For those of you who spent last night doing better things (and you probably did), here’s the premise of “Anchorwoman,” Fox’s newest reality show: a very blond, very buxom, and totally unexperienced woman starts an on air job at a East Texas television station, as America watches.
Every reality show Hercules has tasks to complete—enduring hunger, testy roommates, or boxes of snakes. For Lauren Jones and the staff of KYTX, the challenge is clear: boosting ratings while maintaining journalistic integrity.
It is not a promising start. Before she can set to work mastering the teleprompter, a spare jacket is found to cover her leopard print décolletage. The station’s staff, having met the barbarian inside the gates, is heard grumbling. The assistant news director tells his boss (an affable Henry Higgins to this Eliza) that “You know deep in your heart Ed Murrow is spinning in his grave.” A colleague worries in a meeting that Jones’s first live read will be a disaster. Jones alludes to her work as a bikini model, pro-wrestling eyecandy, and Bob Barker price girl, and reassures the colleague that “It’s not like I’ve never been in front of a camera before.”
The staff’s concerns seem earnest. But there are indications that whoever conceived “Anchorwoman” is not unaware of the show’s subversive, Colbert-like potential. For brief moments, it skewers vapid local TV news by spotlighting its lowest potential. When a three-year station veteran who’s being pushed aside contrasts herself to Jones, she’s quickly rebutted by old clips showing her bouncing on air and extolling the comfiness of a set chair. Afterall, even before Jones’s arrival, this was a station that counted a terrier (Stormy the Weather Dog) among its on air talent.
Of course, such stunts are not confined to Tyler, Texas. During a recent sweeps-period, Orlando’s WKMG held a series of on air auditions for ten potential traffic reporters—complete with Idol-like online voting. And last night during an “Anchorwoman” commercial break, New York’s Fox 5 ran a short promo for their evening newscast. Yes, it promised a behind-the-scenes look at “Anchorwoman.”
UPDATE (8/24): The Kicker speaks and FOX quivers: “Anchorwoman” has been canceled after only one night. Apparently 2.7 million viewers(!) do not a success make. Never fear—inquiring minds can watch the unaired episodes on demand.