Friday, May 20, 2005

Random musings and reality TV

O.K. I admit it, I am a reality TV junkie. My favorites are Survivor, The Amazing Race and The Apprentice. And of course in the past couple of weeks, all of these shows have had their season finales. I have to give credit to Tom from Survivor. I wasn't rooting for him, but he did play the game better than anyone else. And his physical dominance certainly worked to his advantage as well. But was is interesting to me is the fact that Tom was the most heavy handed player to play the game and win since Richard Hatch in the first season. After Richard, people got wise to that kind of obvious manipulation and now, players who play with that kind of strategy tend to last for a while, but usually get voted off mid-way through the game. Of course Tom had the advantage of being on a team that never lost immunity challenges so he wasn't in any danger early on. But later, why his team didn't wise up and vote him off at the earliest opportunity is a mystery to me. It's an even greater mystery because they TALKED about doing it all the time. Every episode, someone in the tribe would say to someone else, "he's so strong, he's such a threat, we need to vote him off at the earliest opportunity" and the person listening would nod his or her head sagely and agree. But they never actually got it together to do what they agreed they needed to do. Yet again, this season made it clear that a women's alliance is an impossible thing to pull off. Why? I just don't get it.

Now on The Amazing Race I have to say I was in the "anybody but Rob and Amber" camp. I would have been happy to see the old people win, just so that Rob and Amber didn't win. One of the reasons that The Amazing Race has been one of my favorite reality shows is that it has always been relatively civilized and genteel. O.K., O.K., that's why I used the word "relatively"!!! But Rob just did everything he could to make the game one of slimy, in the gutter strategies. Blatant lies, obvious sabotague, and snide indifference ("no way are we stopping to see if the guys who got into a serious jeep accident are o.k.") to other teams when they were in trouble, made Rob the easy person to hate and enjoy doing it. This season was the vindication for nice people every where. Uchenna was about as nice a person as there ever was. Joyce - eh...not so nice, but Uchenna - some day he will be nominated for sainthood and I didn't even get the impression that he is Catholic (YES, I know that it was VERY clear he is NOT Catholic....please try not to take me so literally). Nice to the old couple, nice to cab drivers, oh so nice to his wife (not always the nicest person), nice to the host, nice to the camera, nice to all the locals. So, so nice. And so the nice people won. I have to admit I was rooting for the gay boys (oh yeah, I know - huge surprise), and let's be honest they were really nice too. O.K. the unfortunate comment made when in a not so nice neighborhood of Johannesburg kind of showed the edge to that niceness, but they were under stress, they were lost, it WASN'T such a nice area, and who among us haven't slipped with a comment of that kind from time to time. The boys WERE nice - I stand by my impression here. Nice and optimistic, and cheery, and energetic and fun. I was hoping they would win. And I'm still a little pissed off by the fact that on the leg of the race they did win, there was no prize. What is up with that?!?!? I think Rob and Amber won a prize on 3 legs of the race. Ugh...don't get me started.

Finally The Apprentice. Kendra was hired - as I'm guessing everyone who watches the show and has an IQ higher than 3 had already figured was going to happen. But still, the final weeks where sort of amazing to watch. Tana was amazing throughout the show until about the last 3 tasks when she just completely flaked out. I mean what was with her obsession with the Bedazzler?!?!? And yeah, she had a bunch of losers to work with on the final task, but you don't have to be real bright to figure out that berating and insulting and denegrating your team in front of the people who are evaluating your performance (specifically Carolyn), or in front of your client, or in front of a camera that may play back everything you say to a national television audience (including those very team members) is probably a very bad idea. And Kendra, who was pretty much unknown until the final few tasks, just came out of nowhere to show flashes of brilliance. She did do a great job on that final task. Not that it ultimately matters (because Tana just wigged out in the end - what was with her ranting on the live season finale???), but don't you agree that Tana had the much more difficult task in the end?

Still I have to say that Trump had already fired the best candidates in the group, so he was left with a choice between two less talented finalists that in previous seasons. And the truth of the matter is, I think he knew it. I mean look at the choices of jobs he offered the winner. In the past it was jobs like overseeing the construction of a 90-story building, or the construction of a luxury golf course/country club, or managing the development of a massive multi-building residential comples in Manhattan. This time it was produce the Miss Universe contest or renovate a Palm Beach mansion?!?!? Yeah, I think Trump knew exactly what he was getting.

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