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A Reality TV Addictionby Michelle Durand -- 02/16/2003
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It all started with Survivor - I thought I could limit my addiction to that single show. But after I graduated and evenings became a time for meaningless relaxation after a meaningless day, I began to discover the "better" reality shows. At this point, my addiction runs to two shows: Joe Millionaire and The Bachelorette. I can't wait to see Evan explain away his $50 mil and can't figure out how Trista will ever decide between Ryan and Charlie. (Of course, I still eagerly awaited the new Survivor as a personal gift from CBS to myself.) I was struck recently by how different the shows are - how could I possibly pick one as a favorite?
Compare Joe Millionaire with The Bachelorette - both involve unusually attractive leads and a bevy of beauteous competitors. But when you watch one right after the other - doesn't Joe leave you feeling rather empty? In The Bachelorette, Trista really seems to have feelings for both guys - I don't think Evan could pretend he has feelings anywhere except in those boxer briefs the editors can't stop showing us (but we just love to see!).
I'll start with The Bachelorette. Perfect Trista winds her way through all these guys, and now it's down to two. At this point, I could see her with either guy (although could they stand her little-kid voice?). Ryan is way hot and his family really dug her. Although really, who wants to see Ryan win? Can you imagine living with this guy?
Every day would be a never-ending sappy poetry reading. Come on, the man made a poem about Shamu! Who can handle that?
However, who really wants her to stick with Charlie? If she has to say every episode that she just felt instant chemistry when he got out of the limo (or wait, was that a stray electrical wire?) - can you imagine how sick hearing it will make their kids or grandkids? Have some mercy on the children!! Plus, his parents think she's the dreaded "high-maintenance." Notice how slick he lied to her about their feelings? How he said his Mom was the really important one, but only talked to Trista about his dad? Can you imagine those family get-togethers? Mom: "So, Trista, I love your sweater, and are you ruining my son's life with another of your publicity stunts?"
Anyway, although the objective merits of either guy definitely leave something to be desired, she at least actually feels something (or at least is a better actress than we think - she did make it seem perfectly necessary for her to sleep with two different guys within days).
However, compare to Joe Millionaire - poor Evan, but he's just out of his league trying to even act like the proximity of all these women in heat bothers him. The man is truly a Neanderthal. The only reason he has "feelings" for Sara is due to her willingness to put out every time they get together (but at least he feels hormonal about her.) With Zora, the only possible explanation is that the producers forced him to keep her around. The way she is portrayed on the show, I don't even want her to "win" Evan the Neanderthal - she'd be sorely disappointed in his lack of real character. When Evan keeps saying what a tough choice he faces, it smacks of gussied up drama.
As an aside, don't you ever wonder what these people are really like, unedited? America loves Zora, but do you notice how she keeps flipping her hair? The only women I ever knew who flipped their hair like that were not innocent little sweethearts. Maybe the sweet thing is just an act. Maybe we should really all be rooting for Sara - bondage queen aside, at least she puts her money, oh wait, body, where her mouth is.
Anyway, back to my point: Evan the Neanderthal can't even make me believe he actually really would marry either one of them. Trot them around as his trophy girlfriend and stare at their chests? Definitely. Still be interested in them when he's 60? No way.
But OK, which would we really rather watch? Ryan's poetic little heart get broken on national television, or Ms. Zora the Sweetheart realize Evan was a schmuck and her gut was right all along? I'll take the empty drama any day - at least we don't have to feel bad for anybody. I can just go on with my guilty glee that in a mere weeks I can see more beauteous babes vying for the undying love of the unusually attractive - the kind of love that can only be formed while the cameras are rolling!
Michelle Durand is a telecom analyst who loves the Wall Street Journal, economics, dachshunds and snow.
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