Reality Show, the brainchild of Adam Rifkin, writer, director, executive producer and star, originally aired on the Showtime Network. It has since been cut to a feature film and premiered at SXSW Film Festival.
Reality Show follows Mickey Wagner (Adam Rifkin), a down-on-his-luck reality show producer, as he crafts a sensational comeback. Fed up with how staged and phony reality shows are, Mickey hatches a revolutionary idea to pick an average American family and put them under all-encompassing surveillance…without the family’s knowledge.
The concept is to let real life unfold before the cameras. However, the family is boring. And the studio wants more sizzle. So Mickey starts to introduce drama into the unwitting family’s lives. Temptation to cheat, drinking, work problems…. chaos ensues. Everything unravels in a big, big way with shocking consequences.
The unwitting and unfortunate stars of the reality show are Dennis Warwick (Scott Anderson) a 50-year-old accountant and amateur chef, Katherine (Kelley Menighan Hensley), a retired teacher and stay-at-home mom, and their daughter, Amy (Monika Tilling), a high school honor roll student.
Mickey is convinced that if this family is unaware that cameras are following their every move, the natural drama of life that unfolds will be far more compelling than anything a team of Hollywood writers could manufacture.
Thanks to state-of-the-art identity software that cross references DMV records, passport records, credit card records, etc., Mickey gets the perfect all-American family: the Warwicks.
Mickey and his team are elated. He couldn’t have cast a more ideal family if he tried. After covertly setting up countless hidden cameras throughout their house, cars, and at Dennis’s work, along with a team of follow-vehicles armed with long lens video cams and a fleet of surveillance vans, the Warwicks are now, unknowingly, smack dab in the middle of Mickey’s electronic fishbowl. Now all Mickey has to do is wait for all the secrets and lies to emerge!
But Mickey soon realizes that this family he was so certain about is absolutely, mind-numbingly dull. Turns out, there are no secrets, no lies, no double lives. The Warwick family is completely void of any discernible conflict, and as everyone knows, conflict is the cornerstone of drama.
In a desperate attempt to salvage his series and keep the impatient network happy, Mickey begins to interfere. By introducing obstacles and conflict into the family’s life, Mickey quickly finds that betraying his original conceit and messing with his subjects makes for a far more fascinating show. These small disruptions escalate and soon cause ripples Mickey does not anticipate.
Adam Rifkin wrote Reality Show to be a film. Rifkin then made the film a 10-part series for the Showtime Network . Rifkin then took the 10 episodes and cut them into a feature film, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival.