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The 2001 film '''''Series 7: The Contenders''''', written and directed by Daniel Minahan, is a dark and violent satire of American {{Reality Show}}s.

''The Contenders'' offers a unique form of entertainment for its loyal viewers: the show's contestants must kill each other until only one "Contender" remains standing. The contestants have no choice as to whether they want to compete; the moment a contestant is notified that they've become a Contender, any other Contender can kill them without legal repercussions. Adding insult to injury is the fact that winning the show once doesn't get a Contender anything but a longer lease on life; a full release from the show only happens when a Contender wins the "contest" three times in a row (as the winner remains a Contender until either death or the third victory). In the show's seventh season (or "series" in British terminology), two-time champion Dawn Lagarto hopes to gain her freedom; to do so, she must outlive five other Contenders -- one of which, the terminally-ill Jeffrey Norman, happens to have had a prior romantic relationship with Dawn.

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!! ''Series 7: The Contenders'' contains the following tropes:

* AntiClimax: What really happened in the cinema? According to the alternate ending on the DVD, [[spoiler:Dawn and Jeffrey drop their guns and try to flee the cinema. They end up beaten by fans who aren't happy with the standoff's anti-climax. Dawn dies as a result of her beating, but Jeffrey survives -- hence the lack of a bullet wound when he's shown in the hospital during the preview for Series 8]].
* AssholeVictim: Tony is an unemployed blue-collar worker with a coke habit and anger management issues. He even [[spoiler:tries to flee the show while holding his baby daughter hostage.]]
* BitchInSheepsClothing: Emergency room nurse Connie seems nice enough -- until she expresses her contempt for the people who come into her ER. And that's before she starts killing people.
* CelebrityIsOverrated: No one really wants to appear on ''The Contenders''. Dawn even snaps at her assigned cameraman on a regular basis.
* [[ChekhovsGun Chekhov's Safety Catch]][=/=]NiceJobBreakingItHero: Lindsay's parents constantly tell her to leave the safety on. [[spoiler:Lindsay's fumbling to switch it off during an encounter with Franklin gives him more than enough time to kill her.]]
* ConspiracyTheorist: Franklin lines the walls of his trailer with [[TinfoilHat tinfoil]]. After [[spoiler:killing Lindsay in the mall]], he tries to convince onlookers that the show is rigged -- until [[spoiler:Connie kills him with a sniper rifle]].
* CountryMatters: Dawn's estranged sister receives a C-bomb from Dawn just before she takes her sister's SUV at gunpoint.
* CrapsackWorld[=/=]DeadlyGame: ''The Contenders'' is a reality TV show where people are drafted into a game where they must kill the other contestants to "win".
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:Jeffrey tries to kill himself on three separate occasions. He is not successful.]]
** [[spoiler:The alternate ending proves the third attempt didn't actually happen, though.]]
* GoingHomeAgain: The film averts this; Dawn is [[SarcasmMode less than thrilled]] that Series 7 of ''The Contenders'' is taking place in her hometown, since her mom kicked Dawn out of the house at 17 for having an abortion -- and the guy who knocked her up is one of her new opponents.
* {{Goth}}: Dawn and Jeffrey were goths in high school.
* GunStruggle: Two of these happen -- one between Connie and Dawn, and one between Jeff and Connie.
* HandWave: Numerous background details, such as how ''The Contenders'' became powerful enough to clear legally-sanctioned murder as a form of television programming, never receive an explanation. This works in part because the film only shows you what the program itself would have aired on TV -- in other words, only what the producers want viewers to see.
* HaveIMentionedIAmHeterosexualToday: Jeffrey admits he went through a "gay phase" after high school that ended when he married Doria. Unfortunately, [[spoiler:after his failed suicide attempt via overdose, Doria outs him on-camera while he's in the hospital]].
* HumansAreTheRealMonsters: It's debatable which is worse -- what the Contenders will to do to survive or the bland acceptance of the show's existence.
* HuntingTheMostDangerousGame: ''The Contenders'' makes people hunt and kill each other.
* LeFilmArtistique: Dawn and Jeffrey's terrible high school student film qualifies.
* LotteryOfDoom: New contestants are chosen by a (seemingly-)random lottery involving Social Security numbers.
* MamaBear: Dawn insists she's only competing to protect her unborn child. [[{{Hypocrite}} On the other hand, she's a really efficient killer...]]
** Also invoked when [[spoiler:the show takes away her child per the game's rules]] -- she gets pissed enough to kidnap her cameraman and hold an entire cinema full of people hostage.
* MaternityCrisis: [[spoiler:Dawn's water breaks just as she has Connie cornered and at gunpoint. This is followed by a ScreamingBirth scene in which Connie must simultaneously deal with a 911 operator and a breach delivery while holding ''Dawn'' at gunpoint.]]
* MercyKill: Connie admits on-camera that, despite her job as TheMedic, she's euthanized the occasional patient.
* MustNotDieAVirgin: Lindsay's boyfriend invokes this in an effort to get her to put out. He fails.
* NobodyPoops: The film averts this trope; Dawn catches Connie on the toilet.
* OnTheNext: An example of this trope closes out the film (and casts a totally different light on the climax).
* [[PrecisionFStrike Precision S-Strike]]: [[spoiler:Jeffrey's verbal reaction when he realizes that he survived what happened at the cinema -- and that he is the show's reigning champion as it heads into Series 8.]]
* PregnantBadass: Do '''not''' piss off eight-months-pregnant Dawn.
* PreviouslyOn: The film opens with the end of Series 6 of ''The Contenders'': Dawn marches into a convenience store and kills her last "opponent" of the season.
* RealityTelevision: This film is a pitch-black satire of the entire genre.
* [[spoiler:RevisedEnding]]: The film contains a canonical version of this trope. [[spoiler:Series 7 ends with a "dramatic recreation" of the cinema standoff: Jeffrey agrees to let Dawn kill him, but Jeffrey's wife appears and kills Dawn before she can do the deed, at which point a distraught Jeffrey shoots himself. In reality, Dawn and Jeffrey were beaten (Dawn fatally so) by fans enraged at the pair's attempt to drop their guns and flee the cinema -- but the ''Contenders'' producers couldn't (and wouldn't) air that.]]
* SeparatedByACommonLanguage: Despite being an American film with an American cast framed as an American reality show titled ''The Contenders'', the film's title employs the British-usage "series" to describe individual seasons of a television program. (The film starts with the end of the show's sixth season and segues into the events of its seventh season.)
* ShoutOut: Daniel Minahan named the main character, Dawn Lagarto, after a childhood friend of his.
* [[ShowWithinAShow Show Within A Movie]]: This is the central premise of the film.
* SlashedThroat: Tony threatens to do this to himself.
** In a flashback, Dawn takes out one of her previous opponents this way.
* TakeAThirdOption: Dawn and Jeffrey attempt this when [[spoiler:they take the camera crew hostage and attempt to escape the show]].
* UnreliableVoiceover: The narrator (played by Will Arnett) makes a cameo onscreen at the climax. What he says doesn't always match up with what happens on-screen. The "dramatization" scenes also appear dishonest (and potentially faked). In the case of the cinema standoff, [[spoiler:the dramatization is absolutely faked, which both the movie's alternate ending and the lack of a gunshot wound on Jeffrey during the Series 8 preview confirms.]]
** The show says it picks contestants via a random lottery. That claim becomes suspicious when Dawn's third go-round takes place in her hometown and her old boyfriend becomes one of the other Contenders.
* WinYourFreedom: A contestant must win the show three times in a row to earn their permanent freedom from the show. Dawn is offered her freedom at the end.

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