Thing have been crazy lately, but I've found a bit of time to write, so I'll get right to it...
Series 7 is a film that was inspired by Cops of all things (the TV show that is, not actual cops). Not the stories or people in it, but the idea of reality TV. Cops was one of the first true reality TV shows (back in a bygone era, before eating the unspeakable and pointless challenges became the norm), taking footage from actual arrests to make up its narrative. But it was still a TV show. It still had a story to tell, and it was always willing to put that story above such simple concepts as "what actually happened". Editing is a powerful tool, and those that edited the footage had final say on what Cops was about.
The idea of manipulating reality to create stories is a huge part of what this movie is about. It is, essentially, the metaplot of the film. A more straightforward (but no less demented) story takes center stage, acting as the central framework that all this complex social commentary builds itself on. I'll get the core story out of the way:
In that wonderful time known as the "near future" (read: today, but some stuff is different), "The Contenders" is the most popular show on TV (not to be confused with "The Contender", an actual reality show from several years later, and completely unconnected to this film). In it, several people are randomly selected via a nationwide SSN-based lottery system, and they are placed in an"arena" where they compete (a small town in Connecticut in this case). They are given ID cards and a single gun. The last competitor alive wins entry into the next Series (winning 3 Series gets you freedom from ever having to compete in the show again). In this film, it is Series 7 of this show (thus the name), and the winner of the last two Series is a young pregnant woman named Dawn, hoping to win this final competition in order to secure freedom for herself in order to raise her child.
The film exists as a marathon of episodes from Series 7 of The Contenders (3, to be exact), and gives a view of the competitors and the lengths they are willing to go through in order to win the game. I hesitate to describe any more of the movie, since it is filled with so many wonderful subtleties, strange moments, and twists that you'll never see coming (some involving that lovely metaplot I mentioned earlier). It is truly a classic, and worth many viewings.
And now for the obligatory rant. And be warned, this ones a biggie:
As it originally existed, reality TV was not a fundamentally bad thing. Cops was interesting, The Real World had some genuinely human moments that couldn't be captured any other way, and Road Rules even pulled something compelling out of the Reality Competition concept later beaten to quarks by Survivor. But here's where we reach the problem: Survivor. The first season of Survivor was not so bad. It was a good idea, passably executed, and resulted in some good TV. Then they did it again. And again. And again. I could write those last two words 30 more times and it still wouldn't feel like enough. By continuously returning to the same concept, Survivor killed itself. It was constantly trying to recapture things that viewers could experience simply by rewatching the first season. Sadly, this problem continued as other producers began learning all the wrong lessons from this concept. The Apprentice. The Batchelor. Hell's Kitchen. More than I care to count. All these shows were solid core concepts that vainly searched for unatainable relevance after their first seasons were over. This did not keep them from continuing to produce more of the same, however. And people keep watching constantly hoping that they will be able to somehow reclaim that lost magic that once existed when the idea was fresh and new, and not riddled with a thousand poorly-patched logic holes that ultimately reveal them for what they truly are: petty infighting masquerading as reasonable television.
I could go on much longer on this topic (I've yet to even mention American Idol, representing an entirely different format of reality show and an entirely different rant out of me), but I think that is unnecessary at this point (but trust me, I WILL get around to American Idol sonner or later).
Ultimately, I feel that Series 7 says everything about reality TV that reality TV iself can never say. It was conceived and released around the time that the first season of Survivor was released, but was still able to, at that early time, explore the dark side of reality television and the horrifying possibilities inherent when ethics are removed.