“The Joe Schmo Show” might be the most incredible reality television experiment of all time.
This is not your typical competition for a million dollars filled with wannabe actors. “Joe Schmo” asks the question, “What if there was a reality show where everything was fake except one contestant?”
On the surface, it’s hilarious. Seeing a dozen trained improv actors (and, inexplicably, 90s celebrity Lorenzo Lamas) dance around one unsuspecting mark as they parody all your favorite reality tv tropes is an incredible hour of television.
Underneath the over-the-top parodies, though, “Joe Schmo” gives us a picture of how to adapt to reality.
The rouse is on the poor Schmo 24/7 (who, to be fair, is rewarded with $100,000, luxurious vacations, and other prizes for his troubles). To accomplish this high wire act, the cast spends months getting into character, rehearsing their roles, memorizing backstories, and creating a script to work from.
The cast knows all it takes is one slip up, one drop of an accent, one stumbled line, and a million dollars and months of hard work would be washed away. Perfection is essential.
Of course all of this preparation is thrown out the window when the wildcard element of the Schmo enters the picture.
This season the “mark” is a humble, good-natured, and highly competitive guy named Chase. Chase desperately wants to win “The Full Bounty”, the fake reality show at the core of the series, and become America’s Next Great Bounty Hunter (whatever that means).
Chase is so competitive he’s willing to bleed and get stitches if it means winning a competition. There have been a number of competitions on the show rigged to ensure Chase loses in order to add suspense. But much to the producer’s amazement, Chase keeps finding ways to win.
This is where the “Schmo” gets good. Amidst all the acting, the one real element forces the actors and producers to flip the script.
Storylines change. Actors work on their feet. The Schmo starts questioning the situation he’s in. And the most scripted show in all of reality television becomes the most honest in a matter of seconds.
You too can write an incredible script to your story. You can kick off with a brilliant introduction, storyboard incredible moments, visualize the greatest of climaxes, and top it off with a fairy tale ending.
But what happens when things go off script?
Do you adapt? Do you hide? Do you tear everything up in a fit of rage, screaming out at God because you lost a contact lens and now you’re going to be five minutes late to work and out $100 to replace it? (Wait, that one’s probably just me.)
Now, I’m a huge fan of storyboarding your life and all that good stuff. I’m a Donald Miller devotee. But every step of planning we take is worthless if we don’t know how to adapt.
Real life is not fake. God interrupts our lives with conversations and situations, disasters and minor inconveniences. There’s no such thing as a perfect day. There’s no way you can map out every single little thing that will happen to you and be prepared for it.
You must adapt. The Schmo must go on every day. You must work around yesterday’s unplanned scenes as you write pages for today and tomorrow. You can’t shirk back in fear every time life deviates from your plan.
You must trust in the interruptions. His plans and His ways are better, above and beyond your own. Trust that God knows what He is doing.
Have faith in God as the Director of your story.
“Every conflict, no matter how hard, comes back to bless the protagonist if he will face his fate with courage. There is no conflict man can endure that will not produce a blessing.” – D0nald Miller
When was the last time God interrupted your plans? How do you respond when He does? What would you do if you found out you were in the middle of a fake reality show? Join the conversation and leave a comment: