Being a rascal can be fun when the results are mostly harmless. I really recommend it. I once spent the better part of a month trying to convince people that drywall was invented by former president Grover Cleveland. That was a blast. And surprisingly easy. I think people believed me because, like, who would go to the trouble of making that up? Well, I’ll tell you who: Me. I love it. Someday I hope to convince someone that I’ve never heard of The Beatles. They’ll get all red-faced and angry and say “The Beatles! You know, Paul McCartney,” and then I will summon all the strength in my body to keep a straight face while I reply, “Wait… the guy from Wings?” It’s good to have dreams.
Point being: If you are like me, here’s a fun game you can play. Below, I’ve listed five made-up television shows. See if you can convince people they’re real. Some of them are pretty easy sells (as I have indicated by their assigned degrees of difficulty), especially in a world where there are currently 20,000 shows on 900 channels. Others, less so. You’ll see what I mean.
Good luck, my fellow rascals, with the Peak TV Fake Show Challenge.
Degree of difficulty: 2.8
What it is, allegedly: A Hulu series starring David Schwimmer as the freshly divorced owner of a struggling family-operated business that rents out beach equipment in mob-infested Daytona Beach.
Bonus points if: You can convince people it is in its fourth season and that David Schwimmer’s character is named “Dale Sunbather.”
YOU: Hey, do you watch Sunbathers?
THE MARK: What’s Sunbathers?
YOU: Oh man, it’s this show on Hulu about David Schwimmer renting beach chairs to tourists in a mob-run town in Florida. It’s wild.
THE MARK: Oh wow, I’ve never heard of that.
YOU: Yeah, Hulu’s done a weird job of promoting it.
THE MARK: Huh. I remember the same thing happened with that James Franco show about the JFK assassination.
Rock on Rock
Degree of difficulty: 4.3
What it is, allegedly: A VH1 show in which The Rock attends rock concerts and has heart-to-heart conversations with bands after their shows.
Bonus points if: You can convince people The Rock knows how to play bass guitar.
THE MARK: Man, I love The Rock.
YOU: Have you seen his VH1 show?
THE MARK: Wait, what?
YOU: Oh yeah, he has this new VH1 show called Rock on Rock where he goes to concerts and interviews musicians.
THE MARK: Really?
YOU: Yup, he talked to Dave Grohl in the premiere.
THE MARK: Well… I guess that sounds about right.
Degree of difficulty: 6.8
What it is, allegedly: An NCIS spin-off set in Boston, starring Donnie Wahlberg.
Bonus points if: You change the location to Pittsburgh and convince people it stars a different member of New Kids on the Block
YOU: Can you believe they’re making an NCIS set in Boston now?
THE MARK: They are?
YOU: Yeah, it’s gonna star Mark Wahlberg’s brother, Donnie.
THE MARK: Jesus Christ. Between Affleck and the Wahlberg family, it’s like every third show or movie is set in Boston now.
YOU: It’s ridiculous.
Halt and Catchfire
Degree of difficulty: 8.6
What it is, allegedly: A Rizzoli & Isles-style cop drama starring Halt and Catch Fire actresses Kerry Bishé and Mackenzie Davis as Detectives Donna Halt and Cameron Catchfire.
Bonus points if: You can convince people that the chief on the show is named Scoot McNairy. Not the actor who plays the chief. The character.
YOU: I can’t believe Halt & Catchfire is ending.
THE MARK: Oh, I’ve heard about that. The computer show, right?
THE MARK: It’s the show about computer people, isn’t it?
YOU: Uh, no. It’s a detective show. The cops are named Halt and Catchfire. That’s where the title comes from.
THE MARK: Are you… sure? That doesn’t sound right.
YOU: Uh, I’ve seen every episode.
THE MARK: Huh, well maybe I was wrong.
YOU: Yeah, no idea where you got “computers” from.
Degree of difficulty: 9.9
What it is, allegedly: An adaption of the classic Peter Falk detective series set in a dystopian future in which humans are fighting for survival against the machines.
Bonus points if: You can convince people that the show stars David Schwimmer as Columbo.
YOU: Tell me you’re watching the dystopian Columbo show.
THE MARK: The what now?
YOU: Dude, they remade Columbo but they set it in the future.
THE MARK: No way.
YOU: Yup! It’s a whole thing. Like, he still solves murders and everything but he’s also trying to deal with this huge machine uprising. It’s crazy. One of the machines murdered his wife.
THE MARK: But… why would they do that?
YOU: Why would the machines murder Columbo’s wife or why would people make a dystopian Columbo?
THE MARK: Uh, both, I guess.
YOU: Well the first one is a big mystery so far. Reddit is going bonkers over it. And the second, I mean, TV is nuts right now. The show is on some weird new science fiction channel deep in the cable guide. I think it’s called the Blorp Network. Or maybe Florp? I don’t remember. You gotta check it out.
THE MARK: Does… does he still do the “Just one more thing” thing?
YOU: Oh yeah, but now he’s like, “Just one more thing, ma’am…” and then he tells the suspects riddles to see if they’re secretly machines.
THE MARK: Wait. What?
YOU: Yeah, because the riddles confuse the machines’ artificial intelligence and cause them to fry out.
THE MARK: You’re screwing with me, right?
YOU: Dude, how could I even make this up?
THE MARK: Wow. Yeah, good point.