The reason The Onion satire works is because it feels so real. Like "Auto Warriors," for example, a rough-and-tumble faux-show pitting a Ford plant against another in a battle to stay open and retain pensions.
"Auto Warriors" takes the tried and true recipe from Survivor and The Apprentice and mixes in two Ford plants, which will be subjected to various challenges, the outcomes of which will be used to decide which plant will be shuttered. The premise is funny on it's own, but it's the deadpan delivery from the auto worker, along with the timely cutoffs from the newscasters, is what makes this funny. Also, because it feels like it could be real. Ah, gallows humor, you gotta love it.