For Love Or Money abstract:
The producers at NBC remake Joe Millionaire in a different guise. The women go on so-called fantasy dates, involving Preston and one other woman, because it is every woman's fantasy to be the third wheel. Preston asks the women for dirt. They produce heavy shovelfuls. Choices abound. As do french kisses. Women cry.
At the breakfast table, the four remaining women discuss their dollar values. Andrea knows her check is worth $250,000, and PJ knows hers is worth $50,000. Rebekah speculates her worth valued at $50,000. Rachel worries that she may only be worth a dollar. She closes her eyes and looks faint. Quick--the smelling salts! Now, if we pawn Rachel off to a pre-industrialized country, she could be worth a lot more in some other currency. I'd pay 250,000 denarii for her, or $250,000 in Monopoly money. Then I'd put her to work.
In the main event room, Vern tells the women that the "for love or money" question must be weighing on them. (Because I don't know the host's name, for our purposes we'll refer to him as "Vern.") Vern tries every avenue for mentioning the show's title and reinforcing the point of this show, because TV has shrunk our fragile minds. As John Updike's Sammy says in "A&P," one kind of wonders if it's not just a bee buzzing around in a glass jar in there. He was saying this about the minds of bikini-clad women, and speaking as a bikini-clad woman, bzzzzzz.
Vern tells the women that now the playing field is level. All the million dollar check-women have gone home. The current four women will have the opportunity to trade in their checks for a new one. Now Preston, who knows whether or not the women are worth $250,000 or a half-eaten coconut, will not know the women's value. Among four checks are two million dollar checks and two one dollar checks.
The women deliberate.
Rachel immediately opts to switch her checks, since, she says, she'd know how Preston feels about her once she knows her check value. She knows she has a 50/50 chance of being a million dollar check. She chooses one and places it in the slot within her portrait. Her old check is revealed to her: a dollar. And she is elated.
Next up is Andrea, who gambles with her $250,000 check and trades it in. Rachel, in confessional, calls Andrea a royal idiot for trading in her already significant check for a blind value. Andrea may be playing the royal idiot card, but Rachel is playing the royal jewels card. More on that later.
PJ walks up to the case and trades in her check, using the tried-and-true "upper right-hand corner method." Good on you for sticking with that strategy, PJ! May statisticians everywhere cower before the upper right-hand corner!
Rebekah confesses that she's not in this for money. She says that, whether she's playing for a dollar or a million dollars, it doesn't matter. She trades in her check, which she finds out is only worth a dollar, and returns back to her chair. From now on, in the women's confessionals, we won't see their check values beneath their names; rather we'll see "Mystery Check," like mystery meat. Are you eating tripe?
Preston arrives just then and Vern gives him some line about not building relationships on secrets and lies. Preston gives Vern the official "Please don't hurt me" look. Vern repeats that Preston had an advantage in knowing all the women's check values. He explains that, now, Preston will be eating mystery meat. Preston goes to hurl in the royal bathroom.
"A Tale Told By an Idiot..."
In discussions of literature, we often talk about the unreliable narrator, one who tells the story but whom we perceive to be deluded. Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury is told from the point of view of an idiot. Similarly and although he's not the narrator, the protagonist in this series, Preston, seems unreliable. He is often deluded and perhaps even deranged. He's well-cast, perhaps, because in Preston's inability to know truth from fiction, we're left with that element of uncertainty.
Vern says, "Pack your bikinis," and sends Rachel and Rebekah off on a Fantasy Date to Cabo San Lucas. Rachel wonders, "Are we going on a group date...a double date...together? With Preston?" Rebekah says, "That's not a fantasy date." In confessional she says that she thinks Rachel thinks she's the top girl here. To drive home this point, we see Rachel walking in slow-mo with a handful of skimpy garments toward the bedroom. Rachel is obviously the top girl for the Bionic Man. Run slowly, fight the forces of evil, and worry about who does and doesn't like you.
A limo arrives and the threesome piles in. Preston waxes profound on how one could always obtain a million dollars but not always find true love. Rachel totally agrees but brings up her doubts, accuses Preston of not being totally truthful. She does it all with a huge smile and a puffed-out chest, and Preston's eyes roll around like marbles in his empty head. Rebekah raises a tired eyebrow and runs her fingers through her hair. She says something, like, can't we all just have a nice, boring, unmemorable conversation about nothing in particular? She copes with what looks like an ice cream headache.
At the beach house in Cabo, Rebekah prances forward and onto the balcony, her heels kicking back. Someone has turned Rebekah to the "on" setting, and she proceeds to jibber-jabber and tra-la-la for the rest of her stay. Either that, or she contracts a case of the tired sillies.
The women don their bikinis and hop out to the shore--well, Rebekah does most of the hopping, in her flippers and snorkel gear. She waddles, self-mockingly, to the edge of the water. Preston follows and the two of them play together in the water. We see suggestive underwater shots of them, flippering. Rachel expresses disappointment at being the third wheel. Rebekah confesses that Rachel was "super-super jealous," and Rachel confesses that Rebekah was acting like a 5-year-old. Preston confesses that Rebekah is a "dream" and "happy-go-lucky all the time." At their towels, Rebekah leans back and waves at a distant liner. "Hallo, Boatman!" she announces in an affected voice. "Hallo, Boatman!" Preston repeats. Rachel commences with the eye-rolling.
You know, dorkiness is just the thing that's embarrassing to watch but really fun to live.
Rebekah and Preston take a walk. In the flaming hot sun, Rebekah admits to not being able to find anyone for herself. Preston exclaims with disbelief. I don't know why! You really know how to waddle like a duck! Who wouldn't want that?!
Back at the hilltop mansion, PJ asks Andrea what she thought when she found out Rachel's and Rebekah's checks were worth a dollar each. The two women lounge under umbrellas, tanning.
Andrea responds, I think he likes them.
In confessional, she says, "I'm not going to let Rachel win this thing. No way. No way."
Preston asks Rachel if she wants to go for a walk, and she accepts, though she was surprised he was still interested in her after the profound closeness he and Rebekah shared during the Hallo Boatman incident.
Rachel begins by suggesting her desire to clear the air, especially since Preston can really pack those burritos.
Preston acknowledges that Rachel lost some trust in him and says, "That stinks." Preston mimes some fanning motions, grins sheepishly, and walks down to the local tiendita to purchase some Tums.
When he returns, he traipses up to house to get some drinks. There, he's met with a note, another one of the "surprises" of this show. He reads the note and then takes the note back to shore, without the drinks, I might add. Near the two women, he reads the note again, as if to say, I had nothing at all to do with this, and don't blame me for anything I might have to do. The note says that he is cordially invited to a romantic dinner for two. Send one of your dates home immediately. Now, that's plainly cordial. Take the concept of Fantasy Date to the next level. Deportation is every girl's dreeeeeam. *squeal*
Ever have a fantasy that goes bad? Like, I'll be daydreaming of heroically saving someone from the top of a broken ferris wheel. I scale the giant axles toward the person, seated and scared, in the top bucket. Before imagining saving the day, I slip and fall. And die. When fantasies go bad.
The woman he chooses to stay for dinner is Rachel. But he wants to talk to Rebekah, as well as drive home the Don't Hate Me theme of this episode. Rebekah, still her bouncy self, carries on like everything is hunky-dory. Hunky-dory isn't a word I would typically use, but sound the word in your mouth. That sound represents Rebekah's personality when Rejection Man rears his deranged head. Rebekah, in confessional, explains that she hid her emotions, because she didn't want Rachel to see them. Wait, exactly who's making the decisions here?
Off to the side, near the concrete stairs, Preston tells Rebekah he doesn't have uncertainty with her. In Preston's world, finding out with whom he does and doesn't have certainty is the ultimate motivation. To him, certainty means "You don't hate me." Obsessed with his doubts and worries, Preston spends his time determining the women's interest level. A crude replacement, I'd say, for actual charm.
In confessional, Rebekah expresses her hurt, and she cries, and she doesn't understand how her mode--the everything-is-really-okay mode which would cover even cow manure with icing--lost out to Rachel's mode. Crying, Rebekah calls Rachel a crybaby and party-pooper, here beginning one of several pot-calling-the-kettle-black moments of this episode.
Defending himself in confessional--"I've got to pick the girl who I think is sold on me--that's Rachel"--our hero indicates that his uncertainty speech to Rebekah was bull manure. At this point, I yell at the TV, "Pick who you're attracted to!" But, our hero doesn't work that way, turning on the charm for people he falls for. Instead, with the intellect of a child of 9, his focus turns to classic schoolyard inquiries: Do they like me?
Preston thanks Rebekah for her support, as if she just made him a tax-deductible donation. They kiss on the lips, puckered and open-eyed like fish.
Preston stands back and watches Rebekah's buttocks, wedgied by her bikini bottom, bounce up the stairs as if they had their own legs, and they do.
Royal Idiots Vie for Royal Jewels
When Rebekah returns home, PJ and Andrea are there to greet her. Rebekah cattily tells the other women that Rachel was in a bad mood, and they eat up this information.
Andrea: She's jealous and envious of whatever.
PJ: She's possessive of something she doesn't have.
OK, my lovelies, reality check: Who's currently dining with the idiot in question? I'll give you one hint: it's not you.
The moon, big and full casts its reflection on the ocean. Rachel shines. "I love hanging out with you."
Preston makes with the polite dinner conversation: I've got to find out my girls' intentions. Rachel balks. She asks him, rhetorically, "Can't you tell who's sincere and who's not?" Here's an invitation to take counsel from someone as impartial as she. Preston glares at her. He asks whether or not she thinks that every woman left is sincere. She says, "No. Come on!" She rolls her eyes leeward and hoists the anchor.
The producers choose this moment for this Rachel confessional: "How many times has someone offered me a million dollars?" While this supposedly indicates Rachel's own insincerity toward Preston, I can't say I blame her. A million dollars or a million questions about your trust level? No contest.
Preston confesses that, if Rachel's playing him, she's doing a good job.
Interspersed are Kodak moments at dinner. Rachel holds some food to her lips. Preston delivers a wolf-like glance. Rachel looks drunk, wild-eyed. Her cheeks are flushed red, and she unhinges a predatory smile.
Later, the two take a hot tub and kiss.
When the limo pulls up to the mansion, Rachel makes a point of still leaning over onto Preston's lap. They keep kissing as the door opens. Rachel feigns innocence, smiles. Andrea and PJ stand there with their luggage, ready for their fantasy date. Because every woman wants to go on a date with someone who just finished tonguing another woman's mucous membranes.
The plane lands in Reno, and the doublemint girls head for Lake Tahoe. Their date takes place in a wintry resort town, a lodge, a snowy mountain slope. They will wear all manner of fashionable ski gear, but they won't ski.
The three take the ski lift up to the mountaintop. There, Preston invites Andrea for a walk. Rather than just be together and get to know one another, Preston asks for dirt on Rachel. Andrea dishes it. She tells him Rachel is doing this show for the money and that she is faking it. Then, she mulches the dirt with "I'm not the only one who feels this way."
Go skiing and have fun! Quit the gabbing and gossiping! Shine on, you crazy triple diamonds!
Next, Preston invites PJ for a walk, and they sit on a swinging bench. He asks peanut butter and jelly which of the women were dishonest, and he names them one after another. PJ tentatively offers her responses. Rebekah? I love Rebekah. Rachel? I don't think sometimes she thinks before she speaks. Andrea? I'm not sure what to say about her. Later, PJ confesses she has trash on the others but chose to withhold it. She's painted as the Good Girl here, and were this FOX we'd see a Disney rendition of this Winter Wonderland.
Back at the ranch, Rachel and Rebekah tan themselves by the pool. Rachel, bless her heart, tries to apologize to Rebekah for having been a brat. Rebekah doesn't want to hear any of it and says that the only thing that bothers her about Rachel is she asks questions and doesn't "give anything back."
Rachel defensively claims that she didn't want to offer information about her dates, because to do so would be bragging. This response is obviously inconsistent with making sure the others catch her kissing Preston, but, yes, literally there's a difference between kiss-and-tell and kiss-and-stretch-out-across-someone-else's-lap-within-full-view-of-everyone.
Rebekah calls Rachel deceptive and tells her she's had enough. In confessional, Rebekah says that Rachel changes her mind like she changes her underwear. The deep warrant being that Rachel changes her underwear at least once a day. But what if Rachel isn't wearing any underwear, or if she wears a bikini? Does it follow that she would then have no mind on those days?
Rachel: I've made my effort.
Rebekah: I've made mine, and everything's fine.
Yes, dear, everything's fine. The pool is filled with orange Jell-o and the house is made of pie.
In Tahoe the trio discover a note much like the one Preston discovered in Cabo. Exactly like that one, in fact. Preston asks PJ to stay and non-skis (anti-skis? walks off?) with Andrea so as to have The Talk. PJ looks up and away and makes a happy-eyed silently screaming face. She holds in her elatedness that Preston picked her.
Andrea says that she and PJ are two different people, which clears up that little split personality matter. "You can't equate this with how I feel about you," Preston asserts. Andrea disagrees. She thinks that his choice of PJ lets her (Andrea) know how he (Preston) feels about her (Andrea). He (Preston) responds blankly, "You think?" Someone has to.
For all this walking and talking these cast members do, the producers might as well have saved money on the Tahoe trip and put them up in a nearby B&B.
At the cabin, Preston and PJ toast to each other. They comment on how well their names sound together. They both do have magical names. You have Presto-change-o and A La Peanut Butter Sandwich! While they get cozy in front of the fire, PJ expresses her dream. She hopes to be the Cinderella who wins the Prince's heart, and all of America falls in love with them. I don't see it. PJ, yes, is a smart, likable person. Preston, on the other hand, is a dolt.
Finally, despite her earlier reservations, PJ gossips slightly about Rachel. She tells Preston that Rachel told Andrea that if she (Rachel) were Andrea, she wouldn't have traded the $250,000 for the mystery check.
The two of them move off the couch and onto pillows, closer to the fire. They kiss. They do yoga. PJ pulls Preston over on top of her and whispers, "I think you're amazing." In confessional, PJ expresses that she's not stupid. Her strategy is to allow Preston to fall for her and then she'll decide whether or not to choose the money. "I'm playing the game, too!" she declares.
Preston: PJ's not playing a game with me.
Ah, the constant dramatic irony.
Andrea confides in Rebekah her surprise that she wasn't chosen to continue the date. She thought Preston wanted to spend time with her.
PJ talks with Rebekah as well, who probes for information on PJ's date with Preston. PJ lies and says that they went to bed early, 10:30. No hot tub? No, just dinner, dessert, and a lot of gaga "You're so amazing!" type stuff.
The women descend the staircase in black dresses, each in turn. During each descent, we hear voice-overs which point us to their portrayal on this show.
Rachel: If he picks me, I could probably win a million dollars.
Andrea: Preston is playing for the money.
Rebekah: I've proven myself to Preston. I've been myself. I've been fun. I've been nice.
PJ: I have a gut feeling that Preston's hear to find a relationship. From the beginning, I've never doubted his motives and I've had faith that money was never a factor to him.
The four women stand on the outdoor steps while Preston stands in the mini-gazebo. Preston will call forth one of the women to ask them to stay, or he will flush them down the toilet of reality TV oblivion.
First, he calls forth Andrea. He tells her he has had a good time with her and that she's been very up front with him. She smiles expectantly, hopefully. *flush*
Andrea is disappointed and, in confessional, calls Preston a coward for not telling her why she was eliminated. Preston, in confessional, refers back to the ring-dropping incident from the last episode, in which the women had a chance to learn the value of their check, and if they did so, they would lose half the amount of it. Andrea was the only one who dropped the ring. "When she dropped the ring," Preston says, "all my trust went out the window."
Vern walks toward Preston in the mini-gazebo and tells him the bad news. Tonight he has to choose one more woman to eliminate. First he calls forth PJ. "PJ, you've been the most honest. You've made my decision pretty easy. I'd like you to keep the ring."
Rebekah. She walks forward. "I don't think I've laughed so much in my life." Yadda yadda. More niceties. "I'm going to have to ask for the ring back."
Rachel. She walks forward. Preston tells her that they've shared close moments and requests reassurance that it's real for her too. Rachel says, "I have real feelings for you." Real feelings of confusion, despondency, embarrassment? That's...diplomatic.
Rebekah and Andrea learn the value of their mystery checks. Rebekah's is a dollar and Andrea's is a million dollars. Andrea quips that it's a good thing Preston got rid of her, as we know what she'd have done.
The two women are sent away in taxis. We hear the Final Two's and Preston's last words.
PJ: I want to be the final girl picked. I want to be the one to decide.
Rachel: If Preston isn't the one for me, I still have a 50/50 chance of winning a million dollars.
Preston says that his decision will be based on: who can he trust and whom can he see himself with? (Preston doesn't use the word "whom," but I had real feelings of snottiness toward him.)
Then we're left with the classic Joe Millionaire set-up, when Zora and Sarah were the last women left. Will Preston choose the generous, well-behaved Disney cut-out or the voracious, sexually expressive woman of bondage videos? Wait, I'm referring to the wrong program again. In Homer's voice: Or...are I?
Shakespeare writes in Macbeth, "Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard of no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." I haven't seen an episode of For Love or Money before this one, and I hope you've enjoyed this idiot's tale, full of puns and silly jokes, signifying nothing.
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