I’m still behind but this post and the next one should be quickies, so I’ll catch up a bit.
My friends in the blogging field, notably Ivan Shreve and “Toby” O’Brien have accused me at times of knowing far more about reality TV than is entirely healthy, an accusation to which I say HA! and HA! anew. The truth is that I watch a few reality shows. I watch the ones I like, which are generally reality-competition shows that aren’t talent shows or shows about dating. I really think that I am rather selective in the shows that I watch. I normally watch Big Brother, Survivor, Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Celebrity Apprentice (not the non-Celebrity version mind), Dancing With The Stars and of course the greatest reality-competition series of them all, The Amazing Race. Not that many at all really, and I’ve never lowered myself to the point where I watch The Bachelor The Bachelorette, or Biggest Loser. And Jersey Shore, or the Real Housewives franchise? Fuhgeddaboudit.
Inevitably reality-competitions shows attract “big” personalities, for good or for ill. Part of the reason for doing a show like this is that you have something of an exhibitionist streak, either emotionally or physically; you want people watching you and you don’t care that much what they see. Reality competition shows also generate situations where things go wrong or people do things that embarrass themselves because it seemed like a good idea at the time. So here are three of my favourites from the past year.
1. Bristol Palin in a
The Fall season of Dancing With The Stars featured Bristol Palin, the daughter of former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin (and somewhat infamous in her own right for being pregnant out of wedlock during her mother’s campaign). Controversy seemed to follow young Bristol as far more talented dancers than her were eliminated. In fact, one of the options for this slot was the elimination of fourth place finisher Brandy; Derek Hough’s jaw literally drops when he hears the news. The other notable event in that season was when 76 year-old Florence Henderson “whipped out the girls” (fortunately encased in a suitable for TV bra) in the piece before she did the Tango to the theme from The Brady Bunch. Those of us who saw it can’t forget it…no matter how hard we try. Bristol Palin’s success was almost certainly a by-product of her mother being a favourite of Tea Party supporters (they try to deny it by claiming that Bristol’s dancing improved during the course of the show – and it’s true, but given that she started with no skills improvement was to be expected; she was still a bad dancer, just not as bad a bad dancer). Possibly the nadir of Palin’s dancing career on the show was “TV Theme week” in which the teams danced to TV show themes (well duh). Palin and her dance partner Mark Balas got the theme from The Monkees. And for some reason Mark thought that dressing up might help. As you can see here, it really didn’t, though the judges were kind.
2. Quitters on Survivor: Nicaragua
Survivor usually deals up more than its fair share of drama. During the “Heroes vs. Villains” season in the spring we had the confrontation between Rob Mariano (Boston Rob), who I consider to be one of the best strategists that Survivor has ever seen – and also the only person in Survivor history to actually make fire by literally rubbing two stick together – against Russell, the immunity idol magnet who had come second the previous season and actually tried to buy the title of Sole Survivor in the reunion show. Rob saw right through Russell and twice had a plan to get him out, only have Russell stay because he was able to persuade two of Rob’s allies to vote against their own best interests. Still, Survivor: Nicaragua brought us a villain almost as bad as Russell: Naonka Mixon. Naonka literally wrestled a woman with one leg to the ground to get a clue to the hidden immunity idol, and implied that she might throw the woman’s prosthetic leg into the fire while she slept. She stole food from her team and hid it, and then when Kelly B – the woman with the artificial leg – found out about it she first shared food with her and then got the other members of her tribe to put more blame onto Kelly for not immediately ratting Naonka out than on herself for actually stealing the food. Naonka went through the whole game as the Queen Witch Bitch of Nicaragua. Until she decided that she was too cold and too wet and quit.along with Kelly Shin – known on the show as “Purple Kelly”… when you actually saw her on the show which wasn’t always that often. But she after she announced her desire to quit (but before it was accepted – the show wanted to give both women a chance to change their minds), Naonka had one more bit of “witch-bitchery” about her. She was on the winning team of a “reward” challenge (some reward – they got to see a sneak preview of the new Jack Black movie Gulliver’s Travels) however they were offered a chance to get some extra supplies if one of the winning team opted not to go on the reward. Since there had been a fire at the camp that destroyed their tarp, and virtually all of their food, someone would be sitting out the reward… but it wouldn’t be Naonka. Despite the fact that she knew she wasn’t going to change her mind, Naonka was determined to get every reward she was “entitled” to. Which led to the Tribal Council seen in this clip. The other players, both still active and on the jury were dumbfounded that after thirty days in the jungle and with just ten days left in the shooting schedule, these two would quit without any injury or medical problem. As for host Jeff Probst, well he seems to have a hard time keeping his anger at these two quitters at bay. Jeff doesn’t like quitters on his show. To make matters worse, despite not being voted off, Naonka and Purple Kelly became part of the jury, and this time there was nothing anyone could do to keep it from happening. However a new rule, announced at the show’s reunion episode, will give producers the option of not allowing quitters to participate in the jury at the discretion of the producers.
3. Claire and the Watermelon on The Amazing Race
The biggest reality incident of the year came in the first episode of The Amazing Race. GemsTV home shopping hosts Brook Roberts (the blonde) and Claire Champlin (the brunette) were in England where their Roadblock task (one which has to be done by only one of the team and can’t be switched; that’s important in this case as you’ll see) was to use an overgrown slingshot to knock down a suit of armour. With a watermelon. Seems simple enough right? And for most of the people who were on the show it was. Not for Claire. As you’ll see in the video the watermelon had a mind, and a sense of direction, all its own. The result was shocking to say the least, to the point where the jugglers and acrobats, hired to provide “Local Colour” dropped out of “Local Colour” mode and rand over to see if she was alright. Needless to say, the video went viral. The original CBS release (which I’m showing here; be advised, there is a short commercial at the start) has had over 2.2 million hits, and various other versions have had between 100,000 and 1.5 million hits. There’s even a guy who claims that it was all a fake. But would you really trust a guy in bug glasses?