Riding Coattails: Dante's Inferno

Middle school is rarely an easy time for anyone, but it has to be ten times worse to relive it at age 34 with someone as evil as Chris Carson and his sidekick, Mike. The producers of Average Joe have truly outdone themselves this season in selecting some of the most miserable miscreants in America to invade the Joes’ house and attempt to add Anna as a notch on the belts that encircle their chiseled, 32-inch waists.

The twist of this show, which is always the same, involves bombarding the leading lady and her suitors with a set of Ken-doll clones on a search and destroy mission. The only big difference this time is that the Joes were anticipating the competition, while Anna, blissfully ignorant of the reality TV world, had no idea that six packs were in her future. Not that it really matters who knew it was coming and who didn’t, because this tired gimmick never fails to piss me off.

I’m not saying that the all of the new guys are terrible people. Rocky and Josh, who managed to score individual dates with Anna, seemed like decent guys. Rocky cracked me up when he repeatedly told Anna that he was a dreamer and a hopeless, evoking flashbacks to This Is Spinal Tap when David St. Hubbins expressed his desire to be a full-time dreamer if he could no longer rock out. Of course, Rocky got the chance to rock Anna in the Jacuzzi and I have to say, it was exciting to see a hint of tongue. I admired Josh’s courage to open up to Anna about his decision to sober up after years of partying and their little kiss at the end of the night was very sweet.

But my favorite kiss of the episode did not involve Anna at all. Back at the mansion, Carson and his buddies were putting themselves in the running for Best Villains at next year’s MTV Video Music Awards with antics so heinous they’d make Courtney Love blush. Rather than seek out one of the many empty bedrooms in the house, Carson and Mike decided to move into a room shared by two of the Joes. They began tossing personal belongings out on the balcony. Too frightened or disbelieving to do anything, Joes Clay and Gino stood by and watched. When Dante got wind of the situation, he entered the room and told Carson and Mike to cut it out.

Carson, gorilla that he is, got up in Dante’s face, ready for the fists to fly. What happened next was one of the most brilliant moments in reality TV history: Dante kissed Carson on the mouth. I haven’t applauded that loudly since Burton got voted off Survivor: Pearl Islands for the second time, thus foiling Johnny Fairplay’s master plan.

Dante’s simple peck on Carson’s testosterone-plumped lips was probably the best way he could have gotten under that homophobe’s skin and it worked beautifully. Knowing full well that he’d be kicked off the show for decking Dante, Carson somehow managed to control his animal rage and instead punched a closet door.

I have a lot of sympathy for Dante, who is obviously a sweetheart, if a bit of a nut. Although I feel bad that he’s taken so much abuse in his life and feels unloved, I almost feel worse for Carson. Anyone that narcissistic must be very empty inside. Sure, he’s probably had plenty of hook-ups with girls as babe-tastic as Anna, but what satisfaction could he possibly have gotten beyond a 5-second climax? During her Top Gun volleyball fantasy date with the new guys, Anna saw right through Carson’s supposed smoothness and called him on his inability to have a substantial conversation with her. Now, it could be that they’re too different to connect, but I think the main problem was that he’s just shallow. Anna, while very perky and sappy, appears to have a soul.

And while Dante also has a soul, it wasn’t enough in the end to entice Anna to keep him around. I wanted to retch as Anna said her tearful good-bye to Dante while Carson looked on with that cocky little smirk of his.

I was pleased that Dante, whose selection by the producers for a post-rejection makeover was a foregone conclusion, did not get plastic surgery. He got a trim, a few new duds, and his teeth fixed, but did not consult with some insane doctor about liposuction or a brow lift. Even though he could benefit from dropping a few pounds, he can do that when he’s ready.

The remaining Joes, which include Art (my favorite), Clay, Gino, Josh, and Nathan, aren’t bad-looking guys. In fact, I happen to think that Josh is adorable and could have sworn that I saw him on the corner of 44th and 9th the other day*. They don’t need makeovers. Carson, on the other hand, could benefit from a serious personality overhaul and art therapy. Maybe he and Dante could do a ribbon twirling routine for the season finale. The guy definitely needs to find more constructive ways of expressing his rage.

*Speaking of reality TV celebrity sightings, I had the pleasure of being smooshed up against Ami Cusack of Survivor: Vanuatu on a Manhattan E train earlier this week. Honest. I introduced myself and we had a brief conversation during which I told her how much ass I thought she kicked on the show. Ami was friendly and incredibly gracious in accepting my compliments. She was very beautiful in person, with perfect golden skin and a tank top that showed off her gorgeous bust. Too bad we’re both taken. Sigh.