The sucker is you

Hi. My name is Amy, and I'm watching Joe Millionaire, and yes, I know I suck.

I realize that there's a special place in hell for people like me, and that there's no such thing as pleading "But it's the only 'reality show' I've ever watched! Ever!" Claiming that exception has more in common with "But I didn't inhale!" than it does with any semblance of truth, and it gets you no free ride into any of the slightly cooler circles of hell.

I know this show has to be scripted, or at least planned out to the nth degree, and yet Jeff and I finish up coding tasks on Monday night and scurry into the living room to watch it as soon as our TiVo has recorded enough of the show for us to fast-forward through the commercials.The only guiltier pleasure I've ever found is sticking my index finger directly into a jar of Nutella, swiping out a bit, and then putting the jar back on the shelf. I haven't done that in a couple of years; I'm trying to reform, see?

But it's so easy to revile these women - it's like shooting fish in a barrel, except far easier and far more sinfully gratifying to my ego. It's awfully easy for me to sit on the couch, with my spouse sprawled out on the love seat next to me, while giggling at women who thought their best chance at love would be prostituting themselves for [someone they believed was] a millionaire.

Greed can turn us into truly appalling beings.

They make it awfully easy for us to turn into holier-than-thou couch potatoes: all these women, knowing nothing about the man in question, choosing to put their lives on hold to present themselves as future mates to some Very Rich Man. After all, money makes dreams come true, and, along those lines, an inheritance of fifty million dollars is likely to gloss over all but the most grotesque of social or physical issues.

I'm equally fascinated and repelled by the show. Much of that duality has to do with my beliefs about women's roles in society. Unlike some radical feminists, I don't think I'm innately better because I'm female. I don't believe in 'grrl power' or 'ovaries über alles' - I just want the ability to choose the direction of my own life without gender-related hindrance or prejudice.

Truth be told, that qualifies as feminism, but standing under that umbrella lumps me with a lot of women that I wouldn't want to find waiting for me in the back of a dark, deserted alley.

Somewhere, women like Gloria Steinem are seeing the premise of Joe Millionaire and are desperately trying to avoid beating their heads into the nearest wall. I can't say that I blame them, really; at the turn of the last century, American women were trying to explain to their husbands, fathers, and sons that they were capable of casting a ballot or requesting a divorce.

Unfortunately, the decisions by the women competing on Joe Millionaire are ultimately part of what feminism was about: giving women the right to self-determination that has historically belonged only to men. It's very similar to defending free speech: it means defending not just your words, but the words of people you don't like. Words you hate, often said by people you wish would mysteriously disappear from the planet.

The same is true about feminism: it was about being able to make our own choices, even if they are counterproductive, wrong-headed, or just excruciatingly stupid. In the end, that's why I'm watching. These women are on this show of their own free will. For each, the decision to appear - and compete - was of her own volition.

I could never compete on such a show. Of course not - I'm married. Strike that. I would never compete on such a show; it goes against my nature and my beliefs.

However, it is not against my nature, nor my beliefs, to sit on my couch and watch a group of women make complete idiots out of themselves on national television, while they compete for the attentions of a man 1) that probably isn't worth competing for and 2) under pretenses that virtually guarantee no true, honest relationship would ever form.

Jeff and I know it's not unscripted reality TV. It's likely that the women on Joe Millionaire have been coached, to one degree or another, of the roles that they should play over the course of the series. It's probably equally likely that Fox has an ace up their collective sleeve - a network willing to lie to their show's contestants would also be equally likely to cast a lie or two in the direction of the audience, as well.

I've decided that I'm waiting on the 'gotcha!' to come in the last episode. Sure, he might be a 'poor' construction worker (and, realistically, competent construction workers can make pretty good money), but wouldn't it just be smashing after a) he confesses his lack of money to the Chosen Woman and b) she says she cares for him anyway that ...

c) Fox, in a generous gesture for their willingness to appear on the show, gives each of them tidy, wealth-inducing sums of money as 'payment for appearing on the show.'

You know the rule: if you're playing poker, and you're looking around the table and can't find the sucker, the sucker is you. Fold your cards and go home - or, in this case, pass the popcorn and tune in on Monday nights.

Here's to human stupidity, and waiting for the secret plot twist that's probably already on its way to our TV screens.


I'm happy to see someone else coming out of the closet about watching Joe Millionaire. I must pass the candle here. Maybe because it airs on Monday nites ... the end of a first day work-week and it's something to veg to. My husband and I are in on it together, contrary to our television viewing ethics. But the conversations that spark between us while it's on has been rather bonding for us. LOL *I think he's going to end up with Sarah*

This & The Surreal Life were the only two reality shows I've considered watching. I haven't given in YET but I'm willing to bet I watch the last ep of Joe.

Thankfully, this is one of those shows that even if I wanted to watch, I couldn't. I don't usually get home on Monday nights until somewhere between 11pm and midnight. That being said, though, I refuse to watch this show. When I first saw the commercials, I thought it might be funny to watch, but as I read more and more about the show, I got more and more disgusted with how deceiving this show is. I mean, Fox is basically setting this show up to show the world how if you can drag someone along long enough by telling them that you're rich, then hey, it's perfectly all right to lie. You're right, Ames, these women are exercising their right to be on this show, no matter how money-grubbing it makes them out to be. That's fine with me. I just refuse to support the network that actually put this show together. How much lower can they get?

How much lower? They're going to have a special soon for Miss Dog America. It's a beauty pageant for dogs. Complete with evening wear.

While I dont generally watch the show I do love popping into my friends rooms when its airing. It is SO much fun to make fun of the girls and generally we seem to pick pretty well as to who will get the next train ticket out. Why can't we have a real reality show like putting a rich, white boy in the hood and seeing how long he lasts? Or dressing a Drexel student up in Penn memorabilia and seeing how successful he is in picking up girls. thats good times.

I do watch some reality shows, but I have avoided this one. . . perhaps I will change my mind after reading your comments. I actually avoid all the bachelor type ones if I can - especially Meet the Parents (watched one episode - YUCK!) The Amazing Race is great - lots of action and some real thinking sometimes. Doesn't quite seem as scripted. Now, the reality show I would like to see is Survivor, but with all large people - errr... chubbies,, big girls - bbw type -- NO, we wouldn't do well on those horrible challenges, but something tells me we wouldn't starve!

I just can't figure out why people agree to do this sort of thing, anyway. Maybe I'm just wired differently, but the thought of my personal life being splashed on national television gives me a terminal case of the heebie-jeebies.

As opposed to it being splashed across a web site? Kidding -- I completely agree with you. But I guess if you're truly a fame whore then you're not opposed to being completely exposed for all to see.

This reminds me why I don't watch these shows. I think I watched half of one episode of Survivor once at a bar, because I couldn't get the bartender to put the B's game on the TV. [This was the lounge at the bowling alley. "Friendly" only applies to them pouring you a beer.]

what was up with that blow job on that show, really?