'Average Joe' producers changed the show's tone due to the guys' "depth of feeling"
By Reality TV World staff, 11/10/2003
Does a double-standard apply when it comes to humiliating men versus women on a reality dating show? Or were the producers of NBC's Average Joe just more kind-hearted than those of other "twisted" dating shows such as FOX's Joe Millionaire? In an interview with Zap2It.com, Average Joe's producers explained that after witnessing the "depth of feeling" that existed among the show's average joes, they felt compelled to change the tone of the show -- including the manner in which series host Kathy Griffin interacted with the cast.
Starring former beauty queen, NFL cheerleader, and Meet My Folks contestant Melana Scantlin, Average Joe follows Scantlin as she attempts to find love from among sixteen "average joe" bachelors -- guys with great hearts, but admittedly average looks. With a cast containing numerous self-described "geeks" and "nerds," a beautiful young woman, and acerbic comedian Kathy Griffin as series host, clearly satire and sarcastic humor was intended to feature a prominent role in the series. But based on the comments of the show's executive producer, it appears that somewhere along the line the focus of the program shifted from laughing at the contestants, to apparently laughing with them.
"I think what really surprised me the most was how emotional this was for the guys, how raw this was for them, how very real this was," executive producer Stuart Krasnow told Zap2It. "I think they went through a tremendous emotional roller coaster and I just thought the guys would sortta laugh the whole things through. They took a lot of things to heart. They even cried."
According to Krasnow, the men quickly bounded into "the fraternity they never had." And apparently somewhere along the way, for many of the men, eviction night came to represent more than just their departure from the show. "There are moments where it almost felt like some of the contestants were reliving high school," Krasnow says. "It almost becomes that cheerleader who didn't give you the time of day. But I think on this show, actually the cheerleader does end up giving you the time of day. I think it's a reversal of past horrors."
So after witnessing men's unexpectedly candid and sincere displays, the producers opted to change the tone of the series slightly -- a decision that included putting a bit of a muzzle on the normally scathing and sardonic Griffin, who's noticeably affable and benign appearance in the series is in sharp contrast to her previous reality television appearance on ABC's Celebrity Mole Hawaii. "It's straighter than I would like, but you know what, the thing is the show's not about me," Griffin told Zap2It. "Just know that when I'm watching it, I'm saying hilarious things in my head or you can just call me on Monday night and I'll tell you. Of course you know I'm just thinking completely vicious one-liners in my head constantly."