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"Playing it Straight" Review

By Shawn McKenzie 07/13/2004

The failure of FOX’s “Playing it Straight” proves that ripping off an original idea doesn’t necessarily guarantee success.  The further problem I have though is that I hate being left hanging.


The show had essentially the same gimmick as Bravo’s “Boy Meets Boy.”  One woman goes out with fourteen bachelors.  Okay…that sounds more like the millionth rip-off of “The Bachelor,” but here’s the twist…some of the men were gay and some were straight, just like the dilemma put before the poor gay bachelor on the Bravo show.  Also, like that show is the fact that if she picked the right guy, in this case a straight guy, the couple would split a one million dollar prize.  If her “gaydar” is off and she picked a gay guy, he got the whole one million.


It took place on a cowboy ranch called Sizzling Saddles and was hosted by Daphne Brogdon.  The single woman was named Jackie, and she was a college student from Appleton, Wisconsin.  All fourteen of the guys knew of the twist, and they also knew about the prize, but the gay guys had to pretend that they were straight so that Jackie would pick him.  Jackie wasn’t told about this twist until the end of the first episode.  Unlike the friend of the gay guy on “Boy Meets Boy,” she didn’t seem too upset about this twist.  In fact, when she learned about it, the show started to feel like NBC’s “For Love or Money,” and any potential romantic element was immediately sucked out of it.  It was all about the money after that.


Her “gaydar” was a little off to start.  In the first episode, she had to eliminate two men, and they were both straight.  In the second episode, she eliminated two more men, one of which was straight.  In the third episode, she had a little better luck, because both of the men who left the show were gay, but one of them had quit.  The one who had quit had gotten drunk in the previous episode and tried to make out with one of the other guys in a hot tub.  The funny thing is that this little incident didn’t tip off Jackie, because she still thought he was straight since he was such a flirt.  No wonder her gaydar was off!


What happened beyond that?  Who knows!  It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally a competitive reality show will get cancelled before it ends its initial run (ABC’s “The Mole 2” and “The Family” are examples), but they usually burn off the remaining episodes during the summer.  Since FOX decided to try to go with a year-round schedule, starting this year, they couldn’t find a place for it on their summer schedule (you mean you couldn’t eliminate any of those “encore” hours?)  They claimed that anyone who wanted to know what happened would get that information, but there was never an official announcement made.  I don’t want to state this as fact, but Internet research has led me to find that Jackie picked Sharif, a musician from Arlington, VA, who turned out to be gay.  It sounds about right, with her track record. (Update 7/26/2004: FOX just announced the results of the show.  Jackie ultimately picked a straight guy named Banks. They both won $50,000 and are reportedly living happily ever after together.)

I’m surprised that GSN didn’t pick up “Playing it Straight” and fellow prematurely cancelled FOX competitive reality show “Forever Eden.”  Until the cable channel Reality Central premieres in January, GSN (formerly the Game Show Network, but initialized to reflect the fact that they now have reality and video game shows) is the only place where we can get old reruns of reality shows.  Maybe they didn’t pick the show up for the same reason that FOX cancelled it…it really sucked, and the horrible ratings reflected that fact.  I liked “Boy Meets Boy,” even though I thought it was slightly cruel, but this show was so offensive to gay people, because it made them stereotype gays, despite their refuting that statement.  I mean c’mon…the gay cowboy theme?  If that didn’t scream “stereotype,” I don’t know what did.  Maybe Reality Central will pick it up and relieve the minds of the twelve people who watched it (do you think that it’s wrong that there were more people on the show than people watching it?)  Let’s hope that FOX has learned their lesson…oh wait, they haven’t.  We have the upcoming “Trading Spouses,” an obvious rip-off of ABC’s previously announced “Wife Swap.”  Oh well…at least there aren’t two competitive boxing reality shows coming this fall…oh wait…


Ratings System:


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