Ouch, Oh God, That’s Gotta Hurt

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a television program that forces you to laugh so hard at such terrible and painful things happening to strangers. It’s ABC’s Wipeout, and watching professional cheerleaders, aeronautical engineers, and former college football players bounce hard off of six-foot round rubber balls or get punched by a gauntlet of thrusting boxing gloves into goey mud is just the funniest thing you’ve ever seen. It’s a remake of a Japanese show brought to the US.

One by one, they begin, thrusting fists into the air and bragging that they’ll represent the female sex, only to land, unable to move, in the awful muck. One especially confident overweight female store manager just lay there, shocked and stunned, and didn’t try to get out of the mud, she had to be dragged.

After the terribly painful first round, 32 of the strongest and most nimble are able to move to round two. There they stand, on a circle of blue platforms in a circle over a pond, with a diabolical swinging arm that they must jump over as it whizzes by, sweeping most of them into the drink. The arm gets higher and higher with each rotation, soon they’ll have to jump three feet to get over it. The snarky commentators mock the poor schmucks as they plunge all the way down, and do replays diagramming their pain.

Then it gets worse…cut-outs are placed on the platforms that they have to jump through, and we see them do faceplants off the padded stanchions after being thrown down by centrifugal force. They do backflips on the way down, and their helmet cams give the viewers at home a bird’s eye view of the tumult.

It’s painful, and I can’t help but watch–and isn’t that the point of reality TV? I’m sure most of us are thinking of how glad we are hat it’s not us who’s wiping out trying to win $50,000 on TV.