Residents confined to Blacktip Island’s quarantine facility are the subjects of a new pay-per-view reality show. (photo courtesy of Wendy Beaufort)
The daily interaction among residents confined to Blacktip Island’s communal COVID quarantine facility this week was put online as a pay-per-view reality drama in an effort to defray Health Authority expenses for the residents’ lodging and testing, island medical authorities said.
“We need everybody who tests positive in one house so we know where they are, and to make testing easier,” island nurse Marissa Graysby said. “This way we have the outbreak contained in one building. Problem is, housing, food and testing all cost money we’re not budgeted for. And if we have to quarantine all these people, we might as well get some entertainment out of it.
“People love reality TV, so we put cameras and mics in all the rooms, and people can subscribe to watch the goings-on,” Graysby said. “There were privacy issues, sure, but we have everyone quarantined sign waivers. Everybody on this little rock’s a voyeur at heart, and viewer numbers skyrocketed. At this rate, we might even raise enough money for improvements to the clinic.”
Island residents say the show’s format makes for compelling viewing.
“It’s not scripted like other reality shows, so there’s literally no way to know what’ll happen from moment to moment,” Ernesto Mojarra said. “All those crazy personalities trapped together in the same house is entertainment gold.
“There’s already betting lines on how long each person’ll last before they have to get moved to solitary,” Mojarra said. “I mean, I give it three days, tops, before somebody punks Lee Helm. And James Conlee’ll clog the toilets any day now and shut the whole thing down.”
Others focused on how the fabricated challenges posed for the quanantiners heighten the drama.
“Alison Diesel tore the crap out of the place apart looking for the TV remote batteries,” Marina DeLow said. “And watching Finn Kiick try to open cans of food with random hand tools before he found the can opener was a hoot. The surprise power and water outages amp things up, too. I’m gonna double-mask, sneak over there and chuck a grass snake through the window and watch the fireworks.
“Marissa’s also reducing the amount of alcohol the inmates get each day,” DeLow said. “That’ll hit critical mass sooner rather than later. Dermott’ll go bat-shit berserk when the rum runs out. It’s kind of like watching a modern version of Buñuel’s ‘Exterminating Angel’ in real time, but with people you know.”
Barring any quarantiners developing serious symptoms, Graysby said she will focus on the facility’s entertainment aspects.
“We’re working on ways to attract more, international viewers,” she said. “Tonight we’ll have Alexa play non-stop Bananarama full blast, with no way to turn the sound down or off. We also have a can’t-turn-it-down-or-off Sex and the City marathon cued up. It’ll be a miracle if anyone comes out in one piece. It’s addictive viewing, and we have multiple mental health counselors standing by for when people get out.”
House residents were not available for comment, though many have complained their test results were false positives.