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Reality Hit List, July 14: All Good Things Must Come to an Endby Brian James -- 07/14/2003
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I ain’t sorry
OK, when I’m using a quote from a Passions musical parody to describe my feelings about the For Love or Money finale, it either means I’ve gotten brilliant at making all my pop culture passions tie together or I really need to get out of the house more. Still, it sums up my feelings about the outcome quite nicely: I was elated to see Paige lose and walked away absolutely loving Erin.
Think about it. Erin is one of two finalists getting ready for Rob’s big decision. She’s got to have a lot of thoughts, concerns, fears, etc., about the upcoming event running through her mind. Most people would want to be alone to process their feelings, right?
But did Erin get that chance? Oh, no. She wound up being too busy playing big sister, den mother, and emotional nursemaid to Paige, who was having any number of emotional freakouts for various reasons that all basically boiled down to the same dialogue: “Me. Me me me me me. Me me. Me me me. Also? Me.” Her constant immaturity and histrionics would have sorely tempted Mother Teresa to tell her to put a sock in it, let alone her fellow contestant who had her own issues to worry about.
Yet Erin didn’t do that, and this is what really impressed me: she genuinely seemed concerned with making sure Paige was OK. Almost everything we saw of her before the big decision focused on her trying to get Paige to calm down and feel better. Now, I know that part of that is that Erin simply didn’t care as much about the outcome, but still, she had to have had some of her own feelings to sort through, as well as figure out her own decision if, as ultimately happened, she was the one chosen. And in any event, nothing obligated her to help Paige whatsoever. Yet she chose to. And I know that sounds like a really minor thing, but think about it - how often do you see someone on these shows put aside their needs for someone else AND not make a big show of “Look! Look how selfless and noble I am!” while doing so? I definitely have a newfound respect for her.
The big decision finally came and the producers did the impossible by making time go in reverse. At least that’s what it seemed like when Rob started giving his final speeches to the women. I mean, I knew this guy wasn’t exactly scintillating to begin with, but he actually managed to make the idea of watching Flori “The Cover Lady” Roberts make her age spots disappear seem riveting by comparison. Imagine the following speech:
Remember when we were ten, and we walked down to the dime store to get a present for your mother... and the dime store was out of cards... so we had to walk to the Hallmark store... and after an hour, we finally found just the right card... and then we got a sandwich and a Coke, and you wanted your sandwich with extra mayo... so they gave you some extra mayo packets… and you put them on your sandwich… and then we ate them… and they were tasty… and then we fed peanuts to the squirrels... and the squirrels were happy… and you were happy…and it made me feel happy... and secure... and comfortable… it was a good memory… I remember it a lot… and then there was the time when you brought me chicken soup when I had the flu...and I was out of Kleenex...so I asked if you could bring some… and you did... and the box had little blue flowers on it… and I appreciated it…
Now imagine it lasting a good ten minutes and you’ve basically got his final speeches, excitement quotient and all, BUT -
No, I wasn’t going to say anything else; that’s just how each speech ended. “BUT -” And then it cut to cheesy black-and-white slo-mo footage of each of the women, kind of like the old Melrose Place bumpers right before each commercial break where, say, Kimberly would rip off her wig or Jo would harpoon her abusive boyfriend or something - but in slo-mo! And black-and-white! So it looked more arty!
As cheesy as it looked, I do have to admit that it was somewhat of an ingenious gimmick, because usually the loser goes first. Here, it wound up being that way in the end, but you really were kept guessing for awhile. (Well, if Erin declaring there was no way she could win about, oh, every five minutes wasn’t an instant tipoff to you, that is. But then you almost have to wonder if maybe this would be the one time where someone who keeps saying they’re going to lose really does lose, and you second-guess yourself right back into being unsure. At least, that’s what I did - I admit it!)
But in the end, the expected happened and Rob chose Erin over Paige, which thrilled me on two levels. First of all, Paige lost. All the immaturity, all the cloying saccharinity, all the histrionics in the end were thankfully all for naught. Even if this had meant that, say, Martha Stewart or Kathie Lee Gifford would have wound up being the winner, I still would have been happy. I’m not sure if Paige is my absolute least favorite reality contestant of all time, but she’s definitely in the top five.
Besides, it provided one of THE funniest moments in reality TV this year. Paige is sobbing on the bed and leaning up against the wall is her “Looking For Love” painting. The “ART”! The “ART” made a comeback! And it was mocking her!
True columnists always maintain their composure and dignity, so excuse me for a moment.
OK, I’m back. You didn’t see that. Anyway, the other level that thrilled me was that Erin won. See, I think a lot of times, whether it be on shows like this or in real life, the independent woman who doesn’t need a man can wind up getting the shaft. The opposite extreme, clinginess, doesn’t work either, but sometimes I feel like what men want is a woman who does need a man but just pretends that she doesn’t. It’s a tricky balance. Santa Barbara actually addressed this issue quite well back in the ‘80s with the character of Julia Wainwright, an attractive, intelligent, independent attorney who found that men were intimidated by her and wanted more traditional damsel-in-distress types; at one point she cried, “Sometimes I just wish I could be a dumb blonde!” in frustration. That’s the kind of vibe I got from Erin: she certainly didn’t seem like she needed a man or her world would fall apart. She also mentioned that perhaps she was more jaded than some of the other finalists when it came to love and relationships. I don’t think that being jaded is necessarily a bad thing as long as you’re not abrasive about it. Anyway, it was just nice to see someone like Erin get chosen by the guy for a change.1 2 Next-->
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