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Reality Hit List, June 30: Oh, Lighten Up Already!by Brian James -- 06/30/2003
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OK, so after last week’s column, I received scathing email - informing me I don’t belong on this site because I’m a horrible writer with nothing to say - from rabid Paradise Hotel fans. All one of them. You can see how much of a deterrent this was for me showing up again this week.
Still, though, because of this, because I indicated I might in last week’s column, and in the interest of fairness, I gave the show another shot this week… and…
It’s not quite as bad as I initially made it out to be.
Oh, don’t get me wrong - by no stretch of the imagination can it be considered “good” or “quality” programming. But I think last week I made it seem like it was the seventh sign of the apocalypse, and it’s not that either. You just have to kind of look at the show as more of a glorified ongoing Dis-Missed or Elimidate. Dis-Missed is a guilty pleasure of mine. It’s fun watching a bunch of obnoxious twits be blissfully oblivious to the fact that they’re making complete asses out of themselves on national television. And generally, there’s a hot tub involved eventually and one of the guys at least looks good in a bathing suit even if he has nothing else to offer the world. So in that context, Paradise Hotel can work as fun, disposable fare - kind of like the television equivalent of a trashy beach novel.
Still, that opens up a whole other can of worms. If that’s what Fox wants for the show - for it to be something people flick on if they’re home and in the mood - great; they’ve achieved that. If they want people to be glued to every episode and purchase the live feeds, though, I don’t see it happening. The ongoing nature and lack of a progression to a final prize or decision doesn’t give it the sense of urgency required for this - sure, someone will be CHECKING OUT OF PARADISE FOREVER, but someone will be doing that every week while everything else basically remains the same. If you miss an episode, it would seem fairly easy to pick up on what happened; it’s just that a player or two might be different. I guess we’ll see if the ratings bear this theory out.
If this week is any indication, it seems like it would take a lot for people to switch roommates - at least from the initial group. Once Charla snagged Scott, thereby preventing any other girl from choosing him, Melanie was doomed; it didn’t seem like any of the guys would have chosen her over their current roommates, let alone Beau. However, Amanda probably can’t ditch newcomer Dave fast enough. Speaking of Dave, is it just my imagination, or did he seem more attractive and pleasant when he was in the studio Monday night? I remember thinking they made the sane choice over the confrontational and grating Tom - then Dave hits the hotel and suddenly morphs into the obnoxious nerd from hell! I’m getting a sense that’s his strategy, but, I mean, this isn’t Survivor - I’m just not seeing what alienating just about everyone right off the bat will accomplish beyond a swift return ticket home.
In other news, Toni still needs to be informed that departing guests aren’t being sent to the gas chamber; Zack, Andon, and Charla acted out an R-rated episode of I Love Lucy in Charla’s bedroom; brain trust Andon spouted, “We connect on a intellectual level”; and Amanda, apparently having never seen an episode of The Bachelor in her life, got the bright idea that gushing to Beau about taking him home to meet her parents after only about TWO DAYS was a smart thing to do, then got offended when other people acted like she and Beau were married! Oy. Oh – and the women held a “Best Ass” contest. The “Biggest Ass” contest, apparently, is ongoing. And I keep hearing these rumors that there are people named Alex and Kristin on the show, but I’d be hard-pressed to prove it.
At this point, I can easily say that For Love or Money is hands down the most enjoyable reality TV guilty pleasure since Joe Millionaire. Lauren, my favorite, got the boot this week, but again, it’s hard to feel too badly for her when in a lot of ways she’s probably better off: she wasn’t into Rob and it’s not like she’d be getting the full million dollars in any sort of useful form anyway. Besides, it’s not like she was the best liar in the world: if she was going to try to convince the other girls she was truly into Rob, she might have wanted to come up with something better than rating Rob a “5.5 out of 10” as a kisser.
Still, though, she managed to put one over on Rob, although that’s kind of like being the best surfer in Kansas. In an absolutely classic editing juxtaposition, this was Lauren on Rob:
"It was weird kissing him because it was like kissing your pillow or something. I just didn't really feel anything."
Immediately followed by Rob:
"I feel like I made a breakthrough with Lauren. We've taken it to the next level. We're a lot more comfortable around each other."
Even Paige didn't bother me quite as much this week. I only wanted to brain her with a frying pan instead of bayonet her.
Another unintentionally amusing moment came near the end when Rob decided he wanted to have a heart-to-heart with the remaining three women. Fine and dandy, but next time, Rob, you might want to - oh, I don’t know - LET THEM COME IN FROM THE POURING RAIN first.
But the funniest moment came at the very end. In a scene of pure unadulterated screaming camp, as Rob opened up the check container, all the women’s comments about wanting the money came flying out to taunt him. All that was missing was Piper Laurie booming, “They’re all going to LAUGH at you!!! They’re all going to LAUGH at you!!!”
Speaking of Rob, this week I asked myself: would I think he was such an idiotic insensitive clod if I didn’t know about the extracurricular groping scandal? Or would I be able to write off his boorish behavior in episode 2 as unfortunate, but feel he learned his lesson and moved on? Honestly? It’s impossible to say. Now that I know about the incident, it’s kind of like the pink spotted elephant in my living room whipping up a batch of banana daiquiris - it’s impossible to pretend it doesn’t exist. (Easy on the crushed ice, Jumbo.) This would be one of the reasons why I am a writer and not a judge.
Finally, am I the only one who gets a very Disneyesque vibe from the shots of the women smiling and waving from the balcony? Are any of you thinking they should be in those medieval pointy princess hats where the scarf or veil or whatever hangs down from the tip and have cartoon bluebirds twittering around them? Or am I just warped? OK; let me rephrase that: I know I’m warped, but are any of you…
As for The Amazing Race, I think I’ve finally put my finger on what’s bothering me about this season:
These teams don’t seem to be having any fun.1 2 Next-->
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