My week was more or less void of television with the exception of watching Nicki Cox on my Las Vegas in-hotel channel inviting me to try all available amenities and a B/C list celeb spotting in a locals casino coffee shop (star of stage and small screen, sans the stage, Tom Green, who wowed me with his wit as he asked me “Hey, how are ya doin’?).
Last night, as I drifted off into a much needed post red eye flight/day of work sleep, my inauguration back into TV Land came as I watched HGTV’s reality jaunt Design Star. The formula is the same as every other competition show since Survivor’s launch: contestants face challenges and then, based on their performances, are eliminated by a panel of their peers and/or esteemed judges (this time including everyone’s favorite Gaysian*, Vern Yip of Trading Spaces fame).
When Texas native and former flight attendant Donna Moss was eliminated this week, she was told to leave with the simple catch phrase that her show had been cancelled while remaining contestants waited in a green room.
Wait. That’s it? This is a show about interior design. Couldn’t the contestants have been waiting in the architectural drafter’s den? Or maybe the color scheme salon. Or maybe we could get some corporate sponsorship and stick them in the Loews lair of fabric layering. The Benjamin Moore master suite. I COULD DO THIS ALL DAY!
Seriously, though, the elimination is what makes it reality television. Nothing is more indicative of real life than rejection, alongside the minute chance of success. Let’s look into the past (The past, Conan?) and recall some classic, reality show elimination scenarios.
Survivor. The tribal council remains the defining standard for reality show suspense. At least 60 seconds of footage is granted every episode solely to watching the survivors canoe and hike to the council’s location. INTENSE! Tribe members from season one and Jeff Probst alike have attested to the fact that at each council, the torch of the contestant about to be eliminated would somehow blow out before Jeff had the chance to perform the symbolic deed himself. OMG! NO WAY! What are the odds that on the freaking Galapagosahamian Islands there would be some sort of natural occurrence like wind or rain strong enough to blow out a small flame.
The Weakest Link. Haled as being the latest British Invasion back in 2000, Anne Robinson gave me catch phrase chills with her no-Anglo-nonsense quip, “You are the weakest link, goodbye!” It would take four years and Trump’s no nonsense “You’re fired!” to give my T-shirt collection a comparable boost!
But my favorite, all time, reality show elimination process can be found on
Making the Band Three, Seasons One and Two. Reality TV, Diddy style takes the dreaded and beloved elimination segments of yore, stomps all over them with Tims, drives repeatedly on top of them with Yukon Denalis, and then eats them for lunch…with fried chicken, of course. Imagine chaos as described in Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, except with Diddy at the reigns and you have MTB’s process of elimination…as in there is NO PROCESS! Watch the show now and you see the finely edited antics of Danity Kane. If you watched back in season two, Diddy would just saunter in during random moments of girl band bootcamp, point to people, sometimes with a cane, and tell them to leave for varying reasons, including weight and tone deafness. Other times he would point to white girls and accuse them of being at least quadroon, because there was no way a white girl could dance like they were. Okay, maybe he didn’t use the word quadroon, but you get the point.
Way to Endorse democracy, Sean Combs!
*I will entertain arguments that B.D. Wong holds this title