Riding Coattails: I Hate Myself For Loving You

“I hate myself for loving you.”
–Joan Jett

I’d like to thank Ms. Jett for so accurately summing up my feelings about Average Joe 4: The Joes Strike Back. I mean, the fact this show, with its mean premise of pitting the hot against the homely in pursuit of a bubbly model, is lame and humiliating on its own. But the lameness and humiliation are only highlighted by the geeky subtitle and inclusion of yet another dodge ball tournament. NBC’s audacity to run another season of this show is impressive, as is their casting director.

I’ve always said that reality shows featuring a compelling group of people will fare well, even if the basis of the show is rather flimsy and contrived. Such is the case with Average Joe, whose producers managed to find Anna, one of the five models in America who wasn’t previously aware of this show and thus got duped into dating a bunch of Garrison Keillor clones like her predecessors Melana and Larissa. While Anna’s unflagging optimism suggests a valium addiction, she appears kind-hearted and genuine. Her tears as she entered her bedroom on the $15 million yacht for the first time were a bit sappy, but it’s nice to know that she wasn’t taking her luxurious new lifestyle for granted. And the fact that she’s worked construction gives her a working class appeal and toughness that I can admire. I think she’s the show’s best leading lady yet.

Of course, the producers tend to reserve the spotlight for the guys on this show, as well they should. While Anna is obviously a nice person, she’s not especially intriguing and there’s no way that’s her natural hair color. The guys do a great job of bringing real color to the show with their varied personalities, physiques, and eyewear choices. Here are my impressions of the standouts from the first episode:

1. Joshua, a.k.a. The Messiah
Unless Anna harbors some twisted Mary Magdelen fantasy, I doubt she’s attracted to this Jesus look-alike construction worker. Due to a harmless Eddie Vedder obsession in high school, I’m drawn to long-haired boys, but Anna strikes me as the type that prefers a clean-cut look. Oh, well, at least they can talk about pouring concrete slabs.

2. Igor, a.k.a. The Human Garbage Disposal
A distinguished lifetime member of the Clean Plate Club, Igor shares my life philosophy that one should live to eat rather than eat to live. Despite the extra poundage he’s carrying around, Igor is clearly confident and pleased with himself. That’s nice to see. The only problem is that it may be hard for Anna to see past all of that superfluous flesh, especially since she obviously values fitness. Like several Joes before him, Igor should expect a bus ride out of the game simply because he’s too big.

3. Dante, a.k.a. Mr. Sensitive
I wonder how much Anna was paid off to keep this guy on the show past the first elimination round. Dante is a beautiful, gentle spirit, but there’s no way in hell Anna would make out with a man who wears a leotard. I can just tell. I thought he kicked ass, though, and I loved his different glasses. You rule, Dante!

4. Clay, a.k.a. The Obligatory Virgin
Do the networks have some rule that any reality dating show must have at least one virgin in the cast? I’m not saying Clay is the lone cherry on Average Joe 4 (Jason looks suspiciously pure), but, like several before him, has voluntarily advertised it to the world. Now, I’m not knocking his choice. Clay’s Christian values work for him and that’s terrific. But let’s face it, Anna said that she is single for the first time in nine years. What are the odds that she’s been saving herself, let alone for the guy who got picked last to get on the bus?

5. Arthur, a.k.a. The Karaoke King
Out of the whole group, Art stood out as the guy who actually stands a chance of making it to the end. Although I was a bit annoyed that the opening sequence to the show gave away so much about future episodes (including shots of Anna kissing Josh and Arthur), I am convinced that the silhouette of the guy getting down on one knee in front of Anna is Arthur. He’s sharp, funny, and appears to have a clue as to how a woman would want to be romanced. Now, I know that not every girl would be comfortable with a serenade, the one that he gave Anna at the cocktail party was well-received. I mean, her eyes welled up! And given that she’s from Vegas, Arthur’s lounge singer persona has to appeal to her. I already know that he makes it to first base, so I’m crossing my fingers that he goes all the way.

Despite my initial shame, I can’t hide my enthusiasm for this show. I’m excited to see what happens to Anna and her men, although if one of those pricks in the Ferraris gets her in the end, I will be very disappointed. It’s about time a Joe prevailed. Good luck, boys.