Homeless Youth TV Network parodies reality shows to bring attention to teen homelessness

A campaign to raise awareness about youth homelessness is using mock reality show titles and brief, satirical trailers that reveal facts about homelessness.

The Homeless Youth TV Network features such “shows” as Project Runaway, The Simple Strife, and American Idle, but after a few seconds of a fake trailer, viewers are presented with a comparison between that show’s contents and homelessness. There’s also a fake casting application. Each of the “shows” invite visitors to “sponsor” them by donating $1 to the campaign’s charitable partners.

The campaign plans an actual reality show, however, one called 24 Hours on the Street. Two randomly selected winners will spend a day living on the street with no food or money with American Idol 6‘s Ace Young, who identifies himself as “a former reality TV star.” (Text “REAL” to 99464 to enter.)

Virgin Mobile USA created the campaign, and exec Ron Faris says in a press release, “The personal drama found on HYTV is far more moving than your average episode of reality television. Youth homelessness is not something that runs for a season and then goes off the air. Virgin Mobile USA is committed to getting people to pay attention to this important issue.”

Homeless Youth TV
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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, 37, 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.