This week another movie plays with a relatively new media phenomenon - reality TV. The premise of the film “Series 7” is a reality TV game show ala Survivor, but in this game the winner is the one left living. Brooke talks to “Series 7” director Daniel Minahan about concept behind the film and the TV genre it spoofs.
March 10, 2001
BROOKE GLADSTONE: This week another film with an ominous media message hit the screen. Its target is reality television, and its premise is a game in which people chosen at random are given weapons and sent to hunt and kill each other. The winner is the one who survives. The film is shot completely on video -- like Cops -- with the same quick cuts and percussive sound track -- a chilling and mordantly funny depiction of extreme reality TV called Series 7.
ANNOUNCER IN SERIES PROMO: They're chosen at random--
MAN: Is your dad home?
MAN: Get away from me -- I mean it!
ANNOUNCER IN SERIES PROMO: They're given weapons--
WOMEN: I'm not an aggressive person--
ANNOUNCER IN SERIES PROMO: And they're forced to play-- [SCREAMING] Now--
MAN: Tell her to come in for a snack and a cup of coffee and blow my head off and let's get this show on the road!
ANNOUNCER IN SERIES PROMO: We're going way....
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Joining me now is writer/director Daniel Minahan. Welcome to On the Media.
DANIEL MINAHAN: Thank you for having me.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Let me read you a line of a review from one critic - Andrew O'Hare - and see what you think. He writes: Series 7 is a painstaking, often brilliantly executed imitation of unwatchable crap. [LAUGHS]
DANIEL MINAHAN: Series 7 isn't for everyone. And this is really a film that implicates you. Some people think that Connie, the nurse is the villain of the film who goes around killing everyone. But really the villain of the film is the audience and the world that allows this to happen.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Is this a denunciation?
DANIEL MINAHAN:You know people keep trying to get me to say that reality TV is a bad thing. I think this film is very critical, but I'd be a hypocrite to say that reality TV is a bad thing because I really like to watch.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:When you were putting this film together, you had never even heard of Survivor. Of course now the parallels are being drawn between Series 7 and Survivor all the time.
DANIEL MINAHAN: I just tried to imagine the most horrible high stakes insidious TV game show that I possibly could, and Survivor kind of scooped us.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:But what you created in Series 7 is a movie that when you watch it the stakes are upped to the point where you can't go any higher. In fact the impact, at least on me, was almost deadening! It was almost assaultive! The world that you built couldn't have valued life less -- couldn't have valued personal relationships less -- everything was belittled by the format in which you presented it!
DANIEL MINAHAN: Thank you. [LAUGHTER] I tried to push it as far as I possibly could to make my point. I mean I think a good satire really does that.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: What's wrong with reality television?
DANIEL MINAHAN: It's mean-spirited, these competitive shows. They're anti-social. They're based on hatred and exclusion. And that's the fun of it. I'm working to try and get Series 8, the sequel, on TV as a limited series.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Where it could very easily be confused with the real thing!
DANIEL MINAHAN: That's very exciting to me. Yeah. I like the idea of imagining someone channel surfing and stumbling upon it.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And what feelings would you want it to inspire besides excitement?
DANIEL MINAHAN: Horror, disgust, anger, fascination.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Well, thank you very much.
DANIEL MINAHAN: Thanks.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Daniel Minahan is the writer and director of Series 7.