Wednesday, December 15, 2004

HUGE REALITY TV WEEK- APPRENTICE FINALE PREVIEW

Well I have some spoilers about tomorrow's APPRENTICE 2 later in this post. But I'm not going to talk about the Donald right now. I want to talk about Tyra Banks.

Yes, this is the week of all weeks for championship reality TV as America's Next Top Model has its finale on UPN and Citytv. It's between Amanda, Eva and Yaya.

You know, this is actually one of the better reality shows out there. The bad news is that that's not saying much because most reality TV is trash. But it does attempt to be a good show, and I think it gives a real look at what kind of BS people who go into the modeling industry have to put up with. All I have to say is: who would want to go into the modeling industry? Look at the weirdoes and uptight jerks these models have to put up with. If they hate your look or even hate your age, you're fired! And this industry is full of divas and sleazebags. What a lousy profession. It makes you want to run like heck onto Donald Trump's show.

I give this show credit: they show this business, warts and all. And several of the girls who got kicked off the show announced they may swear off the modeling business. The saving grace of the show is Janice Dickinson. She is a wild woman and she is so HOT! But the modeling industry SUCKS. That is all I have to say about America's Next Top Model. Now onto the Apprentice.

I went over to the Television Without Pity forums to check out some of the reactions to this show and it seems like there's a lot of venom out there, trashing this season's show. The folks over there find both Kelly and Jennifer M. to be cold, cold-hearted personalities- people they generally cannot relate to. Jennifer seems to getting the most negative reaction: people think she's slinked through this whole series while a lot of their other favorites-- like Pamela, for instance- were getting hosed. (There's a lot of people who thought Stacie J. got hosed, too- accused of being crazy etc.) The other thing people are saying is that the "camraderie" of the first season was missing. People like Bill and Kwame and Troy were rivals, but they turned out to be good friends who brought a positive spirit to the competition, as in "let the best person win!" You don't get that sense from this year's show. This season had backstabbing, catfighting, people yelling at each other in the boardroom. You had one team erupt in an all-out mutiny. You didn't see a process where good people were being rewarded for their efforts. A lot of the time, people were being brought down because of incompetent contractors, or two old ladies coming in and criticizing the decor in a restaurant you worked so hard to set up, or because the other team sold one more product on QVC than you- things like that.

The worst part of this season was what happened to the project managers. It seemed like they were being fired every freaking week. I think that really encouraged disloyalty on the part of the team members- they could do nothing, let the project manager take the blame for the loss, blame the PM and get him/her fired. To boot, you had some really cold-blooded, humiliating firings, several of which were questionable. Stacie J. was really shafted when her teammates ganged up on her and got rid of her over accusations she was crazy! She was basically humiliated on national television. Elizabeth, who had enough problems and deserved to go anyway, wound up fired in an even more heartless fashion, not even getting to bring two people in to the boardroom with her! She, too, was basically humiliated on national television. There was the time when the Donald threw away his own rules and fired half the MOSAIC team; so two people got an opportunity to be humiliated on national television. And, finally, Jen C. was canned from her real job, in addition to her fake one with Trump, because her bosses were embarrassed by what she said and did on Trump's show.

You also had people whose fates seemed to boil down to bad luck and a bad team ill-suited to a task; particularly John, fired because he knew nothing about the fashion business, a really unfair sort of reason to knock someone out of the running for the Apprentice. It really seemed as if it was boiling down to luck this season. The people who really put their necks on the line day in and day out were gambling with their careers in the Trump organization, and almost uniformly getting the shaft. I still can't get over the Bradford firing where the guy offered to put aside his exemption, said "compare my performance to the rest of them" and got fired for it.

Gee, I'm hungry right now. I think I'll eat some M and Ms. Writing a blog makes you hungry, you know. I think I'll buy some Pepsi EDGE while I am at it. Maybe tomorrow I'll look up Zagat's ratings and go to a restaurant. Maybe you should, too.

What really got me (and most people, in fact) was the product placement aspect of the show. This season wasn't about working for the Donald, or building business skills- it was about hawking Pepsi or M and Ms. Or you were doing some advertising task, not for the Donald, but for Donny Deutsch! (Hey, maybe Donny Deutsch will get a spinoff reality show about advertising- it might get more viewers than his flop talk show on CNBC.) Or you finally make the final 4, and your fate is decided not by the Donald but by 4 corporate titans who could be counted on to shaft people who didn't fit the profile required by the country club of corporate America. I'm sitting at home looking at this thinking: this is UNFAIR. Thirteen weeks of hard work down the tubes! There's a tremendous sense that the soul, the spirit of the original season was lost; that this show went too commercial, tried too hard to be a reality show like the rest of them, and tried too hard to find "another Omarosa." People who think Omarosa made that first season were mistaken; personally, I was interested in seeing how people could get ahead in business, since I wouldn't mind running my own business someday. And it seemed possible for good people to get ahead. But this year, you can only conclude from this show that there's no way to get ahead in the corporate world without becoming a soulless, complete automaton. (Hence the "Jenbot" remarks you hear about.) That's why the audience has been left cold this season and are switching to CSI in droves. You hear a lot of disgusted fans over on Television Without Pity who claim they are finished with this show. Really, the Donald's show has some serious, serious problems- and this is supposed to be one of the better reality TV shows out there. If this show is a wreck, what's the future for the whole genre? Pretty dismal, I'd say.

Who wins tomorrow? You know, I don't really care anymore. I kind of was pulling for Raj, but then he blew himself up because his contractor was an idiot. Then I kind of pulled for Kevin because he had more of a go-ahead attitude, until he met those idiot interviewers who decided he wasn't good enough for the Donald. But I can't really pull for either of the two people remaining. Kelly probably ought to be the Apprentice because he's put his neck on the line enough times and has come out ahead, but he really lucked out on that QVC task where he set the price that won them the challenge by a measly $10 bucks. Had the women managed to make an additional couple of sales on their task, poor KELLY would have been blamed for setting the price that lost them the challenge, and would probably have been fired. Think about it... PAMELA could be sitting in Kelly's spot in the final 2, had things gone differently.

And ice queen Jennifer's contributed basically nothing all season. All she's good at is yelling at people in the boardroom and getting in catfights with Sandy, and her vicious side has come out. Mark Burnett seems to want to turn her into Omarosa, so that all America hates her in the finals. What a waste of editing time, trying to turn her into Omarosa. The truth is she's boring as heck. Personally, I just feel she hasn't put her neck on the line enough times to deserve to be the Apprentice. She basically did nothing all year. She's been on so many losing teams but craftily avoided being Project Manager, which in this game has been the kiss of death for everyone. She's gotten ahead by office politics, pure and simple; and it's a sad commentary on this whole process. So I hope Kelly wins and that nothing gets screwed up on his final task- although I've heard rumors the Trump people may actually be looking for a woman apprentice and may hire Jennifer in the end anyway. In which case I'll be looking for a new TV set to buy- to replace the one I threw my shoe at. I just can't stand that woman.

By the way, I read on Television Without Pity that, indeed, Chris Webber didn't show up, so poor Jennifer had to deal with that, and apparently the skies cleared so Kelly was able to get that polo match in after all ( and from the looks of it, it was a sunny day, because I've seen tons of promos of players playing polo and stuff. )

Another thing I read was about Apprentice 3. It appears that next year's show is going to get away from men versus women, and pit street-smart people against Ivy Leaguers and other hot-shot people. Hopefully it'll be a better season than this year's show. But a lot of people think the Apprentice is Jumping the Shark.

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