Twenty years after The Joe Schmo Show first premiered, a new network, TBS, is rebooting the show yet again with what it promises is a “new take on the iconic format” and “even bigger, wilder, and more mind-blowing.”
While The Joe Schmo Show season four might seem to be a reaction to the success of Freevee’s Jury Duty, it’s already been filmed, though there’s no premiere date yet.
In either a wild coincidence or a surprising reference, the fake reality TV show inside The Joe Schmo Show is called “The Goat,” which is incredible because Amazon Freevee just announced a real reality TV competition called The GOAT.
The Joe Schmo Show was previously rebooted by Spike in 2013, and that version worked better than season two, though I’ve since pretty much forgotten about it, while I’ll always remember the magic of season one.
TBS is rebooting it now, and is part of Warner Bros. Discovery, which notably does not own the cable network formerly known as Spike TV, now called Paramount Network. That means the show has changed parent companies.
At its new home, the challenges and sets look absurdly low-budget, and everything in the trailer appears to take place at the same rented mansion, where a poster on a wall and two uplights count as production design.
The mark, Ben, is yet another white guy, just like Joe Schmo season 1, season two (which also had a white woman who figured things out and joined the production), season three, and Jury Duty.
While there is an actual goat in the trailer, the format of the fake show inside the real show is not clear.
Joe Schmo 4 and reality TV’s ‘absurd and hilarious tropes’
So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley is hosting, and in the trailer, she refers to The Joe Schmo Show “the wildest, most over-the-top unscripted television show—ever scripted.”
In a press release, Warner Bros. Discovery exec Jason Sarlanis said, “When The Joe Schmo Show launched 20 years ago, it was ahead of its time. In rebooting this classic for a modern, savvy audience, it gives us the opportunity to comment on the often absurd and hilarious tropes of reality television in ways our viewers will love.”
Those are big claims in 2023, both because reality TV has moved past the kind of wacky shows that were so popular when the original Joe Schmo aired.
The trailer calls season four a “prank,” while one of the actors says “it is such a cruel joke,” so there may be no real commentary at all.
The press release also says they’re producing “with original creators, Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick,” who’ve gone on to write Deadpool, among other things. How involved will they be?
I’m even more curious about what Grodner and Meehan will have to say about reality TV’s “absurd and hilarious tropes.”
Since they produce one of the worst competition shows on television, will they use Joe Schmo to mock the kinds of things they do on Big Brother? Will Joe Schmo 4 be full of producer manipulation, unfair games, racism from a producer, or other best hits from their other show’s trash parade?