'Joe Millionaire' is a massive disappointment

    I’m not a big fan of reality TV. While I’ve had glimpses into the godforsaken domain of reality TV, I have never fully embraced it for what it was past the occasional episode of “”Cheaters”” or “”Real World.”” Generally, I don’t care whether or not someone can eat 15 spiders in one minute or what the hell Ozzy is trying to mutter to his punk kids.

    That is, of course, until I caught wind of Fox’s most recent scheme: “”Joe Millionaire.”” Twenty women would be wooed at a French chateau by a tall, dark and handsome man worth $50 million who has called upon the Fox Network to set him up with true love on national television. Except, once the 19 other golddiggers are eliminated, Joe Millionaire reveals that he’s really just Joe Dirt, and the maiden of choice is forced to choose whether or not she wants to pursue a relationship with a construction worker who earns $19,000 annually. Wow.

    Upon first hearing the story’s concept, I immediately pictured those department store commercials where the women are charging and clawing their way to the clearance racks as soon as the store’s doors open for the one-day sale. Except this sale was 50 million times bigger and, oh yeah, the network’s even throwing a free guy in to the mix to sweeten the deal.

    The idea was brilliant. The show’s producers, however, completely lost out on the show’s potential for greatness.

    The potential I write of revolves primarily around one central theme: The average woman, if provoked with a proper lure like inordinate amounts of money and fame, will transform into a most conniving and shrewd individual, stopping at nothing short of murder to get her hands on the man, the money and the most coveted of all goods — the spotlight.

    Now of course, an argument can be made that I’m being way too misogynistic about female character, and that not all women are money-grubbing whores and whatnot. Fine, but can’t the casting directors find at least 20 attractive women of the aforementioned leanings toward money and fame? I’ve been to the Gaslamp — I know they’re out there, by George! It can’t be too hard to find 20 ladies like this.

    The show should, theoretically, write itself, seeing as how it’s reality TV and all. The series will follow a simple formula where the women catfight every episode, talk shit to each other and backstab at every opportunity. Finally, one will be left standing with Joe, and she will be charged with the task of deciding whether or not to ditch him because he’s got no money or to stay with him because she has found love. She leaves the dude once she finds out he’s not worth millions and the exploitation of the gold-digging ice queen is wrapped up.

    Instead, what has transpired over the last several weeks was an interpretation entirely too dull of its prospects. The producers of “”Joe Millionaire”” chose to drive the show’s action like a fairy tale. They took the concept entirely too seriously. Why have the twist at the end that our millionaire isn’t worth more than a Ford Pinto if there’s no intention that the only thing the women are after is money? If the women were really into it for Evan Marriot’s intrinsic qualities, why even bother with the lie about the million dollars?

    Another question I have is why Evan didn’t take advantage of his situation to the fullest. Here’s a guy who has 20 gorgeous women convinced that he’s a millionaire — and he’s looking for love? Maybe I’m nuts, but I don’t know why the producers wouldn’t have encouraged him to just take advantage of the situation. Lead the girls on. Evoke some one-night stand drama for all to see. This is Fox, damn it — we want a freak show!

    Instead, the lame fairy tale narrative has an equally lame result. Did Spielberg write these episodes? Seriously, this was corny. We didn’t even get a really dramatic response. Zora, the winner of the “”Who wants to marry a ditch-digger?”” sweepstakes saved face and agreed to continue a relationship with Evan, even though he didn’t have the promised $50 million. It was a safe play and no one was really surprised, considering she seemed the most down to earth of the 20 anyway. The “”surprise twist that even Evan doesn’t know about”” was that the two were given a real $1 million to split because love conquered greed when Zora decided to stay. Hold the applause.

    What should have happened is that either Evan chooses the most scathing, most manipulative woman available, forcing her to choose (in which case she probably would have dismissed Evan the Excavator); or, after the finalist chooses to stay without the money, Paul the pompous butler offeres her $1 million to walk away from Evan.

    That is a real “”love versus money”” choice. Choosing to stay with a guy while the cameras are rolling even though he has no money is easy. If she really were committed to making something work with Evan, she should have been forced to turn down the sum to stay with him.

    While a $1 million offered to ditch the ditch-digger is a bit extreme, a twist along those lines would have kept the audience interested. “”Joe Millionaire”” was lacking “”Real World”” drama simply because the casters couldn’t produce more scatterbrained Heidis, snobby Alisons or slutty Sarahs. The contestants were, overall, not rude or manipulative enough to incite the catfights the audience was looking for. The writers didn’t create the uncomfortable situations required for such a captivating show, neither.

    I don’t know about this reality TV thing — I think I’ve had enough. Ah, who am I kidding? I’ll see you at the “”Married by America”” debut next week.

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