Joe Schmo debuts tonight.

Joe Schmo debuts tonight.
Spike TV’s first reality TV show, Joe Schmo, debuts tonight at 9 p.m. ET. The series actually chronicles a “staged reality show” called Lap of Luxury, which features a cast of actors starring as contestants and producers–and one guy who thinks he’s on a real show. Matt Kennedy Gould participates in challenges such as “hands on a high-priced hooker” and watches “[w]hen a contestant is eliminated, [and] a ‘Lap of Luxury’ collector’s plate embossed with the contestant’s face, is tossed into the fireplace. ‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,’ the host intones solemnly. ‘You are dead to us,’” as The New York Times reports. USA TODAY says that despite the “intriguing concept,” it “is done in by a crude and cruel tone and by a crew of self-satisfied second-rate actors.” The Chicago Sun-Times agrees, saying “it’s executed so badly on ‘Joe Schmo’ that we actually wind up feeling bad for Gould, assuming he truly isn’t in on the joke as well.” But The New York Daily News says “it’s pretty funny, especially when the tables get turned on the pranksters by Gould’s unexpected reactions.”
+ plus: 20,000 apply for fake UK reality TV show.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.