Beliefnet
Idol Chatter

Many reality television shows have some kind of secret twist at the end for the contestant, a scintilating surprise that only the audience is in on. Recall Bravo’s 2003 “Boy Meets Boy,” a gay dating show where not all the suitors were gay, unbeknownst to the suitor.

But rarely has the audience itself been “punked,” until now. Last week in Idol Chatter I blogged about the “The Big Donor Show,” a Dutch reality show in which a terminally ill patient decides who is worthy of her kidney. And then I, and everyone else, learned this show was a fantastic fabrication.

The Associated Press reports that, “Shortly before the controversial program was to air, Patrick Lodiers of the ‘Big Donor Show’ said the woman was not actually dying of a brain tumor and the entire exercise was intended to put pressure on the government and raise awareness of the need for organs.”

The three “contestants” were actual patients in need of tranplants and were in on the joke.

I have a friend who can always tell who will be voted off on the next “Survivor” based on the editing of the teasers, so perhaps I should have been a bit more suspicious when all the press releases leading up to the show stated time and time again that people may think the concept in bad taste, but that it was simply meant to raise awareness about the serious lack in organ donoations in the Netherlands (and the world, for that matter). But I wasn’t the only one duped. This week’s Time magazine also has a blurb about this show–and not that it’s a fabrication.

While some kidney patients lauded the show as “brilliant,” others were upset by it. But the truly upsetting aspect of this ploy is that in today’s society, with the current state of reality television, no one thought it so outrageous as to be the hoax that it actually was.

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