“Unan1mous” has the potential to be the world’s shortest reality show. The program’s nine contestants only have to decide which one of them deserves the $1.5 million prize.

Morgan Morel
Who will win, and who will become the next Food Network star? (Courtesy of Fox)

The catch? None of them can leave an isolated, underground bunker until they make a unanimous decision. But “Unan1mous” doesn’t offer the standard immunity challenges or raw-maggot consumption of other reality shows, surmising that simply housing nine people in isolation will prove treacherous enough.

The show preys – as many reality shows do – on the idea that people are greedy, manipulative, hate spending time with strangers and would sell their souls for enough money. It’s a traditional reality-show premise: Create the situation and let conflict happen naturally by exposing the ugliness of humanity.

Sadly, like most real-life network drivel, “Unan1mous” doesn’t attempt to comment on society, opting instead to turn human selfishness into a living peep show for voyeuristic viewers.

The show’s contestants – or characters, since they seem almost like a crudely assembled dysfunctional TV family – are painfully stereotypical and obviously chosen to get on each other’s nerves. And, of course, each tries vehemently to argue their own case for why they deserve the big cash prize: There’s the hillbilly truck driver who needs to support his family, the 42-year-old temp who just needs to escape from his inane life and the minister who claims to have God on her side, even if she did falsely file for bankruptcy to get a tax exemption.

The characters are all equally annoying whiners who spend their time either forcing their views on others or arguing why they should get the money. There’s no discernible “good guy” here; every contestant has fiendishly ulterior motives, and – even for a reality show – they all seem especially conniving and deceptive.

It hardly seems sad at all, then, that one of these self-interested jerks has to be voted off on the first show. Instead of the standard elimination vote, the contestant is instead voted off in a blind process where each person’s secret is revealed, and the person harboring what the group deems the “worst” secret is eliminated. It’s quite appropriate for the show, as most of the contestants are brimming with artificiality even as they attempt to conceal their own folly.

“Unan1mous” leaves the viewer guessing by saving the results of the elimination vote for the next show, but the attempt at piquing our interest decidedly fails. In the end, the contestants will likely feel pathetic for how they’ve acted to obtain such fleeting happiness. Still, they won’t feel as low as any viewer unfortunate enough to have to trudge through what is only Fox’s latest attempt to out-trash itself.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m.

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