‘Joe Millionaire’ is latest ratings grabber | SierraSun.com

‘Joe Millionaire’ is latest ratings grabber

Editor's Notebook, Jim Scripps

I’ve seen it all.

Yes. All.

As if it was possible, TV has reached a new low, and, of course, that low was achieved by Fox. The culprit: “Joe Millionaire.”

Taking a cue from “Who Wants to Marry and Millionaire” and “The Bachelor,” Fox programmers came up with an amalgam that is sure to be a ratings winner during mid-winter sweeps week, only the premise leaves a lot to be desired… or not, depending on who you talk to.

Like “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire,” “Joe Millionaire” producers gathered 20 women in a mansion, pitting them against each other in a battle to win the heart of a dashing young man with a thick pocketbook. What makes “Joe Millionaire” original is the women don’t know that Joe is actually a construction worker with a yearly salary of $19,000, much lower than the $50 million he is advertised as having mysteriously inherited.

The whole premise of the show is to expose the ‘gold-diggers’ at their most vulnerable, eventually to expose the true mettle of the queen of the gold-diggers, when she realizes the true market value of her prince. Will she, after learning the truth, follow her heart and stay with her pauper, or kick him to the curb and recast for the next big fish?

My bet is on the fish thing.

Episode one (of a seven-week season) aired Monday, and was highlighted by Joe being trained in the ways of a proper multimillionaire (i.e. wine-tasting, ballroom dancing and equine proficiency), and a formal ball at which he would meet the women.

To get things off on the right foot with the female participants, 20 ball gowns were made available, and the women had a half-hour to choose. Amongst themselves.

Within a day of meeting, these seemingly kind, seemingly gentle competitors were ripping Armani out of each other’s hands, cat fighting over Calvin Klein.

If episode one is any indication, the fun will continue next week, but with 12 less competitors (the eliminated, less proficient gold diggers), and TV will eclipse itself yet again.

It’s hard to imagine how low pop culture will go, but sometimes it is equally hard to look away.

Jim Scripps is editor of the Sierra Sun.