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ISSUE 116 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/28/2003

American viewers sit, enjoy hot cup of 'Joe'

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer

Friday, February 28, 2003

This week, the king of reality TV retired, only to make way for many more grueling, anticipated and tantalizing hours of other reality shows that keep the lives of many Americans exciting during primetime.

For more than a month now, an entire country has been focused on one man and his pursuit for his “princess.” Evan Marriott, a 28-year-old construction worker from Virginia City, Va., ultimately picked the right woman in front of 40 million viewers. But it has not only been “Joe Millionaire”’ that has caught America’'s eye. Shows such as “Fear Factor,” “Dog Eat Dog,” “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” have all tried to capture the eye of the imagination. They have all tried to create the one show that will make America wait, wonder and come out more surprised than ever before. “Joe Millionaire” did just that.

Twenty women. One beautiful chateau in France. One fat 50 million dollar lie. The whole slogan of the show was, “Could love conquer over money?” For Marriott and Zora, his final choice, the circumstances could not have worked out much better, so far.

It also has seemed to work out for television producers. As a matter of fact, the 40 million viewers who witnessed the ceremonial choosing of the final woman and Marriott tell Zorah he was not a millionaire, were the highest ratings for a reality television-based show in history. More than “Survivor.” More than “Fear Factor.” More than anybody. And to say an up-and-coming show will take the baton and run is a lie. The show that FOX produced over the past month or so was a gem.

Marriott was a good guy for the part, and the woman played it out beautifully until the end of the show. But what New Kids on the Block were for bubble gum pop, “Joe Millionaire” is to network reality television. Sure, there have been shows that have set the standard and started the reality craze, such as “Survivor.” However, there has been no show that has matched the excitement and the buzz surrounding “Joe Millionaire.”

Television shows, like bubble gum pop groups, typically don’t last forever. Although the show is over, it lit a fire in the networks to keep up the pace with the success of the FOX show. It forced the other networks to come up with their own ideas on reality-based shows. The outcome so far has been a disappointing one. While America is still settling down from the “Joe Millionaire” aftermath, FOX has started another show to keep the country on its toes: “Married by America.” As if the divorce rate in the United States is not already high enough, FOX has come out with a show that matches two people together for the first time ... on their wedding day. That’s right; America chooses who will get married to whom. Just when you thought reality television could not sink any lower, this show succeeds in doing so.

However, that is not the only show that is surprising viewers in a bad way. ABC is trying to counter FOX'’s big success with "“I’'m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here"” and “"Am I Hot?".” The first is a show where 15 celebrities are put into a jungle for two weeks and try to live by helping each other out. In the second show, three judges pick who the sexiest people in America are, with the viewers'’ help. NBC is living the “Fear Factor” as always. The show has been a great success in its two-year existence, which is unusually long for a reality-based series. The hard part of the show, says the host, is coming up with new ideas for disgusting food for people to eat. No matter what they come up with, however, the show is a first of its kind.

Although “Joe Millionaire” started a fire in the networks and in America, the result was overkill. The common sitcom or magazine-news show is not good enough anymore. The networks need ratings. They need viewers. So they press reality television. And what does America do in response? They eat it up.

But channel surf while you can, because just like bubble gum pop groups, pulling the plug on the recent reality television fad might come sooner rather than later.

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