This week our former Teen Idols learn that the truth definitely hurts, but it can also help you get back on the road to fame.
For Bill, the first week in the house has been a disorienting experience. There’s been a lot happening, and fast. The call sheet comes in; they’re to attend a mandatory focus group at a professional facility that day.
Bill orchestrated and ran focus groups as his day job for 15 years. Jamie, on the other hand, has no clue what a focus group is. Eric thinks they’ll sit on a stage, where an audience will ask questions, then “determine if we’re crazy.” If only.
Jeremy cops on as soon as he walks into the facility. They will be watching people talk about them through two-way glass.
Women of their demographic will be sitting in judgement.
They will be asked to react to older pictures of the guys. Then they will see their current photos. They won’t know the Teen Idols are behind the glass.
As the women enter the room, the guys’ first reaction is, “this is awesome.” It’s all women, so maybe they will be kind.
First, they show an ’80s video of Billy Hufsey, slaying it onstage dancing his butt off.
When asked what they think he might be doing now, the consensus is “Broadway.” Then they’re asked to comment on his current appearance. “He’s got a Chia pet sitting on top of his head,” says one. “He looks kind of like an over-puffed air mattress,” says another. Ouch.
When shown the video for Jamie Walters‘ hit song “How Do You Talk to an Angel,” most members of the focus group don’t remember him at all. They’re asked what they do remember about him. “The horrible song,” says one. Yikes. But the focus group did think he could be on Prison Breakand they smiled as they saw videos of him playing with his kids.
Eric Nies gets a mixed reaction from the ladies. Apparently, his hotness from The Real World is remembered. But he also comes off as cheesy. When they see his appearance now, the group is visibly disappointed. “Dirty,” and “a 45 year-old man on a skateboard is just not appealing” are a couple of the reactions. Eric is understandably hurt and annoyed by their comments, but adds that he’s heard it before and it’s making him rethink.
The entire focus group remembered Adrian Zmed. A total cutie when he was younger, the women think he has not aged well. “I’m human,” says Adrian of their comments, “it hurts.” One woman is catching on.
Everyone also knows Chris Atkins. Not only does he elicit oohs and ahhs from the group, they also think he currently resembles Robert Redford. Chris takes the praise to heart, remarking that their words are very encouraging.
The group hates Jeremy‘s music video from when he was a kid star. If that weren’t bad enough, his current appearance is described as “scary,” “rapist,” and “drug addict.” Jeremy is hurt but takes the criticism extremely well.
David gets the girls going big time. In the Baywatch footage, he is super-hot. But David is pissed that he’s appreciated only as eye-candy, and he’s reminded of how judgmental Hollywood is. As the session wraps up, the ladies unanimously agree Chris has the best chance of making it again as a leading man.
Back at the house, Bill storms around, angry.
He’s upset at the remarks about his hair style and his weight. Bill, think of it this way — at least those are things you can change! It hurts, but it’s not such a big deal.
The next morning, the Idols are still smarting from the commentary. They get a call sheet summoning them to a mandatory meeting, but they are wary.
As they file into the meeting, they’re greeted by Cooper Lawrence. She wants to hear about the focus group right away. Adrian says he had a rough night, and was hurt by the comments that he looked old. In an impassioned speech, he stresses that it’s not how you look, it’s what’s inside you that comes out that’s important. David is exasperated that “their first instinct is to say a lot of negative stuff.” Also, I’m starting to wonder why no one in the focus group mentioned how tan these guys are. Whatever they’re doing now, they must have tons of time to spend on the beach catching rays.
The new fame is about how people perceive you, says Cooper. “You have to find that balance between ‘your truth’ and what people expect of you,” she says. Jamie replies that he’s content with his life, that he left Hollywood and got a job that’s not about image. Cooper tells him he can still have all those things, and have a hit song. Jamie looks reflective and takes it all in.
Chris, whom the focus group said still looks like a leading man, has been quiet this whole time. On the verge of tears (as was I), he said it made him want to take the next step. Cooper tells the group that in today’s entertainment world, the audience has all the power. So next, they will meet with the A-list experts who will help them address the criticism from the focus group.
Most of they guys do not react well to the news that they will be meeting with a stylist and getting a makeover.
Jen Rade, A-list stylist and fashion critic for US magazine steps in.
The Idols are skeptical.
She sends them off to pick out an outfit that best represents who they are. Jeremy stands up first for critique. He’s nightclub promoter, and she disapproves of his t-shirt and vest ensemble. She calls his slicked-back hair “Fabio-esque” and says he needs to totally rethink his image. Jeremy wants to close the door on being the club guy and fully expected what she had to say.
Jen calls it right and says David looks good but plain, and that he needs to work on his sexiness. Chris apparently sports a dated look for its bagginess. Has she never met a straight man before? For most heterosexual men, wearing boring, baggy clothes is a lifestyle. Why do we oppress men’s departments with ugly dark blues, grays, beiges, and browns? Also, I say “thank you” to my television when she tells Chris to wear sunblock.
Jamie also misses the fashion target. Jen goes forward encouraging him to dress to be in the public eye.
“What’s up with the facial thing?” she asks Eric. She’s appalled at his loose linen trousers and shapeless t-shirt. “You could never, ever go into a meeting dressed like this,” she says. Eric disagrees. “You’re delusional,” she replies.
Jen, you are a brave and powerful woman! Eric says he’s not concerned about image, because he’s more into just being who he is. Did I mention his nickname is Papupae, which means “lots of poop”?
Jen takes a look at Bill’s dated style. He’s defensive when she criticizes his light jeans and multi-fabric blazer. But she’s had enough. She asks them why, if they’re all so happy with the way they look, did they decide to come on the show? Jeremy calls it completely when he says Jen isn’t just talking about clothes, she’s talking about a resistance to change and growth, that makes them react badly to her comments.
The guys are taken shopping at Lisa Klein for Men. They run around franticaly trying to find new looks so Jen won’t come at them again. Jamie says he’s open minded, but won’t even try anything on. Eric looks on, munching nuts and seeds, not having any of it. “I am a fashion disaster,” he proclaims.
Then, Chris finds him a sweater that gives him a new fashion lease on life.
David, Adrian, Jamie, and Chris are then sent to a spa for facials. They relax and enjoy the pampering. Chris comes out of his treatment looking radiant.
Jeremy and Eric are sent to a hair salon. Jeremy is almost melting down over the fear of getting a bad haircut. If he gets a bad cut, he says, he will be bitter. Considering the focus group said he looked like a scary drug dealer, maybe he should keep an open mind. Eric looks amazing after a hair trim and a shave.
Back at the house, Jen has them sport their new looks. They do indeed all look fabulous.
At the end of the episode, Jen has a surprise. She’s arranged a make-up artist and a photographer to come in and do publicity shots with all the guys. The photographer encourages them to use their creativity when posing for their new pictures, and they again look like the stars they truly are.
The only one who doesn’t show up for this second critique is Bill. He claims to have taken ill while shopping, and is snoozing away.