Friday, November 04, 2016

Sharing The Blame: An Analysis of Puck's Departure from 'Battle of the Sexes'

How funny is it that I give Wes shit under the assumption that he's smarter than his fellow Challengers, yet I wrote a small thesis on freaking Puck Rainey? I did my homework, checked out sources, made some predictions, and came to the conclusion that Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray should get out of the reality television business. This is back in 2003; the only reason why Bunim isn't producing these days is because she's been dead for years. Anyway, this is from March 3, a week after Puck's "farewell" episode aired.

What really happened with Puck's departure from the Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes? And who is to blame for repeatedly bringing Puck in front of the cameras again?

This was how it was supposed to work this week on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes: Puck finds out his family - his wife Betty and son Bogart - have been detained in Jamaica, since Betty lost her green card. Puck spends the full half-hour ranting and raving like a lunatic before huffing off in his usual way. In response, I would levy a dozen or so good lines at his expense and come up with a clever title for the recap, like "Puck Amuck," "Puck Off," or "…And Don't Come Back!" Admit it, you were thinking along those lines when you watched the teaser.

So what happened? Puck went off, broke some stuff, and left the show, perhaps never to return (remember, he did show up on his season of The Real World after he left the house). Aside from that segment being less than a third of what was expected, you'd think that I would revel in the chance to write witty lines at Puck's expense. Here's the kicker: you heard the window break and saw the holes in the wall? Well, that wasn't Puck. No, that was just more manipulation, brought to you by Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray.

During one recap, I vowed never to read the web sites of contestants, lest they influence my writing. Well, I couldn't hold out. Every week, I read inside recaps from Colin, Lori, and Melissa. This week, all three said the same thing: Puck only broke equipment, since he wasn't allowed to see his family. He cut a microphone wire with the machete. And that was it. The holes in the wall? Well, according to Colin, Jamie was fooling around with Puck's guitar, and the Scabby One had a moment inspired by John Belushi in Animal House: he smashed it like he was a rock star. Swept up in the euphoria, Jamie had grabbed a pole or one of Colin's crutches (Colin wasn't sure which it was) and rammed it into the wall.

As for the broken window, that was all Ayanna. Melissa heard that she smashed the window, and Lori mentioned that Ayanna's hand was bleeding. Actually, that brings me to something a lot more interesting: the fight between Aneesa and Ayanna. Yes, there was a verbal fight, where Ayanna went insane. I understand that a lot of stuff gets left on the cutting room floor. I don't need to see the credits being filmed, and David E. spitting on Puck AND Beth. Here's my problem: Ayanna going off was in the teaser that followed the first episode. Remember the segment with Ayanna rambling, "Aneesa, I gotta go"? Bunim-Murray Productions does that a lot.

So BMP made us think that the entire episode was going to center on Puck alone, as opposed to another game. This is standard operating procedure for the producers. What else do they have to offer these days? Their faux documentary, The Real World: The Lost Season, was a colossal dud. Road Rules hasn't been good in years. The Real World: Las Vegas is used as a low-cost alternative for anesthesia in hospitals. And really, who gave a spray of bullets about P. Diddy's version of Making the Band? Time has passed Bunim and Murray by, and they won't admit it. They're probably praying for a riot from their newest cast members in Paris right now.

I'm not letting Puck off the hook. Yes, he did resemble a human being during his wedding. But other than that? Usual Puck-like behavior, like something you'd see at a zoo. To start, there was the fight with David Edwards. I'll admit, I don't know who started that. Puck didn't improve things by spitting in David's face. But David was such a full-on mental patient, the other cast members sided with Puck and demanded he stay. Murray wouldn't acquiesce with them unless David was filmed spitting on Puck in payback. Seriously, Colin wrote that. How old is Murray, anyway?

Puck was a poor sport. After completing the Tree House game, he taunted the girls who were struggling to finish it. He played with a noisemaker while Veronica was trying to get her Inner Circle speech out, causing her to stop and snap at him. Of course, the guys didn't have a problem with him, since he was on their side. Besides, anybody who goes up against him would end up a pariah, like David.

And then there was Ellen. As Melissa said on her site, Ellen made the mistake of jousting with Puck in regards to his revamped wedding plans. That was a stupid move on her part. Now Puck was out to get her. He taunted her while wearing Bogart on his chest. Seriously, Ellen might have been able to confront him, but while he had his son as a shield, all she could do was sneer. Sure, she probably fabricated the story about how he was going to kick her ass. But the worst thing Puck did was unforgivable. After she announced Rachel was out, he walked up to her and threw up in front of her. You heard me: he vomited in front of Ellen, on purpose. Who does that? Seriously, what the hell was Puck thinking? As I read that nugget of information from Colin, I sympathized with Ellen, and you know from reading my summaries that is something I don't want to do.

Here's what gets me: according to Colin, Puck's plan was to cut out of the show halfway through. Why was that? Because Puck could make more than $50,000 on the campus lecture tour. Fifty grand is the cut of somebody who wins the final mission. Think about it: he deprives some RW guy of getting a shot at the grand prize. I also heard that all of the contestants got $4,000 for showing up. Look, I know some of you want to call these people "media whores" for going back on the reality treadmill, but who doesn't need $4,000? I think of some of the RW guys I would have wanted to see in Puck's place. Norman Korpi (New York) could have brought new and richly deserved insults for Beth, and maybe hosted another rollicking toga party. Jon Brennan (Los Angeles) could have joined Beth, Veronica, and Yes in avenging their first-round elimination in Battle of the Seasons. David Burns (Seattle) might have followed up his appearance on The Lost Season, and knocked down people with his thick Boston accent. Matt Smith (New Orleans), whom Puck dissed in the 10th Anniversary Reunion commercials, would have delighted us with his breakdancing skills and overall whiteness. Malik Cooper (Back to New York) could have brought his mellow ways to Jamaica, and maybe confront Jisela over playing him.

(Yeah, I thought of the two other males from San Francisco. Sadly, I don't see anybody getting eager over seeing Mohammed again. As for Judd? Hey, I'm a huge fan of his work and his status as the anti-Puck, but he would've gotten creamed in physical competitions.)

Also, Puck could have caused a lot more damage with his departure. In order to even out the ranks, the producers brought back Dan, who had been voted out earlier. But what if he couldn't make it back? During his stay in Jamaica, Puck had much respect for Blair. I got that from Sarah Greyson, the member of Campus Crawl who was voted out from that show. She even referred to Blair as a "Puck Whisperer," probably recalling the time he talked Puck out of going after Ellen. Blair had obviously agreed to be Puck's partner for People Mover, but Puck left Blair twisting in the wind. Had Dan not come back and Blair was unable to play the game, the men's team procedure of voting out the weakest player would have doomed him. Dan's return was good in theory, but by filling Puck's place alongside Blair, he was ensured another dismissal, barring a great performance. All Blair had to do was finish well enough to not lag behind the other contestants. So much for Puck being a team player.

As for Puck's future? I heard a rumor that he was pitching his family life as a reality show, a la The Osbournes. It even has a name: Puck Loves Betty. In this era of crap like The Anna Nicole Show, I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! , and Are You Hot?, a Puck-com is the last thing we need. Not like anybody would force me to watch, but the idea of it on the air skeeves me out. Should it be approved, I believe it gives intelligent people the right to burst into that network's office, grab the person who okayed it, and beat that person in front of the underlings. If Anna Nicole Smith were fully cognizant, she'd be cringing, too.

I had also heard rumors that he was considered for the first season of The Surreal Life. So hearing about him being on the follow-up doesn't surprise me a bit. Even if he shares a house with has-beens like Mayim Bialik and noted steroid abuser/collect call pitchman Hulk Hogan, Puck would still be the "bad boy" on the show, even at the age of 34. Heck, he got married on TV, just like Corey Feldman. Of course, the WB would eat Puck up, as his fans boost the ratings and the detractors get to throw rocks at the broadest side of the biggest barn.

Ultimately, the blame for Puck's actions falls on Bunim and Murray, for casting him back in 1994, and coddling his bad boy ways. They took a skuzzy bike messenger and turned him into a monster. And when he rebelled against not being able to see his family, they manipulated the footage to make him look more dramatic. It's high time that BMP cease operations and move on to something other than lowering the bar for reality television. If Puck wants a happy ending, may he spend the rest of his days with his family, and not disgrace us with his horrid presence.

First of all, how eerie was it that everybody I had in Puck's place wound coming to the show within the next four seasons, except for Malik and his awesome afro? On the other hand: Blossom on The Surreal Life? With Hulk Hogan? Retrospect is a bitch. And I'm guessing most of you thought Aneesa and Ayanna had it out only on Battle Of The Sexes 2. I remembered seeing the clip in the teaser. What I did forget about: Puck puking in front of Ellen. I ask you: is that nastier than Julie pissing on Coral's bed in The Inferno? Colin might have been a self-indulgent blogger, but damned if he didn't offer up juicy details. Anyway, that's enough vintage fame whore contemplation for one day. Next time: unneeded uproar over nudity!

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