June 17, 2004

Am I going to watch the Joe Schmo Show?

I watched the first season of the show and I've watched the first episode, but I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to stick with it. The main thing I don't like is that it is a parody of the dating shows, particularly The Bachelor/-ette, and I've never watched those [Bachelor/-ette], so I'm not going to get the references. For example, on the first show, the two characters (actors) who are supposed to pick the love of their lives are told to eliminate three contestants each, judging them entirely on first impression. There are about fourteen contestants at this point, all but two of whom are actors pretending to be real contestants. The two main actors give all six of the black balls--symbols of elimination--to contestants who are members of minority groups. Then they had to do a voice over to explain why that is supposed to be hilarious and that the problem is the way minority contestants are eliminated early on other shows. But that can only amuse you if you've been irked or outraged by noticing this on the other shows. It's like watching a political satire based on public figures you don't know anything about.

The main thing I know about dating shows is that the people are boring. They keep meeting and having nothing to say to each other (except "I felt a connection" or possibly "a real connection"). I have watched a few of the shows: Boy Meets Boy, Joe Millionaire, and Cupid. Only Cupid was interesting (although overall an immense waste of time), because it was structured like American Idol and the American people got to vote for the candidate they wanted to keep seeing. That became truly hilarious because there was a character the woman looking for love could not tolerate, and the American people--one mischievous segment of it, at least--decided they wanted to see more painful dates. I'm not worried that Joe Schmo will be boring, though, because the actors are likely to talk a lot and make a lot of trouble for the two sincere contestants. I'm just afraid it won't be fun to watch a send-up of shows I haven't seen. But I hate the genre, so maybe I'll enjoy the satire--if it's mean enough.

The main reason I think I might like it is that it will be interesting to have two "Joe Schmos" rather than one, especially since one is a woman. So: Joe and Jo ... really: TIm and Ingrid. And the cool thing about Ingrid is she's always threatening to catch on. She's always talking to the actors and putting them on the spot. She started questioning everyone in the first five minutes, which caused one of the actors who was only supposed to stand there for a minute and get blackballed to slip up and mention her agent. Ingrid observed that several of the actors seemed rehearsed (which they were) and said it was like "The Truman Show." Yet the guy, Tim, is just hanging out, much like Matt, the season 1 Joe Schmo. Tim, like Matt, is pretty much mesmerized by the pretty women and enjoying the fun. He's just not noticing. Behind the scenes, we see the producers freaking out and saying "Get him outta there" when Ingrid starts taking about "The Truman Show." Yet Tim notices nothing. His mind, as opposed to his body, is just not engaged enough to pick up any clues. He's believing what he wants to believe.

(Somehow, I think this contrast is related to the discussion over at Volokh Conspiracy and Andrew Sullivan (pointed out by Instapundit) about why woman and gay men tend to put more effort into their physical appearance than do heterosexual men. I'd say: the effort seems to really pay off. Tim and Ingrid were both put into a setting where they are surrounded by completely attractive would-be partners, and Ingrid kept being perceptive and suspicious about the hidden motivations, but Tim was just loving what he saw. One can say that someone pursuing Ingrid would need to pay attention to appearance but also to a lot of other things, while someone pursuing Tim could put virtually 100% of her effort into outward appearance with the aim of causing a mental shutdown that would make all nonphysical deficiencies unimportant.)

Anyway, it may be quite fun to follow the Tim/Ingrid distinction.

Two things I learned from the official Joe Schmo blog (discovered via Throwing Things, which will be blogging the Joe Schmo Show): the falcon that swooped in with the plot twist message was named Montecore because that was the name of the tiger that attacked Roy (of Siegfried and Roy), the character Ambrosia is based on Omarosa (of The Apprentice).

So, then, am I going to watch it? Is Prof. Yin going to watch? No word yet.

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