Playing It Straight 3/19/04- "The Best Laid Plans..."
Welcome back to the second installment of “Playing It Straight.” Once again, I’ll be your guide through this piece of classy programming. Well, our friendly narrator and me. Over sweeping camera pans of the ranch, Mr. Narrator reminds us that Jackie has sent home two straight men in the previous episode. For anyone without a keen grasp of the obvious, he also points out that all of the gay men who began the game are still in it.
Morning on the Farm
We first see Jackie lying in bed, musing over the events that have occurred thus far. Disappointed about choosing two straight men to send home, she decides that she can no longer go by lack of chemistry. Instead, she needs to begin looking at their characteristics so she can start playing the game. In that vein, Jackie has chosen Ryan to bring her breakfast in bed to get to know him better. She thinks it’s a perfect way to find out if he’s gay or straight.
Ryan is shown getting ready for the breakfast date and explains that he realizes that he has many effeminate qualities. He likes fashion, likes to dress well and has an assortment of toiletries. He knows it’s important to establish himself as straight in Jackie’s eyes and hopes that breakfast will give him that chance.
Meanwhile, we discover that the rest of the men have been enlisted to help around the farm. We see them bumbling around as they try to milk cows, clean pig sties and complain about the disgusting nature of farm work. I’m a bit baffled as to why the producers even had the men doing the chores. Were they running too close to budget and decided to have the men work off their room and board? Did they think that how a man milked a cow would indicate his sexual preference? I’m still not sure, but judging from the way most of the men eyed the cow as if it were demonic, I’m guessing that if not gay, they are at least all city boys.
Is That a Rose In Your Pocket?
Soon we are back in the kitchen with Ryan as he puts the finishing touches on Jackie’s breakfast tray. He must have been pouring orange juice for quite a while because Jackie has become impatient. From her bedroom, she begins yelling for Ryan to hurry up. Ryan isn’t worried about his tardiness and says that with a good-looking guy and a good-looking breakfast, Jackie will be happy. His plan is to try to get her to kiss him so that she will know he is straight. This line of thought seems flawed, as it might be entirely possible that a gay man would risk girl-cooties if it gave him a shot at a million dollars.
As he is carrying the tray to the room, we see that Ryan has tucked a rose in his belt. We find out that this is a “ditty” that Ryan often uses with the ladies, presumably with some success. The way it is supposed to work is that when he finagles a hug out of Jackie, she will feel the rose on his back and retrieve it, much impressed by his romantic gesture. About this time, the old gem about the best-laid plans of mice and men should be flashing though your minds.
When Ryan arrives at Jackie’s bedside, he deposits her tray and than requests a hug. His plan set in motion; Ryan dives in and looks more as if he is trying to pull a wrestling move than an innocent hug. After his clumsy maneuvering and Jackie’s failure to notice the rose, Ryan would have been wise to abandon his plan. However, he forges ahead with a question that probably left Jackie wondering if she had somehow been sucked into a 3AM movie on Cinemax.
Ryan: Do you feel it?
Jackie: Do I feel what?
Ryan: There’s something on my back.
Jackie: There’s something on your what?
At this point, Ryan realizes that it’s time to abort mission before Jackie starts looking for her pepper spray. He begins to laugh and says, “That sooo didn’t work out.”
He explains the “Plan” to the confused Jackie, who laughs with relief.
Plan B…And C
Ryan roams the room as Jackie eats and notices the pictures of himself and his competitors. He notes, rather sadly, that next time he might be the missing picture. He returns to Jackie’s side as she is finishing her breakfast and announces that he has a talent to share. Proudly, he proclaims to be a master at catching things in his mouth from a distance. He came up with a plan (since the first one worked so well) to have Jackie throw grapes at him from across the room. If he is able to catch three grapes in his mouth, she has to give him a smooch.
In confessional, Jackie acts as if she was irritated by Ryan’s new plan, but she seems to play along when he suggests it. She jumps out of bed with her grapes at the ready and Ryan stands about fifteen feet across the room in his grape-catching stance. Jackie tosses the first two and by golly, Ryan catches both of them with no problem. I’m oddly impressed by this feat. Who knew I had a thing for men catching grapes on the fly? Anyway, Ryan barely misses the third toss and watches his second “Plan” go down in flames.
Not to be dissuaded, Ryan lays down in the bed next to Jackie and attempts to renegotiate their deal by suggesting that two grapes are at least worth a kiss on the cheek. She obligingly leans in for one. Surprisingly, Ryan finally gets one of his smooth plans to work as he quickly turns his head to catch the kiss on his lips rather than his cheek.
Jackie jumps back surprised and then awkwardly leans back for more. Unfortunately, their timing is off while they are both trying to reengage and they spend a few moments looking like roosters circling each other at a cockfight. When they are finally able to find each other’s lips, they enjoy a full, lingering kiss. Mission accomplished, Ryan leaves the room confident that his kissing abilities removed any doubt about his sexuality.
Jackie said it felt like the kiss of a straight guy but wonders how she can know that for sure.
Later that day, we join the men as they go off to play real cowboy at a rodeo school. When they arrive, they are treated to some basic lessons in lassoing and other cowboy activities. Then they go out to a field where they learn about a challenge to win a date with Jackie.
The concept of the challenge is simple. Jackie stands behind a finish line as the guys run a leg race to get to her first. The group will be divided in two and the winner from each race will get to spend some time alone with Jackie at a picnic on the grounds. Oh, did I also mention that they do this while being mowed down and lassoed by ranch hands on horses? I’m wondering if Fox had to take out an extra insurance policy for this stunt.
Group one race and several men are roped and wisely freeze in their tracks. Luciano wins this round and picks Jackie up to spin her around. Jackie laughs and says she can’t wait to see the second race.
She gets her wish as group two lines up. When they begin, we hear John in a voiceover confess to being freaked out by the sound of pounding hooves behind him. Close to the finish line, Sharif is lassoed and pulled off his feet. It looks painful but he seems fine as he stand up to shake it off while John is crossing the finish line first.
John soon joins Jackie at a picnic that consists entirely of a basket of fruit on a red-checkered tablecloth lying on the ground. He playfully pulls her to the ground and makes her laugh. In a confessional scene, Jackie has nice guys everywhere cursing her as a liar when she says that the way to a girl’s heart is through laughter. After some idle chitchat about peaches and the state they hail from, John decides that they have made a connection. He also must have seen something in her peach eating that I missed, because he declares that she is not as innocent as she appears.
Soon, Luciano shows up for his share of the bruised bananas and Jackie time. John annoys him because he thinks that Jhe is insincere. After chasing him off, Luciano settles down on the tablecloth and gives Jackie a kiss. He explains to Jackie that people assume because he is just so dang handsome, he must be cocky. Showing that six pack abs make that road to the heart a little less cumbersome, Jackie offers that other men are probably just jealous of Luciano. She gushes about his looks in confessional and is clearly smitten by him
That’s My Ugly Shirt!
When the men arrive back at the ranch, they are informed that they will be attending a barn dance later in the evening. A rack of heinous cowboy shirts is brought in for them to choose from. Not since the first Joe Millionaire have I ever seen a scuffle over wardrobe. The men are pulling shirts off the rack right and left and shouting out what colors they want to wear. Ryan has his heart set on the blue shirt and gets involved in a tug of war with Chad, who finally gives it up. Chad says that Ryan is so flamboyant that he must be gay.
After changing in to their urban cowboy clothes, the men walk down to the Elimination Barn for the dance. Sally, their dance instructor, makes some of the guys play the female during her instruction. So, when Jackie arrives, she is greeted by the sight of all of her suitor’s square dancing around the barn.
They soon turn their attention to Jackie and each takes her for a spin around the dance floor. While she is dancing with the other men, Bradley is across the room watching. I was interested to see that he had a clear look of jealousy on his face. I was all ready to make the prediction that Bradley was straight and then realized that perhaps it was the guy Jackie was dancing with that had caught his eye. So, no predictions from me.
Bradley eventually stops sulking in the corner and decides that he wants to get Eddie drunk. His plan is that if Eddie is drunk enough, he might “out” himself. He invites Eddie to toss back some tequila shots with him at the bar. Using an old bartender trick, Bradley slyly spits his own shots into an empty beer bottle to avoid getting drunk himself. Eddie, however, enjoys every last drop and is soon stumbling around the barn. Next comes a scene so asinine that I refuse to give it much of my time. Basically, Ryan passes gas and blames it on the drunken Eddie.
Unimpressed by this sort of sophomoric behavior, Jackie wisely decides to call it a night and heads back to the house to go to bed.
An Outing To The Hot Tub
Wanting to get away himself, Luciano decides to take a soak in the hot tub. He is talking with Ryan when Eddie stumbles up. Eddies strips down to his white boxer briefs and falls into the hot tub next to Luciano. Having had enough of his antics, Luciano leaves the hot tub and heads back to the ranch house. Ryan, on the other hand, decides this would be a perfect time to “out” Eddie.
Ryan starts to get into the hot tub and Eddie invites him to sit down next to him. With his arms around Ryan, he leans in close and starts whispering to Ryan. After some slurred comments about Ryan being the “main guy”, Eddie leans in even closer. Ryan’s eyes suddenly fly open in horror. He explains later that Eddie had started whispering Spanish in his ear and then licked Ryan’s neck.
Whatever he did, it causes Ryan to spring from the hot tub and run back to the house like a scalded dog, screaming, “Eddie’s gay! Eddie’s gay!”
He spreads the news over the whole house and then decides that he’s freaked out and wants to sleep it off. He goes to bed and soon overhears Banks talking about him outside. He crawls to his balcony and eavesdrops for a while. Apparently, Banks is upset because he believes that Ryan provoked the incident with Eddie.
Ryan decides to confront Banks and goes downstairs. He scolds Banks for not saying what he thought to his face. They argue back and forth and soon get into a shouting match. Banks flies into a rage and lets loose a stream of obscenities as we are shown Jackie listening to the exchange from her own window.
The next day, after an uncomfortable morning, Jackie decides to ask Banks and Eddie for swing dates. She asks Banks about the previous night and he blames most of the exchange on alcohol. He also explains that Ryan pushed his buttons. Jackie thanks him for his honesty and walks him back to the gate. After he leaves, she wonders why he didn’t kiss her.
Eddie arrives for his date and acts a little spastic. She scolds him for the amount he drank and asks if he does it often. Predictably, he says he doesn’t.
A Straight Man With Toiletries?
The men, still tense from the events of the previous evening, head out to the Elimination Barn. When they arrive, the hostess Daphne is there to greet them. Honestly, I had forgotten that there even was a hostess, as this is her first appearance in this episode. She steps in to say that Jackie will ask two of the men to leave tonight and then once again fades into the background for the remainder of the show.
This week, Jackie gets down to business and quickly calls up the men one by one to let them know their fates.
Bill –He tries to assure his position by telling her that when they met, his heart smiled. Jackie had either already made a decision, or bought the cheesy line, because she asks Bill to stay-Safe
Chris-We are shown a confessional of Chad saying that he believes that Chris is gay because he says a lot of s’s (as in the letter “s”) and highlights his hair. I expend more mental energy than I should on this statement and my best guess is that he means that Chris has a lisp. Which I don’t hear. However, it doesn’t seem to matter to Jackie about Chris’s repetitive consonant sounds, because she puts him though.-Safe
Luciano-Jackie doesn’t even try to the hide the fact that Luciano is her clear favorite and she gives him a bear hug before sending him to the winner’s circle. Or the winner’s hay bales anyway. –Safe
Banks-It looks as if Jackie has decided to let Bank’s outburst slide as she asks him to stay.-Safe
Alex-Obviously concerned that his time had come, Alex explains to Jackie that he may not be as outgoing as the other men, but that he would really like to stay on. Jackie says that she appreciates his sentiment, but that she needs to have someone who is more outgoing. Alex takes her hand and tells her that she made the right decision because he is, in fact, gay. Despite what she said at the beginning of the show, the shock on Jackie’s face makes me think that her decision was based more on lack of chemistry than any insight she might have had about his orientation. –Eliminated/Gay
The other men are completely floored by Alex’s revelation. They admit that they believed that Alex was straight because they thought he was too “boring” to be gay.
Ryan-After he asks to stay, she tells Ryan that she was disappointed in his behavior of the previous evening. Her voice filled with emotion, she asks him to leave the ranch. He wishes her the best and says that she has decreased her chances because he is actually straight. This information leaves the rest of the men looking as if they have seen zebra dancing across the barn with a pink buffalo. Eddie, in particular, does a triple-take.-Eliminated/Straight
But…He Had A Hairdryer!
As he prepares to leave, Alex explains that he wanted to do the show to demonstrate to people that you can’t always tell who is gay by looking at them. He shakes hands with all of the other men and departs.
Ryan says that Jackie was a really sweet girl. He’s sorry that he has been eliminated because he thought they had a connection. He continues to pack his personal items including, ironically, a hair dryer. Then, he says she blew it because he really had come to care about her.
For her part, Jackie is happy that she has at least eliminated one gay man. However, she’s saddened by the fact that she eliminated Ryan because she felt chemistry with him. The pressure finally gets to her and she begins to cry.