Who Wants To Be A Superhero, Episode 2

By | Friday, August 04, 2006 Leave a Comment
So I watched the second episode of Who Wants To Be A Superhero? last night. I mentioned herer earlier that I wasn't terribly enthusiastic about the show and felt that the producers were laughing at the contestants. But I'm running a contest about the show over at FFPlaza.com and figured I'd probably keep an eye on the show's progress.

I have to say that I was more impressed with the second episode than the first for two reasons: Monkey Woman and Dark Enforcer. (This will start getting into spoiler territory really quickly. If you want to watch the show unravel naturally and haven't seen the second episode yet, you might want to leave now.)

The episode's major contest was essentially to walk across a "helpless" woman's yard and get to her back door. See, she's locked herself out of the front door and two professional attack dogs are in the backyard. Each hero donned a protective suit and had to fend off the dogs until they reached the door, or they yelled "uncle". The contest seemed a little overly in favor of the male contestants, given their greater muscle-mass and we watched the women get dragged down one by one until they gave up... generally within the first minute or so. However, Monkey Woman crawled the 100 feet or whatever it was with both dogs pulling trying to pull her in opposite directions. It took her nearly ten minutes, but she simply would not give up and inched her way across the lawn in what must have been an excruciatingly difficult and terrifying guantlet. Especially in light of the other women's runs, I was impressed.

What I at first thought was curious, though, was that Iron Enforcer -- the show's physically strongest contestant, who all but admitted to using steroids earlier in the episode -- actually gave up after a couple of minutes, only inches from the goal. This, I realized later, was intentional and provided the impetus for a "plot twist" I wasn't expecting. After Iron Enforcer was eliminated from the show, they had the typical wrap-up interview in which he ranted about how unfair it was and how angry the decision made him. As he dramatically leaves and is walking out the back alley, Stan Lee stops him and offers to make him a super-villain to torment the rest of the cast. One quick make-over later, he steps back in front of the camera as the Dark Enforcer.

Clearly, Iron Enforcer knew in advance that it was a set-up to make him a super-villain and that he intentionally failed the dog fight test accordingly. I suspect he knew before the series' filming had even begun and spent the whole time acting instead of competing. It further suggests that each contestant is actually coached on their roles off-camera -- they may still be competing and the winning/losing of each contest may be genuine (or, as genuine as can be expected by Stan's seemingly arbitrary elimination decisions) but they seem to be catering to viewer's expectations. I can imagine the director talking to each of them...

"Cell Phone Girl, you're playing the part of a spoiled princess. Lemuria, I want you to be a nuturing mother figure; think 'soccer mom.' Major Victory, pretend you're the Adam West version of Batman..."

This strikes me as a more honest approach to "reality" television, and I have more respect for the show now that they're being a little more obvious about it being written.
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