Reality Bites: Average Joe - Episode 2
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: November 11, 2003
Last week, we met the Joes; this week, it's time for the dating to begin! In true reality-show tradition, we begin with group dates: Melana went out with three groups of four guys each. From each, she chose one individual to continue the evening with an individual date.
(Actually, the show didn't begin with the dates -- the first new item of business, after saying good-bye to the old guys, was a visit from the Kansas City Chiefs' Tony Gonzalez, who played some ball with the guys and urged them to clean up the house before Melana came for a visit. But since that was one of the lamest bits of celeb placement I've seen on a reality TV show and a total waste of time, I refuse to acknowledge it outside the safe confines of parentheses. The only thing good about it was its role of acting as a segue to a fight between nerdy John and bully Zach, when Zach mocked John's involvement as a high school football player. One of the things about this show is how much the guys wear their emotions on their sleeves, and John was very emotional in his interactions with Zach and in his reflections on who was left in the house. Without naming names, he became tearful in thinking about how a friend of his had left last night while Zach remained in the house. Interestingly, he later seemed to be as upset with himself for having lost his temper with Zach as he was with Zach.)
Group Date #1
Melana's first group date was with Brad, a self-confident guy employed with in the "Television Drama Development" industry (you have to be self-confident to grab such an occupational title); Marc, a vertically challenged software analyst; Tareq, the 21-year-old Ph.D.-candidate and university professor from Zimbabwe; and Joe, the buffoonish investment banker. The date consisted primarily of Melana laying on a massage table half-naked, while each of the guys had 15 minutes alone to massage her -- physically and with conversation. As dates go, it was an odd choice, made odder by Melana's questions about what the guys thought of the other guys in the group. With only fifteen minutes, you'd think that she'd want to know about them individually, not their opinions of other people! The oddest part of all was Brad's decision, when the guys entered a mudbath after their time with Melana, to hit the mud au naturale. He explained to the camera that he wanted for it to get back to Melana, to make her think that he was the type of guy who was up for anything. If it were me, it would make me think that he was the type of guy who did not take into account other people's comfort zone, but the first rule of dating is to be yourself, so I guess Brad gets points for that.
The winner of the date, though, was Tareq, who impressed Melana with his conversation (not about the other guys -- but we didn't hear her asking him the questions she asked the others, either). He also seemed to be doing the best job of massage, using a firm touch.
It was fascinating to watch Tareq on the date, because Tareq has consistently maintained a distance. He's taken on the role of the observer, keeping a distance from those around him. And much of the conversation seemed to be about intellectual ideas, such as his work in A.I. But he also opened himself up to emotion. "Suddenly for the first time I let my guard down. I stopped becoming this analytical creature, and there was emotion flowing through me. Which surprises me." (And probably would have surprised Brad, who maintained that the only reason Melana picked him was because she wanted to go out with someone else to validate her decision to stay with Brad.) After the date, Tareq remarked in voiceover that he thought he might genuinely be falling for Melana.
Group Date #2
The second group date was a rock-climbing date, with, as Adam, the partner in a trading company, noted morosely, "the good-looking Zach (salesman), JFK Jr. Jerry (ad executive), and everyone's lovable hero Dennis (accountant)." (Personally, I like Adam's basset-hound face, although I cringed when he remarked on Melana's "great ass.") Melana was first up to climb, and was clearly scared of climbing. She declared that she would have the private date with whoever climbed the highest.
With that as incentive, Dennis attacked the cliff with a will. Dennis. Sweet Dennis, turned down twice by the Air Force for having hearing impairments and turned down twice by Survivor for who knows what reason (ummm, okay, beyond the obvious). Gangly Dennis. Impossible Dennis. Who made it to the top on sheer force of will.
By all rights, Dennis should have gotten the date. It just would have been right. But, unfortunately, both Zach and Jerry made it to the top as well, and Zach made it in the fastest time. Melana had already heard negative reports about Zach from the other guys; on the other hand, she was also attracted to him physically (I guess it is an advantage to be the "best of the second-best"). Prior to choosing him for the date, she'd already had a conversation with him about his attitude, and he insisted that he really was a good guy. I don't know whether she was convinced by that or not, but she definitely warmed up to him on the date, exchanging kisses with him in the pool and back at the house (despite his smoker breath).
Group Date #3
The third group date, featuring waterskiing, was with film assistant Jay, bouncer David, director's assistant John, and gigantic cigar bar manager Craig. After taking a turn waterskiing, Melana chatted with the guys individually on the boat. With most, she maintained a pleasant conversation, whether it was talking spirituality with John, laughing at Jay's jokes, or taking an interest in Craig's bar. With David, for some reason, she seemed distracted, often cutting off his sentences. In frustration, he even remarked to her that she wasn't paying attention to what he was saying, but it didn't seem to help.
Melana's choice for a date was John, and they had a campfire on the beach. John sang her a song about Vienna, something that he was sure gave him an in with her. However, her comments in interview revealed that she'd "kind of felt sorry for him" because she actually thought it was "dorky" (her expressed delight at the time notwithstanding). At the end of the night, she decided to close things off with a light kiss. Ah, but what fell lightly from Melana's lips landed heavily on John's heart. He was quite overcome by that simple kiss!
The Unkindest Cut of All
Once all the dating was through, Melana had to make her cut -- and what a cut! Of the twelve guys left, she needed to select six to leave the competition. And the six departing Joes were: Marc, Craig, Jay, Joe, David, and -- in a shocker! -- Dennis! Everyone was emotional when Dennis left, including Zach, who said that no person has ever touched his heart the way Dennis had.
(I'd tell you why those guys were cut, but this show is seriously lacking in reflection. Joe noted that all of the larger guys were now gone, intimating this was size prejudice. I would certainly believe that, since I think that size prejudice is very widespread and difficult to overcome in today's society. However, I could see definite drawbacks in the three large guys that she eliminated tonight: Joe was a buffoon; Jay was coming across as the funny best friend as opposed to someone seriously opening his heart; and Craig had a strangely tentative manner that was off-putting. Now, none of those are bars to ultimately finding romance, and I wish all three gentlemen the best. But I could see how those issues could loom larger (sorry, had to say it) in this context than their size.)
So remaining on the show are John, Brad, Adam, Zach, Tareq, and Jerry.
Oh, and host Kathy Griffen. Who once again had a "wacky-neighbor" cameo on the show. Considering that she's an aficionada of reality tv and won Celebrity Mole based on her understanding of the genre, I'd really been hoping for more from her as host.
Perhaps we'll see more of Kathy Griffen in the next episode. I can also only hope that we'll see more of some of the guys in the show who are still ciphers, such as Jerry. But, given the breakneck speed that this show has been going at, I'm not wishing that the producers had edited in more on these guys. Dennis left the show too early as it was, and while we'll have time to get to know someone like Jerry, the limited time we had with Dennis was too precious to give up.
Average Joe is on Mondays at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time.
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