Saturday, August 6, 2011

A nation watches with baited breath...

This week, a wave of sadness washed over Ita.  Hometown hero and all around super nice chick, Claudia, lost in the final round.  Although she rocked the obstacles and ate raw cow liver while 20 or so mice crawled over her head like a pro, nasty Fabisol cleaned the floor with her during the talent round.  In the end, it did not matter that Fabisol had so many penalties during the physical contest that she disqualified before completing the course.  She just sings better than Claudia dances.

Confused?  Welcome to Yingo- Paraguay’s favorite prime time reality game show.

This show somehow combines American Gladiator, Fear Factor, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Jersey Shore, and then adds in the interpersonal drama between contestants that comes from extended elimination shows.  The difference?  No one here can really sing or dance and levels of physical fitness vary greatly.  Oh, and because this hit show aires in Paraguay, all the obstacle courses involve fire.  To make things even weirder, between actual commercial breaks, contestants awkwardly dance while holding candy, cellphones, or maxi pads.

In the episode leading up to the finale, the women (men and women compete separately) started with a fairly long obstacle course (the top finisher clocked in at around five minutes, last place quit before completing between nine and ten minutes).  Yingo broadcasts the entire, painful challenge, plus banter.  Next, came the talent portion (also sometimes painful), followed by the psyche out.  Each contestant had her head locked in a clear box filled with mice.  In order to break out, she had to test keys laid out to her left.  Each time she chose an incorrect key, the host fed her a large spoonful of raw cow liver.  Previous episodes involved women shaving their heads and someone having to tell their parents about a secret marriage and subsequent divorce.  (Full disclosure, I did not see this episode and found the retelling especially confusing.  I do not know whether to attribute this to my language skills or the strangeness of this show.)

The Jersey Shore comes into play when considering the fashion choices made for contestants.  Picture the douchiest possible dude you can imagine.  Next, make all his dance moves thrusts.  Women do not fare much better.  For example, for the obstacle course, the ladies donned long sleeve turtle necks and thongs.  Some of the thongs started as shorts, only to become thongs upon leaping through the rings of fire.  Totally practical.

Now, Yingo’s incredible popularity in this town probably has something to do with raising one of the final contestants.  Still, as far as ratings go, Yingo tops the charts.  Contestants do crazy stunts and air all their personal business.  My host sister tells me that I shouldn’t feel too bad for Claudia (did I mention she supports her four younger siblings because her mother neither hears nor speaks and her father disappeared years ago?) because more likely than not she’ll get lots of money making opportunities, even as the runner up.  What these opportunities include, however, I didn’t dare ask.

Either way, when this show starts again next season, surely the writers will find even more bizarre challenges to keep the nation on the edge of its seat.  Cheers.

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