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What I Watched Last Night

By Scott Buckner

If I've learned anything about daytime network TV, it's that an hour of Cheaters (noon, WCIU-TV 26.1) provides one of the bigger bangs for the buck you're not spending on cable. If you tuned in last Friday, you were able to witness what was undeniably the best episode of Cheaters ever to be aired in the entire history of Cheaters because it turned into the darkest, most twisted cookie jar any married guy exposed on this show so far could possibly be caught with their hand in.

The subjects of this half hour were Christine and Joe, married three years with children. Joe, it seems, has been spending his quality time with an extremely tall woman with a knockout body named Tanina, who - as we discover later - looks good from afar but is far from good since she resembles Fox-TV football analyst Michael Strahan if Strahan wore a wig and dressed like a hooker. But this isn't a one-night-with-a-drag-hooker mistake. As we see from the surveillance footage, this is an ongoing relationship dedicated to doing whatever nasty stuff you can manage to accomplish in a compact car or a Chevy Suburban. Tanina doesn't even seem to get too excited when, at one point, Joe accidentally sets her hair on fire when his cigarette gets too close.

Of course, the payoff on any episode of Cheaters is The Confrontation, where the jilted and a storm-trooper film/security crew ambush the cheaters on their dates with all the finesse of a federal drug raid. This episode's confrontation, though, has to be seen to appreciated because Tanina tuns out to be a $150-a-session dominatrix giving Joe the business. You can start at the beginning to see the surveillance footage being shared with Christine, or you can fast forward to the 3:10 mark, where Christine and the film crew bust in on Tanina and Joe's hotel room. In the whole history of Cheaters, I've never seen anything more remarkable than Tanina being caught in mid-swing of her riding crop and Joe in the unenviable position of being handcuffed and wearing a leather hood that, if decorated right, could make a really cool Mexican wrestling mask.

Joe's apparently quite partial to this piece of headgear - even though it makes him look tremendously silly - because he never takes it off during the rest of the episode. Still, Joe's black bikini underwear doesn't help a brother like this out, especially when he goes running up and down the hotel hallway like a panicked rat trying to figure out how to get off a sinking ship. Christine, not surprisingly, goes ballistic. It's one thing for The Confrontation to interrupt your husband and his hoochie-mama on a date in a bar or knock on the car window while he's porking his co-worker in some dark parking lot, but something like this tends to draw an entirely different level of pissed off.

So what does a cowering, half-naked dude in a silly mask say while using one of the security crew as a shield from a wife gone completely berserk? "She's helping me work on intimacy issues!!" You've got to give the guy points for using something more original than the old standby, "It's not what you think!" At one point, Joe suggests a threesome could help put those intimacy issues to rest: "It could be between all three of us! We could make this work!" Granted, there are times during a relationship when the suggestion of a threesome might actually fly, but those times are before your mate wants nothing more than to rip off your genitals and feed them to the dog. When you're at that point, the best you can hope for is - as one jilted mate on a different episode of Cheaters put it - "What? Are you fucking retarded?"

Timing is everything, folks.

Meanwhile, Tanina is more concerned with getting an explanation from always smug-and-smarmy Cheaters host Joey Greco about how a pack of strangers managed to swarm the room without so much as the sort of courtesy announcement you'd get from the DEA a nanosecond before your front door explodes into a pile of kindling:

TANINA: You gone one, wha - how the fuck did y'all get in here?

GRECO: The manager gave us a key.

TANINA: Well - I need to talk to the fucking manager!

The episode is filled with other little moments that surpass other little moments just like them on other episodes. It wasn't just Tanina dealing with the the standard "get that camera outta my face" moment by snapping her crop at a camera jockey. It's not the moment where it occurs to Joe and Tanina that neither one of them have the key to get back into the hotel. Rather, it was the conversational exchanges:

JOE (pointing at Greco): Who the fuck are you?

GRECO: Well, I'm Joey Greco with Cheaters.

JOE (to Christine): Is this your new boyfriend? You're questioning (me in front of) a guy that wears turtlenecks and leather? That's in bad taste.

GRECO: This is in bad taste?

TANINA (to Greco): You have a irritating face. Please don't say anything to me. You just look irritating.

GRECO: You know what? I - I apologize. This was the face I was born with.

TANINA: Well, I'm sorry too.

*

DRIVER: How you gonna work things out with her?

JOE: Well, I probably woulda had a much better shot before you fucking showed up, huh?

*

In the end, Tanina spends some time looking very much like someone who hasn't the foggiest idea how she's going to get home, but is most likely wondering what a dominatrix is supposed to do when a client runs off with an expensive leather hood. "This is all fucking fucked up," she says.

Of course it is. That's why Cheaters is still the best reality-based entertainment there is on free TV.

-

Visit the What I Watched Last Night archives and see what else we've been watching. Submissions welcome.



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Posted on July 13, 2009


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