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Temptation Island

Director: Jean Michel Michenaud, Chris Cowan
Creator: Chris Cowan
Regular airtime: Wednesday, 9pm EST

(Fox)

21 FEBRUARY 2001

Overexposure


With the end of Temptation Island on the horizon, I’ve come to the realization that Fox may have actually succeeded in some terrible way. The network wanted scandal, and it what may have missed in exhibition of skin, it gained in emotional drama.


I, on the other hand, feel loss. Throughout my viewing of the series, I think I slowly lost the point, why I wanted to write these weekly articles on Temptation Island. Initially, I wanted to view it in a broad context, even to analyze how the construction of the show reflects cultural standards. I know this may have been a lofty goal for such a tawdry program, but at some point, I thought it might be important.


Then I found myself falling prey to the show’s incessant cattiness. I was bitching about Mandy’s annoying laugh, despising Valerie’s personality (or lack of same), and wanting to sew Andy’s mouth closed. Now, the only cattiness I retain revolves around my malicious feelings toward Megan: I can’t help but see her maudlin display on the confessional tape as just stupid (get over yourself Megan, you never loved Kaya or Andy, and they never loved you—go home!). Beyond that holdover emotional response, however, my sense of Temptation Island has come sharply into focus. The show is sick.


The series has transcended the usual voyeuristic pleasure derived from reality-based programming, and revealed itself as an ugly experiment designed to destroy people for ratings. It’s just not funny any longer. I don’t wish this sort of emotional chaos on my worst enemy and I am ashamed that I originally cheered for debauchery. And yet, I have not lost sight of the solid fact that these people chose to subject themselves to such turmoil. All I can say is, was the exposure really worth it?


A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that the idea of monogamy is largely culturally constructed, and that we all are sexual beings. Although I stick to this idea, I had, at that point, forgotten the power of that construction. These people are going to hurt on next week’s final episode and I think that most of them will break up. And for what? What were they thinking? Were they as duped as so many viewers have been? Think about it: if these people actually do split, it means they have they’ve failed to withstand or perhaps even anticipate the damage done by only two weeks of alcohol-based island partying. And they supposedly came to the island with long-term, solid relationships. The only couple who seemed to have had any problems before the series started shooting was Ytossie and Taheed, and as of last night’s episode, he wants to spend the rest of his life with her—who would have thought? (At the same time—I can’t help it—did anyone notice how much Taheed was sweating by the end of that pledge segment? Whoa, that was some sweat).


I accept that Fox is playing the final bonfire episode up. That what the network is supposed to do, its job. But I don’t have a good feeling about this one. I mean, in the trailers shown this week, everyone is crying and Kaya has “no regrets.” All I do know is that I have one final week left of this hell (a place, by the way, that was referenced by participants at least four times on this week’s episode). After next week, I’m done with it and my memory of all this will quickly fade. But Andy, Shannon, Mandy, Billy, Valerie, and Kaya will forever live with what happened on the corporately constructed Temptation Island. I hope they’ve enjoyed at least some of the exposure.

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