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.
Full disclosure, I am mailing this one in. I'm on vacation and didn’t plan on doing the GRTFL this week but there was so much asinine shit to joke about in reality TV I just couldn’t pass it up. But before we get to all of that, I learned two big travel tips that I wanted to share: (1) If you are married and traveling together, tell everyone it’s your honeymoon — upgrades all over the place. (2) If you are planning a trip to a beach location, whatever you do, make sure it doesn’t coincide with Discovery’s Shark Week. After watching a bajillion shark attacks on TV, I am not even comfortable going into the deep end of the hotel pool. And for all those people that are all, “Humans aren’t even part of a shark's natural diet, what is there to worry about?” Of course humans aren’t a part of a shark's natural diet, WE DON’T LIVE IN THE WATER! Lobster isn’t a part of my natural diet, but I will tear one up like a savage if you put it in front of me. We are a rare delicious delicacy to sharks. Never go in the ocean again.
Anyway, here are my thoughts on a busy week in reality TV, a little shorter than usual, but let’s be honest, these columns are too long anyway.
As a television show, The Bachelorette has depreciating returns. At first there are a couple dozen delusional dudes around to point and laugh at: This season, we had a goateed bar mitzvah DJ, a millionaire mushroom farmer, and a dude who carried an ostrich egg around to symbolize well, to be honest, it was never 100 percent clear why he was carrying the ostrich egg around, but that was the beauty of the show in the early going. It was a spectacle. Last night’s three-hour finale wasn’t a spectacle, it was two people making the most important decision in their lives in the least appropriate manner. While the finale provided the formatted resolution it intended when Emily the Mom accepted Jeff With One F’s proposal, it still left a lot of questions on the table: Will they actually get married? Will Arie the Race Car Driver Who Slept With a Producer be the next Bachelor? Will Jef and Emily’s wedding get its own TV show? Will jeweler Neil Lane get his own TV show? What’s up with Jef’s hair?
To address the questions still unanswered, a special Monday edition of GRTFL, with two GRTFL Top Fives, was in order. On to the scores:
I’m not going to lie to you: This was a shitty week in reality TV. First, there is the fact that Big Ang, the “classy” ladies of Mama Drama, and Joseline of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta are all not in my living room because the suits from Viacom and DirecTV can’t make a deal. Suits, get something done soon; I need these people in my life. Second, it seemed like every show in the GRTFL decided to mail it in this week. The Bachelorette was the let’s-squeeze-another-episode-out-of-this-franchise "Men Tell All" snoozefest; the most exciting event on Real Housewives of New York City was a woman putting her face in a bidet; and the Real World cast is so boring that the producers centered this entire episode around a dead fish. There is good news, though: I have just as much fun making fun of boring reality television as I do compelling reality TV, so you're in for a treat. Let’s hit up the top scorers:
I hear this all the time: “I don’t watch those shows, so I don’t read the Reality TV column.” Of course you don’t watch those shows, that’s the point. You shouldn’t watch those shows — that would cut into your philanthropy/Paris Review-reading/hot yoga schedule. You shouldn’t know that we are in the midst of a Survivor sex scandal, you shouldn’t know that there is an attractive young woman on the Real World dating a dude that makes Screech look like Warren Beatty, and you certainly shouldn’t be following the Basketball Wife coup d'Útat like it is the Egyptian revolution. That would be weird. That is why this column exists, so you can read it and have something to talk about with your super-hot, super-dumb date, your sister-in-law that the family hasn't truly embraced, or the person next to you in the Twilight line. Consider the following your “Guide to Thanksgiving Conversations With Dumb People.” You’re welcome.
Reality TV went to some really dark places this week. We had a Basketball Wife with a child endangerment police case, a Survivor struggling with his religious beliefs, a Real World-er struggling with abandonment issues, and Snooki struggling to keep her blood alcohol level over a .2 for every minute of her stay in Italy. Snooki was the only one who successfully overcame the struggle. When you start your day at 7:30 a.m. by downing two huge mimosas, burping, and then yelling, “I love mimosas!” there is a good chance you will be atop the GRTFL leaderboard.
What happened to America’s favorite spherically shaped human this week made Hamlet look like a bad romantic comedy. Watching the ballad of the Snooki unfold was exhilarating, exhausting, and ultimately deeply depressing. Seeing her experience joy and nervous anticipation for the arrival of her Guido in bedazzled armor, and the melancholy of his midnight exit, was as close as a healthy human being will ever come to knowing what it's like to be manic depressive. Her box score (pun intended) this week only begins to encapsulate the range of extreme emotions our heroine displayed last night:
Setting up a "prank" that's not really a prank (putting Brittany in Mike’s bed)(: (10 points
Crying (when Jionni arrives): 5 points
(Coitus: 25 points
Open-mouth kissing (at club with Jionni)(: 5 points
Crying (after Jionni storms off): 5 points
Intentional nudity (on the dance floor): 20 points
Verbal fighting (with JWOWW): (5 points
Falling over in public due to intoxication (chasing after Jionni)(: 10 points
Verbal fighting (with Jionni): 5 points
( Crying (when talking to Jionni — she had stopped and then started back up): 5 points
Unintentional nudity (when she gets into bed after Jionni breaks up with her)(: 5 points Total: 100 points(
There is only one person who watched this episode and didn’t want to jump into the television, wrap Snooki in their arms, and tell her everything was going to be OK — her GRTFL owner, Lane Brown.
Snooki (Jersey Shore, Lane): 100 points. Snooki’s preparation for the arrival of her boyfriend Jionni was one of the happiest things we've ever seen. A woman so excited to see her love that she could not control herself. Spray-tan was applied, hundreds of outfits were auditioned, and the smush room was Febreezed. Jionni rang the bell and immediately Snooki embraced him, nuzzled his familiar (allegedly) PED-enhanced chest, and wept tears of joy. It was pure beauty. One of those moments that makes you believe that the meaning of life can be explained in one word: love. They ran upstairs, he kissed the cheeks of the ladies, awkwardly bro-hugged the fellas, and the couple retired to the smush room. All was well.
When they two emerged, it was time to return to the environment in which they first met: one filled with Italians, thumping house music, and enough alcohol to rid the world of all bacteria. Snooki wore her finest attire, a hot-pink leopard-print number that looked like a bandana being held together with jumper cables. Being a sexually conservative gent, Jionni remarked that he might prefer something a little more demure, but love was in the air and booze needed to be in the bellies, so they left for the club. All was well.
The presence of her lover transformed Snooki. She danced with a lust she had never felt before. She announced the she needed to dance where her soul was, above the crowd, on stage, to show the world her passion. Possessed by her love, she raised her dress and truly showed the world her passion. Jionni was not impressed. All was not well.
Ashamed, Jionni fled. Shocked, no longer possessed by desire, Snooki gave chase. Unable to find her Guido, she melted onto the streets of Florence into a weeping heap of rage and sorrow. Inconsolable, she retreated to her bed and continued to wail. Hours later, Jionni returned, announced that her behavior at the nightclub was unacceptable, grabbed his suitcase, and left. Under her hot-pink satin comforter, Snooki found no comfort. Hours earlier she held her true love, but now she held only her stuffed alligator. Reliving it makes me want to cry myself — I must be on my period.
Draya (Basketball Wives LA, Jacoby): 15 points. Draya, the former exotic dancer (fine, stripper), ex-girlfriend of Chris Brown, erstwhile Wiz Kalifah paramour, and current basketball "wife" is the Cam Newton of Basketball Wives. This week Draya plugged her “modeling” career (10 points) as she took us behind the scenes of a booty magazine photo shoot, one she described as “classy” (5 points). Shocking news alert: The shoot had her in her underwear, moving from sexual position to sexual position like she was in one of those Playboy yoga videos. Below, the top five things Draya said this week, followed by the things we said to our television after she said them.
5. Draya (to the photographer): “Is this too slutty?” Photographer: “I don’t think so.”
Our response: “Even the booty mag photographer is hinting that you should dial down the sluttiness.”
4. “I keep taking these little shots that people keep throwing at me that I keep hearing subliminally.”
Our response: "Hearing subliminally?"
3. “This one they want to make more classy. The booty booty shots are not necessary all the time.”
Our response: “Not all the time. Just 99 percent of the time.”
2. (On her friends): “They are not prunes or whatever you call it.”
Our response: “Prudes is what you call it, Draya. Prudes.”
1. “They are just my girls that I like hang out with when I want to do mature adult things.”
Our response: “Draya, you and your girls aren’t at a book-club meeting discussing Tolstoy. They're watching you get bikini-waxed.”
Gloria (Basketball Wives LA, Lane): 15 points. Huge argument at the Grantland office about whether Gloria or Draya was the more attractive Basketball Wife. OK, fine, not huge, nor even really an argument. It’s Draya, and Gloria received a couple of “Kucinich votes.” Gloria also plugged her acting career (10 points), which according to IMDb has included roles on Basketball Wives and wait, that’s it, just Basketball Wives. She also cried at Jackie’s 16th wedding to Doug Christie (5 points). Doug Christie has had more weddings than years in the NBA.
Jackie Christie (Basketball Wives LA, Connor): 10 points. You know when your birthday sneaks up on you, and you didn’t plan anything, so you send out an e-mail to everyone you know three days before asking them to meet you at the local dive bar, and only four people show up? That’s how normal adults plan annual events. Basketball Wives hire party planners, spend thousands of dollars on flowers, and get married to the same man year after year. Doug Christie comes off pretty much as well as you can on a reality show starring former strippers who are now delusional drink-throwing sociopaths, but it's hard to completely respect a man who says to his wife, “Honey, I have an idea for our anniversary. Let’s go out to a really nice restaurant instead of traveling to a new city, me buying you a 16th wedding dress, and renting out the most expensive room in the Palms. No? Fine. What color suit should I wear?"
JWOWW (Jersey Shore, Connor): 10 points. This week’s episode was the perfect example of why the Italian public didn’t want the Jersey Shore filming in their country. Florence’s ancient stone walls being used as a backdrop for our Lycra-and-sunglasses-clad Tri-Staters' drunken shouting, weeping, and stumbling felt like a desecration. As JWOWW’s screaming echoed through the early morning, Italian locals arose from their beds, opened their curtains, and mumbled to themselves, "At least this time it isn’t Sammi and Ronnie."
Laura Govan (Basketball Wives LA, House): 5 points. Remember when Shaq and Gilbert Arenas were rumored to have beef over some chick? It was right around the time when Gilbert was brandishing guns in NBA locker rooms. Well, it all just came together with one quick Google search. Basketball Wives is The Usual Suspects and Laura is Keyser S÷ze. Please join me in the joy of learning that your girl is more attractive than the one millionaire NBA players were fighting over.
Semhar (Survivor, Kang): 5 points. God, I hate spoken-word poetry. Oh wait, sorry Semhar — spoken-word “art.” Because poetry doesn’t even begin to describe what it is that you do, Semhar. You’re different from other spoken-word poets — you’re an artist. Who would have guessed that your teary (5 points) spoken-word “art” would just be you complaining about a man who did you wrong? Everybody.
Christine and Stacey (Survivor, House and Lane): 5 points. When you're on Survivor and heading into a tribal council and everyone else in your tribe is standing in a circle whispering just out of earshot, it's a safe bet you're getting voted off. At tribal, Coach and Christine got into a verbal fight (5 points) in which Stacey punctuated all of Christine’s points by adding a “Boom!” (5 points). Stacey is a tribal-council hype-woman; she is the Flavor Flav to Christine’s Chuck D. Next week she had better be wearing a clock and gold teeth and be making out with a trashy woman named Hardbody.
The Situation and Vinny (Jersey Shore, Kang and Simmons): 2.5 and 5 points. I blame Karl Lagerfeld. One night in the mid-'70s he said, “You know what? I really like these sunglasses. If I take them off, I will probably lose them, so I might as well just keep them on at the club,” and never looked back. Dear Vinny and Sitch, you a not German fashion designer who wears only black and white, rocks his collar up to his chin, and never speaks — you can’t pull off sunglasses in the club (2.5 and 5 points).
Brandon (Survivor, Lane): -10 points. You know who says things like, “I have my doubts about Mikayla. Because I am faithful to my wife, it makes me feel uncomfortable being around her a lot of the time”? Dudes who aren’t faithful to their wives. When he's not writing smiley faces on vote cards (10 points), Brandon is alternately eye-molesting bartender/lingerie football player Mikayla and desperately trying to get her voted off so he will no longer be tormented by her beauty. He apparently doesn't realize that his wife will be equally angry at him whether he cheats on her or spends weeks doing nothing but trying really, really hard not to cheat on her. “No, babe, I didn’t cheat on you on Survivor. I mean, there was this one supersexy Playboy cover model girl there whom I wanted to cheat on you with, stared at the whole time, and constantly tried to vote off because her absence was the only thing that would have kept me from touching her inappropriately — but I DID NOT cheat on you."
David Jacoby (Blanket Coverage):Much has been made over how much the cast of Jersey Shore earns, but I still have no idea how much these people are actually worth when you consider all of their revenue streams. There are a few things that are clear: They’re pulling in a lot outside of the show, they should cash in while they can, and it is safe to say that they don’t need to work at a pizza shop while they are filming.
In order to make a totally uneducated guess based on no actual facts or research, I have broken down the revenue streams into three categories: salary, sponsorships, and appearance fees. It seems like the Situation has been the most aggressive at shilling, so I will use him as a case study and imagine that revenue goes down from there, ending with Angelina who likely has a day job, is constantly pitching reality shows to uninterested networks, and is back to carrying around her clothes in trash bags. So let’s throw a guess at what Sitch pulls in over a year:
Salary: Are they really getting $100k an episode? I hope not. It has to be more like $50k to $75k. Let’s say they shoot 13 episodes in a year (this is a moving target, but I think they will go back to shooting one season a year) that is estimated at $812,500 (62.5 x 13).
Sponsorships: This is a total guess. I mean, the guy has everything from workout videos to tweets about tuxedo shops to press releases by companies asking him not to wear their clothes. This is the category that is hardest to track, but I feel like this number isn’t as high as you might think. It isn’t like Nike gave him a LeBron deal. He does one-day photo shoots with small companies and tweets about stuff. I am throwing a cool $1 million at this. Probably two (relatively) big deals that equal $500k and tons of little stuff making up the rest. Safe to say the IRS shouldn’t use these estimates if they audit him, as I have no idea how accurate they are. Estimated total: $1,000,000.
Appearances: Let’s say he really does get $25k for a Sweet 16 party that is not even close to what they would get paid for a club appearance. Probably more like $10k to 15K, five bottles of vodka and sloppy make-outs with four different women. If he is shooting two months out of the year, and does an appearance every week when he is not shooting, that brings his appearance total to about $550,000.
The Hollywood Reporter actually researched all this and said he was set to make $5,000,000 in 2010. I find that number high, but they, like, did research and stuff. My guesstimate totals out to $2,362,500, which feels more realistic. Now take off taxes and you are down to $1,417,500 ($2,362,500 x .6), and take out some management fees and you end up around $1,204,875 ($1,417,500 x .8). My ultimate point is that $1,204,875 is a ton of money for a guy who drinks and makes out with girls for a living, and it should be more than enough to buy clothing that doesn’t make you look like you got dressed every morning in the lost-and-found bin at the Palms hotel.
Lane Brown (The Blurcle Jerks): Greetings from third place! Jacoby hasn't left much unsaid about last night's Jersey Shore, so I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank the Italian police who let Snooki go, and especially the prudish, tan-wienered Jionni, without whom her bravura performance — and new position atop the all-time GRTFL high-scorers list! — would not have been possible.
David Jacoby is Grantland's Reality Tzar. Listen to him on the B.S. Report or follow him on Twitter at @jacoby_.
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.
Full Disclosure: We don't know what we're doing. One might have assumed that with the embarrassing amount of time we've spent on the Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League we would have at least come up with a plan to, you know, end the season and declare a winner. Well, we didn’t. Until now. OK, fine — we still haven't.
But what we now know for sure is that there are new shows debuting soon whose contestants need to be added to our league. So in the very near future, our GMs will hold supplemental drafts to divvy up some additional drink throwers, coitus claimers, and erection concealers. And after that, this season of the GRTFL will conclude at the end of the calendar year. Or not. We're pretty sure it will, though. Anyway, look for the results of our Jersey Shore draft soon (the show returns on August 4).
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves or lose sight of the fact that when we last saw Celebrity Rehab's Bai Ling, she was on a roof, in a bathrobe, carrying a name plate she had just ripped out of a wall
In case you hadn't noticed, the Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League is stupid. It's a league in which reality-show cast members were drafted onto teams to score points for reprehensible behavior. Participating in such a league makes you question things. Such as your intelligence, your priorities, and whether C.T. will commit cannibalism during this season of The Challenge.
The GRTFL draft is a lot like the NBA draft — nervous general managers shape their franchises by selecting players based on past performance, Internet reports, and how cool their names sound (Love in the Wild's Steele Dewald was our Bismack Biyombo). But instead of evaluating a pick’s potential to defend, rebound, or score, the GRTFL GMs looked at less easily quantifiable qualities such as emotional instability, tendency to respond to conflict with violence, and, of course, vomitability. These character traits won't get you invited to dinner parties, but they'll certainly score you points in the GRTFL, in which stats are compiled by league commissioner Katie Gorman on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet so detailed that, if it were ever printed out, you'd hear the far-off screech of undiscovered species in the Brazilian rainforest becoming extinct. The scores for the first three weeks of league play have been totaled, and it's clear that the inclusion of MTV’s The Challenge: Rivals (which premiered on Wednesday) is going to shake things up.
For several days last week, six adult men heroically neglected their jobs and families to create a stupidly complicated scoring system and draft the cast members of five bad reality shows onto teams for the first Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League. This week, league commissioner Katie Gorman carefully monitored episodes of The Bachelorette and Basketball Wives from the past two Mondays for any instances of fighting, coitus, and/or non-court-ordered volunteering, then she tallied up the points. Welcome to the first GRTFL scorecard.
Comedian Fred Allen once called television "chewing gum for the eyes." If that’s the case, reality TV is chewing tobacco for the eyes: It’s unhealthy, addictive, and sometimes makes you want to puke. But unlike dip, reality shows have an appeal that stretches beyond just dudes who wear overalls for function. Reality TV is popular because it's fun. And it's about to get more fun.
One thing sports have taught us is that almost anything can be improved by creating a scoring system and holding a draft. Try it. Assign point values and draft your coworkers before a meeting. Or family members before Thanksgiving dinner. I once participated in a celebrity DUI draft (Shia LaBeouf was a late-round steal). And this summer we’ll use a similar model for the inaugural Grantland Reality TV Fantasy League.