I spent last night visiting the trailer park in my soul, watching three solid hours of reality TV. First up was the premiere of the 21st season of Survivor, this time set in Nicaragua. What's notable about this season is that one of the contestants is ex-football coach Jimmy Johnson, who is the first real celebrity to appear on the show. There has been a lot of chatter and jokes about it, the latter mostly consisting of how he would handle life without a hair dryer.
As one would imagine, he dominated the first episode. All of his fellow contestants recognized him, and he was honest about his reasons for playing--he loves the show, and wanted the adventure. He has no illusions that he would win, since the winner is chosen by a jury of the losing contestants, and they know he's already a multimillionaire. When asked advice about who to vote out, he said it should be the weakest player, and then named them. One of them, he said, was himself.
He wasn't voted out, but I don't think he'll last long. He appeared to be completely ass-whupped by the first night, nearly coughing up a lung. He's sixty-six, after all. This year's gimmick is that one team is made up of over-40s and the other is under-30s, so he doesn't stick out as the old guy, but he is the oldest player nonetheless. Once he's gone, and I figure it will by episode three or four, the show should calm down and we'll get to know the other people.
This was followed by the two-hour season finale of Big Brother. The three finalists were testosterone-laden lunkheads who had been part of an alliance called the Brigade (although they spelled it the "bra-gade" for some reason). This made the final a little anticlimactic, as they were all friendly to each other. Enzo, the Jersey guy stereotype with the "fuhgeddaboutit" accent and ever-present fedora, was voted out, and you could tell he was stung, as he works two full-time jobs and said he could have used the money (which makes one wonder how he could take an entire summer off). That left Hayden, a college student, against Lane, an oil-rig salesman (during the course of the show he confessed his job is for his father's company, and that mostly he takes clients out golfing). Hayden won, and I think he deserved it. Even though he's basically a male bimbo with bangs hanging down past his eyebrows, he seemed like a decent sort.
I was kind of rooting for Britney, the former beauty queen from Arkansas. Her Mean Girls persona was tempered by a pretty sharp wit, and she looked damned delectable in her outfits all summer (especially her swimsuit). She ended up winning the "America's Favorite"--$25,000, as voted on by the viewers. This was announced at the end of the show, but there was enough time to see her nemesis, Rachel, looking profoundly disgusted.
When I think of how many IQ points I lose by watching these shows I take solace in the fact that there is a world of reality shows I wouldn't be caught dead watching, like The Bachelor, or The Hills, or Jersey Shore. I do have some self respect.