I've written a lot about reality TV going too far — remember "The Baby Borrowers"? — but it's nothing compared to this: A Dutch TV station is launching a show in which three patients will compete for a dying woman's kidneys. (Update: It turns out the show was a hoax! See the link at the bottom of this post for the full story.)
Called "De Grote Donorshow" — that's "The Big Donor Show" to you — the show (produced by the company responsible for "Big Brother") follows a terminally ill woman's debate over which of three patients will receive her kidneys when she dies. According to the BBC, the woman (known only as Lisa) will make her decision based on the contestants' personalities and chats with their friends and family. Viewers will be able to text-message advice to Lisa throughout the broadcasts, which are scheduled to start on Friday.
This sounds like the most twisted version of "The Dating Game" that I can imagine. I scoff at people who think they can find love on reality shows; I can't believe that a decision that is literally life-or-death could be turned into a game for a TV audience.
BNN, the network that's airing the show, claims it will raise awareness of the need for organ donors; its founder died of kidney failure after spending years on a waiting list for a transplant. But most organs don't get donated based on whom the donor likes more and feedback from the general public. I can't see how this show is anything but unethical, creepy, and — based on the cartoon kidney in the show's logo — tasteless above all.
Update! Turns out the show was an elaborate hoax to convince the Dutch government to reform its organ donation laws. Wow. I can't imagine any U.S. TV network pulling off a stunt like that.