”My last name means poor, but I’m sure it’s gonna change soon,” said Karolina from the Czech Republic.
And with that proclamation, ”The Next Joe Millionaire” galloped onto TV screens starring a cowboy with an oil-infused trust fund who heads to Europe to have his way with a bunch of naifs, who turn out to be pricklier than he anticipated. (Somebody’s gotta have considered calling it ”Who Wants to Marry George Bush?”)
For Fox – which has the unparalleled ability to tap into the cultural zeitgeist – pulling the wool over the eyes of 14 European women for the franchise’s encore must have been a no-brainer. Nine months, one war, and one freedom-fry fuss after the first ”Joe Millionaire” aired, Euro-bashing is almost patriotic.
Unfortunately, Joe’s ladies (whose faces emerge from their home countries in the opening credits, as if to emphasize their ”otherness”) aren’t exactly U.N. ambassadors: They practically fall out of their seats laughing when told that Joe is a cowboy. ”I’m going to go to Texas and live on the ranch and eat the ranch dressing every day,” proclaims Karolina’s Czech mate Linda. If only Fox let comments like this stand on their own, instead of setting them to a rousing hillbilly score. You half expect the women to raise their arms to reveal thatches of airbrushed-in armpit hair just to amplify the contrast.
The brilliance of the first ”Joe Millionaire” was the way it interwove gender and class in ways not seen on TV since ”Dallas.” So far, the only brilliance of the abysmally rated second edition is the fact that the girls know the ”Dallas” theme by heart.