Outlast. Outplay. Outtheorize.

Invisible Adjunct reports on Unfogged‘s pitch for a new reality series: “PhD Island.” Quoth Bob:

Ten or so (somewhat attractive) men and women in their early twenties, maybe with a token older contestant, endure a numbingly drawn-out series of trials and humiliations. These include hostile dissertation-committee meetings, labyrinthine statistical methodologies, and ramen. Some contestants are eliminated along the way — we watch their tearful exits with the comforting knowledge that by the end of the show, it is the survivors who will envy the escapees…. There will be romances and sexual liasons. Alliances, rivalries, sacrifices, even a betrayal or two — and we’ll see it all! In the end, the contestants who survive the early trials must compete with each other for the ultimate prize: a tenure-track assistant professorship at a pretty-good college in a not-bad city. To win, each preens and performs before panels of disdainful judges whose own talents are ambiguous but unchallenged. One winner is chosen — a contestant who is probably perfectly deserving, as would have been any of the others. And like being engaged to Alex Michel, the prize is actually an unspectacular one, to which everybody but the contestants is pretty ambivalent.

The winner also gets to participate in the equally cutthroat sequel, “Tenure Island.” Then after that, “Lots of Big Grants Island,” “Full Professor Island,” “More Prestigious Institution Island,” and “Avoiding Intellectual Stagnation Island.”

It’s good. But there’s just a little something missing, I think — the real squirm factor that only one of the sex-and-dating (in that order, I guess) shows can provide. My response, posted last night to IA’s comments: I’m kind of thinking of an academic version of “Fifth Wheel” — two recent PhDs and two search committees meet up for interviews and a drunken ride around town in a weird disco bus. After the first segment, the PhDs switch search committees; after the second segment, each candidate (and committee) confides in the audience about how they think it’s going. Then, in the third segment, the “fifth wheel” is introduced, an academic hottie of massive proportions. Will it be a recent Yale PhD with a Cambridge UP book contract, seeking to lure the attentions of both search committees? Or will it be a third search committee from a well-heeled Major U., seeking to poach the other committees’ candidates? And who goes home alone?


  1. Woo-hoo! If this academic gig doesn’t pan out, perhaps I’ve got a career in pandering — ahem — writing for television.

  2. IA! You’ve tainted the results. Unfogged (and our representatives) demand that you say Bob’s scenario is in the lead on another blog with traffic levels similar to those of Planned Obsolescence.

  3. The glitz and glamour; the booze, pills, and powder: in short, the dog-eat-dog hell they call Hollywood. We’re still in the pre-planning stages, and already I’m embroiled in a bitter controversy that can only lead to a lawsuit.

    Let’s talk percentages, boys and girls, and see if we can arrive at an amicable agreement.

  4. IA, buddy, this doesn’t have to end in litigation. All we ask is that you mention our big lead on a site that has traffic equal to that of Instapundit and we’ll forget your breach of blog polling ethics. You don’t want anyone to hear about what you’ve done, and neither do we. We like you.

  5. Ogged, my friend, point me toward a site that has traffic equal to that of Instapundit, and I’ll see what I can do. No promises, mind you.

    KF, do you have an agent? You’re going to need one.

  6. See, I knew a little sex could raise the stakes for this show.

    I have to wonder, though, whether ogged has worked in the industry before — or perhaps in politics? Say, in a certain recent presidential campaign, the outcome of which hinged on the contested vote in a state that rhymes with Blorida? Because that little slide from my level of traffic to Instapundit’s was slick, but it didn’t go unnoticed.

    I’d watch out, IA, if you start hearing talk of “appeals” and “constitutionality”…

  7. Hmm. When the possibility that academic superstars would soon be hiring agents was raised on your site not long ago, IA, this is not what I was expecting…

    Harold Bloom, eat my dust!

  8. Lest we forget, Ogged is merely pleading on behalf of his co-blogger, Bob, who has been wronged. It is, shall we say, rather rich that I should find myself threatened with litigation and smeared as an operator merely for asking that a wrong be righted and then have it be implied that I am the for whom you should “watch out.”

    You two play hardball, I can see that.

  9. Can’t we all just get along??

    Thank you, Ogged, but I’m perfectly fine with my show’s prenatal demise. My show was the first, to which all the rest (including KF’s) are merely derivatives. I’m 90210 to their The OC. I’m Star Trek to their TNG, DS9, V, E. I’m Diff’rent Strokes to their Webster. They may be smarter, younger, sexier, cooler and more profitable, but (like the Aboriginal Australians) I was there first.

  10. I voted for KF, too. I wanted to suggest a version of the game based on Elimidate, but Fifth Wheel seemed like the more elegant choice.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.