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?
I can’t believe on whodunnit they set dontae on fire but now he is dead
— Jessie Scott (@HighJdog) June 24, 2013
Am I the only person wondering how there is a dead person on this reality show? #whodunnit
— Amy Springer (@amyespringer) June 24, 2013
okay i was watching that whodunnit show and omg this guy was set on fire and died and it’s a reality show is that even legal?
— grayson dunst (@graysondunst) June 24, 2013
Soooo, I’m watching Whodunnit? On ABC. Can you kill people on reality tv? Are they really dead?
— Kimberly. Abigail (@_KALiforniaLove) June 24, 2013
Wait she’s actually dead?????!!!!!????? #whodunnit
— Reann (@rereelovee) June 24, 2013
I’m still not sure if the person is actually dead in Whodunnit or not. And I have a feeling this about to 500x more complicated.
— Brett Zimmerman (@OfficialBZimmer) June 24, 2013
#whodunnit is so confusing. Is it a real dead body? Did she actually die? Do these people think they are really gonna die? ðŸ˜–
— âˆžÐ¸Î¹Â¢Ïƒâ„“Ñ”âˆž (@callmenicole2) June 24, 2013
Are these people on Whodunnit? legitimately dead?
— Megan Graham (@MGraham818) June 24, 2013
Like is she really dead though? I wanna believe but everyone loves a good reality show. #Whodunnit
— Tanishaa (@Nishaa_TheModel) June 24, 2013
— Kristen Schirner (@kristen_lynnee) June 24, 2013
Are those people really dead on #Whodunnit ?
— Sequoia Graves (@TrendChaser1010) June 24, 2013
Wait so is this girl really dead?? #whodunnit
— Leigh Ann (@ohheyitsleighh) June 24, 2013
ummm. watching #whodunnit and is this lady really dead? #confused #whatshappening?
— Sydney Hall (@Syddie_Hall) June 24, 2013
#whodunnit Is that a real dead body? They can’t actually kill people on game shows so it can’t be real, but it sure looked real.
— GcDrovers (@DavisDrover) June 24, 2013
Is she really dead.? #whodunnit
— Katie (@church_kaitlyn) June 24, 2013
this whodunnit show is confusing. are the really dead or are the just playing dead while people touch them in the morgue?
— Alicia Perovsek (@aliciaperovsek) June 24, 2013
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