Reality Check #8

The Reality Check is a weekly column containing the musings of multiple writers on various reality TV shows. Are you hopelessly addicted to a reality show? We invite you to contribute your thoughts! The Reality Check runs every weekend on

 Real Housewives of New Jersey


by Caitlin Malone (@SpaceCaits)

Last week on ‘RHONJ’ we left off with Teresa and Jacqueline having a sit down to try and move forward from their issues. Jacqueline called Teresa a sociopath and Teresa called Jacqueline evil. Here are this week’s highlights:

The conversation continues. Teresa asks Jacqueline what she ever did to her and Jacqueline feels that Teresa implied that she spends more time concerned with what is going on with Teresa than she does with her son, Nicholas, who was recently found to be autistic. Jacqueline explains how closely she works with her son and how difficult it has been. Teresa apologizes to Jacqueline. Jacqueline apologizes to Teresa. Wait. So, no one on this show is mad at anyone anymore? What is the point?

Teresa has her whole family over, plus Jacqueline and Chris, to participate in a Zumba charity event for the Nephcure foundation. In her talking head segment Teresa says, “Is it weird having Jacqueline in my house? Kinda, but, I have to say, in another sense it’s normal. It’s weird and normal.” It’s good to know that no matter how different Teresa may seem over that last few episodes, some things never change.

Jacqueline decides to get a tummy tuck and everyone tells her that she’s crazy and that she looks great, which she does, but nothing will change her mind. She flies out to Beverly Hills to get the surgery and to see her parents and her daughter Ashlee. The night before surgery Jacqueline decides to go out and have a shot or two of Tequila, because we all know what a good idea alcohol is before major surgery. Ashlee doesn’t drink anything. What is happening? Ashlee is showing responsibility? Ashlee expresses that she is worried about her mom, but I think she is really loving looking more responsible than her mom after years of being the teenager that did no good.

The next day Jacqueline is on the operating table in full makeup (fake eyelashes and all). The surgery finishes up and the episode ends.

So I guess when no one is mad at anyone the show defaults back to plastic surgery and charity events. That sounds about right.

Big Brother


by Guest Contributor Scott Zwick (@hoopsnutsz)

As a fan of Big Brother for the entirety of the show’s 10+ year run, I can say without hesitation, this season has been by far its worst.  It has been plagued by racist cast members, a strong alliance outed in the first week of the game, and house being run by people more concerned with social interaction than making big moves in the game.  To wit, almost all the voting in the game has been unanimous, with three people, Helen, Amanda, and McRae running the game as the “House”, a term they use regularly.  Those that do things to make “the House” upset, find themselves on the block each week, and whoever “the House” finds most socially repugnant is usually the one to leave.

The biggest reason for the lack of excitement or “big moves” in the house has been Andy, the 26 year old professor from Chicago. Andy has had three chances to get one of McRanda (the nickname for McRae and Amanda who are playing as a team and having a “showmance”) put on the block, and passed all three times, one of which when he was head of the household with only 7 players remaining. The other two times he was asked to be part of a secret alliance to get rid of Amanda and not only passed, but tattled on the scheme to McRanda.  Does he think he stands a chance in a final three with McRae and Amanda?  Is he just assuming someone else is going put them up for eviction?  And do it before HE gets voted out?  Horrible gameplay, and its held the viewers hostage not allowing the house to be split.

As for this week, I think Spencer spoke for a good portion of BB fandom (including myself) when told Andy at the veto “you haven’t make a smart move in the game yet, so why start now”.  Its obvious he’s tired of playing whatever it is they’re playing in this house. Its not Big Brother.  Its some sort of other warped game where three people, McRae, Helen, and Amanda just decide who goes home each week based on who is being the biggest pain that week, or who has talked nasty to someone else.  And each week, the rest of the players try not to be that person. It’s more of a game of chance than skill and I think Spencer just had enough.  Three times he tried to form actual BB alliances to go after targets in the house, only to get shot down by Andy, who simply ratted him out to the powers that be.

Andy’s only chance would have been to take Amanda or McRae out this week when he was HOH.  Flip the house, and now HE’s in charge.  Helen now would owe him BIG time, and he could work a final two alliance with her.  Or he could have played it safe, backdoored Helen, then the next week tried to mobilize the remnants of her alliance against Amanda and McRae to split them up, but thats a big long shot.

He choose neither.  When he goes out in 5th or 6th place I’m sure Spencer’s words will haunt him for a long time.

So where do we go from here?  Aaryn has won head of household for a sixth time, presumably because no one other than Spencer and Gina Marie are actually going for it.  And why should they?  Everyone else is doing their dirty work, and they preserve a vote in the eviction process by not being HOH.  If the show holds to form, Aaryn will simply put up Spencer and GinaMarie, and to be honest I don’t think anyone cares if either go home.  This game will only get exciting when Helen and McRanda square off, but thats probably not going to happen for a while.

A few other BB tidbits:  According to the live feeds many of the contestants are complaining that certain participants are gaining an advantage in some of the contests due to prescribed Adderall for ADD.  They have not mentioned which contestants are being given the prescriptions from show doctors, but Aaron and Andy have both won several contests recently including the last three head of households.

Aaryn has made quite the transformation in the house since her much publicized racially insensitive remarks made during the live feeds that had her fired from her modeling agency.  She has won a whopping 6 head of household competitions, made amends with many members of the house, and in general has had an attitude adjustment.  I must say I didn’t see that one coming.

So onward and sideways for Big Brothers and their fans until someone in the house has the guts to make a move on McRanda or Helen.  Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later.

WWE Total Divas


by Ricky Diaz (@rickyjdiaz)

We start the episode with the most insipid conversation between the Bellas. It’s basically a “comedic” cold open, which to me, just didn’t work.

The storylines of this episode is about relationships, the basic jist is the “maybe” break ups of the relationships between people, caused by the strain of the “business”

The first is mainly about Brie/Nikki. Last week it showed Brie telling Nikki about moving to Washington to be with Bryan, and Nikki being opposed to it, this storyline was completely dropped with week, with Bryan/Brie announcing that they were moving to Phoenix (in order to be closer to her mother, so she could dogsit their dog). There is obvious tension between the sisters; maybe the cold open was a lead in to this. It pushed how the sisters have their own language, and how reliant they are on each other. With the move, it seems like it’s the first time there will be any significant distance between them (even though they will spend most of their time, on the road, together) Nikki is obviously the “boss” of the two, and she instantly blames Bryan, making him a scapegoat (which is funny considering Bryan has been called “Goatface” on TV most of the time in the past). The issues are compounded when whilst packing, Brie is late for a meeting that has been set up for the twins to be in a movie. You can see both sides of the argument, Brie only wants to do what is best for her, and her “family”, whereas Nikki is scared of losing her sister, and being left with the “workload” of all the extracurricular that they do (fanmail, etc.)  Nikki ends up talking to John, her own boyfriend, who makes her see sense, and eventually they make up.

The other two storylines were very similar, with different endings. We concentrate on Trinity and Jon. Like last week (with Eva Marie), at the center of it, is an engagement ring. We start off by seeing them having time together at home, and it’s all good between them, but Trinity takes off her engagement ring, which John doesn’t like. The reason for her taking the ring off is because “the company” wants it to seem that they are single. John takes exception that she would do it, and starts to question how committed she is to the relationship. Which ends in a massive argument with John leaving their shared apartment, the argument is essentially that she is more invested in “the business” than him. When they go to work, there’s a intergender 8 man tag match, where John and Trinity are on opposite sides of the ring, which leads to them having contact (in a wrestling context), something which men/women aren’t allowed to do. After the match, we realize that Trinity is scared of commitment because of a previous relationship (with her being cheated on). Once they have a talk about it, it is solved and they stay together.

The thing about the contact in the ring between them is that it is heavily staged. Firstly, both John and Trinity are “good guys”, but the match happens with John teaming with “bad guys”. So it’s obvious this match was made, just for the show. Also the move which Trinity performs needs cooperation between the wrestlers, so it’s obvious that this is done for the show itself. Another point is that the whole episodes builds up towards the end, and in the end, the conversation they have just seems so happily resolved, during the bad times, everything is emphasized, but in the end, it literally takes a minute for them to make up.

The parallel between Trinity/John is juxtaposed with the Jojo/Sebastian.

Firstly we start off with Jojo and Eva, and seen them training, we see that Jojo seems to be a natural with wrestling, there is a slight storyline where she takes a bump badly, and it’s thought that she has a concussion. We then meet her boyfriend, Sebastian, who she has known all her life and they have been going out for a year. We see how much she misses him, but during their time together, it’s obvious that the distance is too much for him, and he makes her choose between “the business” and him. She agonizes over the decision, but when she sees a wrestling match, she makes a decision that “the business” is more important at the moment. The thing about Jojo is that in previous episodes she seems real and very natural on the camera, but in here, when the spotlight was shined on her, especially in the talking heads part of the show, she was just as charismatic as Eva Marie (which is not very much)

There was comedy in this episode, firstly, Nikki talked about having camel toe (due to her enhanced boobs making clothes rid up higher), and then Ariane talked about her tonsillitis leading to a UTI/Yeast Infection  – the reactions from everyone when she says it to them is great.

The episode was better than the last one, in the first episode it was building towards something, last week’s episode was just kind of aimless, and this episode seemed to have a constant storyline running throughout it which all the “characters” were involved in.

Breaking Pointe


by Shana Lieberman (@evilapprentice)

I don’t watch reality tv to become invested in characters.  I watch it for snark practice, and I watch it knowing that it’s not as “real” as they’d like us to believe.  Why, then, did Allison’s continuing struggle with the possibility of retirement for love’s sake make me so ferklempt this week?  WHY?!!  I’ve been sucked in.  I’ve somehow become invested in these people.  I care.  I hate that.

There was also an underlying current of ACTUAL reality in this episode.  Whether or not the “reality” for Allison is quite as dramatic as the show’s producers would like us to believe, Jonathan’s despicable blank face when as Allison tearfully told him she was sure he’d be proud of her if he just saw her dance could not have been faked. (Dude has zero on-camera personality, so I highly doubt he suddenly brought out the mad acting skills in order to play the heartless, unaffected jerk right at the perfect moment.)

Right on top of news of the dream promotion she’s been waiting for, after breaking down in artistic director Adam’s office, Allison went to visit a boyfriend who was completely unsupportive of her dancing career.  Oh, how so many people all over the world, who have dreamed of becoming dancers, can empathize.  When it comes to pursuing this dream, it’s all about one sacrifice after another.  Sometimes, the sacrifice winds up being giving up that dream of becoming a professional dancer altogether.  Allison has already gotten a taste of it.  Let’s continue to hope that she has finally seen reason and doesn’t throw it away.  I know her fellow cast and company members are hoping for that too — or so they tell me on twitter.

…and what’s the deal with Christiana and Chris anyway?  Trouble in paradise?  I’d like to see more Cinderella rehearsals and less relationship drama, please — even if it DOES get to me when I think I’m immune.

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