Well, chalk one up for Nathan, the Comeback Kid. After being rejected in a previous round, Anna selected Nathan to join her in Tahiti from a group of other cast-off Joes who had been given makeovers. Turns out that all a guy needed to do to win Anna’s heart on the fourth season of Average Joe: The Joes Strike Back was get a trim and have his teeth fixed at an emergency dental care clinic. Oh, and maybe have an interesting personality, sweet sincerity, and enough nerve to make out with her on a Tahitian rock. He also handled the surprise visit from Anna’s mother, Halina, beautifully, which is always a good sign. I don’t care about any opposing theories on this matter: if mama don’t like him, chances are he’s a bad seed.
Honestly, I was certain that Anna would select Rocky, the waiter/aspiring actor/dreamer, whose most redeeming quality appeared to be his biceps (or pecs, depending on one’s preference on such matters). History was on my side, with the women from the first two seasons choosing one of the so-called hunks over a Joe. Despite the fact that Rocky appeared to be incredibly vapid, he was also an enigma. Here was a guy with lines that Anna declared “smooth,” and yet when push came to shove, he couldn’t charm Anna’s mother. If Rocky was so damn suave, then why didn’t he just lie when Halina asked him if he’d ever cheated on a girlfriend before? I mean really, this show was taped months ago and if any scorned woman had wanted to step forward and call Rocky on his B.S., they’d be doing it now. Of course, since Rocky didn’t get the girl, it doesn’t really matter. But his confession certainly makes him look even more full of caca. It’s probably best if he concentrates on his career right now, anyway.
The only thing that Rocky said during the entire show that I took even the tiniest bit seriously was his skepticism about Anna’s romantic interest in Nathan. True, she said she felt comfortable with him and enjoyed their time together. She even appeared to be having fun during their make-out session. But again, going on history, the odds that these two will end up together long-term (or even short-term), are rather slim. And that judgment says nothing about Anna and Nathan as the quality people I believe them both to be. But cameras and contrived romantic settings create one kind of dating atmosphere, while real-world romance is an entirely different proposition.
Let’s talk geography. Anna lives in Vegas and Nathan is based in Tampa. How’s that going to work? And how about confidence? Anna models and Nathan was reluctant to take off his shirt and get in the hot tub with her. And hola, que tal? Nathan doesn’t even speak Polish. How in the hell is he going to communicate with her dog? Sorry to talk about such practical matters here, but I am genuinely concerned about these two. Then again, Nathan sneaked past 24 other dudes to win the heart of this woman, and in a Survivor: Pearl Islands-type twist, did it after being dumped.
But was it merely the dental improvements that brought Nathan back into the fold or did Anna realize that she’d made a mistake in cutting him the first time? He was, after all, one of her favorites during the first group date at Sea World with eleven other Joes in tow, the one she invited to come over and pet Shamu with her. At that point, Anna described Nathan as “quiet and sweet,” two adjectives that I thought meant the guy bore a strong resemblance to the brother Anna never had.
My theory is that after the Hunkonoids arrived, Anna got a bit distracted by the many pounds of lean, savory man meat that had been placed before her. Who can blame her for hot tubbing it with Rocky and cuddling up to blonde Josh? I have to say that her lip locking session with Carson seemed to be taking things a bit too far, but the girl had enough sense to ditch him before she went to Tahiti. Then there were the musical stylings of Arthur, the pensive chats with the bespectacled Josh, and the human circus named Dante. It was easy for Nathan to get lost in the shuffle.
I was shocked when Anna declared that Arthur was not one of the final two and I blame the damn editors for this one. During the first episode, a preview montage of the season showed a man kneeling before Anna as she held a bouquet. When Art arrived on the beach to meet Anna, bouquet in hand, I was certain that he was going to propose. It seemed a bit premature, but they’d already known each other longer than Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson had when they got married, so why not? I figured out that they’d used the shot as a cheap gag the minute Anna got a venomous bee sac stuck in her foot and Art had to perform first aid on her by kneeling in the sand.
The cheap shots weren’t over yet, however. While it seemed a cruel gesture to make Rocky wait in the back of the Jeep after Anna’s rejection and watch as she declared her preference for Nathan, I had no idea the producers would sink to the levels that they did with the final Fast Times At Ridgemont High-style updates on some of the main players. They made fun of blonde Josh for crying after his ejection. They picked on Igor for having such copious back hair. They made a totally unnecessary implication that Carson and Mike were lovers (duh). I was so disappointed.
Of course, I’ve never expected much from a show like this. If Survivor is the filet mignon of reality shows, then Average Joe is a burger fresh off the backyard grill, perhaps topped with some sliced red onion and fresh tomato. It’s not as bad as one of those sloppy joes the boys wolfed down during the eating contest (I Want To Be A Hilton falls into that tier) and it’s certainly not mystery meat in gravy (The Littlest Groom, anyone?). And since NBC could finally celebrate a season in which one of the underdogs prevailed, I would have appreciated it if they could have ended it with Anna and Nathan holding each other, the ecstatic boy showing off his beautiful new smile next to his beautiful new girl.