Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"The Pick-Up Artist" is the best reality show on television, ever

"The Pick-Up Artist" is the best reality show on tv, ever. In it, a group of socially "challenged" young men, described by the show as "girls think of him as a friend," or "26 year-old virgin," or "never kissed a girl," or "voice cracks around women" are given lessons on how to start conversations with people- mostly women- in social situations. Their teacher is a guy who calls himself "Mystery", who dresses like a supervillain but has only the purest intentions in his quest to help unsocial doofuses achieve their dreams of actually-- you know, um, talking to total strangers.

The second season has just started, and in the first two episodes the students have picked out new wardrobes for their "avatars", gone to a Bingo game at a retirement center to chat up the elderly ladies, and been given the briefest tutoring in how to "open sets" (i.e., "start conversations"), which they then use in a club in which hidden cameras have been set up to catch every lovely minute.

The show is inspiring because the students are so eager to learn, yet still hamstrung by their painful shyness, and the viewer gets to feel a vicarious sense of achievement as they apply what they've learned from Mystery. Part of the brilliance is that despite being called "The Pick-Up Artist," the students aren't just learning about how to pick up women. They're learning to have the confidence to approach any social situation without fear. The focus is on speaking to attractive women because the students are actually afraid to do that. If hey can learn to speak to attractive women, they can learn to speak to anyone.

The best parts of the show occur when the students are sent to "open sets" in unusual settings, like the Bingo game in the second episode this season. Last season, the students had to open sets on an outdoor running path, and outdoor coffee house (in the middle of the day), and a strip club. (One of the students actually made out with a stripper in the back seat of a limo.)

Anyway, for what it's worth, I have a few humble suggestions, if the producers are reading this and contemplating a third season:

(1) MISSIONARIES: Mystery's students will be sent to pick up women who volunteer to go spend a year in some dung-hill country trying to convert starving people. Obviously these women are already quite impressionable, so this should probably be an early challenge. (Note: The first student who makes a joke about "the missionary position" will be automatically eliminated.)

(2) WOMEN'S PRISON: With this crowd, throwing out the wrong "neg" could get you shanked in the kidneys. The students will learn just how far they can push themselves without offending a woman while they attempt to "demonstrate higher value." (Perhaps the student who won a reward challenge would get to take cigarettes with him?)

(3) CONGRESS: There are more women in the House of Representatives than ever before. Probably. That seems likely to me. Anyway, women with power are still women, and the same rules apply to them as apply to the women you meet in clubs. Try wearing "bling" to get their attention- the more expensive it looks, the better, since they love to tax things.

(4) WNBA GAME: Just because they're all Lesbians doesn't mean you shouldn't talk to them. Students could be taught opening gambits like, "Have you heard the new Indigo Girls CD?" or "Where's the nearest Home Depot?" The student who actually picks up a woman during this challenge will be automatically eliminated, since all the contestants are supposed to be men.

(5) YOUR OWN FAMILY REUNION: I'm thinking maybe this should be the last challenge. The ultimate pick-up artist should be able to pick up women any time, anywhere, including among his own relatives. The winning student should be able to "bounce" at least a cousin.

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