I started off my last recap by asking for forgiveness. It would seem as though I should have saved that request for a time I’d actually need it, such as now. I didn’t recap the last show. Holidays + a hectic real life = one naughty, naughty recapper. One way ticket to lump of coal stocking for me this Christmas.
Hey, wait. What do you mean you didn’t even notice? Hello? Is this thing even on?
You see, unfortunately this show has a grand total of forty-seven viewers, a figure that includes me, my two cats and my bunny, and is getting totally creamed in the ratings game. I watched an episode of The Apprentice last week, and I gotta tell ya: I can’t figure out why it’s mopping the floor with Branson. Will the fact that I’m not a Nielsen family ever stop haunting me? It won’t? Oh. Well, let’s just carry on, then, shall we?
Just to sum up what happened last week, the teams were in Africa, trying to do good for a group of villagers. Jermaine and Sara got to meet Nelson Mandela. Steve and Jessica started a relationship of sorts. Jermaine fell asleep in the jungle, and consequently got booted off the show.
Hmm. Turns out that I could have written the recap after all.
Anyway, moving on to this week. The group is back in London, and Steve and Jessica are spending a lot of time together. And talking about it. A lot. Jessica shares pithy little quips like “Steve and I have a forbidden love. He loves me, and I forbid it.” Oh, how we all laugh and laugh. Steve exposes his sweet – dare I say sensitive? – side by throwing a wadded up piece of paper at Jessica’s face. Such a shame that she isn’t wearing pigtails, because he could totally pull them and then run away. Ah, romantic love.
Wharton Professors Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Jess
But this isn’t all about Steve and Jessica, my friends. Well, as the hour goes on, you’ll find that it actually is, but let’s pretend for now that it isn’t, and throw some lip service to the challenge of the week. The remaining contestants gather in front of a church, which Richard refers to as “the crypt”, as he explains that it’s where Virgin got its start. No word on whether any dead bodies are actually housed therein. Dead careers, almost certainly yes. Especially Branson’s own, given the avalanche-like ratings plummet to the bottom of the barrel. This week’s challenge has a rock and roll theme, which is just perfect for this group of hip, happening 20- and 30-somethings. Oh, wait. They aren’t really all that hip, are they? Hmm. Well, I guess there’s still a chance that this won’t be terribly awkward and painful for us to watch. And there’s also a chance that this show will win its timeslot one of these weeks. My glass is half full. Of bourbon.
The women choose Jessica to be a leader, the men choose Steve. And – get this – Richard switches it, so that Jess is going to head up the men, and Steve will be leading the ladies. Holy smokes! Didn’t see that one coming, did you? And did you notice how it’s going to pit these two star-crossed lovers against one another in direct competition? The wackiness, it just never stops around here. After being given her assignment, Jessica shares with the world her three fundamental tenets of business: In order to be an effective leader, your underlings have to admire you, they have to respect you, and they have to fear you. Mm-hmm. The only thing especially frightening about Jessica is the inch and a half of dark, dark roots at the base of that generic sorority chick bottle blonde, but whatever works for her.
The teams are brought by something closely resembling the Sweet Pickles van to a mansion in London, where they’ll be staying throughout the duration of this challenge. Michael, the Bruce Jenner guy and also an apparent Wall Street strategist, comments that the house is so large that you can get lost in it. Michael was the leader of last week’s challenge in Africa. His team lost. My guess is that was in large part due to the fact that his face completely freaks out anyone who looks at it, Medusa-style. Perhaps his utter inability to navigate his way out of a dwelling added to the problems, though. As the team settles down in their mansion-away-from-the-other-mansion for the evening, we’re treated to Steve’s thoughts on being the team leader for the first time. He believes the girls are excited to have him paving the way for them this time, because they really believe in his wicked mad skillz as an entrepreneur. Isn’t he a pro tennis player? We’re starting to play fast and loose with the word entrepreneur, are we not?
Comfortable in his position with the ladies, and, evidently, comfortable in his own skin, Steve runs around the mansion shirtless, posing for the rest of the contestants. You know, the last puzzle piece just clicked for me. Steve is that guy. You know the one, the “don’t be that guy” guy. The one who thinks he’s the coolest one at the party, the one who you talk about after you get home, saying things like “Oh God, did he tell you that joke about the priest and the grizzly, too? Man I hate that guy.” He’s the one who doesn’t realize the difference between someone laughing at you, and someone laughing with you. Or the difference between polite, awkward laughter and genuine amusement. Or the difference between looking good shirtless and not looking so good shirtless. The list goes on and on.
I Sort Of Wonder What Larissa Meek Is Up To These Days
The day before the challenge, the details of which still haven’t been revealed, the group goes out for dinner. We’ll call this segment “Why Steve is irritated with Jessica, and why we should care.” Jessica and Michael/Bruce Jenner are being flirtatious, doing these crazy, too-hot-for-TV things like, oh, reading off the same menu. Steve doesn’t appreciate the competition, as he knows that a wicked serve is no match for an Olympic gold medal and a Wheaties box. Ominous music actually played during this segment. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. As Steve’s jealousy mounts, so does the tension. Or so the music would try to make us believe. At one point, Jessica needs to go to the ladies room, and Steve follows her. Loser. He makes vague threats about making her look bad, and she screeches back something about how he shouldn’t treat her this way. Oh for the love of Pete. I thought I was finished recapping Average Joe. She slams the door in his face, and I’d wager this isn’t his first time experiencing that special brand of rejection. Nor will it be his last. Back at the mansion, Steve tries to plead his case a little bit to Jessica, and she accuses him of playing mind games. Bottom line is that he feels he can’t hang out with her anymore, lest his feelings continue to grow and he continues to act in an unprofessional manner. Now that he’s relieved himself of that burden, he’s free to “take Jess down.” He punctuates this desire with some bobbing and weaving and shadow boxing. Hey, you know what would have been cool? If he hadn’t done that. And if I had a hovercraft. But mainly if he hadn’t done that.
I guess I didn’t cover that “why we should care” part of the topic, did I? I’m sorry. I tried to find a good reason. I really did.
If Any Of Them Roll On Ex, I’ll Never Stop Laughing
So now that the stage has been set for the Steve/Jess showdown, it’s only fitting that we learn what they’ll be embarking upon for this week’s challenge. The group meets up at V2, the music division of the Virgin conglomerate. The Virgin label boasts such bands as The White Stripes and The Stereophonics, and they sponsor the largest music festival in Britain, aptly named the V festival. This festival will be going on the next day. The challenge for the groups is to go out to a club and see four bands. Each group is to sign a band. They’ll then present a pitch to a panel of people involved with the festival on why their band should be allowed to participate in the show. Whichever group signs the band deemed more worthy will win the competition. The leader of the losing group, as always, will have to choose another member of his or her team to participate in an elimination challenge. Richard warns that the elimination challenge this week is shocking; admitting right off the bat that whoever participates in it will have to make a choice to either sing on the stage, or strip. Yep. I totally see how this correlates to being a competent businessperson. Abso-freaking-lutely.
An hour before the club show starts, the teams begin to strategize on how they’ll choose which band they want to sign. Um, here’s an idea: pick the one you like the most. Strategy session over. For her part, Heather chimes in that losing is not an option. If only that purple eye shadow she’s wearing (on purpose!) was also not an option.
Once at the club – everyone dressed in their finest club kid clothes; i.e. khakis and t-shirts – the funkiness begins. Spiky-haired Shawn, clearly convinced of his own badass coolness factor, lets everyone know that this challenge is “right up his alley” with a lot of head bobbing and foot tapping. I swear to God, if this kid starts to pop and lock I’m turning off this tape and never watching the show again.
The first singer of the evening is a woman named Rachel Mary Kimber, who Jess describes as earthy indie rock. She’s deemed not bad, but lacking in presentation skills. Apparently the folksy Ani DiFranco types don’t have enough pyrotechnics to hold Jessica’s attention. Gotta up the shiny things factor if you want to make it in Jess’s world, Rachel Mary Kimber. Just a little piece of advice for the future.
Band number two is Exit Ten. Exit Ten likes to headbang a lot. I’m personally getting a bit of an unpolished Linkin Park vibe from them, which, sorry, ain’t good. But Sara is very “moved” by them. This surprises her, because she generally doesn’t like “hard” music. It surprises me as well, as I had her pegged as a Celine Dion-ite all the way. But listening to this band, she’s “finding [herself] dancing, [she’s] finding [herself] with goosebumps.” Maybe that’s because you weigh all of thirty-five pounds, Sara. Grab a sandwich and feel the warmth. And I’m sorry, but that wasn’t dancing.
Third up to bat is a band called “The Naked Apes.” Now that’s just silly. Of course they’re naked. How often do you see apes wearing clothes? Almost never. Magilla Gorilla and Grape Ape don’t count. Unless you’re talking about classic cartoon mayhem, but, well, we aren’t. For once. Steve’s take on this band is that they have a great future in front of them - writing commercial jingles. Um, burn? I guess that’s what it was supposed to be. Frankly, I think writing commercial jingles would be a hell of a job, and I’d rather hang out with a naked ape, band member or literal naked ape, way sooner than I’d hang out with that tool Steve, but whatever.
Finally we have RED. That’s the way they spell it, so don’t think I’m capitalizing their full name just because I’m so damn emphatically excited about them. Because, really, I’m not. They’re three very attractive women, with a little bit of a hard rock thing happening. Also, they’re black. Normally I wouldn’t mention that, because I generally feel that it’s pretty insulting to have to ever qualify any statement with a mention of skin color. However, because the contestants choose to make an issue of this, I’m forced to as well. Shawn likes them right off the bat, because “dude, she’s wearing lingerie with a two-foot afro.” Word. That’s how I always pick my favorite bands. As soon as they start playing, Steve decides that they have zero musical talent, and makes a beeline for Exit Ten. Shawn convinces his group – the one he’s not leading, by the way – that with a little tweaking, they can be great. They rush backstage to sign them, and hugging and air guitar playing ensues.
Steve invokes the seldom-used “Um, hey guys, errr, I was just wondering if maybe, if you’re not too busy or something, um, well, would you like for us to represent you to the Virgin execs tomorrow?” ploy to get Exit Ten on board. Like they’re going to say no. “Hey man, I’m glad you dig our sound, but naw, we’re gonna have to take a miss on this shot to get heard, even though you’re our only hope. Keep it real, brother.” So, yeah, they sign up, and stage one of the competition is complete. Stage two is figuring out how to sell the bands to the judging panel.
Did I Mention That They’re Black? Not White. Not Asian. Black. Yep, Black.
The following day, Steve’s group figures that endorsements are the way to go in pulling their pitch together. He gets the manager of The All-American Rejects (the screen graphic helpfully explains that this is a chart-topping group from, appropriately enough, America) on the phone, and lets him know that he has “a great opportunity for him”. He’s going to get Exit Ten in front of them, and hopefully they’ll like them enough to say that they rock. Or whatever those crazy music types say.
Jess’s team wants to focus on the fact that RED is a unique group, in that you don’t often see “three beautiful black women belting out hardcore rock and roll.” See? It’s them making an issue of race, not me. It’s a lousy way to frame the pitch anyway, in my opinion, because it makes the group sound like nothing more than a novelty act, not a legitimately talented band. Say you were faced with Scottish dwarves doing gangsta rap. Would it be unusual? Yeah, it would. Does that necessarily make it good? Okay, in that particular case, I don’t know how it would be bad. But you get my point.
So now stage two is complete. The pitches are decided upon, the bands are prepped. Onward and upward to the actual presentation. Before going before the panel, Steve psyches himself up in the bathroom. He looks in the mirror, he grabs at air, he spouts off a lot of buzzwords. It’s weird; I’ve been trying to find words to adequately describe how embarrassing this scene was to watch, and I’m finding that they just don’t exist. I’m praying for a freak tornado to make its way through my living room, just to save me from this awkward display. No tornados are forthcoming. Why the hell did I move to the Midwest if I can’t even count on crazy natural disasters to take me away when needed? What a gyp.
At the Virgin megastore, Richard and the other panel members wait expectantly. Also on the panel is James Kidd, brand director of Virgin mobile. I’d like to take this opportunity to make a statement about Virgin mobile. A few months ago, I was given a free Virgin mobile phone. Because of some…let’s just say unpleasantness…between myself and the fine people at Cingular wireless, a pay as you go cell phone plan seemed like a good idea. Also, I rarely ever use my cell phone, so it just made sense all the way around. But that’s not the point. The point is that holy merciful mother of God, Virgin mobile tries too hard. Their website is an abomination. They have ridiculous text messages built into the phone. Let me give you an example. “Holla”, for one. “Booty call?”, for another. “What’s the 411?”, for yet another. And the piece de resistance, “Top or bottom?” When I first saw them, I laughed. Then I wept a little bit. And now, upon seeing one Mr. James Kidd, I’m more than a little frightened about the idea of him sitting in a meeting, proposing “top or bottom” as something worthy of the autotext feature of the phone. But I digress. Rounding out the panel is Kelly Bryant, formerly of some band called “Eternal” that I’ve never heard of, and Emma Banks, who works for “Helter Skelter”, the biggest creative agency in Europe, evidently. Richard reiterates the fact that whichever team makes the better case for their band will win the competition.
Jess and the boys are up first, and they’re “super-excited” to be there, and “super-excited” about the chance to showcase RED. Like, omigod! They chose this band “because their style is unique, but their appeal is universal.” Okie dokie there, sister. If you say so. She goes on to once again point out that these women are, in fact, black. And they’re playing rock! You know, someone correct me if I’m wrong, but it has always been my impression that in England, race is much less of an issue than it is here in America. Black, brown, white, green, red – it never seemed like it mattered that much to Brits, which I think is very cool. So I’m thinking that it’s probably not the best way to pitch this band to a panel of British judges. And I’m leaving this alone now, lest I get off on some huge diatribe about how telling it is that these contestants are so hung up on this fact, even if it’s masked by a face of acceptance and admiration. Gabriel introduces the band, and, marking my second time in just minutes, I look outside for that tornado. He inexplicably goes with this really weird superhero theme for his introductions, claiming that the guitar player’s “special power” is death administered by stare alone. Oh man, I have to admit that that would be a great superpower. I’d go to a LOT more Jessica Simpson/Britney Spears concerts if I had that. And by “more”, I mean “some.” As opposed to the “none” I currently attend. The other women also have “special powers”, but this is embarrassing and stupid, and besides, I don’t think they really possess them anyway. Liars. They play, and the judges are underwhelmed. Jessica and the fellas, however, are doing the slightly dorky, highly uncoordinated version of rocking out over on the sidelines. Damn it all to hell, where is my tornado?!? I can’t keep watching this. I want to die for all of them. I mean, I guess I’m really not saying they’re dorky losers, per se. I’m just saying I wouldn’t want to go out to a club with any of them unless there was a large cash incentive involved. And enough liquor to float a small aircraft carrier. And Scottish dwarves covering NWA. The judges, specifically Emma Banks, key in on the fact that these ladies, while admittedly hot, basically suck as musicians. Ouch. RED is going to be feeling pretty blue, I’m afraid. Silver lining: red and blue make purple, and that’s a pretty color. Other than that, they just got ripped apart on national television, which can’t feel good. Silver lining: only forty-seven people were watching.
Exit Ten, pimped by Steve and the ladies, plays next. We’re going to skip Steve’s introductory speech, because I just can’t. I won’t. I refuse to recap it, because it’s painful. He mentions the fact that All-American Rejects gives Exit Ten two thumbs up, and then the band takes the stage. The heads, they are a’banging. The judges don’t feel as though Exit Ten’s music really fits in with the V festival, which is showcasing musical acts like Dido, and they’re not quiet about telling the team that basically, they didn’t do any work. The band wrote their own music, and didn’t need a lot of coaching in order to be ready for the showcase. Ugh. As much as I don’t like Steve, what were they supposed to do? They had like 12 hours with this band from first introduction to appearing before the panel. They aren’t going to really come up with a whole lot in the way of new music in that time. And were they supposed to pick the best band, or the one who needed the most help and input? Steve has so much about him that can legitimately be criticized; no need to harp on things that he didn’t actually do wrong.
After both groups leave, the panel discusses their choices and the winner is…
Oh, they’re being cute. We don’t learn right away. Cue commercial (is this Brian Urlacher McDonald’s ad only local, or nationwide?), come back, cut to the V festival itself. James Kidd is on stage, and asks the crowd to please give a warm English welcome to…Exit Ten! Steve, decked out in his finest black socks and white sneakers, has led the ladies to victory. Now if only they’d lead him to a personal shopper.
Last One To The Quad Is A Rotten Egg
Jessica now has to deal with the fact that, as leader of the losing group, she has to choose a team member to compete against in the elimination challenge. After some reflection, she picks Shawn. Her rationale is that he’s too overbearing, trying to always lead, bucking authority at every turn. Okay, true. Richard interviews that he’s had questions about Shawn’s cockiness literally from day one – you’ll remember that he was one of the people who was singled out for his behavior with the “cabbie” – and that while he thinks Jessica is a lovely person, he questions her leadership abilities. And her choice of hair color. And the schedule on which she touches up said hair color. No, wait, that last part is all me.
As previously stated, for this elimination challenge, one of them is going to have to sing, and the other will have to streak. Shawn, because of his religious beliefs (he’s a Mormon), chooses to sing. Jessica, because she’s a harlot (she’s not a Mormon), chooses to streak. They’re given an hour to prepare for their performance. In that time, Shawn is to learn the lyrics to his pre-chosen song by heart. The song is “Baby One More Time”, by Britney Spears. Now, even if this song wasn’t overplayed to DEATH, forcing the lyrics into the brain of every non-deaf person on the planet, come on. It’s a Britney Spears song. It’s never going to take an hour to memorize lyrics to one of her songs. Not a whole lot of depth there. There are only so many ways you can be sexually suggestive while still remaining firmly monosyllabic. Also during this hour, Jess gets done up with body paint. Again, not something that should take an hour, as the only paint she gets is the word “RED” above her breasts. How…classy.
When it comes time for Shawn and Jessica’s big debut, the crowd, thousands strong is ready for them. They’re cheering, they’re clapping; they’re ready for the world. Oh, oh Sheila, let me love you till the morning comes. Sorry, flashback. Anyway, they’re cheering and clapping, that is, until Shawn starts singing. Not even the sight of Jessica’s naked body – standing there shaking your ass is not streaking, for the record – is enough to quell their boos. Or maybe those were actually directed at Jessica, as I’m quite certain the carpet doesn’t match the drapes. Either way, it was an utterly humiliating experience for both participants, and their fellow contestants give them props after Richard shuffles them offstage before a full-on riot broke out. Steve, still in those black socks and white shoes, can’t decide if he’s stoked that he got to see Jess in the nude, or pissed that thousands of other people shared the experience with him. Dude, seriously, she’s not your girlfriend, so pipe down. How many women do you really get to see without clothes on the average day? Zero. Be glad that exploitation of female nudity is considered socially acceptable and shut your whinehole.
When it comes time for the elimination, Richard, as is his custom, pontificates on how difficult this decision was for him. However, when it comes right down to it, he’s not convinced that Jessica has what it takes to lead his company, so she’s sent packing. In a way, I’m glad. I don’t like it when women are rewarded for using their bodies to succeed. I know that in this case she wasn’t given much of a choice, but my uber-feminist side still can’t help but be glad that a decent pair of b-cups wasn’t enough to overshadow her utter lack of real substance. Everyone cries, Steve punches himself a few times for not sealing the deal while the opportunity was still there, and then they all get ready for next week. Jessica flies back to the states, and, God willing, her colorist.
Next week: publicity stunts galore, and, damn it – there’s a tornado. No wonder it didn’t show up for me; it was busy making its debut in London. Stupid unpredictable weather phenomenon.
Seriously, let’s talk about Magilla Gorilla. firstname.lastname@example.org