We’re approaching the finale of True Beauty‘s second season, and the show capitalizing on the great fun inherent in watching pretty, stupid people act really stupid has truly worn out its welcome. As was the case in the first season, those responsible for the show don’t actually understand the theory of the show, and apart from the Real World-esque joys of watching morons yell at each other, and repeatedly prove their commitment to hair gel and cocoa butter over an ability to read, the show has no hook.
Theoretically a reality competition looking for those who have inner beauty to go along with their outer beauty, the inner beauty challenges only come into play after contestants find themselves at the bottom of the weekly “above board” challenge. Thus, the show has us play along as we basically make fun of these sorry individuals, and we scrutinize between the least offensive transgressions of those who actually weren’t pretty enough to stay in the running, inner beauty be damned.
Worse still, few of the inner beauty challenges are thought through for more than five seconds, and almost none of them take into consideration differing, completely legitimate viewpoints on what might be the morally correct action. When the show sticks with blatant cheating, things work out well enough, but many of the challenges put forward a theory that ought to make most people wonder, and are at best fairly morally neutral. Some, to be perfectly honest, are unfair tests when men and women are put through the same ringer.
An overweight woman is ridiculed by her mother for gaining weight, then left alone to sob, with the contestants witness to the entire affair. The test? Will the contestants say anything to the woman when forced to walk by her? Is this somehow a serious test of someone’s inner beauty? I’m not the supreme judge of such things, but I’ve been around enough women to know that it is exceedingly possible that what that woman really wants is for me to pretend I don’t know anything, and that I never saw her in the first place, rather than call attention to the public humiliation and thereby make it that much worse for her. Actually, such a response is a societal absolute in some cultures. Kudos to diversity.
A pregnant woman in an elevator is drinking and smoking. Will contestants say anything to her about it? Seriously, the test is whether or not the contestants will say, “Hey lady, you shouldn’t be smoking and drinking when you’re pregnant?” What? A test of your moral character is whether or not you’re willing to kick off the witch hunt in a Vegas elevator? Why not just focus on smoking passersby generally? Hey, smoking is bad for you Jackass.
Perhaps I protest too much. After all, I watched the show (I have an excuse card I’m going to play though). It’s actually an interesting concept, which is part of the excuse I’ll use, but it’s gone goofy. If ever a show believed its own press (that doesn’t exist), and added the bizarre quality of feeling really superior about itself while supposedly putting down the idea of people feeling superior about themselves, it is this one. Imagine the curiosity that is a show about taking people to task for their bad behavior, and then behaving worse than all its own contestants.
The last two weeks have given us two people reduced to tears upon elimination, both with the idea of just walking off, one of them managing it, and didn’t those judges feel just bloody brilliant about themselves. Both these women performed less than perfectly when it came to the inner beauty side of things, but we were scraping the barrel for an excuse to call this last one out. Sure, sometimes the challenges actually make the contestants look bad, and maybe they don’t follow the rules exactly, but most of it is nonsense. Here’s your rule – Don’t look at the questions until you get out of the elevator. Uh oh, she looked at them while still in the elevator. Shazam, there goes your sainthood. Meanwhile, the judges react like these people are kicking puppies.
Last week’s utterly minor transgressions made it abundantly clear that really we just have to find a way to call the contestants out once they don’t win the pretty competition. Her most serious crime didn’t involve an inner beauty challenge at all, but was just hidden camera footage while at their house of her calling the real bitch contestant a bitch. Now going into the finals, no matter who wins it will be someone who rates a lot worse on the morality meter than several people who are already gone. Great concept.
Brilliantly deluded by its thoughts of its own beauty, the show has kept judge Vanessa Minnillo a secret from the competitors until it has been decided that they are going home. I suppose because she was the face of True Beauty the first go round, it would spoil things if they saw her, but when the big reveal hit every episode, not one of the contestants had a clue who she was.
In the end, the show is more of a statement on society than it ever thought it would be, but the pretty people, while fun to mock, are mostly harmless. Put the judges, on the other hand, and their ridiculous attitude and effort, into the historical and societal lens, and the last thing you’ll find is true beauty.