The Pickup Artist: Episode 1 (series premiere)
Okay, let me start by saying I won't follow this show on a consistent basis unless you guys beg me to. Really there is not much of a point. There isn't a whole lot to analyze here, nothing to obsess over, nothing to make this an addictive reality competition on par with your So You Think You Can Dances and those Dancing with the Starses.
However with all that said, there is something disturbingly interesting about The Pickup Artist. Let me give you the low down for those of you who aren't up to speed. The show follows eight geeky, mojo-challenged guys as they attempt to gain some lady-snagging skills with the help of smoothness guru Mystery and his man-servants Matador and J-Dog. Each week someone will get eliminated until we are left with the master pickup artist.
The one thing that really surprised me about the show is its ability to avoid certain clichés from the get-go. VH1 could have easily gone with eight super nerds, guys so paralyzed by social awkwardness they can't even look at pretty ladies without perspiring. For example, Brady, Joe W. and Alvaro would be considered attractive in normal circumstances, but they each have small deficiencies that make them perfect candidates for Mystery's special brand of therapy.
In the first episode we get a little intro to the guys and their background. We meet Pradeep, the over-talker, and Scott, the stutterer. Let us not forget about the lovable teddy bears Spoon and Joe D. Including my intro shout out to Fred, I think that covers everyone. The boys are immediately put to the test when they have to try and meet girls in a bar. As our little soothsayer Fred predicted, there was a lot of crashing with an extra side of burning. Then, to drive the point home, our men Mystery, Matador and J-Dog (I can't help but laugh every time I hear that name) swoop in and show our nerds a taste of what they will be taught.
Now the idea of training guys to become "pickup artists" seems a little bit shallow, but to be fair it really does seem sincere at the heart of it. As Mystery says, "This is not about just picking up girls. It's about building a life." It is like a TV version of Hitch sans Will Smith. From the beginning episode there is not enough in terms of character development or tension to really grab audience attention, but hopefully the show will grow with time.
The thing that is most disturbing isn't all the lessons in mackittude, but rather the structure of the show itself. It doesn't really make sense to make this show a competitive elimination contest. If the idea is to help guys shouldn't all of them stay as long as possible to glean whatever they can. At the end of the series, it isn't going to matter to me who the master pickup artist is. I am going to care about how these guys come out of their shells, bloom into beautiful human beings and other growth metaphors.
So if you think this show is worth following, let me know. Otherwise, watch it if you are in to geeks and avoid it if you carry a general distrust of professional pickup artists or VH1 reality shows.