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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Joe Schmo Show: “Is That A Gun In Your Pocket?”

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The Joe Schmo Show has taken on a bit of a Groundhog Day quality in recent weeks. Each episode ends with Chase’s suspicions raised and the show in imminent danger of falling apart. By the time the next episode begins, however, Chase has seemingly forgotten all about the red flags that set him off and everything is back to normal. (Or at least, what passes for “normal” on this show.) Some commenters have raised questions about the chronology of events, and tonight’s episode did little to dispel the notion that we aren’t necessarily seeing things in the order they really happened.

For instance, in the scenes from last week, we see Chase writing in his journal, wondering, “Could she have been acting?” The implication is, of course, that he’s referring to Allison, who had just left a parting gift for Randy after being booted. But at the end of tonight’s episode, we see what appear to be the same shots of Chase writing, wondering the same thing about Skylar. So did he actually have the same suspicion about both women, or is this just another layer to the deception that is The Joe Schmo Show? Even the cast members seem unsure as to whether they’re playing Chase or he’s playing them.

Before we get to Skylar’s revelation, however, there is an immunity challenge. With Jake supposedly away getting treated for an injury he received while on a bounty hunt, it’s up to trophy wife Wanda to host the competition. And since the contest involves frisking, it’s also time for the producers to ramp up the sexual tension between Wanda and Randy (fresh from his sex dream about Allison-as-Medusa). Everyone enjoys an uncomfortable laugh, and the stage is set for a later confrontation when Jake returns to find Randy and Wanda getting frisky in the hot tub. Unfortunately, Chase wants nothing to do with this scenario, despite Allen’s best efforts to get him involved somehow, so it basically plays out without any participation on his part. I’m sure Team Schmo was hoping for a little more from Chase than “embarrassed bystander,” but that’s about all they get.

Chase likewise keeps pretty quiet when Skylar, having traded in her immunity for a two-minute Skype session with her family, is greeted by her supposedly dead husband. Once again, the production team and actors are left to freak out over whether they’ve gone too far and tipped their hand. Several things go wrong here: Skylar’s heel turn is a little too abrupt, and she gets carried away with it to the point where producers are screaming in vain for her to shut up. More importantly, as Garman astutely points out, it’s probably a mistake to employ a scenario in which things aren’t as they seem when you’re trying to keep your mark from realizing things really aren’t as they seem. Once that seed is planted, it may lead him down the road to wondering whether the whole show is staged. (This goes unmentioned on the show, but if Skylar was really the hardcore player she’s revealed to be, it makes no sense that she gave up her immunity for a two-minute chat with family. Running the frisking competition as a straight-up reward challenge might have been smarter.)

After Skylar is sent packing, Chase retreats to his room with his notebook, and we’re basically left in the same place we were last week. At this point, I don’t really think Chase has figured it all out. He may suspect Skylar was an actress, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he believes she was in league with the production; he may wonder if she was simply trying to further her career by getting on a reality show she didn’t really care about winning. Either way, though, it seemed to me that The Joe Schmo Show was sort of running in place this week. I’m still enjoying it, and there were certainly some amusing moments along the way, but on the whole, “Is That A Gun In Your Pocket?” felt a lot like a day I’ve lived before.

Stray observations:

  • What’s funnier than Randy’s digitally blurred boner following his “lapdance frisk”? The following shot of all the male contestants with their groin areas blurred.
  • Allen finally emerged as more of a character this week, and I did get a few chuckles out of his overly polite pat-down during the frisking challenge. (And I hope the geek who got groped by Chase at least got a bonus for his efforts.)
  • Chase has an important question one of our more sophisticated readers can no doubt answer. “Do you wipe then bidet, or bidet then wipe?”