People think ABC’s Whodunnit actually killed contestants

Update: The show’s executive producer Anthony Zuiker discusses this and gives behind-the-scenes details.

The new ABC reality competition Whodunnit debuted last night and included the pretend murder of two contestants, one of whom wasn’t really a contestant at all. Some viewers were, at best, confused about whether or not the show was really killing people, while others bought into the premise completely.

A note: I have mixed feeling about the trend of publicly shaming people who respond to events stupidly on social media, mostly because it’s too easy: There are a lot of well-meaning but stupid people in the world. That said, I do think it’s important to illustrate and condemn things such as horrific racism aimed at a 10-year-old, especially when it’s not an isolated response.

I gathered these responses as a public service, because at the very least, they illustrate how some people watch reality TV shows without employing any kind of critical thinking or analysis. Like, zero. And that genuinely scares me. Not that some people prefer to disengage and just watch and be entertained, but that they are so unwilling to think about what’s on the screen that they publicly embarrass themselves.

Even if you give the production credit for its special effects–and honestly, the corpse makeup was the least convincing part of the production design–how on earth can someone watch a television program and think that contestants are actually being shot in the head and set on fire?

Most of the people here do frame their responses as a question, so at least there’s a hint of skepticism, and their Twitter friends often replied to point out that, no, a major network production does not actually murder people. But seriously, was it ever really a question to begin with?

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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.