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For Love or Money Season 2 – Breaking all the Rulesby Betsy Wasser, with Kelly Ford -- 07/17/2003
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In the movie Scream, one of the characters explains that there are certain rules to a horror movie. Don’t get drunk. Don’t have sex. Don’t say “I’ll be right back,” or you are doomed to be killed by an axe-wielding maniac. Just as horror movies have conventions to follow, so do reality dating shows like For Love or Money. Last season, we had a villain – the nefarious Evil Kelly. We could count on our villain to strut around in sexy clothes, intimidate the other women, and mesmerize the hapless bachelor. We also had a good girl to root for – Paige Pureheart, a starry-eyed romantic who was sure she was falling in love with Rob. Never mind that in the end, I was rooting for Evil Kelly to win and dump Rob, and that most of America was hoping Paige Pureheart would be smothered under an avalanche of hearts and flowers. We had our archetypes, making the show easy to follow, and maybe just a tiny bit predictable. In just one episode, the second season of For Love or Money has managed to break all of those rules. And what a difference it makes. This season is much more interesting and engaging than its predecessor. This season you can also expect to see a difference in my articles. Kelly Ford, the aforementioned “Evil Kelly” from the first season of the show, will be contributing her own insights, both into the world of reality dating shows and into her friend Erin.
The biggest difference between the two seasons is easy to see: it’s Erin. Rob, the bachelor from season one, was a reasonably attractive guy who had a respectable job as an attorney in Dallas. That pretty much sums up all of the good things you can say about Rob. Rob was incredibly inarticulate – the speeches he gave at eliminations were like being stuck in traffic – slow and tedious. He also had a tendency to just stare at the women, letting them do most of the talking. And who can forget Rob’s legendary bad behavior? From the Smoking Gun allegations to his actions with the boots and in the hot tub, Rob was such a jerk that in the end, I think most people were hoping that whichever woman he picked would take her million dollar check and run away from him.
Now, in contrast, we have Erin. Erin is absolutely beautiful, but the praise doesn’t stop there. She seems very smart, and met the bachelors with poise and confidence. She never reacted to her million dollar prize with glee – she was more concerned with how she could use the money to help her family and about how she’d be perceived for choosing money over love. Erin also showed a considerate side, helping Paige work through her own love or money dilemma. Erin’s empathy was also evident on this first show, avoiding long speeches at elimination in favor of getting to the point. Kelly commented to me that she thought it was hilarious when one of the guys mentioned that Erin seemed very relaxed. “Of course she was relaxed,” Kelly laughed, “This is the second time she’s done this!” Watching the show, I found that I actually liked Erin, and hoped that things would work out for her. What a difference from last season, when I was hoping Rob would fail.
There were also a lot of little differences that made this season more interesting than the first. Kelly and I both liked the fact that the premiere episode was only one hour long, not two. The first episode of season one was padded with a lot of filler – in fact, Rob didn’t even appear until about an hour into it, which Kelly I thought (and I agree) “was kind of ridiculous.” The rings Erin gave the men was another addition to the show. Each guy got a ring from Erin when they met, which they would then have to return when they were eliminated. Kelly told me that the producers let Erin decide what meaning to ascribe to the rings. Erin told the men that the rings symbolized friendship, with the possibility for more. Kelly remarked, “I thought she summed it up great.” The rings also gave the elimination a little more structure – the guys had something to return to Erin, rather than just walking away like the women did in season one. Finally, Kelly was quick to note that the guys had much more provided for them in the way of entertainment. They had a pool table, card tables, a chess set, and a variety of other toys. Kelly told me that the women in season one weren’t given any of those items, that in fact they weren’t even given board games. “And they had kegs!” Kelly cried, “We didn’t have kegs!” It’s hard to say why the producers of the show added more toys for the men. Either the producers are sexist and under the mistaken impression that women don’t play pool, or they realized after the first season that they could add some interest to the contestants’ down time.
Every time I watch the first episode of a reality show, I’m always a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of people to keep track of. It’s much easier to look for the familiar cast of characters to see which guys will stand out from the crowd. Those archetypes emerge as we’re introduced to the bachelors. We’ve got the romantic hero, the greedy villain, and as a special bonus, the jackass. Will they behave as expected?
Chris is clearly going to be the romantic hero. He says in his first interview that he is looking for the “fairy tale.” He also admits, “I ache for love.” This guy, with his dark hair and blindingly white teeth, is the knight in shining armor hopeless romantic that every show needs. He is predictably taken aback when Jordan tells the men about the million dollar twist. Chris declares, “Money is temporary,” and says that if he were to fall in love, he could give that check back and still be happy. When he first meets Erin, he asks her, “Are you ready to fall in love?” Because Chris obviously is! This boy is a walking bouquet of long-stemmed red roses, the kind of guy who says that he wants to find a girlfriend to treat her like a princess. At the afternoon barbeque, Chris seems to seal his place in Erin’s heart, taking her away from the other men (clustered in a primal way around the grill drinking beer) to enjoy some s’mores and flirting. In an interview, the lovesick boy says, “I don’t want this whole thing to be about money.” Add a blonde wig and a promise ring, and he’s Paige!1 2 Next-->
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