If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this business, it’s that it doesn’t matter how much cash you clear; bad television is bad television. Sure, it occasionally pays the bills, but even when it’s keeping my neck off the chopping block a little part of me still dies when two hours of my life I’ll never get back is spent watching a pack of mouth-breathers mouth-breathe about who’s the mouth-breathiest.
To put it more succinctly: “The Men Tell All” didn’t say a whole hell of a lot.
Outside of Wells’ genuinely entertaining anecdote about “The Garden” and the aforementioned intellectual debates, the conversations mostly varied between the men responding to the stream of Trumpian bullshit that flowed from Chad’s mouth and asking JoJo, “Was there anything I could have done differently?”
Neither of those talk-tracks should have ever happened. While I understand that a few of these men may have been looking for some form of closure, they’re never going to get any while the answer to that question is essentially, “Be Jordan Rodgers.” But all this pales in comparison to dedicating an entire hour to a human steroid-cycle. Ignoring that he sought out the ex-girlfriends of multiple contestants (which is some high-level sociopathic shit), bluffed having dirt on a number of the men (somehow the least offensive thing he did all night), and then talked shit about JoJo’s choice of men to her face (I mean, it isn’t great but everyone else was decent enough keep mum on the subject), he is still a violent, potentially abusive human being. And this abuse is not limited to the physical sense, but also encompasses the whole verbal/mental/emotional spectrum.
The worst part about it all is that the taping of Paradise has been over for a while and everything that went down was known during “The Men Tell All,” including, non-spoiler alert, Chad getting booted after one night, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone with eyeballs.
That America rewards idiots isn’t a surprise (see: National Convention, Republican), but that we’re allowing knuckle-dragging Neanderthals their fifteen sixty minutes of fame because they’re good for ratings is something I thought even the NFL had moved past.
Clearly I need a dose of reality – and not the kind that’s manufactured for primetime. I called Chris Harrison to give him a piece of my mind.
“Clint, baby!” he exclaimed when he picked up the phone. “You calling me from easy street?”
“Bite it, Harrison,” I hissed back. “Where do you get off airing garbage like that?”
“Pretty high and mighty coming from a guy who offered odds on bets that didn’t even pay out.”
“It isn’t my fault you wasted half your show on a walking assault charge. I’m just trying to run a business.”
“And what do you think I’m doing, Clint?”
“It ain’t fit to print, that’s for sure,” I responded, drinking my gin straight from the bottle. When I saw the previews I had a hunch that stocking up would be a good idea.
“I’m trying to save people’s jobs, you ass.” There was a brief pause in which the weight of the words hit me, but he kept steamrolling before I could interject. He was short on patience and I was short on snappy comebacks. “You’re supposed to be a numbers guy but you can’t add it up, can you? Leaving the mansion early, going to all these off-peak resorts – we keep losing our goddamn budget. If we keep losing cash and we still have to put on a show, where do you think the cuts come from? Our alcohol costs aren’t that high. We serve Fireball for Christ’s sake.”
I didn’t bother answering. Whatever I said wasn’t going to be worth the response.
“Look,” he continued. “I was dealt a shitty hand this season. Did you see those muppets they saddled me with? I still can’t tell most of them apart. So I made a bet and went all-in on the two lowest common denominators I had. One was a foul-mouthed idiot with a drinking problem. The other was Chad. He managed to come through. What about you?”
“What about me?”
“How do the numbers look?”
“Fuck fine, Jackson. How much have you handled.”
I took another drink. I was going to need it to deliver the news: “Just north of a mil.”
“That’s it?” Chris said after a pause. “A little over a million dollars?”
“What do you want me to do, Harrison?” I shot back. “Jordan’s such a lock he shouldn’t even be on the goddamn board! I can’t take bets that’re gonna clean me out?”
“I need that number at two million, Clint,” he said quietly. “That’s how much movement I promised the execs. It doesn’t matter to me if you win, lose, whatever. Ratings are one thing, but the suits are only going to invest in next season if the viewers put their money into this one.”
“Can you do math? I can’t take another million dollars’ worth of bets on Jordan. The action I’m drumming up on Robby won’t cover the losses, even with the cash I’ve already made. When I can’t pay out people are gonna try and take it out of my hide – and I ain’t got $375,000 worth of hide!”
“I’ve got a math problem for you,” he began. “Which probability is greater: you surviving all the nickel and dime grifters coming to collect, or you still drawing breath twenty-four hours after Kimmel finds out about you and Sarah?”
The line went dead and I was left to perform one last bit of calculus I’m still working out: how the hell am I gonna drum up a million dollars in five days?