Last season on The Pickup Artist, International Man named Mystery turned a gaggle of lovable but lady-challenged boys into set-opening men who could bounce with the girl of their choice. It warmed our cockles to see eight underdogs all have a chance at love, not just with the ladies, but also by learning to love themselves. And as Ms. Whitney once said, that’s the greatest love of all. The winner of last season, Kosmo, has traveled the world as one of Mystery’s wingmen, teaching other down-on-their-lady-luck men how a pluck of the eyebrows can make all the difference.
This season, Mystery is joined once again by his wingman Matador, and kissing instructor Tara takes a role as wing woman. From the get-go I decide it’s my own personal mission to figure out what all the text behind Mystery actually says in the opening credits – perhaps they are transcripts of his teachings.
I was trying to read all the scrolling words but was distracted when a cocoon of butterflies exploded from Mystery’s palm.
Next time, I won’t let myself get off target.
Unlike last year, Mystery gets tough from the start and this first episode will mean elimination for one of our contestants. First off, we’re introduced to Todd, 26, the “every gal’s best friend” guy and Rian, a 28-year-old virgin from Portland…
…before cutting back to Tara who’s sitting at the pool at the guys’ new house in Phoenix. Tara tells them to pick rooms in the house and get ready – the guys will be meeting Mystery soon.
Next up we meet Simeon, a 27-year-old poetry-slammer who lived on a boat.
In Simeon’s interview, he professes his desire to have someone to sleep next to and take away his loneliness. At the house, we cut to him jumping on the bed yelling “Bounce test!” which only reinforces that. You want to make sure you’re providing your sleeping lover the firmness she needs, he’s clearly just being sensitive.
Karl, 21 and brokenhearted, stayed with a cheating girlfriend for three months and was the only guy in the group to not have a rolling suitcase as they walked along the blazing Arizona pavement.
Judgement will be reserved once we see how he is around women. Immediately we’re loving Matt who calls himself a mix of Austin Powers and Lauren Hutton (how many 26-year-old guys make Lauren Hutton references?) and in his audition tape he pulls up his shirt to display a small throw rug of chest hair that adds to his insecurity.
Greg is the resident long-haired guy whose makeover (spoiler alert!) features the Coming to America braid-chop.
Brian wins us over by telling us that the only place he’s ever planted his lips is on his mom’s forehead.
We do wish someone would show Brian Crocodile Dundee, though, doesn’t every kid learn what a bidet is from that movie? Kevin, 21, is the VH1 online winner who is sick of being shot down by the ladies.
And rounding out the bunch is gold-chain wearing Alex, who women assume is gay.
At this point, Mystery calls the house and, bless these guys for never working in a soulless corporate office, they can’t figure out where the conference phone is when it’s ringing. Once they realize that it’s the thing that looks vaguely like a Cylon Raider sitting on the counter, they cool out and answer it.
Mystery tells them to hop the Bus of Destiny and meet him and his wings downtown where they’ll be released into the wild so Mystery can assess their skills. Brian, at a loss for well, common phrases, tells us that his first impression of Mystery is that he’s “smokin’ balls tonight”. Is Mystery even into that?
Over at the Acme Bar and Grill, the guys prove to a bundle of nerves and failure, with Kevin asking a group of girls if he can go deeper with them (ew) and Matt asking girls the price of their drinks. Hirsute Simeon gets told he looks like Osama Bin Laden.
When Alex fails to act on the attention he receives for his gold chains, Mystery throws his hands up in frustration and decides to show the boys how it’s done (without wearing his signature hat or goggles as conversation pieces). Mystery and Matador work the room while the guys watch from the Surveillance Truck of Watching and Learning. The M and M’s hug and kiss their way through the club with such smoothness that the guys nearly pee with excitement.
The next day is makeover day! Man, do we love a good makeover, and when Mystery asks “Do you look like the type of men who are sexually active?” and the resounding answer is “No”, the boys start to love a good makeover too. They learn that accessories are sexual and that all white suits make you look a touch Miami Vice.
Hair and makeup (and in Matt’s case, dental and waxing) are endured and in all honesty, these boys clean up nice.
Back at the ranch, Alex throws his gold chain into the bulk-metal recycling bin…
…and the fashion show begins for the rest.
Simeon struts his clean-shaven self and Tara calls him Osama Bin Sexy. Rian, who has a slight breakdown at the clothing store looks preppy-pimpy and totally adorable. While there was no official winner of the episode, our vote goes to Greg, whose braid was ceremonially chopped and he became unrecognizable and flat-out hot.
The guys are grilling up hot dogs to celebrate their nicely fitting pants when dun dun DUN! Mystery arrives to ruin the fun by telling the guys that one of them will be going home. Ultimately, like a parent trying to teach his children, Mystery explains that the one contestant he was most disappointed in at the bar the previous night was the one who was actually approached and hit on and couldn’t even respond – it’s game over for Alex. Like his gold chain before him, Alex is out of the house, but it’s only the beginning for the rest of our future pickup artists.