Whenever reality TV shows bore me — and that’s practically all the time — I like to reimagine them as grade-Z horror movies in the making. “The Bachelor” (7 p.m., ABC) has always struck me as one fictional slasher short of entertaining: “She jumped in the hot tub, but she never got out! ... Then the warm, roiling bubbles turned as crimson as the rose she would never receive ...”
Now we’re getting somewhere!
The new makeover series “The Amandas” (7 p.m., Style) doesn’t quite rise to the level of horror, but it has the makings of a deeply disturbed psychological thriller.
Amanda LeBlanc is an attractive sorority type who was, we are told, one of the more renowned organizers and decluttering experts in New Orleans. Displaced by Hurricane Katrina, she relocated to Birmingham, Ala., where, she says, her business has thrived.
Only, her new outfit is not just about helping people clean out overstuffed closets. It’s an all-encompassing cult of personality with very creepy overtones. Perky and humorless in the style of Temperance Brennan on “Bones,” Amanda describes herself as a “perfectionist” and even claims she might be “a little OCD.” She’s shown micromanaging a tragically henpecked personal assistant, showing him how to put a spoon in a sugar bowl, “just so.” Her attention to detail consumes her to the point that she’s late getting out the door and driving her children to school.
Amanda would be tragic (and dull) enough on her own, but she has assembled a staff of self-described Southern belles with apparent self-esteem problems. It’s not enough that they conform to her exacting and idiosyncratic standards; they must call themselves “Amandas,” wondering aloud, “What would Amanda do?” They submit to the cult of Amanda in all ways. They have to renounce their own personalities and become a blank (or in this case, a “LeBlanc”) slate before the dominant alpha female.
With a premise like this, an ordinary lifestyle show about organizing shelves seems a bit humdrum. This calls for the dark satire of the 1988 movie “Heathers” or, better still, the cheesy melodrama of a 1970s made-for-TV movie about covens. By the end of the proceedings, a young acolyte (I’d cast Kristy McNichol or Jodie Foster) must dispatch her tormentor (a pre-“Charlie’s Angel” Kate Jackson, perhaps?) and take her rightful place before the bonfire as the faceless following chants her name: “Amanda, Amanda, Amanda!”
Now that’s much more entertaining than something about purging your sock drawer!
Tonight’s other highlights
• A homeless patient dreads a family reunion on “House” (7 p.m., Fox).
• A vintage bank robber resurfaces on “Alcatraz” (8 p.m., Fox).
• Keep the poltergeists guessing on “Castle” (9 p.m., ABC).
• “Unsung” (9 p.m., TV One) profiles Full Force.
• Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles star in the 1944 adaptation of “Jane Eyre” (7 p.m., TCM), featuring a stirring score by Bernard Herrmann.