Things are starting to come into focus in the Grantland Reality Television Fantasy League standings. Aided by Steven Adler and his twisted obsession with making Amy Fischer cry, Bill Simmons took a commanding lead this week. But behind the scenes, the GRTFL is suffering from problems that make the NBA labor dispute look like an argument over who rides shotgun. Watching six hours of reality TV every week, and scoring it using the dumbest system since the QB rating, has taken its toll on poor Commissioner Katie Gorman, who was last seen three days ago in midtown Manhattan, shouting at passersby and muttering to herself that she'd "just scored five points for verbal fighting.” We may have lost her. We hope she can recover, reenter society, and return to her real job with some league called the "NFL."
This week was far and away the most active week of scoring that we have had. So active that it nearly killed Commissioner Gorman.
Steven Adler (Celebrity Rehab, Simmons): 50 points. Steven Adler is not cuddly. His drug use and dangerous behavior got him kicked out of Guns N' Roses in 1990 and off of VH1's Sober House in 2008. On this season of Celebrity Rehab, he seems to have replaced his addiction to drugs with one to belittling Amy Fisher. I believe this is partially Dr. Drew’s fault, as he did not don his completely-useless-yet-omnipresent stethoscope during this week's group therapy session, thus changing the power dynamic. With Dr. Drew looking like a civilian, Adler seized on the opportunity and made Amy cry twice in a single episode (25 points apiece). His bullying of America’s favorite murder-attempting porn star is very hard to watch — unless, of course, you are Bill Simmons, who owns both of them in the GRTFL and scores 30 points every time they're in a room together. We haven’t seen inflated scoring and moral corruption like this since the 1998 home run race.
Jasmine Reynaud (The Challenge, Jacoby): 42 points. Jasmine kicked this week off with 7 intoxication points, following those with 5 verbal-fighting points and, inevitably, 5 crying points. Next she threatened to leave the show (15 points), smashing a potted plant on her way out the door. Then she removed her shirt and almost scoring intentional nudity points. I have not rooted harder for someone on TV to remove a bra since Fast Times at Ridgemont High. But alas — calmed down, shirt on, she rejoined the group and even won an elimination challenge, bringing her total to 42 hard-earned points. If I were a lamp in the Challenge house, I would take out a huge life insurance policy.
Jess Debolt (Love in the Wild, Simmons): 32.5 points. When performed in private, and no money is exchanged, massages lead to sexual encounters, or at least nudity, 100 percent of the time. Every single man and woman reading this has been on one end of the “If you don’t take your shirt off how can I give you a massage?” question. Well, after an elimination-challenge victory (10 points), Jess was eager to oblige (20 intentional-nudity points), and she even tacked on an extra 2.5 make-out points when the massage progressed into what massages progress into 100 percent of the time.
Dwight “Doc” Gooden (Celebrity Rehab, Lane): 30 points. Dwight Gooden was a much better pitcher and drug user than he was a father. This week he explained that his children — whom he says he "divorced" while he was on drugs — were "his heart" (10 points). So he wrote them a letter and cried (20 points) when reading it out loud, making every father watching Celebrity Rehab feel a little bit better about his parenting skills. When my currently nonexistent son grows up and complains about my taking away his virtual-reality helmet at the dinner table, I am going to yell, “Well, at least I didn’t divorce you for drugs like Doc Gooden!” Then I'll give him his virtual-reality helmet back because I hate it when he looks at me like I’m a crazy person.
Jenn Grijalva (The Challenge, Connor): 25 points. On reality shows, women with breast implants seem to have very few reservations about removing their tops. Imagine that you'd spent your life savings on a car but had to drive it around under a tarp. Anyway, Jenn scored 20 intentional-nudity points this week. She was also awarded 5 intoxication points because the Commissioner ruled she must have been intoxicated to sleep in the same bed as Adam King.
Amy Fisher (Celebrity Rehab, Simmons): 10 points. Amy cried twice owing to Adler’s constant pestering. I know it's not in the spirit of what they're trying to accomplish on this show, but I really hope one of these days Amy responds by choking Adler with Dr. Drew’s completely-useless-yet-omnipresent stethoscope.
Jessica “Sugar” Kiper (Celebrity Rehab, Connor): 10 points. Jessica cries (5 points) when she explains that she nearly committed suicide because she was the first person voted off of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. You might wonder if being on a reality show is really the best treatment for someone who developed an addiction because of another reality show. If you do, remember, you are not the one with the completely-useless-yet-omnipresent stethoscope. She cried again (5 points), but it was all serious and about real people and death. Not much I can do with that.
Bai Ling (Celebrity Rehab, Lane): 5 points. The sad, handsome, wise, and crazy spirits that control Bai Ling made her cry this week on Celebrity Rehab. Nothing Bai Ling does could surprise me anymore. If it’s revealed that she was arranging phone taps for high-level News Corp executives, I wouldn't even blink. Those sad, handsome, wise, and crazy spirits are capable of anything.
Meeka Claxton (Basketball Wives, Simmons): 10 points. This week, Mrs. Speedy Claxton dropped the first "I didn’t come here to make friends" (10 points) of the season. On Basketball Wives, the word “friend” means "woman I know that I will sometimes love and sometimes throw drinks at.” Meeka didn’t come here to make those either, though.
Evelyn Lozada (Basketball Wives, Connor): 10 Points. The future Mrs. OchoCinco confronts her “best friend” Jennifer (5 points for verbal fighting) about a radio interview in which Jennifer refers to Chad OchoCinco as an attention whore. Then she cries to the Lord of the Basketball Wives, Shaunie O’Neal (5 points). Who in their right mind would call Chad OchoCinco an attention whore?
Jennifer Williams (Basketball Wives, House): 5 Points. Jennifer cries (5 points) after Evelyn confronts her about the radio interview. It was one of those “Oops, I shouldn’t have done that, so maybe if I cry people will think I care" cries. Those should be worth more points.
Ben “Rafa Nadal” Flajnik (The Bachelorette, Simmons): 20 points. In a moment of genuine emotion, Rafa cried when reminiscing about his dad, who passed away. With Ames now off the show, Ashley the Insanely Insecure Dancing Dentist is left to choose between J.P., a dude who looks like Rafa Nadal (Constantine), and a dude who REALLY looks like Rafa Nadal (Ben F.).
J.P. Rosenbaum (The Bachelorette, Jay): 5 points. J.P. and Ashley stopped mid-roller-skate to make out (5 points). When Ashley and the audience met J.P.’s family, the conversation never seemed to turn from the fact that he's constantly having his heart broken. “Please don’t leave my son once you get to know him like every other woman he has ever dated” is not good marketing on the part of the Rosenbaum family. If J.P. doesn’t get selected on this show, it will be the greatest thing that ever happened to him. He will rededicate himself to his construction management career, and I will be writing the GRTFL Season 15 recaps from my apartment in Rosenbaum Tower while scoring the hijinks of the contestants of his new show The Apprentice 2.0, on which he fires potential employees in front of an oil painting of Donald Trump.
Ames Brown (The Bachelorette, Lane): 2.5 points. Ames and Ashley shared a kiss that the commissioner awarded only partial credit for (2.5 of 5 potential points), owing to a lack of clear evidence that tongue was used. Then Ames was sent packing because he bears no resemblance to Rafa Nadal.
Jason Jackson (Love in the Wild, Jacoby): 20 points. “It is so frustrating, because the Real Jason Jackson is here, but nobody wants him," said the Real Jason Jackson this week, about not finding love in the wild. One of the women who the Real Jason Jackson was interested in told him that he needed to be less aggressive in pursuing her. The next morning, he handpicked a bouquet of flowers to present to her as she awoke. You see, making women uncomfortable is just something the Real Jason Jackson does. Another thing he does: cry when he realizes that girls don’t like the Real Jason Jackson (20 male-crying points).
Steele Dewald and Erica Scherle (Love in the Wild, Jay): 2.5 points each. Steele Dewald and Erica notched 2.5 points apiece for making out. If the Real Jason Jackson switched names with Steele Dewald, I don’t think he would be crying and bringing flowers to sleeping women who aren't interested in him. It’s strange how names can affect people like that.
Laurel, Mandi, Paula, and Tyler (The Challenge, House, Lane, Jacoby, Connor): 20 points each. For a few minutes at the beginning of this week's episode, The Challenge got back to its “let’s get drunk and naked" roots. Laurel and Jenn initiated a skinny-dipping session that Mandi, Paula, and Tyler quickly joined (20 intentional-nudity points apiece). Tyler, a gay man, was allowed to fondle, prod, and examine his follow nude swimming partners. Has any straight man ever successfully played the gay card in order to have this privilege? If this has never happened in real life, has it at least been a storyline in an episode of a CW show? Seems like a no-brainer.
Jonna Mannion (The Challenge, Jay): 10 points. Jonna is partnered with Jasmine, who she manipulates well. At one point she tells us, “Jasmine is one of those people that needs words of affirmation. I have to remind her she’s pretty.” Her technique worked, and the two of them won the elimination challenge to score another 10 points for Jay.
Adam King (The Challenge, Jacoby): 5 points. Adam scored 5 intoxication points while unsuccessfully pursuing Jenn.
Bill Simmons (The Right Reasons): Jenn's evisceration of poor Adam on The Challenge this week made me realize that Jenn With Two N's is the greatest cast member in the history of the show. Let's flip this around: What DOESN'T she bring to the table? She's looks great. She stays in shape. She's great at challenges and would never disappoint T.J. by quitting. She can flip on the Irrational switch and "Don't You Raise Your Voice At Me!" switch faster than anyone. She has the whole "are those implants or are those real?" mystery going (it's never been solved). She parties as hard as anyone — she's always up for doing shots, truth-or-dare, getting naked in the pool, or walking naked alongside the pool to show off for the horny cameramen. She gets along with everyone but would also feud with anyone (even people in her alliance). She'll hook up with anyone male or female without getting attached; as soon as they like her too much, she becomes disgusted and moves on which is why Evan compared her to a praying mantis this week. She's either incredibly mean or refreshingly honest, depending on how you want to look at it. And best of all, she spells her name with two N's. Add everything up and she's one of the most terrifying forces in the world right now. I feel like I could run into her somewhere, and within five minutes, I would leave my family, hand her my checkbook and say, "Here, take it, spend whatever you want," just because she laughed at one of my jokes. It's probably safer for me to just trade for Jenn With Two N's over having her ruin my career, my family and my savings account. Connor — what do you want for her?
David Jacoby (Blanket Coverage): Since absolutely no one in this league or reading this message board post is watching The Bachelorette, I have to hip you to an incident on this week's episode that blew my mind. At one point during Ashley the Insanely Insecure Dancing Dentist’s visit to Constantine’s family's home, the door swung open and his extended family poured into the house. Constantine is Greek, and his family easily consisted of five or six thousand people. With a mob in the living room, the group broke into a traditional Greek dance. The ouzo was flowing and everyone was having a good time. Inspired, his Uncle/Cousin/Stranger stood in the middle of the dancing circle (20 minutes in) and threw 20 dollar bills around the room like he was Floyd Mayweather at a strip club. I mean 20 after 20, just floating through the air and landing on the rug. Is this a Greek thing? Did he stop at an ATM on his way there? What happens to the money? Did he walk around cleaning it up? Did he leave it as a gift? Is throwing money in the air at a party a sign of wealth or insecurity? And where did all those people park?
Connor Schell (Who We Thought They Were): Wait, Simmons scored 122 points this week? Did the commissioner award him male-crying points for all the whining he's been doing on this message board?
Joe House (The Fantashiques): I feel like I'm stuck in a "Don't have anything nice to say" zone. And I wish I was a big enough person to not say anything at all. But I'm not.
So I'm going to go all sour grapes and complain about the thoroughly clumsy and ineffectual performance that Katelynn of The Challenge: Rivals has delivered this whole season. The chicken for all that blundering predictably came home to roost this past episode, and my girl Sarah Rice went home. Sure, Sarah didn't help her cause any with the bad karma generated by her alternating between complaints of Katelynn and her non-Humblebrags of her own game prowess. But can she really be blamed? Katelynn's was a unanimous failure at the missions and Sarah carried an obvious and increasing-with-each-episode share of the team burden that just proved too much.
Which brings me to two imponderable questions that I'll present now and — with any luck — never have to consider again: Why would a person with no apparent competitive fire and a lack of discernible aptitude for physical competition voluntarily compete on a Challenge show? Perhaps even more mystifying: Why would a person who undergoes one of the most life-altering medical procedures known to humankind not also address his/her absolutely massive nose?
Jay Caspian Kang (Fraudulent Coitus): Unless J.P. knocks up Ashley in the Bachelorette finale, leaves her at the clinic, apologizes (while crying), still somehow wins the final rose, and then celebrates his victory with a right hook to the head of Chris Harrison, I will have the first pick in the Jersey Shore supplemental draft.
Here are my three options.
a. Snooki: The people’s choice and the safest bet. If the trailer for Season 4 is any indication, Snooki gets arrested, sends a cop to the hospital, hooks up with the Situation, and gets in several fights with JWoww. The rest of the time, as far as I can tell, is spent drunkenly crying. Throw in the weekly public-intoxication points and five blurcle instances and she’s good for at least 400 points. Plus, I genuinely like Snooki — she has been consistently entertaining for three years now, which puts her above Boardwalk Empire, Eastbound and Down, and Rubicon. There’s also something genuinely sweet about her — like, if you were vomiting in dumpster next to her, she’d probably make a funny joke about your shared misery. And then she’d invite you back to the party, just 'cause she’s nice.
That’s my type of gal. My heart pick goes to Snooki.
b. Ron-Dawg: He knocks the Situation unconscious and should be good for at least 300 public-intoxication points. And given the rumors that this is “Single Ronnie,” his ceiling is actually higher than Snooki's. Still, I just don’t know if I want to spend an hour every week cheering for Ronnie to hit someone. This isn’t because I have some hand-wringing objection to violence on TV, in general. (Quite the contrary: Every time there is a fight at a Denny’s and someone records it with their cell phone, I’m always good to leave at least two to five comments.) But Ronnie’s brand of crazy crosses over into pretty disturbing shit. It’s just not fun to watch a stumpy ‘roid head toss his girlfriend’s belongings off a porch. Nor is it fun to watch a guy scream incoherently at the same girl about nothing, especially when you know that girl will just forgive him and say awful things like, “I freaking love you so much, Ronnie.”
If Snooki is the best reality TV star ever (I stand by that statement), then Ronnie is, perhaps, the worst. This isn’t like Puck, where there was a palpable level of self-hatred and hints of self-awareness. (Reality TV rule: As long as a guy clearly hates himself, he can do whatever and we will relate to him.) Ronnie, somewhere deep down, probably hates himself, but we never see it on the screen. Last season, the only plotline or drama on the show came from everyone wondering if Ronnie was actually going to punch Sammi or not. It takes a massive lack of self-awareness to be that guy. I just don’t know if I can have a guy like that in an already depressed clubhouse.
c. Trade down and take Deena and the Situation: Reality TV trailers always leave out the one person who actually goes crazy on the show. I think there’s a chance the secret storyline for Season 4 is that the Blast in a Glass goes absolutely nuts and burns down half of Italy. Given that I’m 300 points behind, I need to take that risk and hope that the Situation’s increasingly dark outlook on life might yield more points than Snooki or Ronnie.
Lane Brown (The Blurcle Jerks): Last month, Bill offered to trade me both Steven Adler and Amy Fisher for Bai Ling and I didn't take him up on it. (I had high hopes, but it turns out Bai Ling is a better actress than an escape artist. Meanwhile, Adler is better at bullying than he ever was at drumming, and Fisher's tear ducts are as loose as Long Island gun-control laws.) Then I stupidly gave Jasmine Reynaud to Jacoby for the bargain-basement price of Mandi Moyer (who had better hook up with C.T. soon or I'm going to assault an inanimate object). All told, my idiocy cost me 102 points just this week. So if Jay takes Snooki in our Jersey Shore draft, I have to take Ronnie. I feel awful about this, so I'm pledging donations to charities selected by the first 20 people he hospitalizes this season.