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Rubbernecking: True Beauty Finale

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Philo T. Farnsworth is probably rolling over in his grave over some of the more inane reality (you should pardon the expression) shows on television these days. What would he think of True Beauty, which had its season finale last night on ABC? Would he have voted for Joel, Billy, or Julia? (Who cares?) But I digress . . .

This show went on the air on January 5 and it's been a thrill ride ever since, by the way I'm kidding. The premise here is that the contestants thought they were competing to be the most beautiful person in the world when they were actually being judged on their inner beauty as well as their looks. (Sorry, did I wake you?)

Nolé Marin (fashion stylist, Elle editor, and former judge on early seasons of America's Next Top Model), Cheryl Tiegs (60's girl-next-door type supermodel), and Vanessa Minnillo (former Miss Teen USA, former ET reporter, former host of MTV's TRL) are the judges for this program, which follows the same tired format all these shows do - big fancy house everyone lives in, secret cameras recording their every move, yada yada yada, elimination ceremony at the end of each episode - this one held in the Hall of Beauty. The grand prize is $100K and being featured in People Magazine's Most Beautiful People Issue. Oh and by the by, the not-ugly Tyra Banks and Ashton Kutcher are Executive Producers. Okay, then.

So after the dust clears, eight weeks later, the three finalists are Billy - vitamin store owner from Lewiston, Idaho and the oldest of the contestants; Joel - software salesman from Tampa, Florida and the most conceited person I think I've ever seen on TV with the possible exception of The Entertainer; and Julia - sweet and wholesome pageant queen from Fort Worth, Texas who's biggest worry seems to be will she run out of fake eyelashes. Which one of them will have the perfect blend of inner and outer beauty? Nail-biter!

When Joel refuses to join the other two finalists in a comradely glass of wine on the patio of their LA mansion, because "I'm not looking for any more group moments - I've worked 27 years for this," that kind of tells us right there he's not going to be Mr. Inner Beauty. As it happens, the final challenge is to be photographed and interviewed for People Magazine. Best line of the whole show is when Joel finds out they've all won the photo challenge and, true to form, says "how many more times can I stab these people before they actually die?" He's like a caricature of all the annoying people on all these shows put together. Go sell some software and get out of here!

The final big reveal is that our intrepid three find out there is a secret control room in the basement of the mansion that has TV monitors of all the places in the house, so the judges have been watching their every move for eight weeks. Apparently, they've never seen a reality TV show since this is normal. Julia's not ashamed when she finds this out, so you kind of know from that reaction that she is going to be the winner. Billy and Joel (hmm, coincidence?) thenceforth pass into reality show obscurity and Julia enters her 15 minutes of fame.

And, to quote Kurt Vonnegut, so it goes.

Read more of Holly's ruminations on the slings and arrows of popular culture at Snoop* Du Jour.