I don’t usually resort to commenting on either politics or TV shows. I want to stay above the fray, I honestly do.
Still, it is pretty hard not to have some strong negative opinions about the 2 current pilot episodes of the new reality series show Men Behaving Badly that have been running on Canadian media outlets for the past few weeks. You’ve almost assuredly seem them, featuring those new reality show stars Mike Duffy, Rob Ford, and Nigel Wright.
The main storyline the scriptwriters concocted for the Mike Duffy pilot episode goes something like this: years of questionable expense account management by Canadian Senator Mike Duffy — a bit of a happy-go-lucky-type who isn’t really sure where he lives — are identified in a formal audit but before it can be released the hard-hitting internal report is softened up for public consumption by some hapless friends of The Duff. Duffy then goes on the offensive and repays the owed money, saying he’s sorry but the forms he had to fill out were really complicated and hard to follow. But it turns out that the repaid money didn’t really come from him, it was actually a personal gift of some $90,000 given to him by a chap named Nigel Wright, who has a day job as Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister of Canada. Nigel thought the public was best served if they got their money back and didn’t have to hear about Duffy every day in the news, so he took it upon himself to pay Duffy’s debt out of his own pocket with no expectation of repayment. Quite the fellow, this Nigel chap. Unfortunately, Nigel does all this on his own without telling the Prime Minister — who later in the episode assures us that he wouldn’t have let it happen if only he had known, dear, dear — and for that, Nigel ends up tendering his resignation and leaving his job. Episode #2 picks up from here and the convoluted storyline continues…
Not to be outdone, the scriptwriters assigned to crafting the Rob Ford episode decided to really push the envelope: It features a high profile mayor of a major North American city who is both loved and reviled by his constituents, possibly in equal measure. The mayor has a bit of bad-boy, devil-may-care reputation and to add some family dynamics, the mayors’ brother is a city councilor and the mayors’ biggest supporter and spokesman. The episode opens with allegations that the mayor was caught on a cell phone video smoking crack with 2 known drug offenders. But the allegations are led by a local newspaper that the mayor thinks “has always had it in for him”, and he’s quick to share that view publicly. Meanwhile, the video becomes part of a crowd-funding initiative by website Gawker in an effort to raise $200,000 to buy the video so it can be made public. As the story progresses, the video owner disappears with the video, and one of the two drug offenders in the alleged video is shot dead and the other wounded in some sort of a shooting that may or may not be related to the existence of the alleged video. Back at City Hall, Mayor Ford’s Chief of Staff is fired by Ford, although no one really knows why, and then a handful of other staffers resign over the ensuring days that the episode covers. To add to the mucky and murky nature of things, the brother Ford is reputed to have been a drug dealer in the 1980’s, which he is quick to deny. Episode #2 then picks up from here and the convoluted storyline continues…
Come on, who writes these plot lines for this reality show? These story lines are completely unbelievable and strain the very credibility of the whole genre of reality TV shows. What viewer in their right mind would ever really believe this nonsense? A high profile Senator that doesn’t know where he lives, and is confused by expense forms? A big city mayor that poses for cell phone videos with drug gang members? A high ranking staffer that is selfless enough to give away $90k, and then peacefully falls on his sword without making a noise?
Please. Trailer Park Boys has more believable plot lines.
By the way, both pilot episodes have done extremely well in the ratings and are the talk of water-cooler discussions everywhere across Canada, so we can probably expect further episodes to be aired over the coming weeks.
My personal hope — the writers can come together and weave the two story lines together. How about this as a general outline: Nigel, stung by his failed bailout of Duffy, retracts the $90,000 gift and instead directs those funds to Gawker and purchases the alleged video outright. Duffy, in a fit of remorse and finally acknowledging he lives in Ottawa, signs over his spare house in PEI to a charity focused on rehabilitating reprobates appropriately named BBIGG — the Bad Behavior Improvement Group for Guys. Duffy goes on to offer the proceeds of the house sale to Canadians to help pay for his debts, and then signs up as the first occupant of BBIGG for their services. Meanwhile, Nigel focuses his obvious talents on educating high profile public servants on how to resign gracefully under pressure, using the purchased video as one of his many teaching aids. Ford, finally tiring of the antics of life in Toronto, retires to PEI where he joins Duffy as a card-carrying member of BBIGG and together, they both go on to successful rehabilitation, while also starting a very successful PEI chapter of the Biggest Loser.
We can only hope. At least we can thank our lucky stars that it is only a reality TV show and not our actual reality. Thank goodness for small blessings.