TV Clubbers, I know you don't deserve this. I feel like we've gotten really close, and I deeply regret having to do this to you. I hope you can forgive me. But Claire bequeathed to me the Beauty and the Geek blog this week.
Much like reality shows in general, this week's B&tG; blog is a total gimmick. See, I don't watch the show. I watched the first half of the first season, three years ago -- none since. So Keith said, "Hey, you know, you can talk about how the show looks to someone who doesn't watch it!"
You'll have to vote to either keep this crazy "virgin viewer" gimmick in the mansion, or send me to the elimination room. Let's get right to the challenge.
Apparently there was a big fight last week, and Cowboy Joe made everyone feel really uncomfortable before Big Gay Greggy got eliminated. And this week the sad, sad tension continues as Joe moons over Tara, who proceeds to accept massages from relatively-hunky geek Tom. To quote Bart Simpson, play it back in slow motion and you can actually pinpoint the moment when his heart breaks.
But perhaps the pain is mitigated by the fact that the whole show has been trucked up to a luxury lodge in Big Bear, snowy playground of the California elite. (I can't think about Big Bear without hearing Rip Torn say it in Defending Your Life -- "Big! Bear!") For some reason the five couples think they're going to get a "vacation" from their stressful reality show life (which has lasted what, a week at this point?). And they get in some sad, sad sexually-charged snowball fights and flirtatious hot tub action before they have to sing for their supper.
The competition involves the girls building sleds and the guys fetching parts for them. Unfortunately no one realized that the hardest part comes after the sleds are built. Hauling them up to the top of the hill and then coasting down without falling off proved to be too much for Jason and Kristina. I was tired just watching them. But from this one episode, it appears to me that Tom and Amanda are the competent team. They seemed head and shoulders (pardon the pun) above the other teams in communication, physical ability, and just plain common sense. Looking at the Wikipedia page, it appears that Tom's won two challenges since the beauties and geeks paired off. So am I right? They're ringers?
The production team didn't feel like hauling the elimination room game-show set up to the mountains, so instead of a quiz we had an extremely awkward -- and useless vote. One by one, each team stood near Mike (is he a beauty or a geek, by the way?) and apologetically named the team they were voting off. And then the next team stood up and apologetically named the previous team. And then the next two teams traded votes. Hey, everybody's got one vote! So Tommy and Amanda got to pick, and they sent Jason and Kristina home.
And I have no idea whether that's a shocker or what. Frankly, from this one episode, I got less of a handle on them as personalities than I did any of the other teams. I suppose it's a slight surprise since the whole Joe-and-Tara show was set up for us to provide a reason for the other teams to vote them out.
Here's my dilemma. I actually appreciate that the heart of B&tG; is a team competition. People who can forge a working bond and function effectively as a unit will succeed. I like reality shows where I can root for competence rather than simply sneer at failure. So there's something for the teams to do, to work on and make progress with, underlying all the silly tasks the contestants are asked to perform.
But the show is incorrigibly schizophrenic about its contestants and its premise. At every opportunity, it plays up the stereotypes -- ditzy, bubble-headed women ("it's called a Jacuzzi, right?" "I don't know what kinds of screws there are -- I know about the circle thing") and socially-impaired men ("negative copy! negative copy!"). The beauties make love to the camera while the geeks are denied the most basic makeup, hair, and wardrobe attention to make them as unattractive as possible. Why would I root for these cardboard cutouts for which the show has such obvious contempt?
It doesn't look like they've solved that problem in four and a half seasons since I last tuned in. In fact, if tonight's episode is any indication, the gulf between what the show thinks it's selling -- an opportunity to feel superior to one's fellow man -- and what its game format conveys -- a chance to connect, grow, and learn about our common humanity -- has only gotten wider.
- I liked Matt, with his coke-bottle glasses. Was he the one who said that the craziest thing he'd ever done involved a horse "nudg[ing] me with his nose"? But pardon my ignorance: what was with the undergarment he was wearing in the hot tub? I appeared to be a brace of some kind, but I couldn't find any reference to it on his MySpace page or in a quick internet search. Enlighten me -- has it appeared before?
- It's comforting to me, in some strange way, that all the beauties come equipped with Uggs for their snow adventures.
- My favorite moment was when Chris signaled his determination to play a serious game by emphatically closing a slightly-open sliding-glass door.
- In my completely uninformed opinion, the elimination round-robing out by the campfire was lame. They should have done something more with their snow theme if they were going to do a Survivor-type vote-off. Maybe each team could have built snowmen representing the pair they were voting off.
- Allow me to conclude by saying that I hope my utter ignorance has not offended you unduly. Claire will be back next week.