Hi, and welcome back to Average Joe, the show that takes everything we learned in high school about attractive people, nerds and dating, and proves it completely right.
It’s week two of our six-week wait to see whether redheaded model Anna, the sweetest girl outside Grover’s Corners, will respond to the call of nature and choose a bland pretty boy, or whether the producers have made her swear in blood that she’ll defy convention, society and her own intuition and pick a Joe. I think most of us are betting on the Joe, given that in the two previous seasons, the beauty picked a hunk, and you know those TV producers, always gotta be changing things up lest we get bored and flip the channel to something less predictable, like televised champion bass fishing. (Hey, the fish could always escape.)
Last week Anna sent six of her suitors packing, sparing us from more weeks of seeing the egotistical Aaron and the unmagical Nick and the completely NOT solid gold Harold. Nick was chosen for a makeover, and will rejoin the competition at a later date, looking …. Exactly the same, if you ask me.
How To Win Friends and Influence People (If They’re Smoking Crack)
We rejoin our remaining Joes at the buttcrack of dawn the next morning, 6 a.m., an hour at which I am never willingly awake. Judging by the sleeping forms of the Joes, they take my attitude towards the inhumanity of early wake-up calls. All, that is, except Dante, who probably has a different attitude than me towards just about everything, hair and eyewear being just two. Dante, putting into action the oft-repeated mantra of reality-show contestants that “I’m not here to make friends,” is rummaging around in the kitchen for the biggest, loudest pot-ladle combo with which to wake the other innocent guys.
Banging these implements in the bedroom area and shouting at the top of his lungs, hyper as Tom Cruise on Oprah's couch, has the expected effect – the guys wake up, and Dante’s popularity plummets. (And it’s not like he was a big house favorite anyway). Gino grumbles that he only got a few hours of sleep. I suspect there are a few hours of late-night partying that got edited out, because otherwise, why would you stay up till 3 a.m. just on your own?
Anyway, before the guys can leap upon Dante and beat him to a pulp with the ladle – as they would be justified in doing – we cut to the fearsome specter looming over them all: the Hunks. That’s right, in an effort to recreate the everyday lives of the Joes, they’ll be watching the pretty girl they covet be courted by handsomer men than them. Actually, we don’t see the hunkholes quite yet – we see a line of red cars in the desert, and through the miracle of previews, are able to remember that IN these cars are seven mean, lean, girl-wooing machines. But that’s all we get for now – it’s enough to know that they’re out there. Waiting. Working out.
What, Me Worry?
Psychically (or psychotically, if you ask the other Joes), Dante has sensed the pending threat. He warns the others that the storm is out there, waiting on the shoreline, and it’s gonna be like an earthquake. Um, a storm, on a shoreline, but like an earthquake. Rather mixing our meteorological metaphors here, aren’t we? Sure you don’t want to throw Toto and Dorothy in there too, Dante?
Anyway, Dante’s point is that the Joes need a strategy, something to even their odds against the prettier, more muscular ones. So is he suggesting useful things, like putting cayenne pepper in the hunks’ jockstraps, or putting Nair in their hair gel? No. Not even a mention of a tiger pit. No, what Dante suggests are things like scavenger hunts and belly-flop contests. Um, and how, exactly, would these make the hunks look bad? They’d be better off playing Jeopardy. At least that might show off the Joes’ brains. Those that have them, that is. Dante might have to just sit that one out.
The Joes take his suggestions no better than I do. In fact, Igor – who’s already proved he’s no shrinking violet – doth protest loudly and at length. The strategizing finally degenerates into accusations that Dante is psycho, a possibility that Dante has so far done nothing to dispel. Igor’s main point is that Dante is worrying about something that might not even happen.
With all due props to Igor’s laid-back attitude, c’mon. Brian and Fredo and Daskell from last season TOLD them hunks were coming. I mean, it’s not like Dante’s just pulling this out of his ample ass.
As proof, we cut back to the hunks, briefly. They’re still driving in the desert. I guess the implication is that they’re driving … closer.
Calling Foul on the Foot Funk
Back to people whose faces we can see, it’s time for the Joes to go on a big happy group date with Anna, to Sea World. She tells us she wanted to get to know the guys better – a throwaway line, really, given that this isn’t that show where people were going to marry complete strangers (and then not one of them did. I felt so robbed).
Sadly, Dante’s efforts to dominate the action continue even at Sea World. In a convoluted attempt to get Anna to himself, he has unleashed a powerful weapon – foot funk. Dude, that is a low blow. The other guys complain about the “wet foot funk” emanating from Dante’s sandals, and it occurs to me that this is a dangerous maneuver on Dante’s part, as the very tool he’s using to stink out the rest of the men could easily turn Anna’s stomach as well. I mean, women have noses too, even if you guys miss them because you’re usually looking … lower. It’s been a while since I was in Dating 101, but I’m pretty sure one of the cardinal rules of appealing to the opposite sex is, “Don’t stink.”
Dante capitalizes on the window he’s created for himself while his comrades are gagging and retching into the sea lion cage. < --- slight fiction He moves in on Anna, but those with stronger stomachs – namely Chuck and Igor – overcome their nausea to thwart his plans. So now she’s being monopolized by three of them instead of one. The uncomfyness is not lost on Anna, who says the quieter guys are being locked out, while others are coming on way too strong. As strong as foot funk.
The group heads over to see the orcas, and Igor pulls out some obscure Shamu facts, when the producers suddenly start throwing hunks in there willy-nilly. Humph. They might have no nose for narrative, but I do, and I say we’re not hitting the hunks till we’re done here. So there.
So, we’re at orcas. NBC has sprung for our little band to get some private time with Shamu, and a trainer tells Anna that she can let one Joe hug the orca. (by the by, are orcas whales? Or dolphins?) She chooses Nathan, because he’s sweet and quiet. So … quiet and sweet equals hug the huge fish? Or whale? Or whatever? Unbothered by the speciesist and semantics questions that plague me, Nathan is grateful to be chosen. He says it feels like a first date – presumably apart from the crowd of other men and the enormous sea creature – and that he feels good. So do the orcas, who splash around happily, already plotting their new famewhoring television careers.
It’s time for Anna to choose someone to actually talk to one-on-one. But, to add drama and use the Sea World props, she claims to be shy – a quality that naturally led to a modeling and television career – and says she’ll tell a “friend” her choice. She whispers a name to a sea lion, which is then sent to bark ferociously at the unchosen Joes. Since no words I can choose can compete with a performing sea animal, I’m going to cut to the chase – it’s Aaron, who last week struck me as nerdy but funny.
The date is a playdate – a swim around in the dolphin pool. Anna and Aaron seem to enjoy this greatly, and even share a quick kiss (as we all saw in the heavily-played promos). Afterwards they sit for a glass of wine and a chat, and Aaron admits to having been a geek in school, which I’m sure shocked you all as much as it did me. Anna says she admires people who study hard and pursue their goals.
However, she also admires men who have at least a little game. And poor Aaron does not. Encouraged by her habit of looking directly at him – as opposed to what, at his knees? Off into the distance? – Aaron gets daring enough to drop an arm around her shoulders. Sadly, he doesn’t know what to do with it once its there, and the whole moment is a bit awkward. Anna tells us she thinks Aaron hasn’t dated much – you think? – and that she’d like someone a bit more take-charge. The date ends with a perfunctory kiss, which Aaron takes as promising, and the rest of us recognize as the kiss of doom.
Muscling in on the Action
Ok, NOW I’m ready to introduce the hunks.
Greg: Greg has spiky hair and is ready to get in there and shake things up. He has a bit of a plucked-chicken look to me.
Brad: Also well-versed in the use of hair products (see? My Nair idea would have worked), Brad claims to almost feel sorry for the Joes, who he expects to be depressed to the point of despair at the mere sight of Brad and his friends and their trendy hair and their tight abs.
Rocky: Everything from his chin to his biceps seem to be so chiseled they’ve got angles. He must devote a LOT of time to self-maintenance. Not so much to modesty, as he crows that while other guys lust after girls like Anna, he dates girls like Anna. Given that he hasn’t actually met Anna, I guess he’s as guilty of stereotyping based on looks as we are.
Carson: While the bar for arrogance has been set high by the other guys, Carson manages to top it, telling us that he’ll break the Joes’ hearts by taking Anna away from them and that she won’t be able to take her eyes off him. Until he opens his mouth, at least.
Craig: Tells us he doesn’t like to lose, and says it’s game over already. Also, while his body is hot (despite an unnatural lack of chest hair) he’s got that coyote-ugly kind of face to me.
Josh: How many Joshes are we going to get on this show? California surfer blonde look, who says that “beautiful people like to surround themselves with beautiful people.” Um, yeah, beautiful stupid people, maybe. I figure people surround themselves with people with whom they have things in common – like, smart people tend to hang out with smart people. So if beautiful’s all you’ve got going for you, Joshie, that’s fine. I’m just saying.
Mike: Demonstrating a complete obliviousness to the previous incarnations of this show, he claims the hunks are the stars. He also believes that as a self-proclaimed bad boy, he has an edge over the Joes. A tip for Mike – yeah, we women do like us some bad boys. But only the most masochistic among us will stay with a bad boy who’s also self-absorbed.
Revenge: A Dish Best Served …. Tepid
There, now that that’s over, I decree that we may return to the Joes. Back at the mansion, they’ve decided to take revenge on Dante for his insane wake-up call by strapping him to the bed. At 3:40 a.m., which offers another hint that these guys are up to something late at night that we’re not seeing. Anyway, I’d expected them to at least put his hand in a bowl of water or something, but tying him up seems to be the extent of the Joes’ revenge. I hope they work on this revenge thing before the hunkholes show up, because this is a pretty poor showing.
The next morning, it’s again time for a group date – this time, to the yacht. Igor, Dante, Gino, Clay, Dan, and Josh (not the Jesus one) are on tap this time, and I’m already feeling for poor Anna, having to spend yet MORE time with the malodorous Dante AND the ever-hungry Igor. I’m a bit worried that this time Dante might choose to scare off the competition by wearing week-old underwear or something (and this is a BOAT, you can only run so far) but no boxer funk materializes. Whew.
The group will be going to Malibu to do something in wet suits. Displaying his typical classiness, Igor asks Anna whether she wears underwear under her wetsuit. Graciously ignoring the inappropriateness of such a question, Anna tells Igor he may go underwear-free if he chooses. She just lost points for putting that image in my head.
Josh is smart enough to realize he’s a mouse in a nest of lions, personality-wise, and that he’s going to have to do something to set himself apart. Wisely not choosing the foot-funk route of demonstrating his individuality, Josh instead offers Anna his poncho to keep warm. He gets ribbed a bit, but hey, it’s every man for himself on the yacht.
Meanwhile, Chuck has learned that a friend is ill, and he leaves the show to go be with the friend. Ah, well. That’s admirable, even though it’s a pity to lose him before we even got to know him.
La Faccia Rotonda, Stupido L’Uomo
The wetsuits, it turns out, are for some tubing activities. I’ve never been tubing in the ocean, only in a lake. It was a rather bouncy ride on the lake, so I’m figuring it’s worse in the ocean. Turns out that the ride itself isn’t the ordeal for some of the guys, though – it’s getting their asses up on the tube at all. Dante has a particularly difficult time. Hey, the more that boy gets in water and washes off some foot funk, the better.
Tubing, while fun, is not conducive to conversation (unless, as when I went tubing, your idea of conversation is listening to a string of expletives.) Although their idea of conversation isn’t much better – everyone lists what they’d bring with them if stranded on a desert island. Josh, wisely, opts for another person to keep him company; Clay – predictably – chooses a Bible; and Gino wants his mamma’s spaghetti sauce. Igor, however, says he’d take a box of condoms. What the hell? I mean, why? They wouldn’t even make good fishing nets, much less come in handy for anything else. Igor is officially an idiot.
However, the boorishness of one dark hairy man leaves the field wide open for the other one. Anna chooses Gino for her one-on-one date. With Anna wearing a very busty dress, they have a candlelit dinner on deck, with wine, and Gino pulls out all the stops, complimenting her in Italian. Actually, his Italian, when translated to English, seems to indicate an interest bordering on obsession with the roundness of Anna’s … face. Um, nothing else, just her face. Gino, stop and think! What is a face that round going to look like in 30 years? That’s right, rounder. I personally am a fan of visible cheekbones. But anyway, Gino’s all about the orb-face, so much so that after Anna gives him a peck (probably to shut him up) he plants smooches all over her round face. If this is what Gino does, imagine what’ll happen if she encourages Igor. His love for eating would probably induce him to bite a chunk right out of her round little cheek.
This Cat’s On a Hot Tin Roof
After a brief shot of the hunks, who are still in their little red cars, ostensibly driving closer, we cut back to the next group date. The Joes and Anna will be throwing Frisbees in a park with some very well-trained dogs. Um, how is that fair? One group gets water-tubing and the others are stuck with plastic Frisbees and dogs? Oh, well, it’s not like I really care.
So, Frisbees. Arthur manages to find an in here, discovering that he and Anna share a love of swing music. Luckily for Arthur, it appears the rest of the Joes missed both the heyday of swing and the brief resurgence big-band music enjoyed in the early 90’s, and they could no more talk about Count Basie or the Big Bad Voodoo Daddies than they could touch their tongue to their spine. Arthur scores a one-on-one date.
Arthur is a little more polished and less eager-beaver than poor Gino. He and Anna talk about her dog, and he manages to turn a conversation about Polish dog commands into a request for a kiss. She plants a real one on him, instead of the perfunctory peck the other boys got, and says he keeps her laughing and she finds that sexay. What did I tell you people last week? Arthur is the one to beat.
Arthur also opens up about his divorce, which he manages to describe in a calm, rational, no-restraining-order-required kind of way. Then he whips out a pair of dice he claims to have kept in his pocket for two years as good luck. But he doesn’t need luck now because he’s spent time with her. Oh, barf. He was doing fine up until then, but that crossed the line into cheesiness and went barreling right on towards sappiness. Anna, doing a good job of pretending she’s NOT thinking “I could buy these for 50 cents at Walmart”, clutches the dice gratefully.
Just to remind us the hunks are out there, we cut back to them. I don’t know why we keep updating on them coming. I mean, what else would they be doing? I just don’t have a lot of respect for a narrative device that serves only to illustrate the obvious. They’ve stopped off for some last-minute weight-lifting, as so many of us do. We see a lot of flexing, lifting, flaunting and taunting. Meh, they remind me of an intern at my work who we used to call Wallpaper Boy. In other words, like wallpaper, he was pretty to look at but not useful for much other than decoration.
Reality Bites Back
For the Joes, elimination time looms. They gather on a yacht to see whose neck is getting the axe. Anna does take a few minutes to talk to each of them, and tells Josh – not the hairy one, the other one, who’s pretty cute – that she didn’t choose him for a date for a reason. What this reason might be, I do not know.
And the eliminees are:
Igor: He says this is “no hair off my back,” which is a pity, as he had plenty to spare.
Dan: Who? Poor boy, he barely got any screen time at all. So no loss.
Joshua: Yes, Jesus Josh. Damn! I figured he was one to watch.
Aaron: Oh, poor thing. After that date with the dolphins and everything. He thinks perhaps he should have been more aggressive.
And my general take: how, how, HOW is Dante still there? Stupid producers. *shakes fist*
While this is going on, we see the only shot of the hunks that advances the action in any way. Getting all 007 on us, they’ve snuck onto the beach in a boat, and whipped off wetsuits to reveal white dinner jackets and ties. (how would you FIT a dinner jacket under a wetsuit?). They fire a flare that signals the beginning of a fireworks display, and while that captures the attention of Anna and the remaining Joes, the hunkholes slip up behind the Joes and garrotte them. Ok, just kidding about that last bit. But they do sneak up to the Joes and stand there, uncomfortably close, waiting for someone to feel their hot, muscular breath on the back of their neck.
Dante’s the first one to sense a disturbance in the force, and soon all the Joes have turned to face their nemeses. Everyone reacts predictably – the Joes wear a look of despair, while Anna looks like Christmas came early. She tells us these guys are hot, with the obvious implication that the Joes are not. Arthur, who’d just begun to make inroads with Anna, says reality hit them “like an anvil.” Well, Arthur, reality usually doesn’t waft in like a feather.
Thou Shalt Be Clean-Shaven
We leave this standoff to return to the reject bus. Remember, one Joe a week gets a makeover, and this time it’s ….drumroll … Jesus Josh. Good choice. I mean, I can’t imagine where they’d even begin with Igor. At least Josh has a fighting chance.
A nutritionist tells him he doesn’t eat enough and puts him on a high-calorie diet. I wouldn’t even know what that would consist of. I mean, eating calories on purpose?? My thighs just expanded at the very thought.
A trainer says Josh is actually pretty fit, and they just need to tone him up a bit. He gets his teeth bleached, and then it’s time for the big change – the shearing. Yes, the long Jesus hair and the facial forest have to go. The result is a guy who looks completely different. I’m ambivalent about the result – sure, this guy looks ok, but I thought he looked pretty sexy with the hair and the beard too. At least, for dramatic purposes, there IS a change, unlike last week.
The hunkholes go to town, figuratively spreading their scent all over the mansion by throwing the Joes’ beds outside. There appears to be a roller derby, a dodgeball match (If you can dodge a wrench … oh, never mind.) a trip to Tahiti and a lot of huffing and puffing and egos colliding. I’m personally hoping for a flat-out fistfight, as I’d love to see the Joes stand up for themselves and the hunks try to protect their pretty faces. Nothing says good TV like a little blood.
Bark at me like a sea lion. firstname.lastname@example.org