This week’s discussion: Keys to the VIP, Season 2, Eps. 1-5. Watch it on Tubi TV.
Next week’s discussion: Alaskan Bush People, Season 1. Watch it on Hulu.
This week Mike and JS put on ten pounds of hair gel and don their fedoras and indoor-only sunglasses for some special VIP treatment, but Mike in particular is having regrets about what might have seemed like a good idea at the time (much like the women who gave these guys their numbers).
Nevertheless, there was much of interest to discuss. We cover our usual topics: the show’s concept and our general impresssions, it’s authenticity (or lack thereof), and we revisit our beloved success/failure dichotomy to try and put our fingers on the show’s appeal. However, we also discuss the show’s worldview about the relations between the sexes as well as its relation to the broader culture of pick-up artistry in general. We particularly pay attention to some of the pick-up culture’s shaky intellectual arguments grounded in bogus notions of ‘neuro-linguistic programming’ and faux evolutionary psychology. (WARNING: Foucault and chimpanzee sex both get mentioned prominently.)
[Also, as a postscript, Mike apologizes for the quality of a few of the sound clips. One of the many terrible things about this show (and one that did not become apparent until post-production) was how fucking shitty the sound mixing was. It’s almost as if even the producers of this trainwreck didn’t even care about it.]
Show Notes and Links
1:40 / Introducing this week’s show
2:20 / The concept of the show
5:08 / JS observes how mundane the intros were
8:09 / Discussing the four hosts – ‘the four corners of the male psyche’ (LOL)
10:02 / Sheldon did not seem to have a defined persona (the article Mike mentions is here)
11:20 / Mike criticizes the show for not having enough differentiation between the hosts
12:50 / Comparing the relative badness of this show to Monica the Medium
13:46 / Returning to the topic of differentiation and the show’s relation to pick-up artist culture
15:30 / Talking about the interludes and how the hosts’ ‘differences’ faded away
16:37 / The contestants for the show are also very similar (and all have dumb nicknames)
18:03 / JS talks about the episode with Mike the Magician and Hot Body Jason – ‘brains’ vs. ‘brawn’
21:00 / Mike agrees that this episode was more interesting, but thinks it still fits into the overall worldview of the show
21:33 / Mike talks about an episode that left a sour taste – ‘nice guy’ vs. ‘asshole’
23:18 / Segueing into the worldview of the show (and pick-up artistry in general)
24:31 / Talking about the idea of ‘negging’
25:30 / JS did like the challenges that put the guys in a bind
26:02 / The perennial question – How real is all this?
27:18 / How did they get the audio to pick up so clearly?
28:10 / Not very many blurred faces in this show
29:07 / JS noticed the guys seem to be aware of the ‘hidden’ cameras
29:38 / Lots of women show up more than once – what are the odds?
31:05 / Mike was unconvinced by the kissing
32:58 / Women may not be out-and-out confederates, but if they know the show is going on beforehand, how authentic are the actual reactions?
33:42 / Talking about how the multiple takes give the producers an opportunity to basically tell whatever story they want
39:25 / Talking about the dated nature of pick-up culture and how this show was very much of its time; Mike mentions The Game
41:13 / Segueing into a discussion of pick-up artist culture more broadly
42:14 / Talking about all the dumb terms and acronyms (yes, they are all real) from the different ‘schools’ of pick-up artistry, such as Speed Seduction and the Mystery Method (Mike mentions the Konami Code)
46:19 / Why can’t horny women ‘Jedi Mind Trick’ hot guys into sleeping with them? (Discussing the assumptions of pick-up artist ideology)
47:44 / Mike makes a brief comparison between pick-up artistry and female-oriented cottage dating advice
48:21 / Even if this stuff worked 10 years ago, don’t you think women would have caught on to the dumb hats and canned lines?
49:04 / JS makes a ‘Devil’s Advocate’ argument for the value of pick-up artistry
50:05 / Talking about the ‘numbers game’ aspect of pick-up artistry, with a brief aside into the emergence of dating apps like Tinder and how they’ve changed dating culture
51:56 / What Mike thinks is actually behind pick-up artist philosophy (power not pleasure)
53:18 / Mike debunks the pop evolutionary psychology arguments underlying the philosophy (aka humans and other primates are not the same)
54:38 / Chimps and bonobos have entirely different social structures, despite being more genetically similar than either one is to humans
57:42 / Segueing into the appeal of the show
58:03 / Mike reads a quote from Alen on the show’s creation and JS responds
59:40 / The show is not really about teaching people ‘what women want’, but is about reaffirming traditionally masculine worldviews
1:00:50 / Is this show about success or failure? (We both come to the conclusion that it is ultimately about the latter)
1:02:57 / We never rooted for the contestants
1:03:25 / The educational emphasis of the show centers the narrative around failure
1:03:52 / Mike talks about how this show could maybe have been better (it takes a lot)
1:04:55 / A novel concept – have actual women on a show about impressing women
1:05:24 / The women in the show are always ‘targets’ and stereotypes
1:06:30 / Our final thoughts – Mike recommends only watching the goofy intros, JS puts in a word for Mike the Magician
1:07:46 / Introducing the next show (It can only go up from here)