Whatever happened to actually accomplishing something before reaching celebrity status? Whatever happened to the milkman, the paperboy, evening TV? Back in the childhood glory days of summer, I could pour a glass of Donald Duck orange juice and curl up in front of the welcome rotation of Perfect Strangers, Full House and the canine-population weary Bob Barker. These shows were built on that other premise, or at least the one lacking a collection of volatile strangers in a house with cameras rolling.

Recently, reality programming took a turn for the worse by dousing us with celebrities that are celebrities for being celebrities; the likes of Paris Hilton, Ashlee Simpson and that girl whose dad was in Black Sabbath. (I take it back, Paris. I love you. You were wonderful in that homemade porno video. And you were very polite to answer your phone.)But forgive us, Ashlee, if we weren't brought to tears when you sang about how your parents "went away" when you were six years old. They were too busy making your sister famous so that you, in turn, could "choose" to have a television show and "decide" to record an album. Jesus.

As bad as these shows are, they pale in comparison to the disturbing lows of shows like Wife Swap and Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy. The mental damage done to the kids in these families could employ an entire nation of psychiatrists for years to come. Needless to say, programming has fallen down the proverbial toilet hole. (Picture a near-future when every station carries shows with names like My Mom is a Whore and I'm Her Pimp, Whose Horse's Penis is Bigger? and The Chris Isaak Show.)

If we plan to continue preying on the minds of the common man, woman or dog, why not go all out? Let's push absurdity to its limits. School is back in session, meaning America's beloved Olsen Twins recently began their first days of college. And since they will obviously be treated in the same manner as other incoming freshmen, let's spice things up a bit. I propose split-screen, 24/7 coverage of their first-year struggle through academia. The split-screen will enable viewers to watch both twins even though Mary Kate and Ashley will not be allowed to communicate with each other through any means. No phone calls, AIM, messenger pigeon -- nothing. Don't even try twin-telepathy because we'll know. The loser will be the first one to either break the seal of communication or claim absolute dependence on her sister. Highlights from the season will include their simultaneous breakdowns in the "First Midterm" episode and Ashley's run-in with Bob Saget at Starbucks. By the end of the season, America will finally be able to tell them apart. When you're lost out there and you're all alone, the Nielsen ratings will carry you home.


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