Readers' Submissions

Television in Thailand



What are the biggest TV shows in America today? No, let's say in the entire world.

Reality television, that's what.

Why?

For two reasons.

One, the shows are inexpensive to make. Take 'The Survivor,' you get twenty people living on a deserted island, sleeping in the dirt, doing all sorts of stupid stunts every day for twenty weeks and only two people are paid. The winner gets a million dollars and the runner up gets a hundred-thousand. The rest of the cast? Nothing, zero, zilch. Can't beat that for saving money when Jerry Seinfeld grabs a million buck for just one episode and then what about all those residuals that have to be paid to him.

The second reason is that everyone wants to imagine that their lives can change, wants their lives to change or needs to have the vicarious thrills of watching other people trying to change their lives.

Thoreau said, 'Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.'

This explains it although I suspect that most men here in Thailand will go to the grave with a song in their hearts. I know I will.

The first reality show was 'An American Family' on Public Broadcasting Service about forty years ago. It's a wonder that it took this long for someone to come up with another show.

Of course, we here in Thailand don't need reality TV or even need to watch television, all we need is to step out of the door in the evening, walk down the street or chat with the neighbors.

Wait! This gives me an idea for a show that will be bigger than all of them.

Bigger than American Idol, the five-hundred pound gorilla of them all, with fifty million viewers.

Do you see the celebrities clamoring to get on the show; Tony Bennett, Diana Ross, Barry Manilow. Wait, Barry Manilow?

What's he doing on there? It would take him ten years to have fifty-million viewers. They're all selling their newly released recordings that's what. And the glass that Simon Cowell drinks out of, clearly labeled Coca-Cola. How's that for placement?

How much did that cost? And all those thousands of contestants? How much are they paid? Nothing, that's what.

Okay, the last ones standing all get to go on tour and most of the top ten obtain recording contracts but really who gets paid here?

The three judges and the announcer, Ryan Seacrest – that's all.

I drove my girlfriend over to visit her aunt in Kata today. The woman is a lovely person I am sure.

She is also old, skinny and has more miles on her than a Dunlop at the Indie 500. She's showing me these pictures of her and her boyfriend. He is a handsome New Zealander, works for the phone company, comes three times a year and showers her with cash. She owns three bungalows now and they have been 'dating' for six years and he is only forty three years old.

In the meantime she said she is dying to have sex while he is away but can't get a guy. Little wonder – the looks of her.

I'm sitting there in shock thinking 'only in Thailand.' Then I'm thinking, 'A Stickman Story?'

Naww, too common, these crazy things happen all the time here in Thailand – poor desperate guys falling immediately in love with the first female that pays the slightest bit of attention to them.

And then a huge light-bulb blazed over my head. That's it! Reality Television.

I'm going to buy a small movie camera and follow a half a dozen visitors to Thailand for a few weeks. Interchange their adventures during the show. I figure this could be good for say twelve weeks or that is one show a week for twelve weeks and then like the show 'Survivor' go to different countries – Cambodia, the Philippines.

The sky's the limit. The world's my oyster. Fame and fortune here I come. What? You fancy that I jest? How do you think Anderson Cooper, star of CNN News, got his start?

All alone with a small cam recorder, that's how. Of course he was dodging bullets in Afghanistan while the most dangerous flying objects that may whizz by me would home-made darts or razor blades on a string.

I would pick a half a dozen candidates. I would have to interview them first, like in 'An American Family.'

The Loud family was chosen because the producers sensed or could see that the marriage was about to break up, the son was coming out of the closet and the daughter was going to have a nervous breakdown along with the mother. Now that's good casting.

Here in Thailand, it would be imperative to have a few first time visitors. Say, one man in his fifties or sixties, recently divorced, who hasn't slept with his wife in the past ten years. And an Englishman, hasn't had a date in since he was in high school and could not pick up a girl with a hundred pound note between his crooked teeth.

Then we would need a suave contestant, erudite, enlightened and au courant with the scene here in the Kingdom.

In other words a man just like Danainamerica, resplendent in his pink silk shirt and back suspenders.

A bon vivant that intimately knows his way around the beach road in Pattaya and every inch of the parking lot at the Nana Hotel.

A man with heterodox values that would be more than willing to bargain down a streetwalker from five-hundred baht short time to two hundred or less and take her back to his hotel no matter what she looked like and if that's not possible, hell why not a katoey.

Just one caveat here, and it's an important one. The camera would only go as far as the hotel door.

Heaven only knows what one would see inside, especially if you were following Dana.

We could have audience participation on this. Call in on your cell phones like on American Idol. Have a big board with a time clock and another one with dollar signs. Take the contestants to a beer bar in Pattaya or better yet Soi Cowboy.

Have the audience guess how long it would take the participants to bar fine the girl or to even fall smack in love.

How many thousands of baht could she get out of him? How much could she take the guy for in the long run?

Gold chains, houses, loans for the family – it could run into the millions.

Has anyone ever seen 'Extreme Makeover' on television? Another reality show that is inexpensive to produce.

All of the doctors work for the free publicity.

This one poor girl who said herself that she had a rat face came out looking superb after the dentist got through with her and then there was the nose and chin job, the breast enhancement, the elegant clothes, the sophisticated hair styling. After its all over, she's presented to the audience, her family and her husband or boyfriend.

My very first thought was, 'Jeeze, I wonder how long it will take her to dump the boyfriend?

This could also be on the big board here in the Land of Smiles.

When will the contestants cash run out, hearts be broken, buffalos die, mothers come down with exotic diseases, girls meet better prospects, the aspirants discarded for someone else?

The possibilities are endless.

Coming to your screen soon.

Stickman's thoughts:

"Frank's Thailand" – could be a great TV series!