Reality Bites: Average Joe - Episode 5
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: December 2, 2003
Last week, two more guys (John and Alex) were given the heave-ho by Melana. With time running out, competition for private time with Melana wreaked emotional havoc on the four guys left -- two Average Joes (Adam and Zach) and two Hunks (Mike and Jason). This week, Melana went on dates with a pair of guys at a time, each group date followed by a private date with one of the pair.
The First Dating Competition
The first date competition was between Mike and Adam. The group date involved creating plaster casts of face masks for each person. As the mask dried on one guy (immobilizing his face), Melana would take the other guy aside for conversation. When it was Melana's turn for the mask, the guys asked her yes-and-no questions, such as whether she'd cheated on a boyfriend (sorta yes), whether she'd faked an orgasm (giggling no), whether someone could be too funny for her to be interested in them (a definite no).
In talking about Mike in interview, Melana dreamily spoke about how she was physically attracted to Mike but was discovering a lot more about him. "Mike's the cute guy that if you get to know his serious side, he could be something really strong." However, the sound bites we saw of Mike's conversation consisted of his usual affable "you're nice ... so enough about you, how about me?" conversation. As far as I can tell, his strength is still in his arms.
During Adam's private time, he stated flat out that Melana should base her decision of who to have a private date with upon her feelings, not upon "fairness" (choosing the guy she'd spent less time with -- in this case, Mike). Melana softly said she'd keep that in mind, and gave him a kiss. But when it came time for choosing, after the group had moved on to tour the zoo, Melana said that she needed to take advantage of the time to get to know Mike, and that she didn't need more time with Adam to validate that he's an amazing person. In interview, Adam was quite incensed that Melana had chosen Mike -- possibly exacerbated because he'd heard Melana say what he most feared: "Adam, you're really funny but ...." To the camera, Adam said, "She had the opportunity to make me feel good or make me feel bad, and I'm supposed to wave to them driving off. And I'm not going to do that. It's stupid." Melana said in interview that she didn't think that Adam was upset, but she didn't hear him telling Jason and Zach back at the house that if he had the option to date other women now, he would, because he was so upset with the way she treated him ("I don't know if I would want to date this girl if I got picked. If this was a situation where I had any other outs, that girl would be gone.") Frankly, it was a little scary how personally Adam was taking this, and if Melana had heard it I think Adam wouldn't have had to worry about whether he'd make it to another round, because he'd be out.
But blissfully ignorant (take that however you like), Melana and Mike went on their date, having dinner at the zoo, with leopards prowling outside the window. Inside, Mike and Melana prowled around each other conversationally, never reaching any substance.
The Second Dating Competition
The second dating competition was between Zach, Melana's "crush" among the Average Joes, and Jason, the Hunk with whom Melana had had a major make-out session. Truly a battle of the titans!
The competition arena was a boat, as the guys practiced sailing aboard a boat used in the 1995 America's Cup race. In her "alone time" with Jason, Melana admitted to him that she liked Zach. But she also made it clear she liked Jason. In talking to Zach, Melana told him that she had a crush on him, but she also liked Jason. Her dual affections came as no surprise to either of the guys. When it came time to choose between the two of them, Melana decided to "even things up" by choosing Jason (with whom she'd had one date) over Zach (with whom she'd had two dates). As soon as she and Jason were on their way, Melana was overcome with remorse for making Zach feel bad. Jason comforted her by reminding her that Zach would understand and that he knew how much Melana liked him. Cut to Zach, reacting with the same ire that Adam had shown earlier: "I'm pissed off that she's chosen Jason over me. I've been here for three and a half weeks, and I've worked hard to get where I am."
The main feature of Jason and Melana's private date seemed to be smooching, whether they were on a boat or in a limo heading home. Melana also told Jason how pretty and adorable he was. I would have thought she'd figured all that out on the first date with him, but I guess she wanted to make sure that his being pretty and a good kisser hadn't been a fluke. She's a thorough one!
Concerned that the guys were more interested in her appearance than in her personality, Melana set up a "sting." She was suited up in a fat outfit for her body, mask, wig, contacts for her eyes, and fake teeth. The suit added over 150 pounds to her appearance, and when she tested it on the street she was depressed to find that people ignored her when she asked for directions, or insulted her, instead of responding right away (and asking for her number). (She also realized how ridiculous she'd been on the occasions that she'd thought "I feel fat today," and if that's the only perspective she gains then the show's been a success, in my opinion.)
Once she was used to the suit, it was time to put the sting into effect. Melana in the fat suit was to be "Danielle," Melana's cousin, who, along with her friend Heather, would be interviewing the guys. To throw the guys off track, a body double posed as Melana, greeting Danielle and then heading off in a van while the guys drove up to the house. After meeting Danielle, the guys went to a poolhouse, wired with cameras.
One by one, the guys met with Heather and Danielle and answered various questions -- have you ever cheated with a girlfriend? what's the dumbest thing you've ever done in a relationship? etc. Melana felt that Adam comported himself well, responding to the content of the questions and not seeming uncomfortable with the questioners. Mike got points for making eye contact with both girls; while he seemed nervous at the questions, he didn't seem uncomfortable. Melana noted that Jason didn't look at Danielle, but only at Heather. Zach also was dunned for not making eye contact with Danielle.
After the interviews, Melana came back as herself to talk with the guys one last time before eliminations. Mike continued his laidback approach, saying that he liked her and wanted to stay, but in interview confiding that he didn't feel like there was a lot he could do now to sway her -- either she liked him or she didn't. Zach took a more intense approach, admitting that he was upset that she'd chosen Jason over him for a solo date and that he was disappointed that she'd said she had a crush on him. "A crush only lasts for so long," he said. "I would have been happier if you said you liked me." With Jason, Melana was the one being intense. She questioned him closely on his feelings, but Jason resisted telling her, because he wanted her to make her decision based on what she was feeling, not what he was feeling. But he finally admitted that he felt that they had something that could become a special relationship. Adam, batting clean-up, told Melana that being with her was like being transported back to when you met your first girlfriend and everything was great and wonderful and new and fresh and you're laughing all the time. "You know you're alive when you feel that way." In talking about it later, Melana teared up at the compliment. Realizing he'd done well, Adam told the guys later that if he were playing poker, at this point he'd put all his chips in the center of the table and declare himself "all in."
For once, though, these interviews weren't the last word from the guys. The next day, Melana received the tapes of the guys talking after the interviews with Danielle and Heather to review. Adam brought up scenarios about kissing the cousin or giving the cousin a lap dance to get to the next round -- what would the guys do? Mike had no problems with the idea of giving the cousin a lap dance. But when Zach asked whether Mike would rather kiss Adam or the cousin, Mike said, "I wouldn't kiss her." Adam chimed in that he would probably rather kiss Zach instead of Danielle. Zach's response to the idea of kissing Danielle consisted of a lot of bleeped dialogue. On a more G-rated level, Zach brought up the concept of the "DUFF," the "Designated Ugly Fat Friend." According to Zach, every group of hot girls has one, and "you gotta be in with the DUFF to be in with the girl." Thinking that Danielle wanted to him, Zach confidently stated that he was "in with the DUFF." Zach's comments did not go down well with Melana.
The Revelation, and the Eliminations
The guys assembled for eliminations as usual, but instead of having Melana come meet them, Danielle entered the room. She told them that she'd heard everything they'd said about her ... and then she revealed the truth, that she was in fact Melana. The guys were amazed -- no one more so than Adam, which surprised me because he was the one who, on the tape, had made the comparison to Monica on Friends when she was made to appear fat. That hadn't tipped him off?
Melana announced her first elimination by saying that it was someone with whom she wished she could have hit a different level, but she knew "we won't have any problems speaking in the future." That guy was Mike, and both her reactions and his paralleled all their interactions -- relaxed, casual, friendly, with no great emotion.
For the second elimination, Melana asked to talk to Zach. She reminded him that she'd always told him to watch his step, to watch what he was doing. But she hoped he'd change for the better from this experience. She didn't really tell him why she was eliminating him, but she explained in voiceover that she'd been very disturbed by the derogatory comments Zach had made on the tape. In interview, Jason said that Zach had sometimes said things off camera that had been off-key, and he was glad that Melana had gotten a chance to see what Zach was like when she wasn't around. Once out of Melana's sight this time, Zach initially had no desire to talk to the cameras anymore. He finally expressed his displeasure with the secret videotapes, saying that they'd shown her guys talking to guys, "which is always different," and proclaiming that "it's not reality." Dude, you can't have it both ways -- if it's always different, it's real; if it's not reality, then how can you generalize about it?
I'm torn about her dismissing Zach over this. Zach has been a boor from day one, and I'm glad he's gone. And yes, he was crude in his comments. But Adam was also using Danielle as a joke, and even Jason had admitted to being familiar with the concept of a DUFF. Considering that Melana had admitted initially that she wouldn't have dated any of the Average Joes, I can't believe that she never made similar thoughtless comments to her friends when she didn't think she'd be heard.
I suppose, though, that the best thing to do is count my blessings that Zach is finally off the radar screen. The karmic wheel has moved on. Next week is the two-hour season finale, where Melana visits the hometowns of the two guys remaining in the competition (Average Joe Adam and Hunk Jason), there's one final romantic date for each guy, and Melana makes her decision. Will she choose the Average Joe? Or will the Pretty Boy win again?
The two-hour season finale of Average Joe is on Monday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.
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