Welcome to a new year, a new millennium and a new season of “reality” television. Networks caught off guard by the overwhelming success of last year’s extreme shows like CBS’s “Survivor” and Fox’s “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” are scrambling to outdo each other this season in an attempt to woo viewers with more sex, more danger and an even lower IQ prerequisite. Critics are concerned by the escalation of such exploitative television, but here at the Nexus we feel these shows have simply not gone far enough to portray the “reality” of human degradation. We desire – nay, demand – to see more gratuitous and explicit acts of violence and sexual perversion on our television screens while we sit down to dinner.

Fox is premiering “Temptation Island” this Wednesday. The show features four real-life “committed couples” thrown onto an island full of sexually starved singles just waiting to lure the unsuspecting into performing debaucherous acts of infidelity. Don’t worry, though, Fox executives assure us that the show is neither sleazy nor salacious and that every participant in the show has been tested for sexually transmitted diseases. But, where is the fun in that? The “real” Temptation Island should be a show that lets loose four cheap hookers onto an island full of couples. The catch is that one of them is riddled with STDs. The object of the game? To get off the island before your genitals turn green and fall off.

Not to be outdone, the UPN network’s “Chains of Love” promises to be plenty sleazy and salacious enough for even the most voyeuristic viewers. The show chains one woman to four suitors for a week before she eventually chooses one of them. Finally, sadomasochism enters the prime time. And for all you NRA-types, UPN is preparing a show that will drop a group of people on an island to be hunted-down by paintball gun-wielding bounty hunters. Let’s crank this up a notch. Why paintball guns? Are these a bunch of pansies? Arm the bounty hunters with assault rifles, dammit. Then we’ll really have a game.

Even the new “Survivor” series could be significantly improved if the winner truly was the last survivor. At least we wouldn’t have all this post-show soap opera bullshit if only one emaciated near-death contestant staggered out of the outback. I mean, the Australian continent is infested with an excess of deadly critters. Let’s pit a ravenous koala bear against Terry, the waitress from Kansas, and see who comes out on top – maybe even in a cage match. Oh yes, the possibilities are endless.

The point is that one must ask why these networks are so desperate to jump on the “reality” bandwagon. It’s pretty simple, really: These shows are cheap and they attract the younger audiences that advertisers most want to reach. But, although they may be unscripted and depict the actions of so-called “real” people, they are no less staged than the traditional sitcoms. The only difference is that we can choose to ignore the fictional plotlines by not watching the show. From “Jackass” to “Real TV”, “Reality” programming has infiltrated every form of media. When you turn on the news and are told why Richard, the homosexual naked guy, really didn’t deserve to win “Survivor,” then you know we have truly swallowed this crap, hook, line and sinker.