lords who want to be on television. Instead, how about Chemical Reactions, a show where high school chemistry teachers compete in a series of challenges to win $500,000. Some of the challenges involve chemistry, but some just involve scary levels of violence.
The Walking Dead
Discovery has already done a postapocalypse reality show (The Colony), and Survivor already does the "isolated people turn on each other" setup. What TWD's audience needs is a weekly seminar on weird survival skills — think Good Eats, except instead of teaching you where vinegar comes from, the show teaches you how to siphon gasoline from an abandoned car, or what kinds of supplies would be important to loot, or how to diagnose your own minor illnesses. This show would be called Brains, because not only is it tangentially about zombies, but also it makes you smarter.
Would you watch a show about terrible police work? How about arduously dull sleaze-baggy politicians? What about clandestine sex work in the rain-ravaged Pacific Northwest? (Well ... maybe that last one.) No, what The Killing actually does effectively is dwell in grief. Intervention, Obsessed, and Hoarders have demonstrated a surprisingly robust appetite for serious, nonexploitative shows about people who really need help. Grief would fit that model just fine: Every week, we meet someone who has been derailed by tragedy, and then we see that person get the grief counseling they need to get their lives back on track. Depressing? Maybe, but no more so than The Killing itself.
Hell on Wheels
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Where is the reality show about Civil War reenactors? This is a serious void that could so easily be filled.