LAST EDITED ON 08-31-03 AT 12:12 PM (EST)
(First, a disclaimer. Unlike ToddJ, the previous summary writer, I feel no need to pull my punches on Andra, or James for that matter, or anyone else on the show. The thing about being on a reality TV show in any form is that complete strangers get to make fun of you for completely inappropriate reasons. If I got on a show, and believe me, I’ve tried; I’d fully expect the same. Here, I’ll even start. I have a unibrow, don’t know how to do laundry properly and burst into tears when I hear Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.”)
I’m cursed, I tell you. Cursed like a TV show with Ted McGinley, Alison LaPlaca or McLean Stevenson. My first official episode summary was way back in the fall of 2001, when the world was going through some turbulent times, but a young woman named Mariah Carey taught us how to “Glitter.” I was assigned to Episode 10 of “The Amazing Race,” a show that everyone loves but, apparently, nobody watches.
In Episode 10, nothing happened. I don’t mean that as “nothing interesting really shook up the universe of the Amazing Racers,” I mean that NOTHING AT ALL HAPPENED. Nobody was eliminated, nobody jockeyed for position, and nobody was still awake by the closing credits.
It took two years for me to work up the nerve to ask to write another summary. I was intimidated by the excellent summaries of others, and felt that if I took the reigns again, the show itself might not only be uneventful, it wouldn’t even air and would instead be replaced by burn-off episodes of “The Pitts.”
But then they posted the call for episode writers for “Boy Meets Boy” came up, I thought I’d take a chance. “Boy Meets Boy,” you see, is a show that I can’t stand for multiple reasons, AND YET I CANNOT STOP WATCHING. I’d call it a car wreck, but it’s not fast-paced enough. So I put in my bid and was assigned episode five.
Which is, if you haven’t seen it, the one episode of the series in which nobody gets voted off. (This is, I suppose a spoiler, as it’s coming before the summary itself, but I figure you’re going to find out in a few paragraphs anyway, and I, unlike the studio folk, have no intention of playing “Joe Millionaire” with your mind.)
Previously on Boy Meets Boy: Attractive-but-dull James inexplicably can’t find a date, so he agreed to go on TV to meet some “mates.” There were 15 at first, but 12 are now gone. Last episode, we said goodbye to Darren Hauser M.D. (gay), Sean (straight, as was obvious from his comment about “the gay revolution.” I wasn’t aware there was one, but then again, I stopped reading “The Advocate” when they stopped allowing porn ads) and Robb (Event Planner. ‘nuff said.). While six of the straight “mates” (nnngh) have been eliminated, one of the three remaining contestants, Wes, Brian and Franklin, does not own a copy of “Abba Gold” and our cloying host Dani Behr informs James of this really, really final twist.
James says “wow” and grins. It is the same look of dull surprise he’s had during the entire show. You get the feeling this is the same expression he’d have while getting hit in the stomach with a bowling ball, watching “Schindler’s List” or shagging Christian Bale.
She also tells him that if he picks one of the gay “mates” (No. This ends now. This is not “Love Cruise,” as is evidenced by the lack of any sexual energy on display.), he will get a trip to New Zealand and $25,000. If he picks the straight guy, the hetero gets the money. (What happens if he picks a gay contestant who’s just not interested in him isn’t explained—in fact, it doesn’t even seem to be an option.) This grand prize is almost as large as the amount you’d win for staying in the Big Brother house for seventeen minutes.
Meanwhile, back at the contestants’ house, the notes left by Sean and Robb sadden Wes, Brian and Franklin. They will miss them. Darren the social pariah, on the other hand, is loathed by all, and everyone decides to track him down and feed him through a tree shredder. They go to visit James’ bestest friend ever Audra and the four of them have a conversation about people projecting themselves to be somebody they’re not. She then says she would give anyone who’s been acting an Oscar. Oh dear…
James spills the beans to Audra Longstocking after she confides in him that she senses something weird about Brian. Audra freaks out, regretting all the time she’s wasted in not trying to hook up with the guys herself. Apparently unclear on the concept of a “reality TV dating show,” she fears making an asshole of herself on national television.
“I’m the fool” says James.
“You’re not the fool,” replies Audra, “I’m the one that’s been shoving them down your throat.” Damn! We’re sure getting a toned-down version of this show, because I have yet to see anything outside of a breakfast platter shoved down anyone’s throat.
James tries to turn the twist into an opportunity to make a statement. “If I can get one person to understand there’s no difference between us except for who we love, that we should be able to marry, we should be able to get together, we should be able to do what you and your husband do…” Who exactly he’s trying to prove these things (well, actually, it’s the same thing repeated three times) to is a mystery—the straight guy’s obviously comfortable enough with gay people to be surrounded by them, and the audience is composed pretty much entirely by gay men and straight women who are already comfortable with it as well. Maybe he’s talking about Dian, who thankfully doesn’t appear much this episode.
James talks about why he didn’t just leave the show, mentioning that it wouldn’t be fair to the two gay contestants. He and Audra talk about the possible closet cases, and James is suspicious that Wes doesn’t have any girlfriends. Audra rightfully chastises him for being a stereotyping dumbass. They both seem to think Franklin is the most masculine of the three, but he overthinks the “femininity” of all three and doesn’t come to any conclusion.
The first date of the evening: James and manly-man of the world Franklin. They go to a spa, and James thinks it’s a good idea because it’ll give him a chance to see how comfortable Franklin is with being naked around him. Hold it. Naked? Maybe this show’s going into Temptation Island territory after all.
No such luck. Franklin talks about the only massage he’s received before (in Budapest, no doubt after rescuing a strapping duke from a horde of tigers or something) and then they sit a pool for a while. They drink champagne and have dinner at a palace in their robes. “It was just us,” Franklin says, oblivious to the cameraman who’s circling them like he’s shooting a Robert Altman film.
Franklin wants to get comfortable, but James pummels him. With questions. (sigh) Franklin kisses ass (again, with mere words) and talks about how privileged all of the contestants are to get know James. James sees Franklin to the door and they hug goodbye. James says “hmmm” to let us know he’s thinking. It’s a good try, but you get the feeling he’s faking it.
Next up as James’ date with Brian. James asks Brian to “tell him a secret about himself,” which prompts Brian to ask him if he’s reading this from a script. This is honestly the funniest moment all episode, simply because it really does feel like James has gotten all of his conversational skills from a “inane, unoriginal questions to ask on a first date” guide book--not just after finding out that one of the guys is straight (where he fancies himself “playing detective”—my guess is his only frame of reference is the “Pink Panther” movies) but during this entire show. From “What would you bring with you on a desert island” on out, it’s slowly dawned on me why such a good-looking guy has stooped to reality TV to date. He needs someone to write for him. That’s why much of this show has had all the raw intellectual charisma of an episode of “Blind Date” with Amber and Nick from “Survivor 2.”
Even then, Inspector James Clouseau doesn’t just ask succinctly for a secret. “A secret most people don’t know, half the people you don’t know, about coming out, about dating, about your family, I don’t know, something like, something… 100% know, don’t know this, 10 percent, 70 percent…” James continues negotiating with himself and settles on 57.91 percent, at which point Brian just throws up his arms agrees to tell James his sexual orientation, his most painful memory, why he hates his mother and his ATM card PIN number if he’ll just complete a damn sentence once in a while.
The two go up in a hot air balloon made of wicker (the basket, not the balloon). “We were holding on, and then it just kind of lifted up. It was as easy as can be,” explains James, giving me a joke without having to even think of anything this paragraph. James talks about having a good time with Brian and the two drink champagne before breakfast. Classy.
The breakfast conversation goes easier as James is out of his rambling interrogator mode. In a confessional, James talks about luring out the straight guy. “The trick is to find the straight guy and move him out of my mind. I could make lots of different mistakes here. There’s lots of possible combinations.” No, James, there aren’t. There are three guys. One of them is straight. There are three combinations. Do we need to play Dian’s long-winded explanation of the “twist” again for you? I hope not, as I’ve seen it a half-dozen times already. Even a pre-schooler wouldn’t describe three as “lots.”
James is attracted to Brian and manages to get a smooch in on the way home. He tells the news to Audra, who seems to have just gotten done shampooing her hair with slime—which actually is an improvement on the pigtails. Audra shrieks with glee.
The last date is with Wes. James talks about how in the end, he’s sure he’s going to get hurt and that there’s going to be some pain for him “in some way.” Right, James, unlike the fourteen guys who’re on the rejection end of your champagne tray—no chance they had any feelings involved at all.
Wes is nervous and isn’t sure where he’s at. (Hint: You’re one of the gay ones. I mean, look at your eyebrows. I’ve known straight guys that pluck, but no straight man has eyebrows like that.) James quizzes Wes on his last boyfriend (he’s gotten some practice now, as he blurts out a question in under ten minutes) and Wes refuses to answer. This makes James go “hmmm.”
More champagne. James makes an awkward non-joke which Wes covers nicely. Wes talks about how he had “about 100 objectives and 100 goals” before the date that just disappeared. See, 100 can be classified as “lots” in this context, but Wes actually names a number. If the two of them get together, Wes would be both the funny one and the smart one in the relationship, and in my opinion, the cute one as well. Which would leave James as… well, “the dorky one,” I guess.
Dinner’s at James’ house is next. There are tea candles everywhere, and even a hardened cynic like myself is hard-pressed not to think of it as romantic. Fortunately, James is still talking, which brings me back to reality. Wes quizzes James, who says that “in real life, I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve.” You see, because he’s on camera, he can be intimate. Ah, now the media whore comes out. I know you had it in you, James. Maybe now you can work on an emotion of some kind of convey.
Then there’s the much-hyped moment where Wes asks, “You assumed I was gay. WHY?” In a confessional, a flag goes off in James’ head. He’s finally figured it out. One of these three guys is actually straight!
That tease goes nowhere as a bunch of the tea light fires connect, “and all of a sudden, there was this big clump of flame!” Yes, Dan’s back and he’s still trying way too hard. No, just kidding, it’s actual fire, presumably ignited by the sparks flying out of James’ swiftly-computing brain.
Clump of flame explodes. Everything goes back to normal, and Wes is impressed by James’ spontaneity. (From scripted to spontaneous in one date! Maybe I’m being too hard on James. Nahh.) The two hold hands and kiss at the end. In a confessional, James says “If he’s acting, it’s amazing, and if he’s not, that’s wonderful.” So he’ll be impressed either way! Wes, you can still get out of this by faking heterosexuality!
The three “mates” compare notes. Wes talks about how romantic his date was, Franklin seems supportive like the post-Crisis Clark Kent that he is, but Brian just bites his nails. James talks about getting closer to “some” of the guys. Some? That would be two, right? Or else it would be “one” or “all,” right? C’mon, James. Just say a number. Please.
Next on Boy Meets Boy: Audra gets snippy. The last glass of champagne is served. Brian get jealous and combs his hair even higher than usual in order to disguise himself as a troll doll. Franklin manages to fend off an army of Mongol warriors with a toothpick. Wes says "Omigod!" And the straight man is revealed—it’s James, and he’s forced to marry Dian if he wants the money.
Watch for my next summary, when I somehow manage to find a non-elimination episode of Fear Factor.
(...and now you know why I'm single.)