Reverse Reality

Jun 16, 2017
Originally published on December 29, 2017 11:55 am

Ever wanted to return to a simpler time? We mean back when The Simple Life was still on TV, of course. In lieu of actual time travel, we describe reality television shows as if they were playing in reverse, and contestants tell us which show we're talking about.

Heard on Annabelle Gurwitch: 'Don't Treat Me Like Family'

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Want our next special guest to play for you? Follow ASK ME ANOTHER on Facebook and Twitter. Our next two contestants will play a game about reality TV, or as is now called, the presidency.


EISENBERG: Let's meet them. First up, Emily Mannix on buzzer number one.


EISENBERG: You are a social media manager for the women's lifestyle website Refinery29. Welcome.

EMILY MANNIX: Yes, thank you. Thank you.

EISENBERG: Your opponent is Tina Weber on buzzer number two.


EISENBERG: You're a video producer for Martha Stewart's website. Welcome.

TINA WEBER: Sure am.


EISENBERG: Remember, Emily and Tina, the first of you who wins two of our games will move on to the final round at the end of the show. Let's go to your first game. Emily, what reality competition show do you think you could win?

MANNIX: "The Great British Bake Off."

EISENBERG: You're a great baker?

MANNIX: I - no, well, I mean, I think I'm good at pretending to be British sometimes.


MANNIX: Sometimes.

EISENBERG: Depending on the beverage situation?

MANNIX: Yeah. I mean, you got to get Mary Berry's sauce, you're in. She's a host on the - no one? No one? OK. OK.


MANNIX: She actually isn't hosting it anymore, so I want the record to state that I am aware of that.

EISENBERG: OK. Yeah. I know, this is a contemporary show, and you are an influencer. Tina, what reality competition show do you think you could win?

WEBER: If there is an amateur "Chopped," like a home "Chopped," like, that would probably be the one.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Right, exactly. Like, what would that be, amateur "Chopped"?

WEBER: It's not "Worst Cooks In America," but it's not...

EISENBERG: It's somewhere in between.

WEBER: ...It's not "Master Chef." You know, it's like...


WEBER: ...Middle of the - I'm sure there is a game.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's a good - that's a perfect name - middle of the road "Chopped."

WEBER: Yeah. There it is. There we go.

MANNIX: There's "Chopped Junior," but I don't think you meet the age requirement.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's an age thing, right.

WEBER: That's an age thing, yeah.

EISENBERG: This is going to be a long...

COULTON: There's a lot of shade - a lot of shade being thrown up here.


EISENBERG: Your first game is called Reverse Reality. In this game, Jonathan and I imagine what happens when you play a reality show in reverse. For instance, we know that everyone becomes more likeable. Puzzle Guru Art Chung, why don't you give us an example?

ART CHUNG: If we said 20 ragged civilians come to an island one by one, welcomed by Jeff Probst as he says his famous catch phrase - spoken has tribe the - you'd answer "Survivor."

MANNIX: Got it.

EISENBERG: The Yoda version.


EISENBERG: OK, here we go. A man breaks off his engagement with his fiancee then brings 20 other women one week at a time to live in his house, taking roses from each of them along the way.



MANNIX: "Bachelor."

EISENBERG: "The Bachelor" is correct, yeah.


COULTON: A multimillionaire pulls his investment from a startup company then makes the plucky entrepreneur pitch his product to his rich friends anyway.



MANNIX: "Shark Tank."

COULTON: "Shark Tank" is right.


EISENBERG: Vandals led by Ty Pennington break into a beautiful new home belonging to a deserving family and completely destroy it.


EISENBERG: Then they build the family a much uglier house.


WEBER: Tina.

EISENBERG: "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

WEBER: Yes, that is correct.


COULTON: Three amateur bakers leave a bucolic picnic passing bouquets and a glass cake plate to a pair of British comedians. The bakers go into a tent, where they spent months reverse engineering baked goods into batters and doughs.



WEBER: "Great British Bake Off."

COULTON: That's correct. God, Emily is so mad right now.

WEBER: Sorry, not sorry.

COULTON: Emily cannot even believe that you just did that, Tina.

WEBER: I was really focusing on, you know, buzzing in at the right time.

MANNIX: There are no words, so.

COULTON: (Laughter).

MANNIX: I've let Mary Berry down.

WEBER: She's really proud of you still.

EISENBERG: Who's no longer on the show, so it's fine.

MANNIX: Yeah, you're right.

EISENBERG: Two young people meet each other in person for the first time. They split apart, move to different cities and start an online relationship where one of them pretends to be a different person.



WEBER: This is my favorite show - "Catfish."



EISENBERG: Why is that your favorite show?

WEBER: It makes my husband super uncomfortable to watch people being embarrassed, and I enjoy watching him feel uncomfortable.


WEBER: Yeah...

EISENBERG: Romance finds itself in different ways.

WEBER: ...Marriage.

COULTON: At a restaurant, a bunch of silverware and dishes are scattered on the floor. Teresa picks them up, sets the table and becomes less and less angry at Danielle.



MANNIX: "The Real Housewives Of New Jersey."

COULTON: Yeah, you got it.


COULTON: This is your last clue. Four singing coaches sit in chairs that cause them to rotate 180 degrees and forget what the contestants look like.



WEBER: "The Voice."

EISENBERG: That is correct, yes.


EISENBERG: Puzzle Guru Art Chung, how did our contestants do?

CHUNG: It was a close game. Tina, well done, you're one step closer to our final round.


EISENBERG: If you memorize pi to pie places, then you should be a contestant on our show. Go to to find out how and learn about her two upcoming road shows in Los Angeles. Coming up, we'll meet today's mystery guest. I wonder if she has an unusual job or an unusual business. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.

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