I defend The Ultimate Fighter almost every chance I get, and it isn’t easy. But the most recent episode really tested my limits. It really made me take a look at the man in the mirror, if you know what I’m saying. Oddly enough, this dark moment of mine didn’t come as I was sitting on my couch watching grown men argue about dirty dishes and the ethical quandary of killing flies. I only thought that was the low point.
Sure, something felt wrong about that, too, and I was forced to ask myself some difficult questions about what I considered entertainment, what was a valuable use of my free time, and most importantly, what I was willing to sit through in order to see a three-minute fight.
I don’t begrudge reality show producers for making big deals out of nothing at all. It’s kind of their job description. As anyone who’s been involved in actual reality can tell you, things get pretty boring sometimes. But at the same time I have to believe that the producers of TUF know who their audience is and what they want to see, and it isn’t arguments over dishes.
The main focal point of this episode was the brewing conflict between Mac Danzig and Blake Bowman/humanity. Danzig seems like an interesting guy, but a little bit of a misanthrope and a reactionary. Of course, living in a house with all these guys can’t be a lot of fun, so it’s understandable.
You expect a reality show to play up a minor conflict. What you don’t expect is that when Paul Georgieff gets a special phone call so his mother can deliver tragic news about a death in the family, that they will make him have the conversation on speaker phone so the cameras can capture the moment. Seriously, TUF? Was that really necessary?
Now, I realize that maybe they didn’t actually tape the real call. I’ve seen the Vh1 special about the tricks of reality TV. I’m hip. But at the very least they made Georgieff reenact the moment where he learned of his teenage cousin’s death, and that’s not much better.
The hell of it is, that wasn’t even a very interesting scene. He reacted the way people in real life often do: mostly numb and inwardly sad, rather than outwardly hysterical. Of course, they made sure to get plenty of mileage out of him grappling with the decision (pun totally intended) to stay or go.
But as soon as I realized that these producers must have been loving the fact that a cast member’s relative died, solely for the easy human drama it would create, I felt a little sick. Enter my dark moment. That’s when I think I had my small-scale revelation, as I thought about how I was only sitting through this in order to watch a fight at the end.
And, predictably, the fight wasn’t anything special.
First, Georgieff attempted to suck Troy Mandaloniz into a submission grappling match, and when that didn’t yield a victory right off he decided to play Mandaloniz’s game by standing and trading punches (which Matt Hughes insisted was not the game plan). Also predictably, within a few seconds Georgieff paid for that mistake by catching a hard right on the chin that knocked him out cold. Hughes then got upset, which pleased Matt Serra to no end.
There. You happy now? Me neither. I’m going to go see if there are any Law & Order reruns on.