So obviously most of these dudes died before TV was even invented. Which is half the problem, right? Nobody gives a shit about philosophy because they think it’s just a bunch of old Greek guys who sat under trees thinking about shit ’til they died of old age while everyone else was out gettin’ paid, son.
But here’s the thing. In addition to philosophy being, you know, ‘valuable’ (the unexamined life is not worth living blahblahblah you still don’t give a shit do you?), the lives of some of the most famous philosophers were pretty effing buzzworthy. So come on people, if we’re going to live in a culture that airs the likes of Holly’s World and a Double Shot at Love, we’re kind of obligated to give these guys a chance, right?
Pitch: Had syphilis. Fucked a horse. Went crazy.
Title: Übermenschally Handicapped
Tagline: “My brain is dead and syphilis has killed it.”
Format: Follows the last ten years of his life while he basically rots away in the looney bin. Features our man Fritz doing all kinds of zany activities: trying to wrestle his way out of a straight jacket, throwing food at the cafeteria lunch ladies, drawing weird pictures on the cellblock walls with crayons, etc. Lots of drool. Airs on VH1; inspires four spinoffs starring the scorned lunch lady, the scorned lunch lady’s drug-addicted ex-boyfriend, the scorned lunch lady’s recently rehabilitated ex-boyfriend who’s looking for love, and the aspiring fashion designer/ plastic surgery addict who gets runner up.
2. SOCRATES, PLATO AND ARISTOTLE
Pitch: Ever heard of a little thing called ‘paederasty?’ No? Basically it was this weird-ass Greek custom where old dudes ‘mentored’ teenage boys by teaching them everything they knew… and also had sex with them. It’s an undisputed fact that Socrates was Plato’s teacher and Plato was Aristotle’s teacher. It’s rumored that their relationships were paederastic, which would make sense, given their culture.
Title: School of Cock (or, Teacher’s Pet)
Tagline: “Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives.”
Format: Written by Josh Schwartz (producer of The OC, Gossip Girl), this is a soap opera mostly about Plato’s (un)requited love for Aristotle. It starts with eagerness and hot fiery passion and ends in heartbreak when Aristotle outgrows him. If you know anything about philosophy, Aristotle went on to basically get famous for thinking the exact opposite of Plato, which causes huge drama and betrayal. Socrates is in the first two seasons (there are seventeen), but in the season two finale three-hour special, he kills himself with hemlock, except this time it’s because he realizes he’s a nasty pedophile. Later in the series, Aristotle mentors Alexander the Great, and we all know how his sex life ended up, so it’s just one crazy love quadrangle. This is the show that your stay-at-home mom sweeeeeears she doesn’t watch religiously at 11 a.m. everyday.
3. PETER SINGER
Pitch: He thinks it’s moral that Nietzsche fucked a horse.
Title: Heavy Petting
Tagline: “Animals need love too. Yes, like that.”
Format: With Peter Singer and Chris Harrison of The Bachelor fame as hosts, ten single men and women compete in various extreme sports challenges to win one night with the animal of their choice. At the end, all the animals are released from their cages and are ultimately free to decide whether to roam in the wilderness or seek lifelong companionship. Airs on the Animal Planet, where Chris Harrison tries to ‘cross over’ with his new phrase “most dramatic animal-human partnership EVER.” Alternate tagline for TBS syndication: “Brings new meaning to the phrase ‘domestic partnership.’”
4. GEORGE BERKELEY
Pitch: He didn’t think that physical matter existed. This shit writes itself.
Title: George Berkeley Goes to Hollywood
Tagline: “Living in the ideal world.”
Format: Berkeley moves to Hollywood and tries to make friends, even though he doesn’t believe the friends or his apartment or Rodeo Drive or the Hollywood sign exists. All his friends are so high on cocaine and/ or quaaludes that they think he’s kidding. They take him to nightclubs and he has an awkward sexual experience (awkward because, you know, he doesn’t think her body actually exists). Tries to get freaky by telling her to imagine that their sexual organs exist as ideas inside of God’s mind. She throws him out. He goes to a 24-hour Taco Bell and eats a burrito he doesn’t think exists. Airs on E! and is canceled after three episodes because Ryan Seacrest feels sexually threatened by any E! reality star that isn’t a chick or a gay dude, so he pulls the plug.
5. JEREMY BENTHAM
Pitch: This guy had his body stuffed and put on display after he died. Seriously.
Title: He don’ Whaaaat?!
Tagline: “If you don’t get that pun, I’m disappointed in you.”
Format: This is one of those obnoxious filler shows like Disaster Date that airs at 1 a.m. and occasionally as an all-day marathon on a throwaway holiday like President’s Day on MTV. Basically it’s just a hidden camera that records people’s reactions to seeing the gross dead body of a philosopher they’ve undoubtedly never heard of.
6. IMMANUEL KANT
Pitch: This bro was kind of just an asshole whose life was allegedly so stale and routinized that the housewives of his village set their clocks to his evening walk.
Tagline: “Never treat a person as a means to an end. Unless it’s a boring dickhead and the end is laughing your ass off.”
Format: Similar to Punk’d, except basically people just play practical jokes on Kant and see how much he’ll tolerate before he breaks the categorical imperative and retaliates.
7. MARTIN HEIDEGGER
Pitch: Was a Nazi. Had an extramarital affair with his student. Who was a Jew.
Title: Intervention: Fascist Adulterer Edition
Tagline: “Arendt You Gonna Leave Your Wife?”
Format: Heidegger joins the Nazi party and has an extramarital affair with his student, who is a Jew. Then his Nazi pals bring him on A&E for a lil intervention and a lot of interspersed black screens with white superimposed words that say things like “Marty has been a Nazi since 1933” and “Hannah and Marty meet up three to five nights a week for sex which includes intense slave/ master BDSM elements.” At the end of the episode he decides to give up Nazism and keep his lover, so instead of sending him to rehab, they put him on a plane to you-know-where (hint: it rhymes with Schmowshmitz).
8. KARL MARX
Pitch: Invented maybe the most contentious philosophy ever, aside from, like, Satanism (which, also isn’t actually contentious).
Title: Alienation Invasion
Tagline: “Reality TV is the opiate of masses. No literally it is.”
Format: This airs on the SciFi channel. Marx talks about the alienation of the proletariat working class while searching abandoned buildings with an EMF reader trying to find ghosts/ extraterrestrials. Probably he gets a barbed-wire upper-arm tatt before they’ll let him host it, and they outfit him exclusively in Ed Hardy. The show keeps airing because at the end of every episode, after not proving the supernatural exists, he breaks down and talks about buying an iPad and getting a job at Target corp. Co-host Zac Bagans talks him out of it by saying “no bro, you gotta follow your truth.” Hip-hop hugs ensue.
9. WILLIAM OF OCKHAM
Pitch: Had that lil theory about how the simplest explanation is always the best one.
Title: Ockham’s Laser
Tagline: “When in doubt, just go to a rave and dance until you die.”
Format: Ockham hosts a house music video segment from 3 to 6 a.m. every day on BET. But it’s still a reality show because people call in with their relationship problems and they’re all, “Ockham, should I try harder to get to know my 48 year-old boyfriend’s surly teenage sons by using my credit card to get them therapy and sweet outfits from Pac Sun or should I just go to a rave and dance until I die?” Hint: he always picks the rave.
10. NOAM CHOMSKY
Pitch: At least he’s still alive.
Tagline: “At home with Noam.”
Format: Noam hosts a cooking-based reality show much like Top Chef, except for every competition, he has the contestants make alphabet soup and then he uses the letters to spell out a lecture on grammar. No one watches it, but it’s on PBS, so that’s pretty much accepted standard. Eventually he just stops talking about cooking whatsoever, but rather than cancel the show, they just rename it Anarchitchen.