Reality Bites: Average Joe - Episode 6
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: December 9, 2003
This is it -- the final round. Will Melana pick Average Joe Adam, or Johnny-Come-Lately Hunk Jason? Before making her decision, she'll visit each of the guy's hometowns, and then have a final "romantic overnight date."
Jason's Hometown Visit - Irvine, CA
Jason lives with his parents in Irvine, CA. Adam pointed out that most girls he knew in New York would be apprehensive about a 26-year-old guy living at home with his parents, but Melana didn't seem bothered by that at all. (Apparently she, too, has spent adult years living with her parents.) Melana was delighted seeing the house, noting with glee that both his house and hers had bronze baby booties. They're made for each other! (But could they ever find a house that could accommodate two pairs of bronze baby booties?)
In the afternoon, Jason took Melana kayaking, and then in the evening they went to a beach hang-out. Jason told the camera that "my goal tonight is to open her up, y'know. I want to get stuff out of her. I want to know how she feels. So I think we'll have a couple of cocktails, see how it goes, and hopefully I can make that happen." Melana noted the liberal application of alcohol (hint to Jason: order them one at a time, instead of loading up the table with four cocktails), which put up her guard. She took his toast to "loosening inhibitions" as a code for getting her drunk. Possibly not far off the mark, although I don't think that he was malicious in that intent. There was some frosty conversation between the two of them, but apparently they got over it. They went for a walk on the beach, kissing gently as the sun set. As the tide came in and engulfed their legs, Jason said, "I don't even care about this water. I don't care if I get swept away." Melana replied laughingly, "I'm already swept!" (Damn ... where are those drinks?!?).
It was a very romantic ending to their date ... but the next day, Melana was headed off to see Adam.
Adam's Hometown Visit - New York, NY
Adam felt like his hometown gave him a real hometown advantage. "We're in New York. I mean, if this doesn't seal the deal, it was never going to be sealed. Like, this is my game to lose, after today."
The date started in Central Park, with Melana rollerblading for the first time. "Finally, for the first time, I felt like the guy in the relationship," Adam exulted. Previously, he'd had to wait on her to pick him -- obviously, Adam's concept of "girl in a relationship" hasn't advanced beyond "Father Knows Best" episodes.
After rollerblading, Adam brought Melana back to his apartment to meet his roommate. While there, she also met, coincidentally, the article(s) from Fortune magazine about Adam, who is apparently a wheeler-dealer day-trader. "I think people might be surprised, the way that I act very silly all the time, that I have made and lost millions in the stock market." (The question, of course, is how the millions made compare to the millions lost.) "It's not something that I like to talk about, but I am very well off for someone of my age." (Okay, that sort of answers that.) After seeing his apartment and roommate, and after the revelations about his job, Adam whisked Melana off to see his office and meet co-workers. Frankly, I'd be a little creeped out by the way that he keeps showing her off to his friends, but that's me. If it bothered Melana, she was apparently impressed enough by his ... status ... to overcome that. Adam noted that she was being more physical and more flirty with him.
The next stop was to a bar that Adam is part owner of, called "Nectar." Adam had arranged for a special bar menu, with all the drinks making reference to activities from their previous dates ("Cliff Hanger," "Rattlesnake", "Starry Night"). Most notably, there was "The Glider," the drink that he and Melana invented on their first private date. I have to give the guy props -- the drink menu was slick.
After the bar, the two of them were riding in the limo, and Adam started giving her the eye ... which made Melana nervous. That made Adam feel bad, if Melana didn't want to kiss him, but the insult added to the injury was Melana telling him that she was confused, and starting to talk about Jason. Adam became very upset (because, after all, as he said in interview, this was supposed to be the part where they made out in the limo).
But, as with Jason, Melana and her guy made up. Adam explained to her that having emotions and expressing them -- even if you're acting in a way you don't want to act -- was evidence of being alive. Melana, ever the sucker for guys who breathe, melted. Adam also said that he became more invested emotionally after seeing her with his friends -- now, it all seemed more real. And the closer he got to the end, the more uptight he got; instead of becoming more confident, he became less so. But Melana had nothing but positives to say about Adam -- he had so much going for him in terms of career and money, but he concentrated more on his family and friends than the material, which really impressed her. The evening ended with a romantic, if tooth-clinking, kiss.
Romantic Overnight Date with Jason
The romantic overnight date with Jason took place in Yosemite, starting with horseback riding. Y'know how Melana and Jason had that postcard-perfect kiss on the beach at sunset? Well, apparently it's a lot harder than it appears to get horses to line up, because it took them multiple tries to get into kissing position on this date. But hey, when things are important, you put in the effort. And kissing is very important to Jason and Melana.
After their ride, Jason and Melana went to the "Tuscan Villa" where they'd be spending the night. "I feel like we're on a honeymoon," Melana giggled as they went up the steps. After a pause, Jason said, "I know." (Note to Melana: Ix-nay on the ord-way "oneymoon-hay".) Inside the villa, all was elegance and charm. Outside, there were swings, bocce ball, chess and checkers. They opted for chess over checkers, but even checkers was too much for these two, what with that whole business of keeping the pieces on the same color of square. Ah, well -- when they went back to the swing, they managed to look in one another's eyes, and that was enough.
Back inside, the two had dinner, laughing and chatting, and then went out on the terrace for a drink. Jason was more open and talkative than we've seen him before. He expressed concern to Melana that some people might look down on him for being 26 and still in school, but Melana reassured him that she supported him. They each were amazed at how much they felt for each other. But Melana really seemed to be emphasizing how gorgeous she found him. The evening ended with cuddling in front of the fire, and then a door discreetly closing.
Romantic Overnight Date with Adam
Melana's date with Adam was in Phoenix, Arizona. Melana told the camera, "I was very excited to laugh with him, and I knew that no matter what we would do that day, he would make it really fun." Fun? Laughter? Watch out, Adam, she's giving you the "you're so funny, but ..." line again!
Melana mentioned to Adam that, since she was at a time when she could move, she might want to move to New York, making Adam happy. She also said in voiceover that she knew that Adam would be the perfect family man.
As the two of them enjoyed a mountain view, Adam read a poem he'd written for Melana. "Every girl would love to be in the position that I was with Adam, as he was reading me a poem on top of a mountain." Well, maybe not this girl. The only thing worse than not having a poem written about you is having a bad poem written about you. But I guess if Melana could act happy about John's singing about Vienna, she could act happy about a poem that ends, "I wanted to tell you that you made my dream come true, just in case you didn't know/But you didn't have to, because you had me at hello." And she did seem happy, giving him a big, romantic smack.
Back from the mountain, Melana and Adam went to their abode at a spa, taking a dip in the pool. Later, at dinner, Melana brought Adam a present. "Adam's given me the biggest smile on my face anyone could ever give me, and I needed to reciprocate that in some way." Having seen in New York how much Adam liked pictures, she brought him a picture of the two of them in a Tiffany frame, signing the photo "Thank you for making me smile always." Adam was tremendously pleased, by the photo and probably also by Melana's pointing out that she had never given anyone else in the show a present. The two danced under the stars, and Melana told Adam that she felt like crying, she was so happy.
The evening continued with massages, showers (in bathing suits), and a candle-lit dip in the hot tub. Once out of the water, Adam showed Melana to her room, filled with flowers and candles, all in the theme of pink. He also got her a pink stuffed dog, for her to sleep with. Adam sat Melana down, shoving the dog aside so that she wouldn't see it, and started explaining what he'd done. All at once, Melana gasped, "The fire!" The dog had been shoved towards the candles, and had caught on fire! It's hard to regain the romance after that ... but more presents helped, I think, and of course the burned dog is, if nothing else, a memorable gift. Overall, Melana thought the date "was all about romantic settings -- from the views, to the poem, the sunset, the little mishaps of the fire, and the laughter that you would always expect to get from Adam. I couldn't have asked for anything more. I couldn't have asked for a better ending, and the perfect way to end that date was kissing in front of the fire."
Reflections on the Experience
The dates completed, Melana reflected on the journey. "I feel more than blessed to have been asked to join this whole journey. There were men here who brought out the very best in me. These guys pulled things out of me that I would have not ever been in touch with had I not met them." She cited Dennis, Craig (surprisingly, but I have to admit that she always did seem to have a soft spot for his smile), and "Wally even, from the first night. I still remember him. I eliminated him the first night, and I didn't want to, just because I felt like I had to pick four guys and he was the fourth guy." Melana was appropriately emotional, and I have to admit I got a little emotional looking at the guys. Sigh ... what can I say? I love "reunion" shows -- even if it's just a clip segment. Adam, too, talked fondly about his experience meeting all the guys.
Adam, Melana and Jason also reflected back on their own meeting and impressions of each other. (Maybe because we've seen more of these three, I didn't enjoy this reflection as much as the part showing the other guys.) Blah-blah-connection-blah-blah-amazing-person.
And of course Melana's statement that "I definitely feel like I have two very special men in my life who make me happy in totally different ways. I am torn between both of them. Honestly, as I sit here, I still don't know how this is going to end."
Well, host Kathy Griffin can explain the mechanics of how this is going to end. Melana will go to a private hanger at the airport, where there is a $25 million private jet ready to take her and Mr. Right off for a private vacation, where they can get to know each other with no cameras around. There will also be the bus, to take away the rejected suitor. Nervously, Melana took her spot, with the plane on one side of her, and the bus on the other.
The first guy to arrive is Jason. Uh-oh, Jason, not a good sign! Melana looks at him solemnly, and tells him that she's sorry -- sorry that she hasn't had more time to reciprocate the feelings that he's shared with her, but when she's with him, she feels scared and excited at the same time, so she's asking him to fly away with her that night.
Jason excitedly agrees to go away with her, and tells her that he's "extremely, extremely happy and relieved that [he's] not going home" and that he's "really, really excited" to spend more time with Melana.
"I'll tell you just one more thing," Melana says. "Don't tell me you're kidding!" Jason answers, in one of the few pieces of humor I've heard from him. She assures him that's not what she has to say. Instead, she tells him that when she looks at him, she sees a future, one that's up to them to make what they want of it.
And then, the inevitable smooch. The effect of the smooch is a bit mitigated by Jason's voiceover that he's definitely looking forward to the next few days. Now there's a relationship endorsement! Melana's voiceover isn't much better, focusing as it does on how cute Jason is, with lip service made to his sincerity and sweetness as well.
Oh, but who can pay attention to their voiceovers when Adam is about to get his heart crushed? Jason disappears into the plane by the time that Adam arrives. Melana faces Adam alone, and tells him that they developed a friendship, which developed into a romance ... "however, tonight the romance has to end." Melana tells him that it tears her up to send him home, "because more than anything, you've made me feel so beautiful, and you've inspired me, and I'm not trying to fluff this at all." (I'm not sure how telling a guy he's flattered you is "fluffing" things.)
Adam, bless his heart, handles this well. He tells her that she's had a knack for making good decisions about people, and she should follow her heart. Jason's awesome, Adam tells her, and whatever happens is supposed to happen. He handled things well, even saying gracious words to Jason when he came out of the plane, and in interview Adam seemed (justifiably) pleased with himself on how he reacted.
The first time I watched this episode, I was shocked that Adam wasn't chosen. But watching it again for this recap, I could see all the signs that Melana was seeing Adam was the funny, awesome, best-friend guy and that Jason was the romantic figure.
Did Melana make the wrong choice? Certainly appearance played a large role in her decision, and I didn't get any sense that Jason had the dedication for a long-term relationship. But I'm not sure that Adam would have been a better prospect. He seemed attached to Melana, yes, but more to Melana as a trophy than as a person. He was infatuated, but does that make a relationship more likely than Jason's detachment?
I guess I have to fall back on the oldest Reality Show cliche: Everything happens for a reason.
So here we are at the end of Average Joe -- but wait! It's only the end of Act I! Mindful of the difficulty of doing a "twist" show twice (see the Joe Millionaire II debacle), NBC went ahead and filmed a second "season" of Average Joe before the first one even aired, in order to preserve the surprise. Set in Hawaii, this one promises more Hunks, more twists, and a more irate chick at the center of the show.
So enjoy your intermission, get some snacks -- and we'll meet here again for Average Joe ... in Paradise!
The second season of Average Joe begins on Monday, January 5, 2004, on NBC.
On the Internet: NBC.com's Official Site | SirLinksaLot.net