One two-hour episode and two one-hour episodes have elapsed on Joe Millionaire, a reality show that took 18 years to reboot and very little time spent focused on how to actually improve the concept. The original show, which aired in 2003, featured a supposed heir to a multi-million dollar fortune who was actually a model living in Los Angeles who also worked in construction (more on construction below). Before that premiere, the premise was initially panned for being deceitful to women expecting to marry into immense wealth. But the woman who was selected by the lead Evan Marriott, Zora Andrich, a substitute teacher, said she was relieved Evan didn’t have millions of dollars because that was intimidating to her. Despite the trickery, the couple won $1 million at the end, making the whole conceit of the show absolutely pointless.
Evan and Zora broke up shortly after the show aired because that’s how these things go down every time except like once or twice. In the years afterward, Evan did some underwear modeling and acting before fading into obscurity and growing a super long beard. For its second season, Joe Millionaire is now going by its full name, Joe Millionaire: For Richer or For Poorer. The show doubled the amount of men looking for love and instead of shooting the season at a chateau in France like season 1, they filmed at the less opulent Lakeshore Manor in Jackson, Georgia. Jackson, a town on the outskirts of metro-Atlanta, is not renowned for much, but it is located in the best-named county in the state: Butts.
Featuring Kurt Sowers, a 32-year-old construction CEO from North Carolina and Steven McBee, a 27-year-old farming CEO from Missouri, this FOX series tries its best to keep audiences on their toes by…revealing to viewers immediately that Steven is a multi-millionaire and that Kurt is the other guy. Kurt doesn’t have many millions of dollars like his instant best bud Steven. But as a chief executive, he probably has at least several hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is a lot of money to most people.
How does it work?
The host and butler of the manor is Martin Andrew, an actor and Rod Stewart impersonator who is now best known for a job that entails spying on a 22-year-old influencer while she ogles a cameraman. Martin’s role is multifaceted: he’s the eyes and ears, but also the person who announces which women are safe and on to the next round while Kurt and Steven awkwardly stand next to him. It’s a far less formal process than a rose ceremony, which is sort of refreshing. Martin doesn’t waste a ton of time getting straight to the point, and there’s no Martin impersonator reminding the real Martin and the ladies this is the final rose tonight.
Three episodes in, it’s still a mystery how this show works. Women have gone home for the following reasons: meeting one of the men on a dating app before the show started filming; getting completely plastered on every group date; and claiming to the other women that she is physically attracted to a crew member who appears completely oblivious that he’s being talked about in a sexual manner. Even after three women left in non-conventional ways, the show still seems like it’s taking way too long to eliminate its contestants.
Kurt decided he really liked Carolyn right away, but he’s supposed to keep himself open to other relationships otherwise this show doesn’t really work so he also started flirting with Amanda to keep things interesting. Steven has been much slower to attach himself to any one woman. His first kiss was Rachel, but she left after drinking too much. Steven also kissed Annie, who seems far too normal for this show. He should probably pick her, but also it doesn’t matter who he picks because despite having millions of dollars, he also lives in rural Missouri and doesn’t seem intent on leaving. These women didn’t agree to be on a reality TV show so they could move to the middle of nowhere, even if it means getting to retire at the age of 23.
What are these dates?
In episode one, Kurt went on a group date to a cotillion where he played piano and watched women fight with each other for no reason. Steven had a much better time at a honky-tonk and invited them to a pool party back at the manor. The role reversal was planned to make the women believe Kurt was the rich one and Steven was less rich but it didn’t work. Almost every woman sounds like they have it figured out who is who.
To determine which woman received the first one-on-one dates, the contestants were taught how to pan for gold by someone who is ostensibly not a CEO and very possibly a local Jacksonian. It was a competition but also a reminder that some of these women are here for the wrong reasons. The results were almost certainly rigged so that Kurt could have a date with the only woman he likes. This time, Kurt had to go on the low-key date, while Steven once again looked like he got the better bargain when he earned a trip to the opera with Jennie.
Carolyn met Kurt at a bowling alley that was rented out just for them. This bowling alley is located in Bluffton, South Carolina, nearly three-and-a-half hours from Lakeshore Manor in Jackson, which must be a world record for the longest distance ever traveled for a bowling date. Carolyn tells the other women she didn’t make out with Kurt the entire ride back, which makes sense because kissing someone for 210 minutes straight doesn’t sound romantic at all. Meanwhile, Steven’s date is much closer to home and Jennie opens up about a past trauma similar to how they do on one-on-ones on The Bachelor.
After devoting all his attention to Carolyn, Kurt is likely reminded by a producer that he has to give other women a chance because he signed up for a television show where he’s supposed to date around. Despite almost quitting during a trip to the Movie Tavern to watch a black-and-white screening of Love, Honestly—a movie comprised of confessionals of the women revealing whether they like men with money or men with kind hearts more—Kurt decides he must balance his conflicting emotions now that he’s kissed Amanda, who makes him laugh really hard without saying anything that funny.
Steven, meanwhile, isn’t in a rush to find love. He, unlike Kurt, has probably come to the realization that neither of them are there to marry anyone on this cast but rather to get more Instagram followers so they can make more money that neither of them need. While crying in the bathroom of a Movie Tavern might be more Kurt’s speed, he’s better off enjoying the ride like his pal Steven. He may be the For Poorer guy, but he’ll be For Richer for the experience.
Joe Millionaire airs Thursdays at 8pm EST on FOX.
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