Reality Bites: Average Joe: Hawaii - Episode 7
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: February 17, 2004
Group Date: Hunks
Tonight's episode jumped right in with a group date for the Hunks (Jim, Gil, and Michael Cardamone (whom I'm still going to call Old Mike, in the hopes that it irks him, even though "Young Mike" (Michael Klein) was kicked off the show last week)). Larissa and the guys went glass-blowing. Old Mike was the only guy who hadn't had a private date with Larissa, so he pulled her over to work with him. She had fun teasing him, and he even went so far as to bring up the "begins with B, ends with R" word (in the context of the glass animal he was trying to create). He felt they were "at each other's throats like a married couple." That's not my concept of marriage, and hopefully it's not Larissa's either.
With his private time, Gil asked Larissa to tell him one thing she hasn't told any other guys. She turned the question back around to him. Gil wasn't happy about that, but told her that he wasn't trying to be so closed-off with her ... as he stood there with his arms crossed over his chest. Body language can be a bitch, eh?
In private time with Jim, Larissa concentrated on cuddling. She sat on his lap, and told him that he gave her good butterflies, and that she felt like she had a crush on him. They did some kissing, and then some more kissing, and definitely seemed to have physical chemistry.
But when it came time for choosing a guy to continue the date with her, Larissa decided to select Old Mike, even though, as she told him and the others, "he probably doesn't deserve a chance and has done everything wrong since the beginning and could use a shoehorn to help get his foot out of his mouth." They hiked to the top of a volcano and took in the sights, watching the sunrise and looking for the first star.
Sounds like sort of a boring date, and it looked that way too. But Old Mike was "blown away" by Larissa, and Larissa was impressed that he was showing his serious side. She made with the smoochies with him, and admitted "yes, I'm falling for Michael." Nooooooo!
Group Date: Joes
The producers have to keep things fair, so the next day the remaining Joes (Fredo, Boston Brian and Tony) had a date with Larissa. They got to go spelunking in lava tubes, complete with hard hats. Deep in the caves, they found a Tiki idol with a scroll. All of the Joes recommended leaving it alone, still smarting from the bomb in last week's episode. "Does anything ever good happen from one of these things?" Brian wondered. "Not usually," answered Fredo. But Larissa went ahead and grabbed the scroll, which read, "As the sun sets, only the man that carries this idol will continue this adventure." As Mark Burnett called his lawyers to follow up about suing for this blatant Survivor rip-off, Larissa met with each of the guys individually.
Fredo confessed to Larissa that he felt nervous talking with her, even though he was comfortable, because you always feel nervous talking with someone you're attracted to. Larissa reiterated how impressed she'd been with him during their first date.
Brian confessed (geez, were they in a Catholic church?) that he'd been thinking of quitting. Larissa said that would really upset her, adding that "I want you to know that I had a great time with you, and I feel like I have something special with you that I don't have with anyone else here. If you left, I'd be really upset." Brian promised that he wasn't going anywhere, and he gave her a "very safe kiss," in deference to their hard hats.
Last one-on-one went to Tony. He told her he'd been going to "bust out the sketch pad," but he was having a hard time getting motivated. In interview, Larissa said that Tony was having a hard time getting past the boat blowing up. "I didn't feel that way by the end of it. I was kind of like, 'You know, this is really funny.' And I wish he maybe saw that a little more." Okay, Larissa didn't look that over it to me at the time, but I guess she got over it before Tony did.
Larissa decided to have the private date with Fredo, since it had been so long since their last private date. Fredo opened up to Larissa about a previous relationship where a woman had lied to him and had been using him, even though she was still married. She cleared him out of everything.
After true confessions, he and Larissa went snorkeling (at night) with manta rays. Larissa was very nervous about it, but seemed to enjoy it once she was down there (and having Fredo beside her helped). She saw the manta rays as being very graceful, "as though they were dancing in the water for us." Fredo remarked it was like swimming with aliens.
Afterwards, Larissa cuddled up on the boat with Fredo a bit. "He's such a big, tough guy, I can't help but feel affection for him, so I laid my head on his shoulder and I just kind of got close to him." She actually cuddled up to him several times, but oddly, Fredo seemed to be very passive in reaction. Dude, you need to make your move!
Larissa reflected on her first reaction to the guys, admitting there were times when she just wanted to bail. But now she knows that would have been a terrible mistake. But, she wonders, do some of the guys share that failing of judging by surface appearance?
Beginning even before she met any of the guys, Larissa was fitted for a "fat" costume. Actually, a "fat and old" costume, since Larissa was to pretend that she was her own mother (who, Larissa assured us a couple of times, was really beautiful and did not look like the costume).
As with Melana last season when she pretended to be her fat cousin Danielle, a body double was used to make the guys think that they'd seen Larissa leaving the house as they arrived. Then, one by one, each of the guys met with "Mrs. Meek" and Larissa's friend, Sarah, where they had to answer a barrage of questions, such as what was the worst physical quality a woman could have or what made a woman sexy.
First up was Fredo, who seemed to do well enough. He promised that, if Larissa asked, he'd cut his hair (although he did say that the most unattractive quality a woman could have was short hair). He might have gotten an easy ride, though, because Larissa was really nervous about whether she'd been recognized.
The second guy was Jim. Larissa noted that he didn't look at her too much, so she thought that he might have figured it out. However, Jim was (unsurprisingly) clueless. Gil was third, and he utterly blanked on the "most unattractive quality" question. He finally stammered out "bad hands." When Sarah asked why, he admitted he had no idea, and he was just throwing that out there. "Sarah seemed really nice, so I tried to focus on her." Okay, Gil, but Sarah isn't Larissa's mom, so maybe you should have spared Mrs. Meek some attention, eh?
Next was Tony. He seemed to be more self-possessed than some of the guys in talking with "Larissa's mom." In interview, he said, "Mrs. Meek was probably raised as a traditional Ukraine girl. I'm sure she has no grasp of this kind of show and why someone would want to do this, and I think she was a little embarrassed. She obviously wasn't having a good time being there. Maybe she was a little self-conscious about being on camera herself, possibly because of her weight, but I answered the questions honestly, and I think it went well." Tony got points from me for actually thinking about "Larissa's mom" and what it might be like for her, not just how the interview was for him.
Brian was next. He was very nervous about meeting Larissa's mom, and felt that she "had a look on her. You know, it was kind of like burning eyeballs on me." He tempered it, though, by adding in interview that "Mrs. Meek was -- is an attractive woman, though." Brian, my man, you're one of the few who realized that what was on TV would ultimately be seen by "Larissa's mom." He, like Fredo, gave politically correct answers about giving up his own preferences in favor of Larissa's, although he was torn when it came to a scenario where he had to choose between the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the World Series and Larissa's art opening.
But of course the big finale came from Old Mike. When asked the most emotionally damaging thing he'd done to a woman, he said, "Broken up with her." (Obviously, he misunderstood the question.) Then he was asked the "least attractive physical quality" question. He responded, "Someone who just looks like she's lazy, doesn't keep herself in shape." Larissa was ticked off. "The whole reason that Michael's answer was insulting was the fact that I'm sitting in this suit, as an overweight person, and he's basically calling me lazy, that I let myself go. He had no idea that what he was saying could have been an insult." Personally, I am incredibly peeved with the tendency to use the code words of "wanting someone who takes care of themselves" versus "wanting someone who's not fat." If you're not attracted to large people, you're not attracted to large people. Just say that. But 95% of the people who "want someone who takes care of themselves" are perfectly fine with thin people who don't do anything to take care of their bodies, and 80% of them aren't at all interested in someone who takes care of their body but is still overweight.
Roll That Tape!
After the final interview, the guys were told that Larissa's mom was so upset by Old Mike that she went straight back home. Because the guys couldn't talk with her anymore, they were each allowed to make a videotape addressing her.
Old Mike told her mom, "I know that you're a heavy woman. And I -- I just can't apologize for wanting someone who takes pride in making themself -- whether it's looking good or feeling good. Because the motto that I kind of live by is that -- 'a healthy body, healthy mind.' But I just don't want you to misinterpret it. I mean, I would be a fool to say something to totally disrespect you. Obviously, I'm trying to win your daughter's hand here, and I've done some stupid things, but not that stupid." Proving that he utterly missed the point. Of course, Larissa seems to have lost track of the point, because she said "his apology was very sincere, and, you know, I don't now, I think he -- I think he means well."
Gil came off the best. He told Mrs. Meek that he felt sorry that she wasn't comfortable, empathized because he wasn't comfortable when he first got there and said he hoped they'd see more of each other later.
Tony said that he figured this wasn't what Mrs. Meek considered ideal circumstances, and it wasn't what he considered ideal circumstances, but he really cared for Larissa. Jim continued avoiding eye contact, even via videotape, and just blah-blahed about liking her daughter. Brian was emphatic about his feelings for Larissa, and was very open about his emotions. Fredo brought up his relationship with his grandparents and his mother and how important family was to him, and also said how beautiful Larissa was "from the inside out." I was disappointed that none of them stressed how much they'd liked meeting her and how they hoped to get to know her better (except Gil, to some extent), as opposed to basically saying what they wanted -- Larissa. Where were these guys raised?
Then came the part we'd all been looking forward to -- Larissa was able to view a hidden camera tape of the guys talking about meeting her mom. The main juice was -- no surprise -- about Old Mike's comment about heavy people. Old Mike told the guys that you can tell what a woman might look like by looking at her mom, and he'd been cataloging physical characteristics (big bottom, no ankles) he saw in Mrs. Meek. "If I'm dating a girl, I want her to look good. Not perfect, but just at least take care of yourself, in a way that, you know -- because I know a lot of girls who don't take care of themselves, and they're miserable ***ing bitches. And that's all they do, is talk about, 'Oh, I'd do nah nah nah.' If Larissa was extremely overweight, you know, it would take a lot for me to be interested in her right now, and that's the honest to g-d truth right there."
Well, Old Mike finally got those nails hammered down on his coffin. Larissa's comment was that "obviously he's really interested in somebody for their physical qualities, and maybe not so much for their personality." As with most beautiful girls, Larissa wants someone who appreciates her personality, and Old Mike basically just said he didn't.
Tonight Larissa had to eliminate two guys -- one Hunk, one Joe. But first, of course, she had to do the big reveal. So she entered the room in full "Mrs. Meek" regalia. Now, Larissa's make-up job seemed incredibly stiff and unbelievable to those of us in the know, but all of the guys were shocked when Larissa took off her mask. Tony commented to Brian that they'd seen her leave as they came up -- I'll bet the body double was pleased to hear that she'd been convincing.
No one, but no one, was surprised that the first person to be eliminated was Old Mike. Larissa made some nice comments about his spirit and his honesty, and he made some nice comments about the great guys left. In voiceover, Larissa said that she was upset with his lack of tact. Old Mike still felt pleased with his own honesty. He'd opened his heart to Larissa, and sometimes with that he opened his mouth, he said, but at least no one could call him a liar.
Everyone was surprised by the second elimination -- Tony! She told him about all the great times they had, and the wonderful art that he'd given her, and that she thought he was an amazing guy ... but she hoped he'd understand. She explained in voiceover that she didn't feel they could get to the next level because they always talked about art. While having that in common had helped them be attracted to one another, she didn't feel they had anything beyond that. She wanted someone less serious, who could laugh more. Tony was obviously stunned, and couldn't even say anything to her when she said good-bye. He felt that the only reason she could have for getting rid of him was that the other guys were more attractive, because his and Larissa's personalities had meshed so well. I felt bad for him, and hope that seeing this episode will help him realize that it was an incompatibility and not denigration that had him leaving.
Next week -- Fredo gets to spy on a date between Larissa and Jim. Gotta love submarine cam!
Average Joe: Hawaii is on Monday, February 23, at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time, on NBC.
Previous Recaps at The Trades: Ep. 1 | Ep. 2 | Ep. 3 | Ep. 4 | Ep. 5 | Ep. 6
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