Joe Millionaire - Episode 1: Enter the Gold Diggers

by C. Brian Devinney -- 01/07/2003

Originally posted at

Meet Evan Marriott – known as Evan Wallace to the 20 women who will compete for his attention thinking that he has inherited $50 million. And meet the 20 women. Are they gold diggers or the real deal? Well, before we can really get to know them, eight are gone.

Welcome to Joe Millionaire, where the women fall into two categories – The Real Deal and Gold Diggers. Of course, with these women they are all Gold Diggers until proven to be the Real Deal. And to any woman from Joe Millionaire who may be watching. I’m brutal. I admit it. You will love me or hate and frankly I don’t care either way. Feel free to email me and bitch me out if you want.

Nice start with the Blue Danube playing up the blue collar background of our Joe, Mr. Evan Marriott, who didn’t even bother to shave for that shoot. But now he’s a multimillionaire with the classy lessons to make him appear as if he can actually play the part of a refined man of money and not something along the lines of Lizzie Grubman, which would require him to back over people in an SUV while hurling lovely epithets at people.

We’re treated to a taste of what we’re going to get, learning that the women are playing tougher than Christi from Bachelor 2 and are turning into quite the brats we’ve become accustomed to seeing them portrayed as on these shows. We’re watching Evan/Joe get wrapped up in the lie and how it’s starting to wear down on him. Remember for him, he has the harder part of keeping up the story to not one, but twenty other women.

Of course he kisses all of them too which makes me just lose all faith in men altogether.

So will love, money, or that really smelly and dirty flannel shirt of his prevail?

Paul Hogan (not Crocodile Dundee, Evan’s butler) opens us up by describing the plot of the show – one guy has inherited $50 million. Will they fall in love with him or his money? So does love conquer all? Or am I just bored with this show already?

Evan says he’s in construction because he loves it and he can make money at it and get his hands dirty. He says that he’s a Michelangelo of the back hoe (or whatever he was on) and the earth he is “carving out” is his medium. Is it just me or is the “stubble” on his face just a bit too… oh, what’s the word I’m looking for here… make-upy? It doesn’t look real. But I looked rather closely and yeah… it looks real. According to his friend Jeremy, Evan is there to help people out.

He’s a quiet guy, doesn’t go out a lot, and keeps to himself. Evan says that unless he’s a doctor or a lawyer that women won’t date him because he’s not “ambitious enough.” He says that he’s going to find the woman that likes him for who he is and not for the supposed fortune. Oh man… you’re gonna be looking for a while.

Evan gets his chance to learn how to taste wine and which wine goes with which type of meat. Steak – red. Quail – white. Martine, the etiquette expert tells him not to kiss a woman’s hand when he’s presented with it. The dance instructor is giving him his steps. Wine test time. Lamb? You bet it’s red. Fois gras? Well, Evan has no idea what that is. More dance lessons. Which fork? Which knife? Which wine? Which step? Which finger bowl? Which glass? Which toilet paper?

Anyway, the ladies finally arrive. The show calls them the girls but let’s be nicer and call them ladies, shall we? The first two to show up in their horse drawn carriage are Melissa Jo, a 25-year-old loan officer, and Zora, a 29-year-old substitute teacher. They just gasp over the house. Zora and Melissa Jo even start to get a little teary eyed which immediately puts them in the Gold Digger category.

Then we have Katie, a 30-year-old physician and Heidi, a 24-year-old banking officer. We’ve already seen Heidi in the commercials say that she’s a banker so she knows how to take care of money, which puts her as a Gold Digger. Katie, eh, nothing on her yet so she’s a Gold Digger until proven to be the real thing. Heidi’s even admitted that she would marry a man just for his money. Oy vey. Katie then puts herself fully in the Gold Digger category by saying she expects her husband to make a certain amount of money. Hmmm, and you wonder why you’re single?

Next up are Andrea, 24 and a PC specialist, and Gretchen, 29 and an account manager. Not too much to say about these women. Gretchen talks about how she has joked with her friends bagging a rich man and guess what? Now she has the chance. Gold Digger. Andrea. Well… honey, did you say anything while you were in the carriage or are you a mute?

So the first gals are in the “chateau” (and it’s some chateau, I’m telling ya) and Paul lets the women go up to their rooms where they will be staying. For now at least.

More wine lessons with Evan on how to properly sip the wine. It involves a weird sucking through the teeth thing that was taught to me once and yes, it is a little hard to master as Evan proceeds to gag on the wine. The women, meanwhile, are gushing over the house, and someone knocks over a lamp which brings out the standard, “You break it, you bought it” line.

Wine test! Chicken – white. Pheasant – white. Lobster – Evan is stumped.

Erica is 32 and a physical therapist and she gets to land in the Gold Digger column with her raves about living in a castle with a butler and a chef, and I just think I am going to gag. Our Gold Diggers of 2003 are already planning their wedding on the grounds and they haven’t even met the man yet. Geez. Give it some time, ladies!

Then we meet Jen, 23 and an office coordinator and I can just say for now, she’s the ONLY Real Deal we have in the show. She’s not once talked about money, just about the experience and what a story it would be to tell their potential future children.

Wine test! Salmon! Not red, Evan! It’s a fish. It’s white!

Then enters Melissa M., 24, and a customer service rep. Now, Melissa M. is the one we have seen in all the previews on some personal dates, getting jewelry, giving that telltale wink as a necklace is put on her, she’s just freaking out and she’s just the poster child of the Gold Diggers right now.

Mary, who is in the carriage with Melissa M., is 24 and in ad sales. She’s more sedate as she talks about the “princess” fantasy so I’m not sure where to place her. In this case, we default to Gold Digger until proven otherwise.

So let’s sit and spin our wine (I’m having a nice Australian wine from the Abbey Road vineyard – a 40% merlot/60% cabernet blend) while the women are introduced to Alex McLeod, the former host of Trading Spaces, who according to sources, stormed off the set on one occasion, couldn’t sew worth a lick, and according to one home owner, was a bit stuck up. So there are the women with their champagne (tell me it’s Veuve Clicquot) hearing that Evan Wallace (not Marriott, mind you) was a regular working guy until he inherited $50 million two years ago.

Insert appropriate shot of dropped jaws here. Thank you, Fox. We needed that moment. Melissa M. is catatonic.

Tonight, there will be a ball where they will meet Evan. After the ball only 12 women will remain at the chateau. Sadly, Melissa M. will be one of them. A word of note on Alex’s outfit. It sucked. I could have dressed better than that. Anyway, as we go to commercial, the women are stuck on one thing – $50 million.

Paul enters and they are told that they will meet Evan in ten minutes. Evan will be entering on a horse – an animal he has never ridden before. The women take that time to prep and primp and get ready in that time. In fact, they are doing it as fast as they can. Here’s a tip for you guys out there – if you can somehow harness the energy those women put out to get ready and put it in a bottle to give to wives and girlfriends when they are dragging in the bathroom, you will be millionaires! Evan meanwhile says that his father gave him two pieces of advice when judging a woman on her physical attributes – see what her mother looks like and see her without makeup on. Poor Evan. He won’t even get that.

Wine test! Cheese – white. Okay that wasn’t on the show but I was starting to miss it.

Evan’s first horse decided that he wasn’t worthy to ride him and ran off. The women meanwhile debate the merits of leather pants. Evan is riding in on his horse and the women are just in awe as he arrives. He doesn’t look too comfy there but he’s riding up and his toughest acting role is starting now. He tries the gut instinct test as he makes a lame joke about the horse not being white and needing a bath. Now that the money is out of the way, it’s all about Evan being a hottie. Of course, he does a nice job of stroking the horse. He almost blows his cover when he slips off the horse while trying to get back on. During this time we also get introduced to Mandy and Amanda and well… what can I say… Gold Diggers until proven to be the real thing.

Dana, yet another new introduction, is just glad that he’s tall because she’s pretty tall as well. Sigh… I hate the fact that I have to put her in as a Gold Digger but I don’t know nuthin’ about her so far and it’s just depressing me. Heidi does the horse test on Evan. Good teeth means a good guy. Um. Okay. Tell that to my ex.

Paul the butler shows up, and can I just say he’s adorable. The women are to head to the dining room to select their dresses for the ball. They only have thirty minutes to pick a dress and there are only 20 dresses – one for each. They are trying to figure out a way to make it fair and even. We’re not talking about high fashion here. We’re talking about something that rivals a Filene’s Basement wedding gown sale where all gowns are $99 and they actually time to see how long it takes the racks to be stripped of all dresses. Average time is about forty seconds. I’m not joking.

Paul, like me, is amused by watching these women fight over the dresses. In fact some women will not give up a dress once they have it just in case they pass it up and decide it’s the best one after all. Heidi, everyone says, is not playing fair. She is wearing a blue dress while holding up every other dress to her face to see how it looks, and then she won’t give any of them up. Melissa Jo just says that the women who got crap was because they weren’t ambitious enough to get in there.

Zora, poor thing, is a little too oddly shaped for the remaining dresses and it turns out that no one wants this black dress that is left behind on the rack. So the seamstress is trying to figure out how to put her in it and take in another blue dress when she just says, “Ya know, just switch dresses.” Thankfully the blue dress fits on her and she looks great. Now, we’ll just see how it goes at the ball.

Wine test! Roast beef! Red!

Paul comes in and advises that the ball will start at six. Evan, for the record, wears what looks like… well to me, at least, compression pants. It’s a pair of Lycra/Spandex material that helps to keep your leg muscles warmed up so they can function throughout the game. Really and truly, they are just very (and I do mean VERY) form fitting boxers. But to me they are compression pants.

The women are heading down to the ball and Heidi looks like a damn whore in that red stripped dress of hers. They talk about how they are expecting the claws to come out (focus in on Heidi for that one — is there any doubt she’s a Gold Digger?). Poor Melissa W. looks like a Shakespearean witch in her black dress and her flaming red hair. And for the record, will someone tell me the name of the pretty black woman who is giving up all the great lines but we don’t know who she is yet? Anyway, pretty much everyone is sizing up the competition and Evan is stressing over the night and if the women will like him for him and the whole shebang.

I’m getting nauseous.

First up is Alison and she’s wearing this blue and white number. Personally, I don’t think this dress is working for her – especially in the chest area. It’s not fitting her as well as it should.

Love the hair and neck accessories though.

Amanda arrives stylish in her black dress, Dayana, our lovely black woman who said her purple dress was a piece of shit (and it was, but she pulls it off) enters, as does Brandy who is doing the uni-strap thing and is she carrying a purse with her? A purse with a strap on her shoulder? Oh no. You needed a clutch purse with that dress. Fashion police, arrest her now.

Andrea is up and I kinda like her dress. She’s followed by Amy who… well, I don’t like her hair or what she was wearing and I blame it on their choice of fashions. Dana and Erica are next and they aren’t wowing me either. The black dress is, let’s face it, boring as hell.

Heidi comes in looking like a whore in that red dress (I hate that dress, if you can’t tell) and she takes his hands and starts rubbing them and you can just see the other women (who hate her already) shoot daggers with their eyes.

Katie enters in her eggplant-y colored gown and I’m digging it on her. Melissa Jo… you have to email me and tell me about your dress because at some angles it was great and at some I was like… what the hell are you thinking? Melissa Jo asks Evan what his middle name is and it flummoxes him because his middle name is Wallace – the last name they gave him at the start of the show. So he pauses for what he says was a long time (thank God there was editing) and finally he uses his mother’s maiden name and says it’s Evan Elder Wallace. It works, I guess.

Mandy and Melissa W. arrive. Mandy is rocking but Melissa W., you gotta lose those gloves. The dress would have been better without them! Mary enters and all I have to say is she looks like a prostitute with those sunglasses and hat (or was that her hair, I dunno). Honey, you were trying just a bit too hard there. And “a bit” is a bit of an understatement.

Jen looks rockin’ in her dress. I mean I was totally impressed and then I saw Sarah enter in that brown dress. Now brown is not an easy color to wear but she was doing it in spades. Zora enters and the blue looks great on her but the dress just isn’t right. I think it needed more nipping and tucking here and there for a better fit. Then there’s Melissa M. and the blue is great on her. I have to admit that Jen won for best dressed but I think Melissa might get most elegant. Mary… well we won’t talk about her.

Now it’s time for the ball and Evan gets to dance with each woman. Sarah, who was planning to test him on his dancing, says he was a good dancer but he looked at his feet too much; but he seemed to know what he was doing so you have to give him some credit for pulling it off as best as possible – even the dip at the end.

It’s time for improvisational acting and the women are peppering him with questions about where he lives, where he will work, how he reacted to being on the show. He looks like a deer caught in the headlights as he’s trying to come up with some of the answers. Sarah says he handled himself well, but Evan just wants it over and done with. No more questions!

How about a wine test? Nah. We’ve had enough.

Now Alex finally arrives (and here I was thinking that Paul was our host) and she’s wearing a dress that looks like something Doug Wilson made from scraps of fabric that Lori never used in one of her home designs on Trading Spaces. Her delivery is so stilted that you can tell that she rehearsed it to say it word for word.

Now, unlike The Bachelor (and the upcoming Bachelorette) the women will receive jewelry (ah, but it is fake?) starting with a strand of pearls and getting more and more extravagant as they progress. If they do not receive a necklace, well, they are shafted and are left behind. Oddly enough, the women don’t have the opportunity to turn him down.

Alex gives an even more stilted delivery which just makes her sound really, really fake, and the jewelry arrives. Paul will call out each woman’s name and she will come forward to get the baubles. [Editor’s Note: I have to hand it to Fox for the way in which they shoot this scene – often from above, looking down as Evan puts the necklace on the women, thus providing viewers with numerous cleavage shots.]

Brandy is first and I guess fashion faux pas’ are okay. For Evan, Brandy has a great figure and has already invited him to a spin class (an exercise class that combines elements of biking and aerobics.)

Katie (the one dressed in purple) was confident and could carry a conversation. A great girl, Evan says.

Melissa M. Okay no big surprise here. We can move on.

Dayana is confident but gracious to be there. The dress might have been shit but she’s got some jewels.

Alison, despite that bad fitting top, gets some pearls, and was a woman that Evan wanted to get to know from the beginning.

Dana is one who stood out for him because of her demeanor and lack of airs. Not shy or overbearing. Pearls for her.

Amanda is next. She has a cute figure and face and a total package deal for her.

Sarah is next and can I just say I was glad to see her get some pearls just for the fact that she wore brown so well.

Heidi is up and there are women shaking their heads at her getting pearls. Heck, even as he’s putting the necklace on her the women are talking about her. Heidi, you are so not well liked but ya know… I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt even though I think your dress makes you look like a whore.

Zora gets pearls and Evan says she has a real positive vibe and all I gotta say is that the blue was working.

With two strands of pearls left Melissa Jo gets a strand of pearls. She’s sweet and has some good qualities. He’s going to “give her a shot.”

So we’re at the last strand of pearls and the women are getting tense, but it’s Mandy who looked really nice in her blue dress that gets the last strand.

So my poor sweet Jen goes home pearl-less, as do seven other women. Lots of hugs, lots of tears, and eight women have to say goodbye. Evan takes a moment to tell all the women that they were all phenomenal and that the decision to whittle the group down to twelve was very difficult.

Bags are packed and people are leaving on, well… pretty good terms. Jen, my darling Jen, leaves with her head held high and is like, “Hey it wasn’t meant to be so life will go on and there is a man out there for me.” It made me just wanna hug her.

The claws are starting to come out as the women put away their pearls and Paul sends us off with a waft of his brandy.

Next week seven more women will be eliminated from the competition as only five necklaces will be there. Heidi lies and pisses people off and Evan prays that his bullshit detector is working properly.

I hope so too.

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