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Full disclosure: Love in the Wild is the first dating show I’ve ever actually sat down and watched. If you do this regularly, I don’t know how you can stand it. I only chose it for my first foray into the wonderful, wonderful world of TVgasm because, of all the forthcoming summer premieres, it looked extra-specially snarkable. And let me tell ya, Gasmii . . . it did not disappoint. In the snark respect, anyway.
Anyway, on with the crap. Two planes, one containing 10 single men and another containing 10 single women, are on the way to Costa Rica. Everyone on board has had horrible luck with dating, despite generally being attractive enough for a Cosmo pictorial. (You know, the ones where everyone looks exactly the same, as if they came out of a model fabrication plant.) We meet our host, Darren McMullen, who apparently is kind of a big deal in Australia. He also has a strange half-Down Undah, half-Scottish brogue. Two accents that are delicious separately, much like chocolate and green peppers, but fail in combination.
“They may send dingoes to eat our babies, mates, but they’ll NEVAH take our freedom!”
As the planes head for dry land, MacAussie tells us that the people on them have tried everything – “Internet dating, speed dating, blind dating” – and are now taking the fourth and most desperate step by appearing on this show. No, he doesn’t say that, but we know it’s true. One blond woman tells us that she’s tired of dating bad boys and wants a nice guy. Another guy tells us his previous engagement “unraveled” four months before their wedding. A second woman complains about the lack of available single men in San Francisco: “I don’t know where all the men are hiding!” she wails. (Answer: In each other’s bedrooms.)
MacAussie says these winners will pair up and perform a series of survival tests in order to forge connections with each other; how well they work together indicates how well they’d do in a relationship. It’s a fairly unique concept, if only because these people are in pairs. It’s like Survivor in the form of a fifth-grade field trip. MacAussie adds that everyone in the group will be given the opportunity to switch their assigned partners or stay with them if they feel a connection. Oh my God, how funny will it be if one partner feels a connection and the other drops their ass like a bad habit? I’m interested now.
Finally the contestants land. In his welcome spiel, MacAussie tells them that some of them “may experience the greatest adventure of all: love.” Thank you for making us experience the greatest reality cliché of all, MacAussie. He adds that one man and one woman will be eliminated at the end of every round, although we don’t really get a sense of how those people are chosen. The last ones picked, I guess? Ah, televised kickball. The winners of the entire contest, on the other hand, will win a trip for two around the world. Maybe it’s just me, but after spending who knows how long in a jungle, I’d be satisfied with two nights at a bed-and-breakfast in Wyoming.
Time to meet the losers! MacAussie gives the girls their pick of guys. They’ll have to pick someone they’d want to share a bungalow with that night. What, they don’t have to sleep on the ground? What the hell kind of survival show is this? When they make their picks, they are to give the guy a woven bracelet matching their own. Awww, how cute. I’m kind of disappointed that they weren’t given matching fanny packs.
A really cute girl named Dawn, identified as a “Guest Services Rep,” is the first to choose. She says she’s a “leader” and needs her man to be able to stand up to her. She picks a Barack Obama-lookalike named Jared. So she needs the leader of the free world? Vanessa, a law student who looks like Eva Longoria’s homely first cousin, is next. She rattles off her checklist: “You have to be hot, you have to be funny, you have to have a good personality, you have to be hot.” Discerning, this one. She adds that even at age 26, her “biological clock is ticking.” That’s actually the sound of the tiny time bomb in my brain that goes off every time I hear someone in the 2000s talk about the biological clock.
I strenuously object to this.
She picks Steele (if that is his name), a pro golfer. He says his status as an athlete has helped with women, to the point that he’s always played the field, but now he wants to take a relationship for a spin. So pro golfers’ stock went up after Tiger Woods was revealed to be a lying, cheating sack of shit? Sad.
Erica, a music manager, is next. She picks Miles, a client services rep, on the ground that he’s “not bad to look at, at all.” Unless you count his shirt, which is the color of strawberry cream cheese. Next is Samantha, a wedding planner who is so busy working on other people’s relationships that she hasn’t had time for her own. You may remember Samantha from . . . I don’t know . . . every romantic comedy movie ever made, ever. She picks Mike, a real estate broker. He’s excited because Samantha is “by far” the hottest of the women, but he assures us that he’s primarily attracted to personality. Uh-huh.
Jessica, a retail supervisor, picks “all-American guy” Skip. I’m going to assume he’s more like the all-New England guy with a name like that. Hairstylist Kym says she’s unlucky in love and insecure, having her heart broken once. (Just once? Most of us have it happen twice before we resort to something like this.) She picks Derek, a medical sales rep and another player of the field who is now searching for someone with whom to take “the long haul.” I have a bad feeling this is going to come up later. Heather chooses – and hugs – Ben, and Brandee picks Adam. None is important enough to get job titles.
Jess is one of the last women standing. Given the option of Jason, who has a weird scratch on his head, and Peter, a surfer type who looks like he’s past due for his quarterly bath, she picks Jason, a sales rep who also sings opera and enjoys talking like the Old Spice guy. That leaves a very disappointed Theresa, a real estate agent, with Peter.
“Yeah, hey, how ya doin’. Uhhhhh, man, was I fucked last night.”
Each pair gets a backpack full of the “gizmos and gadgets” they’ll need for their first couples’ challenge: build a raft (with pre-cut wood and ropes); use a professionally-printed map to maneuver it down the river (water), through the woods (earth) and up some sort of tower (air); collect items along the way that represent all of those elements; and bring them to MacAussie, who will be waiting at the finish line. Because the river is full of crocodiles, he advises not falling in. I don’t think he needed to say that. All of these people seem vapid enough to want to avoid getting their hair wet. MacAussie counts down from three and says “Vamoose!” and they’re all off. Yes, he actually says that. Phil Keoghan is satisfied with “Go,” MacAussie. Why can’t you be?
Things look promising for Samantha and Mike; they get to work on their raft right away and, more importantly, they know what a raft is supposed to look like, unlike some of the other geniuses.
“This is where the sails go, right, Jason?”
Derek and Kym finish their raft first – barely – but neither one knows which way to go. Kym complains that she can’t read the map. There are only two possible directions to go down this river, so how hard can it be? Meanwhile, Skippy Squirrel and Jessica are incredibly proud of their raft; Jessica calls it a “Corvette” and jokes about selling it at a dealership.
As low as 1.9% APR financing for select buyers.
Ben and Heather make it into first place. Ben offers to do “the steering,” even though he’s in the back and Heather’s in the front. I think he takes the phrase “backseat driver” far too literally. Heather thinks she sees a crocodile; Ben says it’s a stick. A long, grayish-brown, scaly, wart-covered stick.
Mike and Samantha are in second and are chatting comfortably. Samantha explains that her wedding planning career takes up her dating time. “It’s a jungle out there – get it?” she cracks. Samantha, sweetie, if that’s the best you have, it’s not your career holding you back. It’s the fact that even Seth Meyers thinks you’re not funny.
Dawn and Jarack are still working on their raft. Neither one of them is taking charge; their building method is very democratic. Jarack is OK with this, but Dawn resents “directing traffic.” They’ll switch partners, for sure. No relationship can be founded on completely different perceptions of raft-building leadership. That’s one strike against you from the beginning.
Miles and Erica are rafting their way down the river. Bizarrely, Miles is straddling the raft instead of just sitting or kneeling on it, and complaining about the ensuing thigh chafe. Wear pantyhose for four hours at a formal event and then you can talk to us about thigh chafe, Miles. But Erica is attracted to him; she says he makes her feel comfortable. When you say “comfortable,” Erica, do you mean someone you can converse pleasantly with, or someone who understands the perils of thigh chafe?
Ben and Heather make it to land, with the instruction to determine which route they will take through the forest, with stops with names like “Mysterious Spring” and “The Big Tree.” I imagine “Deep, Dark Forest” and “That Place with All the Mud” are in there somewhere as well. Ben calls Heather “sweetie.” Amazingly, Heather does not elbow him in the ribs or worse.
Steele and Vanessa can’t find their map. Vanessa says she gave it to Steele. The camera catches it floating away down the river. Wah wah. After another shot of Mike and Samantha being awesome together (by the standards of this show), we cut back to Steele and Vanessa laughing about the map. Guys? It was kind of important. But Vanessa doesn’t want to point out how frustrated she is; this would make her sound bossy, after all, and she wants Steele to like her. Yes. Vanessa is one of those girls.
Jarack and Dawn’s raft breaks apart in the water after they get scared of a bobbing twig. God, they suck. They make it to land and rebuild the raft – well, actually, Dawn rebuilds it, and Jarack feels bad about being unable to do so. He doesn’t do it for a living, after all. Um, WHO DOES?
Back to Steele and Vanessa, who are making up for their maplessness by “following people.” Both wish they had put it in their bra. Steele says he forgot his. He is kind of a boob, after all. He says Vanessa is hot, but too bossy and demanding for him. This show is absolutely breathtaking in its reinforcement of long-dead stereotypes. Expect to see the women hunting for large leaves and berries with which to fan and feed the men by the lagoon by the midpoint of this episode.
Mike and Samantha, who I guess are now in first place, find the Observation Tower. Once on top, they are instructed to use the small camcorder in their backpack to take a video of the two of them kissing. OOOOH! Mike and Samantha, standin’ in a tower, K-I-S-S-I-N-G . . . on camera! I am awestruck by the maturity of this competition. But at the top of the absurdly high, twisty tower, they kiss twice.
Who knew puke-colored helmets could be such a turn-on?
Ben and Heather reach the mysterious spring, where they are tasked with filling a hollow orb with water. Ben tells Heather she’s lucky that she’s a girl and can let the man take charge. GOD. Actually, he’s the lucky one. To hear her talk about how he gets on her nerves, if she had the orb in her hands, she’d bean him in the head with it. And nobody would blame her.
Miles sits Erica on his shoulders so she can reach a tiki-faced “medallion” hanging from a tree. She’s still smitten. She says they “got to know a little bit of each other” during this task.
Yes. They did.
Meanwhile, Jason and Jess – remember them? Yeah, me neither – are hopelessly lost. Jason is terrified of ants. He once saw a movie in which ants ate people. Jess does not approve. Neither does the male population of the world. Hell, neither does the female population of the world. Jason swivels around, sees some more ants and leaps onto lower ground like a little bitch. I wonder if he was ever on one of Maury’s “strange phobias” episodes, where deathly fears of balloons and pickles go to die.
Scary beyond all reason.
The next few minutes go by in a blur. Miles and Erica kiss at the top of the tower. It’s cute. Adam and Brandee – who? – spot warthogs on the trail. Adam calls them “cougars.” Adam’s an idiot. Steele and Vanessa . . . um, guys? Guys?
There’s a bungalow for exactly this purpose at the end of the race.
Skippy Squirrel leaps off a log into the river. Jessica calls him a “badass” without a shred of sarcasm. Her standards are aggressively low. Ben says Heather is hot, but his ideal girl needs to be able to handle his sense of humor. When she tells him she went to a Catholic school, Ben anoints her a “naughty Catholic schoolgirl.” He finds this hysterical. Heather, to her great credit, does not.
Ben’s ideal girl.
Theresa and Peter get to the top of the tower. Theresa hates the height and having to make skin-to-skin contact with Peter. We don’t get to hear from Peter. Anyone reminded of a fatter, greasier version of Heath Ledger’s (R.I.P., good sir) character in 10 Things I Hate About You?
Jarack and Dawn, both dripping wet, make it to shore and chat. Dawn tells him she dated football players in college. Jarack calls football players “meatheads.” “Not all,” Dawn says. “I’m a self-proclaimed meathead.” Jarack doesn’t really know how to react to this. Neither do I. What does that mean, Dawn?
Ben and Heather collect the medallion from the tree without looking at each other. Mike and Samantha do the same, with a celebratory hug. Their cuteness is putting me into a diabetic coma. They’re the first to complete all of their goals, and after a quick trip on a kickass-looking zipline, they make it to MacAussie, who really enjoys the 20-second clip of their double kiss.
Just wait for the giant boner he’ll get when Steele and Vanessa get here.
Mike and Samantha are in first place! (Duh.) As prizes, they win immunity from elimination for this round, a night in “the Oasis” (HAWT!) and breakfast the next morning by one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful waterfalls. Sweet deal. If they don’t bone tonight, I’m going to be horribly disappointed.
More couples show up in rapid succession, in order: Ben and Heather, Adam and Brandee, Peter and Theresa, Skippy Squirrel and Jessica, Miles and Erica, Derek and Kym, Steele and Vanessa (and MacAussie’s boner), Jason and Jess (and an entire nest of flesh-eating ants). Finally, Jarack and Dawn . . . seven hours later.
MacAussie’s feet must be exhausted.
Dawn is pissed at being “definitely not safe” from elimination. She’s in it to win it, dammit! She wants to stay! She wants a new partner! Dawn want! Dawn want! God, I hope she goes home. Then we can have some peace and quiet. (I’d probably say the same for Jarack if he ever said anything.)
Welcome to the Oasis!
As featured on that Costa Rican hit, Música Televisión’s Cunas.
Inside, it has dark wood furniture, a balcony with a hot tub, a platter of fruit and champagne, and one very big, comfy-looking bed. Well, give them credit for not covering it in rose petals and shaping it like a heart. They can also see a volcano from their window.
“But is it a Russian volcano?“
Quiet, you. Mike and Samantha sit on the bed and peck each other for about five seconds before we cut away, after which (presumably) they start doin’ it and doin’ it well. On to the cabins.
As featured on that Costa Rican hit, Música Televisión’s Madre Adolescente.
The cabins also have only one bed per, which makes Steele very happy. Vanessa giggles like a prepubescent as she watches him through the shower door. At least these two don’t beat around the bush. Vanessa thinks he’s the type of guy “every girl dreams about.” You mean we all dream of obnoxious horndogs with no personality?
In Dawn and Jarack’s cabin, which already has their names on it – no doubt accomplished during the seven hours they were lost – Dawn applies her makeup and responds abruptly to Jarack’s inquiries about their chances of elimination, clearly wishing she were somewhere else. Like another hemisphere? Because I’ll drop you there any time, Dawn.
Skippy Squirrel, now dressed in a pair of micro-shorts that would make Lady Gaga wince, and Jessica enter their cabin. Jessica says she likes him, but is open to meeting more people. Jessica is officially “the sane one.” Every reality show has one. They usually get kicked off just as it gets good.
Hot tub and wine time! Vanessa and her breasts can’t wait to unwind.
Maybe she’s born with it – maybe it’s polypropylene.
Ben is tired, but he really wants to meet new people, so he abandons Heather in their cabin and joins everyone in the hot tub. (He probably thinks this is some sort of punishment for Heather. Har.) Once inside, he calls Steele “frat boy,” which nobody is happy about. When Vanessa defends Steele, Ben calls her “boss lady,” and then yells at them both about clinging to each other despite only meeting two hours ago. Yeah, they only met that long ago. Did Ben fall through some sort of tear in the space-time continuum, or is he just an idiot? I’m gonna go with “idiot.” He gives up on Vanessa and Steele and joins Brandee, who turns out to be a mental health specialist. Lucky Brandee. She has her next case study right here.
As it turns out, though, Dawn is equally annoyed with Vanessa’s clinginess and wishes she could get a chance to talk to Steele, likely for the fact that he isn’t Jarack. I kinda hope she stays on the show now. And ends up with Ben. That would be the most poetic justice of all time.
Derek mingles with the other girls while Kym looks on in RAAAAAAAGE.
“Derek, do not make me pout at you longer than I have to!”
Jess, whom Jason describes as “conservative” vis-à-vis sex, forces Jason to sleep on the floor. (But what if there’s an ant on it?!) You know, Jess, you can share a bed with someone without actually having sex with them. Jesus will let that one slide. And if you don’t think He can, this is the wrong show for you.
Heather puts a pillow between her and Ben. She says he rubs her the wrong way and she’s very willing to tell him so. She tells him some of his comments are “arrogant” and “even ignorant.” Ben gets pissy and tells her to get over herself. He’s definitely the type of guy who screams “YOU DON’T KNOW ME!” when everyone turns on him, as they surely and rightfully will.
The next morning, Mike takes a video of Samantha, who is rocking some awesome sex hair.
“Yeah . . . we smushed.”
Actually, it’s never quite determined if they did. Why must this show be such a tease? The two are escorted by SUV to the waterfall, known as La Fortuna, where they are treated to a fruit- and mimosa-filled breakfast. Samantha cries at the beauty of it all. Calm down, Samantha, it’s just a waterfall. Pretty much the same thing happens every time you take a piss. After breakfast, they jump in the water and hug and peck some more. Oh, COME ON! If Vanessa and Steele can make out in front of dozens of viewers at home, why can’t you?!
Back at the cabins. Jess says she feels no connection with Jason and can’t wait to swap partners. Good thing he was on the floor all night. Vanessa babbles to Steele about how the elimination process will go; he incoherently mumbles something about drama. Vanessa tells us she’ll be hurt if he switches partners; she’s looking for someone to spend the rest of her life with, after all. Her biological clock is kind of a whiny bitch.
In the breakfast room, Dawn and Steele chat and laugh while Vanessa looks on in RAAAAAAAGE.
“Maybe this place has a teenage gardener I could bang instead . . .”
On their porch, Miles and Erica chat and laugh. They both tell the camera that they lurve each other, but only Miles admits that lurve can be fleeting after one conversation. Jebus. He must be like a hummingbird with women in the real world.
At breakfast, Ben tries to sell Miles on Heather (for which she will owe him for the rest of her life) and, amazingly, it seems to be working, simply because Heather is attractive. Miles still isn’t sure, though. He’s still knocked down a few points in my book for not telling Ben to go to hell. Heather, who views the group of men as an “ice cream shop” with multiple flavors, says Jarack seems “deep and wise” and Miles, like all Midwest guys, seems “nice and down-to-earth.” Note the use of the word “seems.” Do any of these people really know anything about each other? Or are Jarack’s silence and Miles’s Minnesota residency enough for her to go on? Not that it matters. Either of those two would be a better match for Heather than the Michael Scott acolyte that is Ben.
Next is a montage of everyone dressing and making themselves up for elimination night. Erica has no idea what to expect. Vanessa wants Steele. Steele is freaked out by Vanessa. Ben thinks that if the girls get to vote off the guys, he’ll be “out first for sure.” How unusually perceptive of him. There’s hope for him yet. Just a little.
Everyone gathers in the elimination area, which is pretty much the same as that of Survivor, only with a polished wooden platform and satin curtains. (Roughing it, my ass.) MacAussie informs them that if Samantha or Mike picks somebody new, that somebody cannot refuse them, period. Everyone else has the choice to turn everyone else down. Geez, this could take forever. The last man and woman standing will be kicked off the show. Peter and Dawn, most likely. And she’d hate him with a hot flaming passion, while he would be unable to form a thought about her, so the chances of a post-show intra-loser romance are marginal at best.
Immediately after MacAussie asks him what he’d like to do, Mike says he’ll to stay with Samantha, and she says the same about him. This is a reality show, people, so don’t expect to see them picking out a china pattern any time soon.
Awww, they like-like each other!
On the other hand, Ben and Heather can’t wait to get away from each other. (And thoroughly decontaminate.) Ben says he’d like to pair up with Brandee, who, as we saw earlier, isn’t particularly impressed with him, but seems to take him in stride. She does deal with crazy people for a living, you know, which may be why she accepts. The research grant will be huge. Heather is relieved, saying the switch was the first thing she and Ben have agreed on. You rule, Heather. She picks Midwest Miles, who gratefully accepts, much to Erica’s RAAAAAAAGE.
“It is so on, you Ben-stained slut.”
She says she is surprised that Miles dumped her because, after all, they “got through a freakin’ jungle together,” so there had to be sparks. Well, so did Ben and Heather, ahead of the two of you, and they’d rather sit in the crocodile-infested river dressed only in raw scraps of meat than be around each other. That’s hardly a guarantee.
Adam is next to pick. Do we know anything about him except that he never saw The Lion King, and therefore doesn’t know a warthog when two of them are farting in his face? He immediately selects Kym, who accepts after a moment of lip-pursing. Either her face is already stuck like that, or it’s going to be by the end of the show. Theresa and Peter are up next. Peter, who gets first pick, asks Jess to be his partner. She beams and accepts, probably because he a) is very unlikely to notice ants, let alone be scared by them, and b) is used to waking up on the floor. Theresa asks Skippy Squirrel to join her, much to Jessica’s premature RAAAAAAAGE.
“You think you can handle my squint?”
Apparently he can, though, because he accepts Theresa’s advance. But Jessica is not to be stopped – she asks Derek, who accepts without a second of hesitation, not even pausing to let MacAussie repeat the question for Jessica. Smooth as silk. That mingling by the hot tub must have done wonders for his confidence.
So, at this point, only one couple has stayed together and six have switched. Ouch. Next is Erica, who assures MacAussie that she has “recovered” from Miles’s betrayal and now has her eye on Jason. He accepts, but you know he’ll have to send her for a full de-anting before they go to sleep. You never know what could have crawled on her skirt in the past ten minutes.
Remaining are Steele/Vanessa and Dawn/Jarack, and finally, the show has gotten good. One of these four is going to throw a major shit-fit. I can just feel it. It’s Steele’s pick. After a long think, he acknowledges that Dawn is a “great girl” (since when?), but Vanessa is keeping his genitals on lockdown, so he doesn’t have much choice in the matter. No, he doesn’t say that. But she does. And that’s why she stays with him instead of trading him in for President Jarack.
Dawn and Jarack are instructed to remove their bracelets and leave them in “the bowl.” Dawn wishes everyone luck; Jarack says “Carry on, man,” or some other nonsense. To us, he says he’s disappointed, but was grateful for the experience. That’s lovely, Jarack, now get out. As for Dawn, she cries and says “It is what it is.” This, of course, is TV code for “I’m getting philosophical to cover up the fact that my refusal to be a leader because of the unwomanliness of it all made us lose.” But she’s confident that she’ll fall in love eventually. With a man who looks like Mitt Romney.
Thus ends the premiere of Love in the Wild, with no real love and occasional moments of wild, one of which may or may not have been between Mike and Samantha. Any predictions for the rest of the season? Anyone give a damn? Let me know in the comments!