CBS orders a celebrity swap reality show pilot from the creators of VH1’s dating series (uh oh)

The network that brought you high-quality reality TV such as Survivor and The Amazing Race has ordered a pilot for a reality series produced by 51 Minds, the company behind all of VH1’s dating series, plus series such as The Surreal Life and a new show for E! about brides who get plastic surgery before their weddings. This doesn’t seem like a move in the right direction.

The series is called The Same Name, and on it, someone with the exact same name as a celebrity will swap places with that celebrity for a day, and the celebrity will presumably learn a lot about being less wealthy and the regular person will realize celebrity isn’t all that amazing, or something. Vulture notes that this isn’t unfamiliar ground for CBS: “The theme of confusing celeb identity is key to the Eye’s I Get That a Lot specials, while having stars survive in the real world contains echoes of Undercover Boss.”

Still, it’s hard to imagine CBS broadcasting something with the aesthetic 51 Minds has perfected on all of its endless VH1 shows. Then again, CBS has embraced cheapness in I Get That A Lot, and found success in Undercover Boss and its general lack of quality.

Sadly, I think this move means we can safely assume that CBS has given up trying to make its reality series set a standard that other networks can’t achieve. Even failed shows such as Kid Nation, Pirate Master, and Wickedly Perfect (remember that awesomeness?) were well-produced. And yes, I’m ignoring Big Brother here because it’s nearly live quality is somewhat of an excuse, its crappiness has always been a virtue, and it doesn’t fit my argument.

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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.