The Apprentice

Fired intern says, “Great, I wanted to leave anyway. Your capitalist mindset is a futile path to happiness,” then slips into a Che Guevara T-shirt. The other contestants mumble that it sounds good to them, and leave the boardroom en masse. Tired of the tyranny of their possessions, they abandon their wheelie suitcases, take the stairs to the lobby, run past the taxis, and go into the streets, where they use sales tactics to organize an anti-greed protest march. This culminates in thousands of people encircling Trump Tower, which is then turned into a free university.

Top Chef

The contestants look at the judges and say: “We think we’ve lost sight of the fact that our job is to feed and nurture other human beings. What does it matter which one of us can create the most interesting appetizer using only beets and crème fraîche when millions of people are starving?” They pack their knives, and leave the set. Some head to the U.N. to show field staff how to make delicious meals from large sacks of rice. Others lobby Congress for reductions in agricultural subsidies.

Blind Date

Her speech slurred from the ingestion of four margaritas in the past hour, the winning date descends shakily from the bar where she has been dancing and says to her hard-won partner, “You chose me because we were raised in a society that devalues us and makes us feel inferior unless we have a great body and lots of money, both of which I have. But all I really want is to be seen. See me. See me.” He looks shocked, then begins sobbing and says, “That’s all I want, too. God, that’s all I want.” They embrace, shaking with cathartic tears and letting their guts hang out.

Wife Swap

A Pentecostal slob and an atheist neat-freak trade homes. Looking around each other’s dwellings, they say: “Whatever, to each his own. Who am I to judge?” Then they hang out with the host families and laugh at differences, using a sense of humor and a mature self-awareness to deal with conflict. Afterward, the wives come home and say: “They’re not so bad. Maybe we should reconsider our ingrained prejudices.” Their children’s faces brighten with hope, and they give the canned food they had been saving for the apocalypse to a local shelter.

America’s Next Top Model

As her headshot is flipped over, the winner admits she’s lost her passion for fashion and is more interested in pathology research. Miss J. confesses he’d rather teach people how to walk in a physical therapist’s office or veterans’ hospital than on the runway. Twiggy says she wants to work with orphans. Tyra takes the girls out for pizza and helps them fill out their applications for undergrad molecular-biology programs. The winner’s “My Life as a Cover Girl” segments the following season capture the stages of her discovery of the cure for cancer.

The Amazing Race

The contestants notice they are in another country and decide to stop racing, interact meaningfully with people, and learn about local culture. Host Phil stands at the pit stop in the dark, waiting and waiting. Finally, he realizes no one is coming. He turns to the camera and says, “I am now free from the spell that was cast on me eons ago—a curse that said I must wander the earth until I could find a group of people who valued strangers from another nation as much as they valued themselves.” He does a folkloric jig, then dances off into the night, released.

American Idol

The finalists approach the panel and hand them a note, which reads: “Fame is meaningless. It is the quest of those who do not know the transitory nature of worldly success. We believe it is only by raising all voices equally that we can reach enlightenment.” They sit on the stage in the lotus position and intone “Om” in unison. Paula is the first judge to join in, but soon the rest do, too. Not long after, a steady “Om” rises from the studio audience as well. This spreads into households across the country. Then the world. Humanity finally discovers that there is no reality, just a mental construction shaped by the senses. The planet’s population abandons ego and lives in peace.