Typically a reality show actually has to debut before it's derided as an unimaginative rehash of a stale format that adds nothing new to the culture and forces us to reflect on how our bottomless zeal for voyeurism has led to near-total depersonalization, creating a society of artificial extroverts and dispassionate, slack-jawed observers merely going through the motions of living. But not in the case of The Glass House, ABC's self-explanatory summer series about a group of 14 strangers competing to remain in a literal glass house, which has earned the ire of CBS for too closely resembling its own Big Brother, and thus prompted ABC to argue for the inherent vapidity of the entire genre.
It all began when CBS filed a copyright infringement lawsuit back in May arguing that the shows were "strikingly similar," further alleging that the fact that Glass House employs as many as 30 former Big Brother staffers who have been rumored to consult Big Brother's "production bible" amounts to theft of its "trade secrets." That lawsuit—which won't be resolved in time to stop Glass House's June 18 premiere—was quickly followed by CBS asking for an unprecedented temporary restraining order against the show, which you can do, apparently. And naturally, ABC has now answered that request by filing a formal statement of opposition, reprinted in part by Deadline, that makes its argument by flatly illustrating just how formulaic its show—and by extension, most reality television—really is:
The network argues that “CBS’s copyright claim will not succeed” as “none of the alleged similarities shared by Big Brother and The Glass House involve copyright protectable elements — they are all generic staples of the reality show genre: people living in a house, competing with each other to avoid elimination, and winning a prize. Nor is the sequence and arrangement of these unprotectable elements the same in Big Brother and The Glass House, foreclosing the possibility of infringement.” Addressing the rest of the CBS claims, ABC says that “there was no conspiracy to hire away Big Brother employees” and “that there is no ‘secret sauce’ in Big Brother’s production process” that could’ve been misappropriated.
Indeed, ABC argues, it's all just a standard set of familiar elements shoved into a barely novel sequence of events and contrived setting, with nothing in particular to distinguish it as a specific copy of Big Brother or any other reality show, given that they are all essentially the same, prolonged sigh. "It is our sincere hope that the court recognizes that our work is appropriately garden-variety and totally lacking in ambition, so we can then add it to the endless, bland procession of interchangeable ciphers arguing for the right to remain on a soundstage and win some sort of prize or something," ABC's statement is basically saying, officially as drained of all capacity for surprise as their inert intended audience. Glass House: Generically passing for entertainment this summer on ABC.