Tampa man survives first night on one of the most vapid reality shows in history, True Beauty
Tampa salesman Joel Rush survived the first cut on ABC's unscripted competition True Beauty -- a show in which contestants don't realize they're also being evaluated on outer AND inner beauty until they get kicked off.
But it is viewers who will likely find the show the biggest ordeal; faced with a simplistic, hopelessly contrived contest that may be the most vapid reality show on network TV. And in a television world filled with Wife Swaps and Cheaters, that's saying something.
The show's first episode aired Monday night, showing Rush, 27, proclaimed as one of the show's most attractive contestants, tied with 31-year-old vitamin shop owner and Chippendales dancer Billy Jeffrey as the best-looking among the 10 participants, according to a scientific measurement method the show never really explained. But Rush seemed to struggle on the inner beauty part, feuding with 21-year-old Tennessee model Chelsea Bush from the moment they meet.
"Everyday when I work out, I want to look good naked," said Rush in one quote presented at the show's start, where the crowd of beautiful people step out of different sports cars to face fake paparazzi. "When I put on my birthday suit, I want everybody to be impressed."
Produced in part by stars Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks -- neither of whom you saw in Monday's episode -- True Beauty features host/judge Vanessa Minnillo (TRL, Entertainment Tonight), 60-something supermodel and judge Cheryl Tiegs and judge/fashion consultant Nole Marin (America's Next Top Model). The trio evaluates the contestants secretly as they are left in a room with confidential medical files for their rivals (who looks?) and, in a final test, the bottom two contestants are secretly challenged to be nice to a production assistant struggling to carry several coffees through a door. Guess what happens to the woman who opens the door for herself, letting it slam in the guy's face?
Of course, there are loud effects, ham-handed video edits and clumsy narration to make sure you catch every misstep. But the show's producers seem to confuse politeness with inner beauty, and other than granddad Jeffrey, the old man of the house, every other contestant comes off as a spoiled 20-something club kid way too self-involved to handle this challenge.
No matter who wins, the viewers may lose most.