At this point in the show we're basically down to the final two. And, really, the final one. We know who's going to win this thing, but the season's not over yet, so we have to watch challenges that ultimately don't mean anything but at least make for some good TV. Like any good reality show, the deck was once stacked with wacky novelty characters — the weird lady with the funny eyes, that dumb but kinda cute cowboy guy from Texas, a rich kid who liked Harleys, the clearly narcissistic personality disorder guy — but they've been picked off, as they were supposed to be, as we all sort of knew they would be. And now we're down to the final contenders, the brainy guy who rubs people the wrong way, and the earnest but wacky guy. But there's a problem: Even though everyone watching at home is already pretty sure how this will end, there is still a lot of airtime left to fill.
Oh but then a twist. That crazy NPD guy, the one who was kind of there just to get attention before the meat of the competition got underway? Well they just brought him back, to help one of the contestants. It's sort of a team challenge where the stakes are simply to make it through without totally humiliating yourself. Sure, NPD guy won't actually be any help, the ones they bring back from way in the beginning rarely are, but still, it's kind of funny to see him again and is a good reminder for the audience just how much attention they've invested in this silly spectacle. Might as well watch until the end!
Which, really, can't come fast enough. We've gotten sick of the hosts — that guy with the beard is so vacuous and grating, the others are so boring. Plus the guy who won last season was so much better than these guys. Last season in general was so much more exciting. Everyone this time is just mean and boring and, again, it's been so obvious who's going to win for so long now that it's like what's the point. But, sigh, this thing technically doesn't end until August. Did you know that?
Yeah they have a big reunion special -- people will be wearing their best clothes and make-up, everyone will pretend to like each other, even though there will be plenty of clips proving they once were willing to say and do anything to get ahead -- at the end of August in Tampa. And that's when they really announce the winner. It's not a surprise to anyone at that point, but it's not official until then. August. God! Why did we start watching this in the first place? Every time it seems exciting in the beginning but then you get partway through and it begins to feel so long.
Oh, and then after August there's that special masters edition or wherever, where whoever wins has to face off against the previous winner. Ugh, more? Sure it'll be kind of exciting, what with a bigger prize and all (they win a job!), and it's a way shorter season, but still. It's just a lot. Plus you have to read all the recaps and it's all anyone talks about at work ("Hey didja watch yesterday, could you believe what he said, that was so crazy, I rewound it like three times" etc.) and it's all so exhausting.
Of course we say that every season, that it's all too much, that this is the last one, and then the next one inevitably comes along and we're kind of excited all over again. We never learn.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.