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PBS Calls Out Guilty Pleasure Purveyors With Fake Reality Show Campaign

A campaign promoting PBS presents fake versions of the kinds of shows that are popular with the competition and laments the state of reality TV.

Would you watch a show called Married to a Mime? PBS sincerely hopes that you would not.

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In a new integrated campaign for the New York arm of the nonprofit network responsible for both Sesame Street and Masterpiece, ostensibly ridiculous-sounding series such as Mime and Knitting Wars are promoted with fake posters and Twitter accounts. Only upon closer inspection would the average passerby happen to notice another poster to the right that reads, “The fact you thought this was a real show says a lot about the state of TV.”

Created by agency CHI & Partners‎, the new campaign is an effort to help differentiate PBS affiliate WNET Channel 13 from other elements currently dominating TV. “Support quality programming. Join us at thirteen.org,” the remainder of the ad reads.


What’s remarkable about the campaign is how well it mimics its target, right down to the details. The best way to parody something that’s already ridiculous, as Burning Love writer Ken Marino told us recently, is to exaggerate by only 10%. We are definitely in an age where Married to a Mime seems barely far-fetched. This show and the mock-ups all are purportedly products of The Know Channel and The Think Channel, which are obvious homages to The Learning Channel, the station (since shortened to TLC) that offers both Long Island Medium and Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo. Even the taglines are spot-on. The Knitting Wars slogan, “It’s Sew On,” seems ripped from other posters.

The message has a life beyond the posters as well. Those curious about the fake posters, who also might not happen to notice the copy on the PBS half, will find some further content online. CHI & Partners has set up Twitter accounts for some of the fictional lead characters of the fake shows. @RonPickles, for instance, is the hero of that great American pickling saga, The Dillionaire.

See highlights from his account and the other executions in the slide show above.