Half-hour series to deconstruct the genre

E! will deconstruct the reality genre with its new nonscripted offering “Reality Hell,” airing Sundays starting Aug. 16.

The half-hour, which received an eight-episode order, will feature a cast of several actors and one dupe each week who thinks he or she is appearing on a new, genuine reality program.

“So many people are drawn to reality shows for their small taste of fame,” E! director of original programming and series development Jason Sarlanis told Daily Variety, “and ironically, this show gives it to those willing participants who are just very much excited to be part of the reality process. I can tell you the joy they get from when they find out they’re on (‘Reality Hell’) has been very fun for us.”

“Hell” echoes the 2003 Spike entry “Joe Schmo” in setting up an onscreen reality hoax but multiplies the effect by creating a new faux show each week. The challenges on each episode of “Hell” are so extreme, if not ridiculous, that they test the pigeons’ passion for winning.

Sarlanis said it has been “incredibly easy” to come up with ideas.

“The genre in many ways has become a parody of itself,” Sarlanis said, “so we really get to poke fun at that.”

Peter M. Cohen is the executive producer of “Hell.”

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