Friday, May 20, 2005

Reality? TV

I admit it. I've gotten into watching "The Apprentice" this past couple of years. Last night was the season finale, where Kendra Todd was hired to work for Donald Trump. Although I'm not really a fan of Trump himself, and definitely take issue with some of his decisions in the course of this (and previous) season(s), I absolutely think Kendra was the right choice.

What bothers me at this point is how pathetically they tried to build up the suspense at season end as to whether Trump would hire Kendra or Tana (the remaining possibility). Besides the fact that Kendra displayed strong competence throughout the season (especially displayed during an episode where she almost single-handedly completed a promotional flyer for the Pontiac Solstice when her teammates, including Tana, had abandoned her), her performance on her Final Task outstripped Tana's in nearly every way. Where Tana was critical of her teammates from the beginning and spoke poorly about them (even asking if there was any chance for a trade almost the moment after her teammates were revealed), Kendra took the opportunity to mend fences (all the teammates on both sides were people who'd been "fired" previously) and saw her teammates as valuable contributors to the final task. Where Tana's task had several large-scale mistakes (including the publication of sensitive personal data as promotional material, the loss of an American flag to be used in an Olympic-style processional, and brushing off the Governor of New York), Kendra's potential disasters (including a mishandled meeting hijacked by one of her teammates, and the need to relegate one of her sponsors to a basement display area) were deftly handled and the situation resolved before they could get out of hand.

Do the producers of "The Apprentice" really expect us to believe that there was any question as to which of the two candidates was to be hired? The live finale consisted mostly of Trump and his lackeys saying things that attempted to portray an equal amount of good and bad about each candidate. Yet while there were serious problems to talk about regarding Tana, all the "bad things" they could pull up for Kendra were serious stretches of the imagination. Not untrue, to be sure, but definitely nothing of the same scale. (And to be fair, Tana did have some good points.) When George says to Trump "I'm glad I don't have to make your decision," are we really expected to believe him?

Of course, the fact that "reality" TV isn't all that "real" shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. But I still wish they wouldn't insult my intelligence by suggesting that the obvious is anything less than obvious.

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