This season’s Tool Academy (premiering Sunday, Feb. 14 at 9/8c) class has gone coed with the introduction of both a straight couple whose female half is an unapologetic cheater, and a lesbian couple on the brink of self-destruction. The lady tools–or “toolettes”–are this season’s biggest change for sure, but the Season 3 cast surprised host Jordan Murphy and Trina Dolenz in ways beyond that. Below is an interview with host Jordan Murphy, who discusses earning cast members’ respect, the glorification of tool behavior, and how the show kicks its tools in the metaphorical “va-jay-jay.”
You’ve got female tools for the first time on Tool Academy. Did it change the way you interact with them?
No, I don’t discriminate. One tool is just the same as another tool. It’s more the quality of an individual’s personality than it is their sex.
So you weren’t scared to, say, yell at one of the girl tools?
Let’s just say this. I’m sure you know what happened the first episode of Season 2: I was instructed to verbally, forcefully remove somebody. Other than that, I wouldn’t raise my voice to a guy or a girl. In fact, most of the time, I prefer to be on their side. I think, at the end of the day, that it behooves both Trina and me to be on their side. So yelling at the girls, yelling at the guys, I wouldn’t do either one. Fortunately there is a definite expression of respect that they’ve given to Trina and me so far.
They know their limits.
It seems they know their limits with Trina and me, although this season there were several firsts. There’s such unpredictability. There were times before when it seemed like you knew what was going to happen every time I had to go out and confront a tool’s girlfriend. This season, it’s so unpredictable you don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of each episode. Is an alien ship going to land in the driveway? Possibly. Every single night we weren’t sure what was going to happen. A fistfight broke out that Trina had to get in the middle of during therapy. That’s never happened before.
Well, the most surprising thing about the first episode is that the toolettes are just as aggressive, if not more physically aggressive, than the guys.
I think they had to posture a bit to show they could stand up with the guys. It was crazy. And the fact that they were having this full-on wrestling match that episode was nuts.
After three seasons, you’ve become intimidating, too. One guy in particular gets this sinking feeling when he sees you, because he knows what’s about to happen.
Yeah, ’cause I’m so ferocious. It’s fascinating to me that there’s that response. But yes, in between shots, and they’re like, “Jordan man, you came out of Cancun and it freaked us out.” Clearly they seem to be like, “Oh s***!” Who knew? If I only had that kind of respect in my own home.
Also, some of the tools just break down immediately, within the first five minutes of the first group session.
Oh yeah. They literally crack. I think that most human beings never actually have the kind of boot camp introspection that Tool Academy offers. I can’t speak to all the reality TV that’s on right now, but I can speak to the shows I’ve worked on: this show is not fake. These people, they’re having emotions. Guys don’t fake cry like that. We don’t. We’re not good at it. Unless somebody severs something off of our bodies, to emotionally have that kind of response doesn’t come readily, and I think these guys get literally kicked in the balls, emotionally. Or in the va-jay-jay, now that we’ve got the co-ed going. I’m sure you’re going to print that! “Jordan said va-jay-jay.”
Were there any other big changes this season?
You know when they have an audience come in they actually watch the movie or TV show as a focus group? We do the same thing this season with the tools. [You find out] not just what their girlfriends think about them, and that’s where the layers get peeled away. It’s one thing what you think of yourself, it’s another thing what a loved one thinks of you, it’s another thing what someone on a professional therapist level, and it’s another thing what the world thinks about you. All these tools care what other people think of them, and we just shake their world.
But I feel like, with the Jersey Shore‘s popularity, maybe America’s grown to love and embrace Tools?
Jersey Shore is like our test tube, our petri dish of “tool.” But there’s a fine line between embracing and observing, and I think there’s an observation of tools that people like to do from a distance. You’re not going to see Barack Obama with a crooked Von Dutch hat because it’s cool now. Or anybody for that matter. You’re not going to see people go, yeah, I’m going to dress like a tool now because Jersey Shore is a hit show. I hope.
It could happen.
That’s a different conversation. Are we encouraging toolish behavior? Perhaps, but we have a safeguard for that and it’s called Tool Academy.
For Tool-related updates, follow Jordan on Twitter.
— Jessica Suarez