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Reality Hit List, June 23: Hope and “Reality”by Brian James -- 06/23/2003
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You know, sometimes I think I can understand where Delia is coming from on Ryan’s Hope. I mean, I think she has a valid point: Frank knew what she was like when he married her, and demanding she become a different person just because he felt he grew and changed is like switching the rules mid-game and unfair to her. And I don’t get why Frank and Jill act like it’s their God-given right to be together and it’s completely unreasonable for Delia to want to save her marriage when, in fact, they’re the ones having an affair. But then I remember that Delia only pursued Frank in the first place because Pat turned her down, and then she goes and does stuff like trashing Frank’s campaign headquarters, and I-
What’s that? You came here to hear about reality shows, you say? Get on with it already? You’re sure we can’t just pretend this past week never existed? I mean, it wasn’t exactly a banner week for reality television. Seriously - when fictional characters from 28 years ago are behaving more like multidimensional, believable human beings than actual human beings of today portraying themselves, something’s very, very wrong.
Speaking of very, very wrong, Paradise Hotel debuted on Fox this week. As much as I’ve ripped on For Love or Money, I swear, this show makes it look like Masterpiece Theater. It makes Looking For Love: Bachelorettes In Alaska look like Citizen Kane. Hell, it even makes Married By America look like Scenes From A Marriage.
Basically, it’s kind of like musical chairs meets The Dating Game. You’ve got an uneven number of single men and women who must pair up to room together. Odd person out at a certain point gets eliminated. The last couple standing gets…
Well, that’s just it. They don’t get anything. On every other elimination-based reality show that I can think of, there’s an incentive to be the last person/team standing - a cash prize, a date, an engagement, or what have you. Here, as much as the show may boom, “ONE of the guests will be FORCED to CHECK OUT!!!,” without any such incentive, what does it matter if you’re booted first or fiftieth? Other reality shows like The Real World, High School Reunion, and even Temptation Island don’t have a prize, but there’s (ostensibly, at least) a point or throughline to keep viewers watching each week - some sort of learning experience the people gain from the (as much as I hate dipping into my list of Verboten Beaten-To-Death Reality Television Words) “journey,” be it being pushed outside your comfort zone by living with a diverse group of strangers, revisiting and reexamining old baggage from high school, or seeing if your relationship will withstand temptation from outside forces. Just the very thought of Paradise Hotel and “learning experience” being in the same sentence sends me into fits of uncontrollable laughter. So ultimately, the point of the show is that… there is no point. Great!
Still, though, the same can be said about most episodes of Passions and I keep watching. So what’s so wrong with this show?
Well, really, what’s right about it? Right off the bat, even the theme song is a tired generic remake of Eddie Money’s 1978 hit “Two Tickets to Paradise.” The host, Amanda Byram, has perhaps the most grating, over-the-top British accent since Downtown Julie Brown “wubba wubba”-ed her way onto MTV in 1986. The guests? Yikes! Was this show given the last round picks in the reality show draft or what?!? The best I can say about any of them is that they’re bland and inoffensive, which isn’t exactly enough to send me racing to my TV twice a week. We have Andon (“TheCustomOfLife” at Television Without Pity: “It’s either Andy or Brandon - decide!”), who wants to have his skin taxidermied after he dies. We have Amy, who one minute is calling a guy “retarded with no social skills,” the next minute is choosing to bunk with him for the week because “he’s a fun guy who makes [her] laugh,” and may have had sex with him the minute after that. Then there’s almost guaranteed future Reality TV Hall of Shame member Zack, a personal trainer who looks like a low-rent Matt LeBlanc and apparently can’t go without flexing or doing pushups for longer than five seconds: over the course of this episode alone, he said of Melanie, “She’s really old… she’s like, thirty!” and yammered on incessantly to Amy, the only girl who wanted him for a roommate, about how disappointed he was that two of the other girls didn’t pick him instead. Finally, who’s the genius who thought that we were just dying to see more of Love Cruise’s Toni? Although I have to admit that it was hysterical seeing her run amok like some sort of self-proclaimed reality TV expert (Toni to Charla: “We’ll talk more tomorrow and we’ll give you a strategy!” Charla: “I don’t need a strategy!”). Maybe she got on by playing up her apparent experience with cryogenic freezing: in 2000, when Love Cruise was filmed, she was “27.” Now, three years later, she’s only “28.” Neat trick.
Now obviously, I’m not naďve enough to think the producers were looking to populate this show with Mensa Society members or people witty enough to hold their own with Dorothy Parker’s circle at the Algonquin, but to be perfectly honest, while they’re certainly not dogs, no one’s so overwhelmingly attractive that I would feel compelled to tune in on that basis alone. (And yes, that is possible - I mean, have you seen Carter, the new carpenter on Trading Spaces?!?) And even if they were, what’s that old saying about being brought down by the company you keep? Charla may have been unhappy about getting the single room, but quite frankly, given her choices, I thought she got the best end of the deal, even - no, make that especially - if she winds up getting eliminated. Coming up, the show appears to veer into Jerry Springer territory as the giant TV screened heads of the current guests bark insults at people who are begging to - get this - get into the hotel. Why on earth would they want to?!? Seriously - if spending time with this group of twits is “paradise,” I’ll take my chances in hell. I may give the show one more shot just to make sure it’s bad-bad and not good-bad, but more than likely I’ll just wait a couple of weeks to watch the version with a point and what is almost certain to be a more diverse, entertaining group of guests: Big Brother.
One last thing - amazingly, astoundingly, this show is banking that people will want to fork out $9.95 a month for Yahoo! Platinum to see “exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and even night-vision bed cams!” It’s not quite the level of hubris as the LovePaigeJones.com Classic Thong, but close.
Checking in with the show that was immediately bumped up a couple pegs on the Class-O-Meter, For Love Or Money, first and foremost: shut up, Melodramatic Announcer. Every week at every commercial break: “The Elimination! WHO’S in it for LOVE? And WHO’S in it for MONEY?” It’s not like the ceremony determines either, so zip it.
Last week, Christina and Lauren removed Rob’s boots. This week, Laura got the “privilege” of making him breakfast in bed (even though Lauren goodnaturedly did most of the cooking). What’s next: Erin shines his shoes with her hair?
Laura apparently forgot one of the cardinal rules of dating shows: never waste your time asking someone if they’re keeping you around. Let’s face it: you’re never going to get an honest answer and it’ll probably only annoy them. I don’t know for certain that’s why she was eliminated this week, but I wouldn’t doubt it was a factor. Then again, given that she’s leaving behind a guy prone to saying things like, “Hey, Laura! We’re in bed together!,” can we really say that she didn’t come out ahead?
Really, that’s one interesting thing that I’ve noticed about this show: on Joe Millionaire, the women who seemed to be mainly after the money - Sarah, Melissa, Heidi - came across as selfish, shallow golddiggers. Here, the one who’s blatantly saying she’s in this for the money, Lauren, is probably my favorite at this point! How can that be?1 2 Next-->
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