This week in reality TV, we saw Cochran crowned as the ultimate Survivor, Hurricane Nia fall victim to rogue sex toy attack, and, you know, THAT. The tremendous vision above marked the high point at the climax of what was a legendary season of Survivor. [Buckshot Shorty voice] Let's take a sec to think back
Cochran (Survivor, Simmons), 50 points: As Chuck Klosterman masterfully pointed out in his Probstian Podcast, Survivor all too often rewards the wallflower. The backstabbers, challenge-winners, and manipulators are left wiping the blood off their hands and hoping for fan favorite. This season was different.
OK, this week in reality TV was heavy on racism, violence against women, suicide, starvation, ranch dressing, and, you know, drunken people being idiots. I’m intelligent enough to know that I'm not intelligent enough to appropriately address most of those issues, so I'm going to dive deep into the ranch dressing. (Is ranch dressing on pizza really a thing? Have people been doing this for years and I just didn’t know it? Is it good? I need answers.)
With a slow Survivor this week, the GRTFL is all about Real World’s Hurricane Nia. What did Hurricane Nia do? Oh, nothing, just, ya know, revealed her plans to write a “how to” book about dating professional athletes, displayed the work ethic of a stoned elephant seal, and brandished both an alarm clock and a desk lamp as assault weapons. In her defense, it was a hardy desk lamp. Let’s review how Jordan and Nia, the couple that brought us attempted cannibal fellatio, continued to innovate with murder by alarm clock. Keep reading. It only gets weirder.
Managing expectations is the key to success. When you draw a money hand, you should slow-play it — all the better to draw the suckers in. You keep the element of surprise in your corner. This week in reality television, Real World and Survivor overplayed their hands; they raised big with story lines that didn’t live up to expectations. There was no mutiny among the alliances in Survivor and there was no cannibalistic fellatio among the cast mates on Real World. The calm status quo in this week’s GRTFL shows was, in a word, boring. Don’t sell me on cannibalistic fellatio and feed me a Subway sandwich. Yes, a sandwich is leading this week’s column, but it isn’t any sandwich, IT’S A TUNA-AND-TURKEY SANDWICH. TUNA. AND. TURKEY.
I always know it has been a great week in reality TV when I get a little nervy as I sit down to write this column. I just want to do the week justice. I just want to provide the people who worked on and watched these brilliant television programs with a column worthy of what transpired. I mean, there was a complete psychological meltdown, a kleptomaniac ghost, a legendary tribal council, and the most mystifying sexual encounter ever filmed in the history of the Real World.
We have to start there. This shit was just I don’t even know I’m definitely getting fired for this one.
You have to trust your body. Your body will tell you what to do, what to think, how to feel … you just have to listen to it. If you dent a parked car and don't leave a note, your body will punish you with guilt. If you stand close to the edge of a cliff, your body will override your brain and back off of it. If you get drunk, when you wake up, your body will make you get a Gatorade and a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. Your body is smarter than you are. This week, my body was telling me that it can’t watch Ready for Love.
I tried; I really did. I carved out a couple of hours and sat down, ready to love Ready for Love. My body just wouldn’t let me.
It's time to add some new shows to the GRTFL. With only Survivor and Real World in the lineup, we had to diversify. I was going to wait it out until Des made her debut as The Bachelorette on May 20 … but then this happened.
With Ready for Love, NBC is straight gunning for that “I like to watch people fall in love in the most preposterous way possible” demographic. They aren’t even being coy about it either. The trailer begins with a voiceover that says, “Hey, Bachelor fans, are you ready for a new show?” So, yeah. NBC is promoting the show as The Bachelor with a couple of twists. First twist: The girls are vetted by matchmakers who assign them to their “team.” Second twist: The bachelors are all quasi-famous, fully handsome bros. Third twist: NO CHRIS HARRISON! I'm skeptical that human beings can find soulmates on national TV without the help of the Love Shepherd, Chris Harrison, but stranger things have happened. Stranger things like Eva Longoria EP'ing this show and Bill and Giuliana Rancic hosting it.
I will include this show in the GRTFL next week, but GRTFL lifers will remember NBC’s last attempt at getting that Bachelor money, Love in the Wild, which cursed this column and my life for three months in June 2011.
Last weekend, MTV programming suits ran backThe Real World: New York, San Francisco, and Las Vegas to whet the appetite for this week’s debut of The Real World: Portland. It was a genius move. I may or may not have watched 12 episodes of that shit and I may or may not have remembered every single scene from a reality show 20 years ago even though it takes me five seconds to recall my own Social Security number. The weekend was great, but it also served as a reminder of how damn good the show used to be.
After a couple of “I think I may finally be out on this show” seasons in San Diego and St. Thomas, the franchise needed a breakout performance and planned accordingly. The first thing they did, as they should every season, was stack the cast with hyper-attractive young men and women who all share a penchant for getting drunk, getting naked, and getting into senseless, passionate altercations with each other. The second thing they did, as they should every season, is add a wild-card, midseason roommate. It also doesn’t hurt that the wild-card, midseason roommate is named “Hurricane” Nia and in the first 20 seconds of the “This season on” she threw George Foreman haymakers at 63 percent of the cast ... in her underwear. In fact, I’m not sure I even saw “Hurricane” Nia in street clothes during the entire clip. As far as I know now “Hurricane” Nia is perpetually mid-punch and perpetually in her skivvies. What Andrew Wiggins is to the NBA, “Hurricane” Nia is to MTV.
Look, people may think that the first Grantland Live stream was programmed around the NCAA Tournament, but GRTFL readers know that the only reason the live-stream is happening this particular week is because this is the slowest week in reality TV history. With The Bach over, Survivor in full midseason “finally we're switching up the tribes” mode, and The Real Unrelatable Housewives of Beverly Hills trudging along, there aren’t any points to be doled out this week. But if you think that'll stop me from recapping, you are sadly mistaken. This week I'm going to run through the GRTFL Top 5 of Every Show That's on TV This Week. It's going to be fun. Let's do it.
With The Bachelor finale this week, you would assume Sean The Boring Bachelor’s big decision would be the lead of this column. I mean, it has to be, right? What could possibly have happened in reality TV that would top Sean The Boring Bachelor finally choosing his partner for life/three more Us Weekly covers? What human act could be more significant than pure ForeverLove? Only one human act can trump ForeverLove, and that act is ... a back rub.
This week, it was just me and Grandma. No friends. No wife. Just us. Grandma was fired up — taking her position on the couch around 7:15 p.m. Around 8:15, she grabbed her cane and scrambled to the back of the house in a panic, thinking that we had missed the first 15 minutes. When I explained to her that we were recording the show, she gave me a look that said, “I don’t care if you are recording it, The Bachelor is on, and we’re watching it now.”
Well, Grandma was right. Women Tell All shows are always kind of a drag — the only real joy is in evaluating exactly what type of “I just got dumped on national TV so I need to change up my look” adjustments the women made to their hair. But this season’s show had a moment — a transcendent accusation that severely damaged Sean’s reputation as Mr. Perfect-Bring-Home-to-Mom and totally cemented one bachelorette's reputation as that of a hot, obsessive, uber-organized alien cyborg. It was so fucking good.
The fantasy suite on The Bachelor is a perplexing proposal for the ladies: On one hand they know that this night alone with The Bach is the make-or-break moment that can lead directly to accepting a ring on the engagement platform; on the other hand they don’t want to look easy. The way that every contestant in the history of this program has decided to play it is to give the “I don’t normally do this” speech. Hearing or giving the “I don’t normally do this" speech is as much a part of single life as frozen pizza. This week, each woman delivered her own spin on the “I don’t normally do this” speech and ended up accepting the invitation of the Virgin Bachelor. Oh yeah, one more thing: I'm totally not buying this “virgin” bullshit that the tabloids are selling, I honestly think Sean is just so boring that the only story line that ABC flacks could conceive was to play up his boringocity to the point where it was front-page news.
Hometown dates are back, Survivor is back, and most importantly, my Grandma-in-law is back to watch it all with me. Grandma wasn’t as talkative this week, but she REALLY enjoyed the double dose of The Bachelor that ABC served up for us Monday and Tuesday night. At the end of Monday’s episode, while Sean was being pressured to make a decision by his “boss” (that's what she calls Chris Harrison; I suggest you start thinking of him this way, too — it adds a great dynamic), Grandma started to feel bad for Sean: “He’s confused … he should join the organization where you have more than one wife and marry all of them.” Great call. I would love for one of the Bachelor seasons to end with The Bach standing in front of the final four women after hometowns and just saying, “You know what? I really like the vibe we have going here, and I think this could work. Why don’t all four of you immediately move into my place and just see where this takes us? Who’s with me?” That will never happen, because they only pick boring-ass Bachelors. How do they pick a guy who won’t have sex in the fantasy suites? Why do they do this to us? I really hope they overcompensate when casting the next Bachelorette and cast one of those girls who lives in Charlie Sheen’s koi pond. Who’s not watching that?
The Bachelor broke my Grandma. You see, my Grandmother-in-law is staying with us this winter, she joined me for the Monday night viewing, and she hasn’t been the same since. When I saw her at breakfast Tuesday morning we had the following exchange:
Me: “How did you sleep last night?” Grandma:“I couldn’t sleep.” Me: “Why?” Grandma: “Because of that thing you showed me last night." [Gestures toward the TV.] Me: “What do you mean?” Grandma: “All I could think of was all those girls crying and carrying on about that man.”
Grandma is old school. She was raised in the mountains of Jamaica where they didn’t have The Bachelor, or ABC, or TV — they had farm animals and stuff. It was a delightful experience watching this program with her. She had no idea what was going on, but with her wisdom and general Grandma mojo she dissected the whole dynamic with ease and had more acute and accurate reads on the show than I did. It may have something to do with the fact that she showed up to my house with a big ol’ bottle of HGH. Who knows? Anyway, for each of The Bachelor scoring breakdowns I am adding Grandma’s take as well as mine. She would make a much better GRTFL recap writer than I am. Grandma is the best.
There is no chance that I make it all the way through this column. First of all, four hours of The Bachelor is just too much Bachelor. Frankly, four hours is too much anything aside from, like, vacations and watching LeBron James pop a molly. Second, how am I going to make fun of the tragic death of a 12-year-old, a crying one-armed woman, and the supposed “sobriety” of Kim Richards without getting sued, fired, or the shit beat out of me? I can’t, I really can’t. I apologize ahead of time to my editors and every single person I am about to write about. Actually, no, I take that back, I apologize to everyone I am about to write about aside from Tierra. I can’t stand Tierra.