The Harsh Reality of Reality Television

by Grace Agostin

October 21, 2003

It's mid-October, and that means it's time to watch the series the world has been waiting to see. This year's playoffs added to the anticipation of wondering who would be the winner between a team cursed by a goat vs. a fish; and the team cursed by the Bambino against a 26-time World Champion franchise. But the real question became who will be the winner of The Next Joe Millionaire: An International Affair?

Yes, that's right Joe Millionaire, Fox's reality game show about a guy whose name is not Joe, and he is not a millionaire. Baseball fans couldn't avoid not knowing about the latest Fox affair with the thousands of commercials being broadcast after every inning of the playoffs.

Perhaps you caught a glimpse of the new Joe Millionaire while watching Game 2 of the World Series. Fox, the official station of the World Series, conveniently advertised during the game by introducing David Smith as he sat in the stands staring at the field like Rosie O'Donnell would at a salad -- in complete confusion.

The cameras couldn't have missed Smith since he was the only one in Yankee Stadium (and in the Bronx) wearing a cowboy hat that night. Being the diehard baseball fan that he has always been, having worked on a Texas ranch his whole life, he was probably chanting "Cowboy Up," the Red Sox's season slogan, only because he thinks the Sox's still have a chance and, well, because he is a cowboy.

The cameras caught a glimpse of him just in case anyone forgot about the new season of Joe Millionaire, which began last night. After all, Fox has gone weeks without airing a good, old-fashioned reality show after the season of Paradise Hotel ended. As if Fox needs anymore reality shows.

Since this is the second edition of Joe Millionaire, Fox tried to make it all the more appealing by sending a small-town cowboy to Europe, where 14 gold-digging, international women will charm him only because they think he is inheriting $80 million from his uncle. But just in case this one doesn't get high ratings, I'm sure Fox is already planning for a future spin-off series as they did with The Bachelor.

Since Fox seems to have no morals, I'm sure they could come up with ideas like Jane Millionaire, where a girl would inherit $100 million; the twist being she inherits the money when she's 18.

Celebrity reality shows always make for good entertainment, so maybe there could be J-Lo Millionaire: The Bennifer Affair, where Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck finally marry -- but then divorce all on the same episode.

But the next Joe Millionaire contest could very well turn into a competition to see who is more ignorant -- the rodeo boy or the international women. On Fox's Good Day show Smith was asked about his experience in Europe since it was his first time traveling outside the United States. Smith said he was excited because he met German women in Berlin, whereas before he had only met German women in Texas. Obviously, nobody gave this cowboy a Frommer's Guide to Europe or an atlas for that matter so that he could see that Berlin is the capital of Germany, and yes, one may see a German or two while in the country.

The women are no better since they are only taking an interest in the man based on the idea that he is rich. In fact, one contestant from Sweden says that is the "best part" in every commercial. The sad part is, it isn't just 14 women who feel this way. The first series, which ended in February, included just as many women with one episode titled "The Dirt Diggers and the Gold Diggers." According to Neilsen ratings, 23 million viewers watched Joe Millionaire last season, which was TV's third, most-watched show.

The Beatles once said money can't buy love, but apparently money wins all on television.


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