Our Little Genius is the latest in a long string of embarrassingly dumb reality shows that the networks refuse to stop punishing us with, but this one is uniquely reprehensible. Most reality shows with a few rare exceptions are predicated on us finding some pleasure and enjoyment from watching people embarrass themselves on national television, or to fail outright and self destruct.
It's sick in every way, little better than watching slaves fight in some grand Roman arena (or dog fighting, Mike Vic style). And if they could, you know that every network would put something like that on the air if they could get away with it. Not just fighting for money and cars, either, but full of death and gore. Whatever gets the best ratings because that's all they care about, and that's all that matters.
You know they would. That's depraved enough, but Our Little Genius is a quiz show with a new, disturbing twist: instead of watching adults twist in the wind, we get to watch little kids sweat it out instead. Forget the stigma of having above-average intelligence they'll suffer throughout their entire childhood, and forget what they'll go through knowing millions of people are watching them to see who will fail, when, and how spectacular it will be. (That kind of stress has been known to give perfectly healthy adults lasting psychological problems. Come on.)
The worst part is knowing that deep down inside, the greatest fear and stress these kids will endure is the possibility of letting down and failing their families. That's the goal, to win money for their family. Get on stage, dance like a monkey and the network will throw some token cash at the commoner parents.
Adults have built in defenses to deal with that kind of pressure, kids do not. It's child abuse no matter how you look at it and I'm thrilled that the production is so screwed up that FOX had to pull it before it even aired.
And instead of just competing against their peers, the children will compete against adult experts. How screwed up is that going to make them growing up?
The running excuse is that there was "an issue with how some information was relayed to contestants during the pre-production", according to FOX's press release.
Ok, so apparently the problem isn't that FOX and Mark Burnett suddenly found some minuscule amount of integrity and humanity and decided not to exploit little children for money, but because there were concerns that some of them were cheating? You know, FOX may be the most successful network today, but at some point they are going to have to pay for selling their souls like this.