"The Great Potato Debate"
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17 December 2005
Though I pride myself on avoiding shows like The Bachelor and other mating-and-dating shows, though I never watched The Osbornes or other shows which invade someone's home and catch the residents at their worst moments, and though basically I don't consider myself a voyeur, I have gotten hooked on a few reality shows.
Ned got me hooked on Survivor a few episodes back and now that I have a DVR, I wouldn't miss it. The problem with Survivor is that it's broadcast at 7 p.m. here and I keep forgetting to turn it on, since I think of primetime shows as being broadcast at 8 p.m. But I'm now firmly entrenched in the 7 p.m. timeslot now and followed it religiously through the recent weeks in Guatemala. When it got down to the final two contestants, for once there was no clear favorite for me. I could have gone with either Danni or Stephanie.
Another reality show that I have enjoyed, since finding it 3 rounds ago, is The Amazing Race. This last one, which was designed for families rather than couples, was much fun, with my favorites and least favorites changing from week to week. The only family that I consistently didn't like was the overtly Christian family, who seemed to be the least liked of the bunch. I've tried to figure out why I didn't like them. There was everything that should have endeared them to me, especially since they were all recovering from the grief of losing a father, and were put in very difficult emotional situations several times.
I think the reason I didn't like them was that they were so open with their Christianity, and had this literal "holier-than-thou" attitude which seemed to say that because Jesus was on their side, they were better than everyone else. They also acted the least Christian of all the families, at least in what we were shown. It was the Weavers who were most often shown plotting how they could get one of the other families and who seemed to have the least idea about why they were so universally disliked by the other families (though it was clear to those of us who watched it all unfold on our screens)
I have to admit that I was pleased when they came in a distant third. Among the top two finishers, I would have liked to see the father and his daughters win, but I was also happy with the siblings who took the $1 million.
But the first reality show that I actually got addicted to was The Apprentice. I don't have a clue why I like that show. It's not just the situation, because I hated the Martha Stewart spin off and never made it past the first episode. I have never liked Donald Trump. I am so far from a power-wheeler and dealer that it isn't even funny. I don't like big business. I am not in anything for the profits that can be made, and yet there was just something about this multi-week job interview that caught my interest and have watched it religiously since the very first one, when Omarosa was the Wicked Witch of the West and made her fame (if not fortune) by being the woman that we all loved to hate.
I didn't think that the second and third rounds of the show lived up to the first one, but Trump promised that the fourth was going to be the best yet, and he wasn't wrong. With each round, the Glamorization of Trump seems to continue, now including little tips on how to be successful in business (many of which I couldn't see myself following to save my soul). But he was right. This contest was the best of the four.
There were also more surprises this time around. You never knew if he was going to fire one or more people. Once he fired four at once. It kept you on your toes. Suddenly nothing was predictable any more. Anything could happen.
When it got down to the final two, I was pleased. All of the obnoxious people had been eliminated and what was left were the very likeable Randal, Rhodes scholar, founder, president and CEO of a multi-million dollar management, technology, and policy consulting firm, who had continued to play the game despite the death of his beloved grandmother in the first of second week of competition; and Rebecca, a 23 year old Chicago-based investment banker once named one of twenty teens who will change the world and awarded a "point of light" by President Clinton. Rebecca, who had broken her ankle in the first week and completed the competition on crutches.
What I loved about the choice of Randal and Rebecca was that in addition to being bright and talented, they seemed to have a genuine affection for each other, a genuine respect for each other, and to be mutually supportive of each other, which you don't often see happen on The Apprentice.
I would have been hard pressed to choose between the two candidates. I was hoping that after all the surprises Trump had presented us, he would surprise us yet again and hire the two of them.
That possibility seemed even more logical when he asked each candidate which of two projects they would prefer to work on, and each chose a different project. No brainer. Give Randal the business in Atlantic City and hire Rebecca to work on the other New Jersey project.
I actually thought that was going to happen when, after Trump hired Randal and the celebration began, he called Randal back to the table. "He's going to surprise us now," I thought. "He's going to announce he's hiring Rebecca too."
But he didn't do it that way. He left the decision up to Randal. Should he also hire Rebecca? To my shock, Randal said that the name of the program was "THE Apprentice," not "The apprenti" and that there should be only one apprentice. Trump shrugged and said OK, that he would go with Randal's recommendation and added that he had been willing to be convinced otherwise.
Like Cindy, who had the opportunity to give everyone an automobile on Survivor, but passed it up to keep a car for herself, Randal decided that a piece of this huge pie wasn't enough--he wanted the whole thing.
R.I.P., John Spencer
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1970 (pre David)