From Super Delicious Productions comes “That’s Tough,” a new reality series on G4 that’s a countdown of all things — you guessed it — tough. Episode one takes us through three categories: the world’s toughest prisons, “little dudes” and armored cars. An unseen narrator describes each category in detail and experts in each respective field lend their knowledge. Videos and re-creations are used to highlight the selections for whatever has been chosen as “most badass.” This is an OK premise, but there’s one small drawback: the show is, almost in its entirety, offensive.

“That’s Tough”

Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.
G4

The premise is fine — picking a category and determining who or what stands out within it. But what’s frightening is the system used to determine “toughness.” Without giving away spoilers, it’s safe to say that the show’s producers have crossed a line when it comes to what’s morally appropriate.

A heavy metal soundtrack accompanied by grainy black-and-white footage opens the episode, giving the feel of a low-budget music video, until we learn the first group to be judged: prisons. The tone shifts drastically as we’re taken from Mendoza, Argentina to the Gulags of North Korea. We’re subsequently educated on what it means to be a “tough” prison. The images and facts used in making this deduction are hard to digest, as they should be when the misery of human beings is turned into a supposedly entertaining segment of a countdown show. Rat infestations and death by infection are just some of the delights that await prisoners at what G4 has labeled the world’s “toughest prisons.” The commentary and narration make it seem as though the grisly details of horrific prison life are somehow impressive, but the fact is, it’s just plain shocking that a show would use these statistics in awarding top slots in any type of category.

The second installment in the episode is hardly any better. The “toughest little dudes,” as they’re affectionately referred to, are little people who revel in sadism and “get their asses kicked.” This segment is distasteful, not because the subject matter is little people, but rather because the winners deserve no kind of recognition. No person, big or small, is tough because they force their unwilling girlfriend to shoot her eye out or get sent to prison for assault. G4 evidently thinks otherwise.

The final portion, armored cars, is the only interesting (read: not sickening) part of the entire episode. From Pope Benedict XVI’s “Popemobile” to President Obama’s “The Beast,” vehicles are judged on durability, expense and style. If this really is a countdown show, then this is what the producers need to stick with — solely objective material that doesn’t run the gamut from offensive to shocking.

While it’s understandable that G4 is trying to branch out further from its videogame coverage into rival SPIKE’s teritory, the channel is currently only showing itself to be a ratings whore. If any of its future material is as poorly conceived as “That’s Tough,” there definitely needs to be a return to the drawing board.

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