Hello, and welcome back to another action packed season of Average Joe, the show that just might be solely responsible for a sharp upswing in the stock of Abercrombie and Fitch and sales of Dexatrim amongst the male 21-35 demographic. My name is Amanda, and I’ll be your guide for the next 6 weeks. Together we will soar upon the precipitous heights, console each other through the melancholic lows, and generally just endure the banality of the never-ending barrage of phrases such as “soul mate”, “journey” and “love at first sight.” Are you all strapped in tightly? I’m not turning this car around once we get started, so if anyone needs a bathroom break I highly suggest you take it now.
I will admit to you, my above-average readers, that I did not watch the first season of Average Joe. That being the case, I spent quite a lot of time before the season began wondering from which angle I wanted to attack this beast. Should I approach it as a case study in societal norms, and the perpetuation thereof? Should I take a post-feminist tack, and condemn NBC for creating a program where the female lead is given a no-win situation, as she will either be seen as shallow and devoid of substance, or else placed upon a golden pedestal for deigning to familiarize herself with people deemed beneath her? Should I channel my inner romantic, and look for the signs of budding romance behind every volcano? And then, my friends, the episode aired. Immediately I dismissed any quasi-intellectual approaches, because the jokes from this show – well, they just write themselves. Who needs a dissertation when I can just diss them instead?
A Little Vaseline On The Teeth Can Go A Long Way
Our heroine on this “journey” is Larissa, a 24-year-old beauty queen from St. Louis. I’ll get this out of the way right off the bat – Larissa really is beautiful. Sometimes beauty queens have a very typical, generic look about them, but Larissa is gorgeous. She considers herself to be an artist, and she’s on this “adventure” in an effort to find out what she’s looking for in a man. She feels as though she’s lacking love in her life, and hopefully this show will be the cure for what ails her.
I Have A View Of An Alley
As she tours the oceanfront mansion she’ll be residing in for the duration of this “adventure” (someone remind me what “reality” means again, please), she’s moved nearly to tears by the inclusion of an easel. With an incredibly staged golf clap, she likens the blank canvas sitting in front of her to the blank canvas of this “experience.” Were it me, I’d liken it to the apparently blank canvas of her neural net, but then nobody asked me to be on the show. She takes note of the “little details” that abound in the house, such as her very own framed artwork. Again, were it me, I’d rather have this, but I’m no artiste. She steps outside to absorb the breathtaking ocean view. Big on metaphor, she exclaims how wide open her view of the horizon is, just as she herself is wide open to this (say it with me now) “experience.” Wide open, eh? It’s a good thing our Average Joes weren’t around to hear that one, as I’m sure at least 7 of them would have spontaneously combusted. She’s treated to a birds-eye view of Hawaii’s natural beauty on a helicopter. Any doubts I had about her true artistic nature were squelched when she described the helicopter as “bright blue”. I expect to see some derivative Picasso works from her soon. She informs the viewing audience that she believes she has a soulmate, and if she’s going to find him anywhere, it’ll be in Hawaii. Why? Why couldn’t she find him in the dairy aisle or at the dentist’s office? I don’t think the cosmos have any real preference for tropical locales, but whatever.
Wookin' Pa Nub
So who are these workaday Lotharios, these potential soulmates of Larissa’s? Let’s meet them, shall we?
First up is David D., a 24-year-old mail sorter from Missouri. David tells us that from kindergarten through 11th grade, he was “the nerd.” As opposed to the handsome, suave man he is today? David has curly brown hair, thick glasses, and the least amount of rhythm I’ve ever witnessed in a human being.
Next is Fredo, a 31-year-old contractor from Cleveland. He describes himself as a blue-collar guy, and, aside from a distractingly long ponytail, reminds me of every guy I grew up with.
Tim is a sweet-faced redhead, is 29 and from Arkansas. He sells life insurance for a living. He feels as though redheads need to band together to ensure the perpetuation of the species, although he admits he’s dated “every hair color”. Who needs his master race logic when we have Clairol?
Brian W. is 31, from Boston, and works as an auditor for the Department of Homeland Security. Although he bears a striking resemblance to a bobblehead doll and could use a new hairstyle worse than anyone this side of Don King, I love this guy. I’m a huge sucker for a New England accent, and I’d listen to this guy read me the phone book, were he so inclined. Mmmm. Oh, he also reassures us that he’s not James Bond, despite what he does for a living. What a shame. A few James Bond gadgets couldn't hurt him.
Bill H. What can I say about Bill H. that hasn’t already been discussed ad nauseam in our forums? Well, I can say that he’s a cherubic 24-year-old Jersey accountant, who doesn’t want to be “the funny idiot.” Dude, let’s be real. If you have to be an idiot, you might as well be funny. Unfunny idiots are the worst.
Sean is a heavyset 25-year-old from Philadelphia. He’s an executive chef. This is actually pretty impressive, people. Unless he’s working at Denny’s or IHOP, to be made executive chef at his age is clearly indicative of some talent. Good for him.
Donato is 33, from Melrose Mass, and works in sewage contracting. He didn’t go into any specifics of his work, and for that I thank him. He thinks it’s high time normal guys such as himself were given a chance.
Thom G. is 34 and works in hotel maintenance. His biggest insecurity is his small stature – he’s 5’4”. Although he’s accepted the fact that he’ll never be mistaken for the Jolly Green Giant, he’s nervous about whether Larissa will be as accommodating. He can also do a really wicked Running Man, as we find out later.
Matt Botti is a 24-year-old virgin. He’s also an administrative assistant, but first and foremost he’s a virgin. I seriously pray for the day that reality shows stop talking about people’s virginity. Personally I couldn’t care less, but I guess we’re all supposed to be really interested in his dry spell. Fine, great, hooray. Moving on, he has the thinnest head I’ve ever seen, and sounds surprisingly like Steve Buscemi. They also have similar teeth.
Chris N. is up next, and he’s a car stereo repairman from Pennsylvania. He has big mutton chop sideburns and really rocks the 50’s persona. Or rockabillys the 50’s persona. Whichever.
Justin is yet another Massachusetts boy. He’s 27, an environmental scientist, and likes to be called “Booger.” And he’s single! Ladies, let’s all collectively cross our fingers that Larissa doesn’t pick this gem, as we could use a few more “Boogers” out there on the open market. Oh wait - that’s not attractive. My bad.
Brian G. is a 33-year-old stock trader from Charlestown Mass. He describes himself as shy. From the NBC website, he describes his perfect woman as “the girl at my gym who looks like Kristen Davis from Sex and the City. She doesn't know, but I follow her around the machines!” I don’t call that shy. I call that stalkeresque. Furthermore, his behavior on the show, as we’ll see later, doesn’t really seem shy. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
Chris “C.J.” is 27 and a civil engineer from Denver. He finds it tragic that he can’t generally project a very good first impression, as those are usually based on looks. He seems like a nice guy, if a bit forgettable. In fact, as I was consulting my notes, I realized that I hadn’t written down his age. I had to look at the NBC site to find out who he was, and I managed to miss his face three times when skimming the montage of faces.
Robert is also a civil engineer. He’s 26 and hails from the Big Easy. A lot of people tell him that he resembles Adam Sandler. A lot of people are correct. He considers himself to be a romantic. Unfortunately he has a bit of a stuttering problem, making it far more difficult to whisper sweet nothings in a woman’s ear.
Tony C. is a 24-year-old dental technician and graphic artist from Amherst, N.Y. Hey, that’s JUST outside of my hometown of Buffalo. I’m sure he’d be thrilled to know that. Amherst has won the “Safest City in America” award a bazillion times. It’s also home to more suburban blandness than you can shake a stick at, but whatever. Tony’s most prominent feature is his “creative” beard designs. He tells us that he was born without sweat glands, and always felt different from the other guys. He goes on to say that the only thing missing in his life is love. Well, and sweat glands.
Sam M. is 25, works in graphical design and lives in Maryland Heights, Missouri. He feels very “average”, explaining how he was cast for this show. He thinks that average guys are often overlooked, but that he’s an all-around great guy. We’ll see.
Mike S. is a 31-year-old painter who always wanted the chance to date the cheerleader. Unfortunately, he was a cymbal player in the marching band, so his dreams never materialized. Frankly I think that if he’s still worrying about this 13 years after the fact, he must have some issues. I’m no Dr. Phil, though.
Finally, we have Phuc. Phuc is 26, an accountant, and lives in Boston. He’s a big hulking guy who looks like he’d make an awesome bouncer. To that end, he says that when people look at him they think he’s a big hardass. He’s not, though! He’s just a soft teddy bear at heart. I’d give up my firstborn if we could issue some sort of moratorium on big guys describing themselves as teddy bears. It’s played out, guys. Stop it!
A Waste Of Perfectly Good Produce
After the guys wrap up the introductions, they begin to settle into their new digs. David immediately gets on everyone’s nerves by idiotically jumping on furniture, breaking glass and making a big production of throwing a watermelon into the pool. Someone explain to me why he did that. It was so random, and I’m perplexed. So thorough is his obnoxious behavior that Mike S. actually changes rooms so as not to have to sleep near him. David tells the camera that he believes deep down people think he’s really cool. Yeah sure, David. Maybe. Like WAY deep down. Sub-subconscious. Possibly. But, um, probably not. Dork. Brian W. proclaims Phuc to be the most valuable man in the house, because he can open beer bottles with his teeth. Word! I might not date either Phuc or Brian (as I am already affianced), but I’d hang out with those guys in a heartbeat. Matt B. – who would like to be called Botti – wonders if Phuc is aware that the bandana he’s wearing on his head is indicative of gang activity. Guys, as I type this, I’m wearing a blue bandana on my head. I’m not a Crip. It’s holding my hair off my face. Although I don’t think that’s Phuc’s reason, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that maybe gang members aren’t huge on reality t.v. Hell, Phuc’s a big guy. It’s Hawaii. It’s hot there. Sweat in the eyes hurts. Bandanas prevent that. Botti’s head might be too narrow to comprehend the logic, I don’t know. Furthering the impression that he’s not exactly in touch with reality, Botti goes on to say that once girls see him in action, they’ll be “all over this.” I’m not even touching that one. Too easy. Moving on, we learn that Mike S. has a touch of OCD-esque behavior, as he cleans the immaculate pool, and confesses that he can spend two hours cleaning a toaster. Again, I couldn’t date him, but Mike? If you ever find yourself in the Chicagoland area with nothing to do, please drop me a line. My kitchen is crying out for a fine man such as yourself. We also find out that seemingly mild-mannered Thom G. has a bit of Robert Van Winkle in him, and he’s big into rap and the whole breakdance culture. You know, I really wanted to make a joke about this being “Average Joe II: Electric Boogaloo”, but someone in the forums made it before I had the chance to. Now I’m doubly disappointed, as Thom is just BEGGING for the reference to be made. Damn you, whoever you were who usurped my joke! Damn you! As the guys all unwind and have their fun, Brian G. arrogantly wonders if he’s been wrongly exiled to “Geek Island.” Because, ya know, he’s such a prize. And the other guys aren’t. Uh-huh. That’s what it is. Understandably, the men begin to speculate about Larissa. They all agree that she’s not going to be some average, run-of-the-mill girl. David thinks it’d be easy to hook up with her, as long as it’s just the two of them. If that were true, wouldn’t he already be dating some supermodel? I’m just sayin’. As the afternoon turns into evening, Fredo – who claims that people always notice him when he walks into a room – suggests the guys get down, toga-style. Everyone is all for it, except for Brian G., who calls it a “gay man’s slumber party.” I really don’t like this guy. I’ve been to slumber parties thrown by gay men. We didn’t wear togas. We did, however, have a good time, something that Brian seems incapable of. He goes on to say that it’s “not his bag, baby.” Yeah. Because Austin Powers quotes are still funny and relevant. Except that they aren’t. Nor have they been for quite some time. Jackass.
You got Punk'd
Unfortunately for the guys, this bonding experience can’t last forever, and soon it’s time to go meet Larissa. As we cut to her in front of her mansion, she talks about her anticipation to meet the guys who may win her heart. A limo pulls up, and out comes a generic hot guy. Her face lights up with a smile, and she might as well have had a thought bubble saying “Score!” coming out of her head. However, hotguy informs her that he will not be one of her dates for the evening, but he wishes her a lot of luck. As his limo pulls off, the big bus carrying the Joes arrives. First out is David, who inexplicably asks her birthday. Upon being informed that it’s August 29th, he tells her “Happy Birthday August 29th.” Uh, okay. As the men continue to file out of the bus and into the house, Larissa keeps her composure as best she can. It’s obvious that she’s confused and unhappy, but she doesn’t go running off into the night, or fall torso-first onto a sword. As the door to the bus closes, signifying the closure of her faint glimmers of hope, Larissa’s face falls. She walks into the house, up the stairs, and is captured on hidden camera releasing a string of f-bombs that would make a Teamster proud. As she bitches to the production staff, all the while unwittingly being filmed, she wonders how she’ll be able to date guys to whom she isn’t physically attracted. She asks if the crew has somehow made the guys look dorkier than they actually are, and is disappointed to find out that no, this is all the guys’ doing. As her initial shock wore off, though, she decided to switch mindsets, recommit to the project, and go out there and get to know the men. She says it’ll be a test for her, and she figures she can just go have some fun. I was more impressed with her turnaround than I wanted to be, because it’s easier to recap these shows when you really dislike the contestants. I wish her first reaction had been better, but I have to give her credit for making the best of what she perceived to be a bad situation.
Make Mine A Double
As she joins the party, the men all re-introduce themselves to her. Wine flows, and toasts are made. Creative-facial-hair Tony is the first to squire Larissa away for some one-on-one time, and she is impressed with his courage. They bond over a conversation about art, and I commend her for not staring at his stupid beard. One by one, the men engage in private conversations with her. Botti talks about mortgages, Sam talks about their shared hometown, Robert stumbles over his words. Sean is really cool, and tries to bolster the other guys’ morale, telling them that they’ve done a great job. Or at least I thought it was cool of him. Rockabilly Chris blasts it, calling it “stupid jock crap.” Bit of a complex there, Grease-boy? There’s a photo booth on the lawn, and Larissa takes pictures with all the men. I have to admit, the photo booth pretty much sealed the fact that I actually like Larissa, because she took some really goofy-faced pictures with the guys. Some beauty queen types wouldn’t want to sully their beautiful image by making funny faces, but Larissa didn’t seem to care. I’ll give her all the credit in the world for that. Outside of the booth, Austin Powers aficionado Brian G. reads her one of the worst poems ever put down on paper. He calls the other guys losers, and then does that?? She needs to eliminate him. He’s an ass. Thom G. does a rap for her, promoting racial tolerance. Dude, Thom, I like your message, but please promise me you won’t do that again. I don’t care if I were meeting Eminem, if he rapped at me during our first conversation, I’d have a very tough time taking him seriously. As the party winds down, Larissa’s disembodied voice hits us with the “can’t judge a book by its cover” cliché for which I’ve been waiting nearly an hour.
Don't Let The Door Hit Ya...
So here we are at the moment of truth – the eliminations. Dispersing with much of the fanfare that surrounds elimination ceremonies on other shows, Larissa jumps right in. First to go is C.J. As he leaves, he blames his dismissal on his lack of aggression. That might have played a part in it. So might the cigarette burn (or whatever it is) that is dominating his lower lip. Poor guy. The next man out the door is Robert/Adam Sandler. I have a lot of sympathy for his nervous stutter, because I can imagine how much that would suck. Talking to new people (and on television, no less) can be tough, and his nervousness just got the best of him. Larissa says that his discomfort made her uncomfortable as well. I can sympathize with that as well. Hopefully he’ll do better in the real world, far away from the bright lights and close scrutiny. Third to go is Rockabilly boy. Good! He drove me nuts. She calls his persona “distracting”, and I agree 100%. Excellent call. Lastly – and I’m crossing my fingers, hoping it’s Brian G. – she eliminates Botti. The guys all seemingly take this news pretty hard, and I guess Botti was well-liked. She thanks him for coming and hopes he’s had a good time thus far. He assures her that he has, and tells the audience that he’s going to “get back out there” as soon as he gets back home. Ladies, start your engines. Gangbangers need not apply.
Looks And Personality Are Evidently Mutually Exclusive
So there we have it. Our roster has been culled, and now the competition can really begin. As we look ahead to scenes from upcoming shows, a few things stand out: 1) The contestants will battle all the elements, as they hang glide, scuba dive, poke around in lava and hike around the island. 2) Larissa kisses everyone and everything in sight. 3) The jocks that come in as game-spoilers were picked not only for their cut physiques, but also for being the biggest jerks in history. Oh what fun we’ll all have! Promise me you’ll all come back next time, because I don’t think I can handle this show on my own.
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