Series 7

By spoofing reality TV, writer-director Daniel Minahan is putting his money on the fact that–despite the glut of reality-based programming on television–people are so gonzo on these slices of life that they’ll flock to see a satire on the genre. But, short of death, what’s left in the reality TV bag of tricks? The obvious answer is death, as former television writer Minahan explores in his faux series The Contenders, where the characters are trying to kill each other (rather than just boff each other, a la Temptation Island). The film, consisting of three “episodes,” highlights the career of reigning champion Dawn–a rumpled, eight-months pregnant frazzled blonde–who competes, not for a million smackeroos or an SUV, but to be allowed to leave the show. At the same time, there’s no explanation as to how society got to the point of forcing people into serving out indentured game show duties. Still, is watching cleverly-contrived, extreme TV realism that much better than sitting down with a six-pack to root for your favorite WCW gladiator? See “Opening Friday” for theaters.