Space Cadets has to be the most horribly painful television show around. Admittedly, this is the first reality show I have seen, so maybe they are all like this, but the whole thing is a giant gruesome road accident that you can’t help but rubberneck.
The premise: people try out for a British reality show, but are not told what it is. They go through psychological and physical tests, which are really just used to weed out everyone but the “malleable.” If you know anything about science or physics, you’re out. If you know anything about the military, you’re out. If you can name four characters from Star Trek, you’re out. When they pick their finalists, they are told that they will be going to train in a base in Russia and then go on a trip to space.
The punchline: it’s all fake. It’s all The Truman Show. They prepared an old US Air Force base in England to appear Russian — changed the outlets, replaced signs, filed off English words from pipes and metalwork, filled it with aircraft surplus and consumer products purchased in Russia. They put these people in a plane, flew them in circles around the English channel for a few hours, then landed them in the base. They went through several weeks of training, which was basically just reprogramming and lowering of expectations. After all, they needed to do stuff like explain why there is still gravity (they’ll only be in low Earth orbit, which is 70% gravity, with gravity generators to make up that last 30%). Finally, they load them in a simulator with a couple of improv actors and “shoot them into space.”
The whole thing is one gigantic cringe moment. You start to get attached to the people and they get so excited, yet you know that in the end it’s just all going to go bad. Still, you can’t help but watch.
I think that if they attempted such a show in the US, there would be a numerous law suits.