Since the beginning, it’s been clear that the biggest risk being taken by the Joe Schmo creative team—and the biggest obstacle to pulling off the hoax—is the character of Karlee. Obviously there’s big comedic potential in adding a deaf woman and her interpreter to the mix, but the odds of actually pulling it off with a hearing actress playing the role are daunting. Living day in and day out in the same house as her mark without losing her concentration and screwing it up would be a challenge for even the most gifted improv performer. We’ve already seen, in the first episode’s champagne cork-popping incident, that this façade could come crumbling down in a second. Tonight, an even bigger screw-up has the cast and crew in full-blown panic mode.
But first we get a recap of last week’s episode. A long recap, including nearly five minutes we’ve already seen before as Chase and the gang ride along with Jake on a “real” skip trace. (Why so much filler? It’s not as if the episode is otherwise short on incident.) The new footage begins with Jake handing Chase his gun to hold on the “hooker” he’s caught while he pursues the other skip down the street. Once again, the scary side of nice-guy Chase comes out; when he barks “Test me!” at the woman, I got the feeling part of him was hoping she’d try to escape. Chase is able to resist her offers of titties and blow jobs (although Randy makes it clear over the walkie-talkie that he would fold immediately), and Jake returns before Chase can figure out the gun he’s holding isn’t loaded.
The producers throw another monkey wrench into Chase’s strategy of flying under the radar by bringing the LV situation to a boil. Last week, of course, LV revealed his homosexuality to Chase alone, even while fending off Skylar’s advances. This week Skylar keeps pressing the matter, despite (but actually because of) Chase’s deep discomfort with the situation. Once again he is reduced to stammering while LV parades around in his Casual Pouch. (More fun with editing: As Kaylee says “I think maybe LV is hiding something,” the camera pans over the bulge in LV’s tiny blue briefs.) Later at dinner, LV puts Chase in the position of revealing his secret for him (sort of spoiling the episode’s outcome in the process, as the title “Say Hey To Ray Ray” certainly suggests an LV exit), and the arc ends with a skewering of a time-honored reality show trope: The contestant who has completed his inner journey and doesn’t need to be there anymore.
Of course, no matter how much planning the production team does, things can always go wrong, which is why it’s not quite accurate to say The Joe Schmo Show is fake. It is a reality show, but the reality comes from behind the scenes, one layer removed from the faux-reality Chase perceives. When Chase compliments Karlee on her handstand pushups and she acknowledges hearing him, we immediately cut to the control room where the crew is freaking out: “We’re done! We’re done!” None of the actors or producers seem to know what to do about the gaffe, other than pretending it never happened and hoping it’s quickly forgotten. That’s what they do, and although Chase’s suspicions are raised, he doesn’t pursue the matter any further (at least not that we see). The moment is left hanging, and I was a little surprised that production didn’t arrange for a hasty Karlee eviction just to ward off any future incidents. They may have big plans in store for her, but you can’t un-ring a bell—or pretend you didn’t hear it.
- Has any “real” competition-reality show ever done a heart-rate challenge like the one we saw tonight? I found myself thinking, “Hey, this would actually be a fun Survivor challenge! I mean, I don’t see Jeff Probst bringing out a topless woman with big fake boobs to do jumping jacks, but aside from that…”
- “I would wear a strap-on.” Long, uncomfortable silence.
- I looked up “Roman helmet” on Urban Dictionary, and it turns out Randy’s explanation is not entirely accurate. I don’t want to get into the details here, but it doesn’t entail putting your [bleep] in her eye socket and drizzling your [bleep] down her nose.
- “I have a confession to make, too. When you were wearing your Casual Pouch, I saw your balls.” Someday the Casual Pouch will stop being funny to me, but that day has not yet arrived.