Saturday, October 03, 2009

Reality Rants: Host With The Least

A funny thing happened when I was contemplating recapping the latest season of The Real World/Road Rules Challenge. Namely, I got a job. While it's a part-time position, it's important enough where I can't waste extra brain cells searching for quotes, picking out moments, and telling people to shut up like they can hear me. But I'm willing to compromise. So here's my plan: whenever I feel like it, I will engage in a "Reality Rant," going off on whatever's bugging me in the genre. And what better way to start than with the Emmys . . . specifically, the "Best Host" category.

The thing you have to understand about me is that I'm a devoted fan to The Amazing Race. I don't think it was an accident that it won Best Competitive Program seven years in a row. Sure, you'd think the Emmy voters might be lazy, and there have been off years for the show (Family Edition, anybody?), but I firmly believe that even at its lowest point, it still kicks ass. And a big part of that success lies with its host, Phil Keoghan.

In case you're new, I'll be brief. Phil comes from New Zealand, finishing runner-up for the Survivor hosting gig. He acts as the show's narrator, guiding the audience to the exotic locales the Racers run through. He greats the teams at the end of each episode, often eliminating the last pair to arrive. And perhaps most importantly, there isn't a time where he makes himself more important than the show.

Cut to Emmy night. Phil is nominated for Best Host after getting snubbed last year. It seems like a slam dunk; since TAR is the only winner of its category, why wouldn't Phil win his? Wrong. Instead, it goes to Jeff Probst. Again. Cut to me yelling "BULLSHIT!" at the television screen.

What was my problem? Jeff Probst was the right guy at the right time, hosting Survivor as it led the reality television boom of 2000. But that was then, and this is now: Probst has become more of a factor on the show than he should be these days. His running commentary affects challenges. At Tribal Council, he once shamed a tribe into picking a leader on the spot. And he loves alpha males in such an unhealthy way, it makes him disdain almost any other competitor. Sure, he dated one-time contestant Julie Berry (from Vanuatu), but you have to wonder about him at times. Clearly, this is not the guy who should be given an award for being a dick.

Order was restored a few minutes later, when TAR won its seventh straight Emmy. You can say that Phil sharing a stage with the production people is a metaphor for how the show is a team effort, but it still felt hollow. Clearly, there had to be a way to stop Emmy voters from making the same mistake next year. My solution: open up the category by renaming it Best Permanant Cast Member. This way, judges and other personalities can be elligible. I don't want Project Runway, but I've heard enough about Tim Gunn to know he could wipe with Probst. At this point, I don't care who does it, as long as it gets done.

Attention, Emmy voters! You guaranteed a scene in Season 20 of Survivor where Probst, clearly thinking he's in the right, will snuggle in the lap of JT and/or James. And guess what? It's your fault that it'll happen.

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