So the word out of Calgary is that former Flames favorite Theo Fleury is pitching a reality TV show about running a concrete business with his family.
Please, Theo, don’t do it.
Fleury plans on meeting with TV-types in two weeks to gauge interest and maybe even strike a deal. Fleury’s rationale is that he was a colorful, well-loved hockey player whom fans adored as the ultimate underdog. While his reputation has taken a serious beating in the past decade, this is probably still true in many circles.
Which is why I say: Theo, don’t do it.
Reality TV is a trap set by the cynical and delusional to make money off the backs of people even more cynical or delusional. Just look at the wet bags of humanity that are lined up for the punchline firing squad on show such as The Surreal Life or Shot of Love.
Like many celebrities exposed and then flayed on reality shows, Fleury has weaknesses that will be easy targets on a highly-edited program; he has had a wicked temper in the past and struggled with substance abuse problems. Nothing has been sadder for me than seeing Public Enemy jester Flavor Flav turned into a racist cartoon stereotype on several reality shows, especially considering his well-publicized battles with narcotics in the past.
Reality TV shows thrive on conflict or incompetence and considering Theo’s crew are family, none of this can turn out well for them.
And even if Fleury has total control over the content of his show, it doesn’t guarantee he won’t end up looking goofy. A poorly executed production would set him back just as bad, so he must choose his partners carefully.
The key here is that people laugh at the celebrities on reality shows, not with them. You never see celebs in their prime on these shows and there’s a reason for that; a lot of people out there like to see formerly successful people fail and those who see their fame slipping seem to be all too happy to play the fool.
Fleury has had a rough go of it from the beginning of his hockey career. He was involved in the infamous Piestany brawl at the World Junior Championships; he was suspended multiple times in the NHL for substance abuse; and, in one case, a strip club brawl, and his pro days ended with an up-and-down ride in the British League.
But fans still love him.
So, Theo, don’t do it. People want to remember you sliding across the ice after scoring your famous Stanley Cup goal, not sliding across the pavement outside a Columbus strip joint. They want to remember Theo the Underdog, not Theo the Overexposed. And they want to remember your Olympic gold medal performance, not your inevitably tragic performance of Olympic proportions on TV.
If your concrete business is a successful one, be proud of it and earn your decent living. We don’t need to see you mocked for your honest efforts on national TV.