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Addicted to Reality TV

I really hate reality TV — I saw a few episodes of the original Survivor when it first aired, and the petty bickering and the conniving and the efforts of the creators of the show to aggravate the conflict just completely turned me off. It was artificially Darwinian to an extreme. Every other reality program I’ve heard about since seems to follow the same vicious and invidious formula.

And then I stumbled onto Strip Search. I watched the first couple of episodes because I’m a fan of Maki’s webcomic, Sci-ence, and then found it addictive. The premise is simple and basically the same as a lot of reality TV programs: a group of people are set up in a house, and every day they are given a challenge to meet, the winner gets immunity, and two of the others have to up against each other in an elimination challenge…so the population gets slowly winnowed down to a final winner.

But here are the differences: the people are all webcomic artists. The challenges are all testing elements of what it takes to succeed with a webcomic, so in some ways its more like a training boot camp. Most importantly, all the people being tested seem genuinely nice; they get along, they aren’t scheming to screw each other over, they like each others’ work. The way the dynamic is set up, it’s the two show creators, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, who judge the work in the elimination rounds, who are the force of selection — so it’s not the players working to get each other kicked out of the house, it’s players cooperating against an external agent.

It’s very Kropotkinesque, and that makes it a pleasure to watch.

The final episode airs next Tuesday, so I don’t know who’s going to win yet (and the nice thing is, I don’t care; I got into it by following Maki, but I’ve gotten to like all of them), and I can’t spoil it for you. But it’s a webseries so you can easily start from the beginning.

I may have just consumed the entire weekend for some of you, who will start watching the whole series just now.

Comments

  1. New England Bob says

    I have detested all Reality programs since I watched the first 10 minutes of Survivir.
    The only one I tolerate is Shark Tank.

  2. says

    I have genuinely enjoyed Strip Search. A lot. The camaraderie, genuine (seemingly) friendliness and tongue in cheek atmosphere of the whole show have been very endearing.

  3. schism says

    Speaking positively of the Penny Arcade guys? There goes any goodwill you built up with Melissa McEwan.

  4. says

    Except…what makes the show work for me is that the Penny Arcade guys are the enemy. There are a couple of funny moments where they wonder where the alliance-building and scheming are in their show, not realizing that nothing in the structure of the show set up any conflicts within the artists group: it’s all against the creators.

  5. says

    And I think Mike and Jerry do that because they know it isn’t structured that way. It’s both a tongue in cheek send-up of shitty reality tv and also a genuine celebration of their passion for comics.

  6. gussnarp says

    I’ve been watching the show because of Maki as well, and it really has been entertaining in a way reality television never is for me. I think part of it is that, not only are they basically nice people, they also know that when this is all over they’re still going to see these people at cons, their fan bases all overlap, and they know and respect each other’s work. I’m rooting for Maki all the way, but I ended up being a huge fan of Lexxy and Erika as well, even more so when I figured out she was the talent behind the exceptional web comic Dar. And Abby took me, like everyone else, by surprise, which I think says something really terrible about how we judge people and create our expectations and makes me feel like a heel, but her sense of humor is just fantastic.

    Also PZ, stop being into just about everything I like, it’s starting to creep me out.

  7. Becca Stareyes says

    I’ll add it to things to check out. I’ve heard that Face-Off on the channel formerly known as Sci Fi had a similar level of camaraderie: that the contestants can compete without being backstabbing jerks and/or the producers can make a show without trying to make it look like the contestants are backstabbing jerks.

  8. lesterley says

    It’s gratifying to know that I’m not the only one who despises “reality” shows.

    My skepticism immediately kicked into high gear when someone explained the premise of “Survivor” to me. My first thought was, “Ok. So it’s supposed to be a bunch of people trying to survive on a deserted island. But WHAT ABOUT THE PRODUCTION CREW??” While the contestants are scavenging for food, is the camera and boom operators standing around munching on Snickers Bars and drinking Diet Coke?

    The whole concept seemed contrived and stupid, so I refused to watch it.

  9. Kemanorel Kin says

    I’m more of a lurker than a commenter, but I have to mention the show Splash.

    Some of it is obviously staged, but there’s none of the alliance/backstabbing stuff. Overall, it’s an accurate depiction of what divers actually do and how all the divers I knew in college behaved. It was just friendly competition.

    We all wanted to win, but we genuinely wanted everyone to do well and no one get hurt. In a way, you didn’t even like it if you win just because someone else had a bad dive, and you could lose and be happy about it as long as you had a personal best of some kind. Splash was very reminiscent of that.

    If you want to see a “reality” show without the aggravating conflict, check out Splash.

  10. marcoli says

    Agreeing with #8 about the show Face-Off. That has been the only reality show that our whole family watches together. Very interesting.

  11. nowimnothing says

    I will add a shout out for Face Off. There is a bit of drama, but there is also a lot of teamwork and neat insights into special effects. It is one of the few TV shows me and my 7 year old horror movie loving daughter can agree on.

    I think there is a difference between the reality shows where some talented people are engaged in a competition and where ‘average’ people are thrown together in a contrived circumstance. Of course we can come up with good and bad examples of each kind, but the contrived ones tend to lean a bit more heavily on the drama. If we wanted to paint with a broad brush, we could call all game shows (even Jeopardy) reality tv. I think the main difference is whether the focus is more on the competition/game or the characters. But it is kind of a fluid dynamic.

    I will admit a liking for Survivor, sure it is contrived and they create (sometimes troubling) stereotypical characters with the editing but in the decent seasons there is some great interpersonal strategy and game theory.

  12. says

    One more vote for ‘Face Off’… the contestants and judges treat the show like a long-form job interview. Negative interpersonal drama counts against the contestants in a “doesn’t work well with others in a professional setting” kind of way. The tension on the show comes from balancing ambition with skill against a hard time limit, rather than from people treating each other like shit and trying to sabotage one another. The best part is seeing the people who are better at time management using that time to assist the people who are having more difficulty getting things finished. Last season, the person causing the most drama was eliminated about midway, and it was clear that the judges were glad to see her gone.

  13. says

    I agree that reality shows that, rather than pitting ordinary people against each other in contrived situations designed to evoke drama, challenge people with some sort of talent to achieve something spectacular, are much more worth the watching. I have been a fan of both Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance. I really enjoy the former for a few reasons: first, the glitz, glamour, and silliness. It’s unabashed about its Hollywood shallowness and doesn’t try to pretend it’s anything else. Second, there is, from time to time, moments of true artistry and expression of deep emotion, so that’s cool. Third, there’s that lack of backstabbing and jealousy among the contestants – those who are kicked off the show frequently show up in the audience during the weeks after, cheering for their former competitors. Fourth, the judges, who are basically the heart of the show – they’re basically a comedy trio. I think that people really enjoy watching people strive for, and achieve, a difficult goal, and that’s what DWTS offers. And, it’s also cool to watch people who really don’t know how to dance try it out and discover how much they like it.

    SYTYCD is different in that the dancers are already dancers and dedicated to the art – the level of technical artistry is higher and there is more of a sense of competition. But boy, some of the dances are amazing.

    My $0.02.

  14. says

    I have generally found the first season of any interesting reality show to be the one to catch. After that, contestants have viewed the game before and you get your nasty plotters/schemers who don’t just compete using the framework of the game, but they use gamesmanship and “technically following rules” to get to the top.

  15. gregbrouelette says

    I agree. I’ve been a fan of Penny Arcade for years and years. At first I thought Strip Search was a stupid idea but wow, it really started to grow on me.

    I love how there is absolutely no backstabbing between the contestants. They all really respect each other and enjoy each others work.

  16. says

    Like, barbyau, I enjoy the first season or two of a number of reality shows, but I think it’s for a slightly different reason. I probably wouldn’t enjoy the first season of Survivor, but most shows based around a profession, I do. Yes, even America’s Next Top Model. I think this is because the show spends so much time showing you what you have to pay attention to in order to understand the competition. It gives you some insight into the profession and leaves much less room for all the manufactured petty drama.

  17. One Day Soon I Shall Invent A Funny Login says

    Another vote for SYTYCD, just this week entering the good part (after auditions) of its tenth season. Attractive, earnest young people, working at the very limit of their considerable skills, to create sometimes-brilliant performance art.

    Also, The Amazing Race is a venerable reality series where there is a bearable minimum of interpersonal drama and lots of good scenery. There are periodic attempts at forming coalitions but the trek itself is so tough that the outcome is almost always determined by (a) stamina and good partnership in the face of blinding fatigue and (b) the luck of getting a competent cab driver who won’t get lost on the way to the airport.

  18. stevem says

    Face Off seems to me just a “sci-fi” version of Project Runway; which itself is somewhat the ‘flipside’ of America’s Next Top Model. But really, they say it is not “reality” TV, just “unscripted” TV. Still, I can’t understand the fascination with ‘that kind’ of TV, where is the art of storytelling; how is “reality tv” any different than just “gossip” (e.g. Real Housewives of …)?

  19. anteprepro says

    Seconding Master Chef and nth-ing Face Off. I tend to like “reality shows” that are basically like profession-specific game show competitions. Cupcake Wars and Chopped especially. Will have to check out Strip Search, since it fits the bill.

  20. Kemanorel Kin says

    @21 He had a follow up show called “Beyond Survival with Les Stroud” that’s worth watching.

  21. says

    My family enjoys a lot of competition shows. FaceOff is the best as many here have noted. The contestants create amazing make-up effects, and almost everyone is cooperative and professional. As a matter of personal taste, I’d like the theme one time to be ‘make something that looks pleasant’, because there are always an overabundance of monsters, but that’s just me.

    I used to hate reality TV because I really can’t stand bickering and backstabbing, and I thought that was the whole point of those shows. Then my family got me into ‘Who Wants to be a Superhero’ (it was only on for a couple of seasons). The contestants on that show lost points for the slightest acts of unkindness toward each other, because that’s not how superheroes behave.

  22. alkaloid says

    I can tolerate some of the shows that are more nature-oriented, but what really turns me off are the reality shows where the hosts/main characters are endlessly abusive and they seem to be more about humiliating people than anything else. Anything with Gordon Ramsay in it is an abomination as far as I’m concerned.

  23. says

    The BBC had a fun show for a while – I forget the name – but basically it involved 3 rather manly chefs sent into areas with little technological development, challenged to first learn the basics of the local cuisine, then hunt and forage the main elements of their meal (anything from trapping snapping turtles in Louisiana to spearing octopi off the coast of New Guinea), then cook and serve the meal to local dignitaries, who were the judges. It was quite entertaining.

  24. rothron says

    Realityshows are often cut so it appears that the contestants gloat over each others misfortunes, when they are actually supportive. I see they do it on Ink Master a lot. Reaction shots are mixed and matched to tell a completely false story. Why it’s still called Reality-tv is a mystery to me. The only thing that’s real about them is that the participants are not actors, not because there isn’t a script.

  25. magistramarla says

    I’m also not a fan of most reality or competition shows, but I truly love cooking competition shows.
    I avidly watch “The Next Food Network Star” every summer and I enjoy watching Iron Chef competitions. I’ve learned a lot about cooking techniques by watching them.
    The competitions can get a bit stressful, but the competitors are not conniving and hateful toward each other. The one season that there was a woman who acted that way on “The Next Food Network Star” she was very unpopular and soon left.
    I really love to cook, so these shows are my guilty pleasure.

  26. says

    Yeah. I liked the first two seasons of Survivor. The first, because of the novelty, the second because, even though they sort of knew what the game was at that point, so knew how to back stab, they often did so “creatively”, and they where not all total idiots. After that.. it was nothing but a mix of idiots, and people with no little or no scrupples at all. And, you can’t tell me that wasn’t intentional, so that it would be “exciting”.

    The pirate based one.. they needed to think over more, before they did it, and not just the, “Lets throw someone off the first day.” The theme could have been interesting, but they took the easy way out, didn’t have a huge lot of novelty to it, and just.. made so many mistakes in the concept design.

    Otherwise, yeah, its almost always better if the show is people that know what the fuck they are doing, competing. The guy that came up with Survivor should have stuck with Eco-Challenge, even if it was more dangerous and more expensive to film imo.

  27. a miasma of incandescent plasma says

    Face Off is great. My absolute favorite.
    Big Brain Theory is pretty ok… far from perfect with its focus on petty arguments and not enough deep dives on the technical stuff. But it’s basically “face off for engineers”.
    My other half loves cooking shows and got me into “The Next Iron Chef”. Really liked that one, good competition… basically face off for chefs. Good stuff.

  28. nonzero says

    One of my favorite ‘reality’ shows ever was a British one called ‘Rough Science’. Each episode a group of five or so scientists were taken to a remote location and tasked with a project like ‘build a radio and communicate for help’ or ‘build a camera and take a picture of something’. The trick is that they only had the basic amenities of the environment to work with. A bit like junkyard wards but more emphasis on basic science than engineering and more of a cooperative effort than a competition.

  29. unclefrogy says

    reality shows do hire writers and are generally not documentaries though they like to give the appearance documentaries and it appears that to create “drama” and not just interest they tend to emphasize the negative and competitive aspects of personalities .
    there was a series or a couple of seasons of a “reality” show
    that was broadcast on one of the local public stations in L.A. I think it was called “rough science”. they took a small group of people to some remote placed like an abandoned and scavenged factory and gave them a different challenge of solving some basic technological with what was available in the area and a time limit to accomplish it
    really was fun to watch how they used their their scientific understanding of to work out problems like a clock and alarm, shelter, wound dressing medicine
    uncle frogy

  30. zibble says

    I haven’t watched it, but I know some people that did, and they were really upset at how Katie Rice, an extremely talented artist with industry experience, was clearly so far beyond all the webcomic dudes she was competing with and the dudes who were judging her.

    On the whole, webcomics just aren’t a hugely respectable industry, and the Penny Arcade bros are not anywhere near a position to judge the artistic output of others.

  31. gussnarp says

    @zibble – I’m not entirely sure what the complaint is here. Katie’s great, and that’s why shes one of the final three. Is the charge sexism? Webcomics suck? Penny Arcade sucks? I’m not sure that a super talented woman being on the show and currently being one of the final three contestants, only one of whom is a man, demonstrates sexism. The men have tended to fail out of the competition first, leaving a predominately female field.

    Is Penny Arcade itself sexist? Certainly most of the people on camera outside of the contestants have been male. I honestly don’t know, they probably are a bit, being a couple of dudes.

    Webcomics aren’t a hugely resptectable industry (i.e. webcomics suck)? Maybe. But this is a bunch of artists, including Katie, who I assume came to be contestants on this show because they want to be producing webcomics and wanted this show to give them a boost into doing that and making some decent money at it.

    The Penny Arcade bros are not in a position to judge others (i.e. Penny Arcade sucks)? Maybe not. I’m not a fan of their strip. On the other hand, it is artistically a consistently good comic, from my viewpoint. It’s not high art, but it’s a well done strip, basically. Not my thing, but decent. More to the point, they certainly know how to turn a webcomic into a commercially successful venture, which I think is supposed to be the goal of these artists. So maybe they can judge on that. And who is anyone to judge the artistic output of anyone else? I’m pretty sure the contestants, including Katie, wanted to be on this show because they had at least some respect for the work of Penny Arcade and wanted to break into webcomics as a business with the support they would get for winning.

    So maybe people don’t like the show because they don’t like webcomics or Penny Arcade? Wouldn’t expect them to. But it seems like you’re hinting at sexism, and I’d just love to hear more evidence of it than the presence of a talented female artist on a show hosted by two men, who’s beating all the men, along with some other talented female artists. If Katie had been beaten early by the men, or Abby, or Lexxy, or Erika (OK, Erika should have stayed longer, but she lasted well after a lot of men had lost), that would be something, but as it is? I’m just not seeing it.

  32. Rip Steakface says

    I’ll just add that I don’t tend to hate singing/talent shows that aren’t American Idol. There’s no drama bullshit like on Survivor and there’s a lot more actual talent outside American Idol. Occasionally you’ll see something really cool like a black soul singer doing Pat Benetar or other sorts of genre busting. Plus, it’s fun to watch with my mom – she has perfect pitch and it’s hilarious to see her cringe if anyone goes out of tune for a moment.

  33. great1american1satan says

    Gus – That comment assumes a knowledge of events and actions unrelated to the show and even the regular run of the comic. Mike Krahulik has occasionally conducted himself like a shit, has even worse people rising to his defense when he’s shitty, issuing half-assed apologies if any, while failing to denounce the Slymesque way his defenders behaved.

    I’m not overly familiar with the situation, but that’s what I was told.

    Amusingly, the creator of Dar also faced some criticism from the trans* community for a comic that seemed to fetishize trans*men, once upon a time. Again, this is just things I’ve heard and don’t know much about personally. You can find out for yourself.

  34. says

    Katie is talented. So are Maki and Abby. So?

    The premise of the show is that the Penny Arcade guys are judging the artists’ work, and I agree that that is a kind of bias. I’ve seen it throughout the series, that they apply criteria to the artists’ work that they’d apply to their own work, which is often inappropriate. While I was hoping for Maki to do well, after a few episodes I had the feeling he was doomed simply because his comics are very, very different from Penny Arcade. It was a surprise to me that he made it so far.

    I’m also not that big a fan of Penny Arcade. They mainly seem to be imbedded in the gaming industry, and the comics they turn out are so often completely incomprehensible to me — they’re extremely inside baseball, disconnected vignettes like scattered fragments of a conversation. But they’re incredibly successful, they’ve got money and marketing, and they have the ability to put on this kind of show. That’s why they get to be judges, unfair as it might be.

  35. zibble says

    @gussnarp

    On the other hand, it is artistically a consistently good comic, from my viewpoint. It’s not high art, but it’s a well done strip, basically.

    It’s not, really. It’s superficial polish over poor underlying skills. Gabe has to ask for help from fans with anatomy whenever he wants to draw a character deviating from one of the two poses in which he’s capable of rendering a shoddy approximation of the human form.

    You’re right that where PA excels is in marketing and presentation, but that’s just what’s wrong with webcomics – their success isn’t measured in sales, but in attention, and the industry rewards the most pandering attention-seeking behavior – hence why so many successful webcomics just comment inanely on pop video games. What’s upsetting is that they position themselves as masters of a craft while totally ignorant of the actual disciplines of writing and illustration and the amount of actual work that goes into them.

    And I’m not saying that work is the only thing that matters; I’d defend webcomics like XKCD and SMBC for having a lot of value outside the creator’s drawing skills, and I’d even defend the earlier Penny Arcade, when it looked a lot crappier, for having a raw, anti-establishment passion. But they have become people whose only skill is selling the worthless – they are in so many ways belonging to that ‘B’ ship in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, full of the marketers and management consultants that a more wise society saw fit to expel from the planet, and yet they market themselves as artists of some integrity. They would be the worst possible choice to represent the artistic potential of the webcomics medium if not for even more horrible webcomics like Ctrl Alt Del.

    I’m pretty sure the contestants, including Katie, wanted to be on this show because they had at least some respect for the work of Penny Arcade and wanted to break into webcomics as a business with the support they would get for winning.

    What I think is more likely is that, at least in Katie’s case, she has an extreme amount of talent for which it’s impossible to find a monetarily and spiritually rewarding outlet, partly because of the slow death of traditional media like animation, and partly because of the extreme degradation of industry standards, for which webcomics are at least partly responsible.

  36. zibble says

    @37 PZ

    I’m also not that big a fan of Penny Arcade. They mainly seem to be imbedded in the gaming industry, and the comics they turn out are so often completely incomprehensible to me — they’re extremely inside baseball, disconnected vignettes like scattered fragments of a conversation.

    It’s not just you. I’m a gaming young-un’, and most of their comics are incomprehensible unless I’ve read the accompanying blog post. TBH, this was something that I *liked* – skipping any actual explanation allowed them to cut right to the actual joke or commentary with a sort of appealing brevity. It’s much better than the vast majority of gaming webcomics, which have loooong strips and continuing storylines that boil down to “Look! I’m playing the game you’re all playing!”

    The problem is that they’ve ceased to be anything close to an artist. They’re hacks whose skills at promotion have replaced any legitimate interest in the foundations of the industry. It’d be like if there was a science competition managed and judged by professional homeopathists.

  37. carlie says

    gussnarp – Here, if you want to understand the attitude towards Penny Arcade. Make sure you have a couple of hours free first. No, it can’t be summed up quickly. If you really want to know, go check the timeline and read all of the links. Otherwise, please just accept that yes, there are reasons to not like them.

  38. great1american1satan says

    Damn, I wouldn’t even have been as harsh as people here are being. I’m an artist and I am opposed to slamming other artists for weak skills if they are doing the work and entertaining or edifying people. Krahulik is better than at least 80% of webcomic artists, and I wouldn’t insult his lessers if they made something they and their fans enjoyed.

    That said, I think it’s possible to be a good artist and a horrible human being. Not that I think these guys are horrible. They’re just medium shitty in the way the majority of my fellow privilege jockeys are.

  39. great1american1satan says

    Ah, if I’d read a bit farther, I’d have seen where you defended people working with less than perfect skill. There you go. :-P

  40. zibble says

    @42 G1A1S
    There’s actually lot of problems with perfect skill; it often requires a singular obsession with just one facet of art to the detriment of other facets (like narrative); the drive towards perfection values a lack of mistakes over good ideas and makes the artist less willing to experiment; and perfection doesn’t actually exist, so if you strive for it, you’ll never be satisfied.

    That’s why I tend to prefer the work of young, arrogant upstarts over experienced vets. On the whole, we all tend to respond to the successes in art much more than the failures.

  41. zibble says

    But on the flip side, someone who doesn’t care enough to harshly examine their drawings probably won’t care enough to examine other facets of what they’re doing, like if their comics contribute to rape culture.

  42. great1american1satan says

    My partner is one of the hardest working fools in webcomickry, and his reward: To feel inferior to others, because the refinement of his technique means the work is much less consistent than many other comics. Art is hella difficult when you’re at all self-critical.

    I’d still rank him in the upper 20% of comics for skills though, and mostly people read it for the writing. Now if only we could figure out how to make money commensurate to all that labor… Never gonna happen.

  43. zibble says

    To feel inferior to others, because the refinement of his technique means the work is much less consistent than many other comics. Art is hella difficult when you’re at all self-critical.

    Sounds like my kind of guy.

    Right now is a really good time for artists in terms of exposure, but really bad in terms of finding an actual career. I know the indie comics scene is much more interested in experimentation than consistency, but I have no idea how one breaks into that.

  44. hypocee says

    I vaguely enjoyed The Mole while hating the rest of the first wave of “R”TV. People go all over the place doing goofy stuff in teams, one of them’s an employee of the show sabotaging stuff, they try to guess who which’ll help them succeed. Thus, a dash of paranoia but no diplomacy or tallest-daisy games, and frankly it seemed like that aspect was mostly overlooked in favor of a bunch of people going to beutiful places to do fun adventure stuff.

    It’s not competition – probably file under documentary rather than RTV – but some of yinz might want to check out the Doublefine videos –
    http://www.doublefine.com/fortnight
    http://www.doublefine.com/dfapay

    They’re filmed by the same production company as all the PA stuff. To vaguely quote Jake Rodkin of Idle Thumbs: “I work at an adventure game company, and lately I’ve been writing another adventure game. But often, actually, I might be watching the people at Doublefine develop their Amnesia Fortnight games on my second monitor. It turns out that the only reality TV that can hold my attention is other people doing my exact job! Gross!”

  45. One Day Soon I Shall Invent A Funny Login says

    #45 – are you perchance talking about Questionable Content? If not, please say what’s a good webcomic that’s read for its writing, because I’d like to subscribe…

  46. says

    Thanks PZ! Glad Strip Search could melt your steel heart, and I’m happy to say you’re probably the only man on Earth with Brustling privileges (http://www.whompcomic.com/2011/05/25/brustle-up-some-rub/)

    About the PA experience:
    PA’s Inside Baseball nature resonates a lot with me because I have the same problems with Sci-ence. I either use the article to explain the context or I make the comic super long. It’s rare when I succeed in making a fully-contained piece that rings true regardless of context. But I’m working on it!

    I could talk for a while about Mike’s tendencies to get himself in trouble (he eats his own words right on the show, watch it!) and the merit of their work (Some of the best writing advice I’ve ever received came from Jerry, fwiw)

    …but the production company behind Strip Search, Loading Ready Run, put it best: If we all thought PA was so terrible and Mike and Jerry were horrible people, we wouldn’t have had anything to do with the show.

    Nervous and excited for the end. Cheers.

  47. carbonbasedlifeform says

    About ten years ago, I watched a reality show called The Restaurant. It was about a Manhattan eatery run by Rocco DiSpirito, and was fascinating in the same way that watching a car wreck is interesting. His business partner (whose name I would have to look up, but I can’t really be bothered) went into the restaurant with some of his people and said, “I am being billed $1400 a month for flowers. Do you see any flowers here?” DiSpirito and the partner wound up suing each other — DiSpirito lost.

    Some time ago, I had a chance to invest in a restaurant DiSpirito was opening. I passed on the opportunity.

    I like to watch some of the cooking contest shows, such as Next Food Network Star and Chopped can be fun (it helps that I know Ted Allen, who is a really nice guy).

  48. m.brndt says

    One reality show I like is the first season of BBQ Pitmasters. They certainly tried to make a survivor-esque drama fest, but they failed miserably. Try as they might, they couldn’t make it seem like the competitors hated each other. I haven’t watched the second season, but word is they ruined it.

  49. great1american1satan says

    ODSISIAFL@48-
    Well, that’s sweet, but there’s a good chance you wouldn’t be into it. It’s one of those gay vampire comics (there’s a handful out there), which limits the audience on a couple of axes. The focus is mostly on character interaction and personalities, with occasional naughtiness and somewhat more frequent violence, and a lot of humor.

    My guy doesn’t like pharyngulation messing up the webstats, but we’re on the second page now, so eff it. If you’re still interested, it’s http://www.borfy.com/Kingfisher/ and the kids really dig it.
    :-)

  50. says

    We still talking about this? No?
    Too bad! Screw you guys.

    Having had it brought to my attention, you did indeed consume my weekend as I worked my way through the whole series, so mission accomplished PZ. I had other stuff to do, so I found myself walking around with it playing on my phone whenever practical (and occasionally when not).

    (Another upshot is I now know how playlists work on Android’s Youtube app, which is alternately very convenient and slightly infuriating.)

    Initially I preferred Face Off’s approach of having a skills-relevant creative challenge every episode, over Stripsearch’s elimination-based art challenges being the focus, but I can see why this format works for the show, and their emphasis on the role requiring much more than art skills alone.

    It worked out nice and fair in the end with everybody having gone through 2 eliminations each, but the format doesn’t guarantee that; if the players weren’t actively balancing it out they could have easily ended up with one finalist going through elimination repeatedly and another never having to draw a strip during the show, which would have been disappointing.

    Mike and Jerry are terrible at the scripted “mean hosts” bits at the start of the elimination rounds. I get that they’re actually supposed to be, but it didn’t feel like deliberate “bad acting” so much as “badly done bad acting”. Still, I got over it after a few episodes (not that I think it really improved), and I guess it was a necessary set up for some of the other things they did. Their mid-challenge trolling was, for the most part, gold.

    I had my favourites, and personalities I liked (or didn’t like so much) early on, but I think the final three candidates are all very talented and worthy of winning in their own right. I have suspicions who’ll win, but I wouldn’t want to venture a guess, and I won’t be disappointed whichever way it goes.

    I look forward to seeing the conclusion this week, and best of luck to everyone involved (even though they know the results already). I hope they all have promising webcomics careers ahead of them!

  51. gussnarp says

    Pretty sure this thread’s dead, but thanks everybody for the answers, and for the fact that I got the benefit of the doubt on a comment that some might have construed as a defense of sexism.

    So yeah, I hardly ever read Penny Arcade, mainly because it’s so inside baseball, as PZ said. I’ve read a few, and every once in a while I get one and then I feel drawn in by the overall look of the strip and keep clicking through and then I think, “why am I reading these? I have no idea what they’re talking about”. So I don’t know their whole history and I’m not defending them on anything (OK, maybe a bit on the art, I happen to like it). But I do really like the show, and I like the way it’s showcased some great talents I’d never heard of. I certainly hope I get to see more from Katie.

    Maybe she’s just doing this because she doesn’t know what else to do, but I love web comics, so I don’t see it as a stretch to imagine she actually is interested in doing them.

  52. says

    Pretty sure this thread’s dead

    No gussnarp — you and I, we can save this thread! We can save it together!

    Live, damn you!
    *pounds on thread’s chest, sobbing*
    LIVE!

  53. gussnarp says

    For the record, anyone who’s concerned about Katie’s participation in the show should watch the final episode that went up yesterday. I think it’s pretty instructive as to how she actually feels about the whole thing, among other things.