America has Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and The Apprentice, but other countries have TV shows about burning wood, human Tetris, and Celine Dion gargling during a performance of "My Heart Will Go On." Obviously, the States just isn't competing on the same level. Here are six wacky reality shows from other countries that know what the people want.
1. National Firewood Night — Norway
Eight hours of wood burning in a fireplace divided a nation. Even though 20 percent of Norway tuned into the show at some point, most of them were angry because the wood was laid the wrong way. Really. In the above clip, Stephen Colbert makes light of the show, saying, "The last time that many Americans watched a hunk of wood, it was playing opposte Sandra Bullock [in The Lake House]," referring to Keanu Reeves. Four more hours on top of the eight hours of wood is spent talking about wood and chopping it down.
2. The 1900 House — United Kingdom
More than 400 families tried out for this reality show that took one family and forced them to live like it was the Victorian age. For the three months the family had to live in the London house, they had no electricity. The house was equipped with a safety room, telephone, a scullery (used for cleaning dishes and clothes), dining room, and kitchen. Yes, there was a washer, but it wasn't modern. It was a pot over a fire. The family's 9-year-old boy often complained of missing sweets and fast food.
3. Don't Laugh — Japan
The main objective is in the title: don't laugh. Ever. Contestants must keep a straight face while hilarious stunts are being performed around them. If someone cracks a smile, a group of masked men beat the guy silly with big sticks.
4. Wetten...Dass? — Germany
Germany's Wetten...dass? takes the format of late-night American talk shows and mixes it with a game show. It's been a staple since the '80s; often, celebrity guests are invited to bet on stunts performed by contestants and audience members. Here, Celine Dion took on a stunt of her own: gargling while singing her famous Titantic ballad. An American version premiered first in 1993 as an hour-long special then popped back up in 2008, but tanked quickly, canceled after just six episodes. We weren't quite ready.
5. Infinite Challenge — South Korea
Infinite Challenge was South Korea's first reality show, even if it doesn't fit into the classic reality model. The show has regular contestants who have different missions (like trying to out-push a bulldozer) each episode. This clip features the group and Paris Hilton doing ... something. It's mainly funny because she's mocking their mocks.
6. Hole in the Wall — Japan
Tetris was (and still is) obviously an obsession in America. Getting those little blocks of color to stack and fit just right was addicting. Japan moved the game to TV ... and cast people as the blocks. Wearing silver jumpsuits, something seen at Comic-Con or a Star Trek convention, the contestants would try to fit their bodies through giant holes in a wall coming toward them.