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Children for fun and profit on ABC's new Bet on Your Baby

On the next million-dollar baby

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Apart from a deep-rooted and socially crippling inability to care about anyone more than I care about myself (just kidding?), I don't have children because I've never seen the point. From what I can tell it's a lot of work, and if I had the time to pick Cheerios out of some groaning homunculus's ears, I would spend it doing things that weren't that.

That said, not everything about parenthood seems awful, especially for someone with narcissistic tendencies. Just look at Facebook. It's strewn with pictures of people's kids along with all the requisite compliments—"He's so cute . . . and he looks JUST LIKE YOU." So, kids are cute, which reflects positively on you—you're so good at procreating!—plus they're easy to manipulate and oblivious to their own exploitation.

A parent would be a real putz not to capitalize on that, as would a major TV network, so now there's Bet on Your Baby, a game show-type thing on ABC, the same network that recently brought you Splash!, a program about celebrities jumping into a pool. Everyone in development is either getting a raise or being fired as we speak.

How it works: Parents—a mommy and a daddy—ditch their kid in a room with hidden cameras and decide whether the kid can complete a challenge in a certain period of time, as specified by host Melissa Peterman, a loud giant who used to be on the sitcom Reba. If the parents are right, they get $5,000—$50,000 if they win the final round. Relax, it's for college.

So, what do you think, Mom and Dad? Can 35-month-old Ryder finish the obstacle course in 90 seconds? How many items can Baby Addison identify in a minute? HOW MANY FUCKING SANDWICH COOKIES CAN THOMAS STACK JESUS CHRIST THOMAS HURRY AND STACK THOSE COOKIES THERE'S $5,000 ON THE LINE. Oh, and two of the kids really were named "Ryder" and "Addison." That wasn't just for comic effect.

Of course, parents don't just bet on their babies; they occasionally bet against their abilities to accomplish certain tasks. Which seems sad but, again, there's money on the line. And whether or not the kid wins (or loses) there's plenty of studio audience oooohing and awwwing and oh, what an angel-ing in which the parents can bask. You thought Facebook was rewarding—just wait until you're in front of 300 tourists some schmuck at Disney wrangled to sit in an auditorium for a few hours because at least they could enjoy the air conditioning.

Bet on Your Baby isn't the first show that capitalizes on kids' cuteness (I mean kids who aren't actors, specifically). Kids Say the Darndest Things comes to mind. What's unique about Bet on Your Baby is the focus on the parents—who really wins a dog show, the dog or its handler? Why show off your kid if no one knows she's your kid?

The remarkable thing about BOYB: it's really boring. For every time you catch yourself laughing at a goofball toddling around like a tiny alcoholic while his father attempts to gently reason with him, there are three more times you'll catch yourself thinking about why you don't own a coatrack or checking Facebook on your phone. It's at least slightly more fun to oooh and ahhh at children you actually know.

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