Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Apprentice - 2x15 "Decision Time"

The Realism Fallacy

The "live" (i.e. everywhere but on the West coast) portion was an utter mess, and goes to show how something that is genuinely unscripted, if we're to believe what the Reej kept saying about how they were bumping up things ahead of schedule, comes off as sloppy and inept (e.g. that one mustachio, the one who didn't know how to speak -- boy howdy, riveting television right there), while, in the right hands, it's fairly common to make something scripted look spontaneous and "real." What people think of when you mention reality television, they immediately picture a production on the level of the loose, unscripted level as the last portion of this episode, not something that's staged and contrived. In actuality, the latter actually comes off as more real, if only because it avoids awkward narrative moments and gives the impression of greater (narrative) continuity. (Corr blimey, I got sawmfin out of me Philm class, I did!)

Case in point: as far as dramatics and suspense go, Trump's genius idea of throwing the Kelly vs. Jennifer question to associates and random tools out in the audience was a move that surely had to have had Mark Burnett having an Elizabeth-sized meltdown. It was hard for me to imagine that many people were going to be behind Jennifer, and then with testimonial after testimonial in support of Kelly 1) made Jennifer* look like a peroxide chump, and I felt kind of bad for her (and I'm surprised that John, or anyone for that matter, made this very point -- not so surprised that Trump et al ignored it), and 2) killed whatever suspense there might have otherwise been if proceedings had followed a script more rigorously. Instead, Trump had to build some artificial tension at the end to make the decision, and while I admit I got swept up in the anticipation, it felt cheap and forced. More than Ivana's skirt-dropping even.

Right person won, anyhow. Even if one of his supporters blithered on about "values" (and Pamela -- wtf "business ethics"??).

Addendum: Two things. First, John in the final challenge acquitted himself poorly, and despite his "nothing to lose" attitude, I think that he could have found himself in a spot of trouble. (Cf. Jen C. getting fired for bagging on Jews.) If I were an employer (huge if, granted), I'd be none too pleased to see one of my employees acting like an undergrad during finals week. Motivational issues, you know.

And that other thing, yeah, I forget what it is. Oh wait, here it is: Another reason the "live" portion failed was because Trump went out of his way to rehabilitate the images of some of the contestants (Andy Harvard, Stacey J., Jen C., and Ivana). The insincerity and self-consciousness of these actions did a lot to undermine the concept of "reality" on this segment.

*Dear Jennipher from ANTM, the contestant whom I'm sure nobody remembers clearly, you and your parents who spelled your name with that godless "ph" can go suck a lemon, because I keep misspelling Jen M.'s name that way!

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