Let's take a minute to remember the unfortunate souls who have competed on reality television dating shows. And oh, there have been so, so many. One such soul recently decided to spill all about her time on what was possibly the worst dating show of all time. And I’m including A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. The show was Joe Millionaire, which aired on Fox for eight episodes in 2003, and former cast member Sarah Kozer dishes the brutally honest behind-the-scenes details of her experience.
If you’ve never seen the show, here’s the idea. They take an average “Joe”, dress him in fancy clothes, and fly him and 20 women to a chateau in France, where he pretends to be a millionaire while deciding which woman he wants to marry. The audience is supposed to think it’s funny that all these women are gold diggers going after a man who is not actually rich. SO funny, guys!
The first and last “Joe Millionaire” was a guy named Evan Marriott, who was just a good-looking dude that worked in construction. Fox paid him an initial 50 thousand dollars to appear on the show, so he just went for it. Who can blame him? He didn’t know what we know now.
Sarah Kozer was a law student living in Los Angeles when she was cast on the show. The producers told her that they were looking for strong, professional women. They supposedly wanted women who would be “role models” for little girls. Sure.
Just kidding, this is reality television! According to Sarah, the producers gave the women their contracts at the last minute, so they barely had time to review them. The producers tried very hard to mislead the women, telling them over and over that it was not a dating show. Why couldn’t they just tell them the truth? Someone explain this madness.
Despite what people thought, the women did not know there was prize money involved when the auditioned for the show. They were just bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 20-somethings who wanted to be on a fun reality show. And that’s what they were promised, but not what they got.
Sarah claims that Evan wasn’t a convincing millionaire. He often could not keep his backstory straight. On one of their dates, Sarah says that Evan freaked out about 20 dollars going missing from his wallet, thinking that someone had stolen from him. Joe Millionaire? More like Peter Penny Pincher, am I right?
The women were not allowed out of the chateau, so they started going a little crazy. When the woman demanded gym time, production relented but sent guards with them wherever they went. Their favorite line of reasoning for this? They didn’t want to “ruin the surprise." *HUUUGE eye roll*
The producers then decided to play everyone’s favorite game: let’s take away the women’s right to privacy! Sarah once caught producers and cameramen in one of the rooms talking about setting up hidden cameras to film the women without their knowledge or permission. Anyone else steaming like a bag of vegetables right now?!
The production staff held onto the girls’ passports during filming, which already seems like a red flag. When Sarah wanted to leave the show, they would not release her passport to her. I’m no expert on the law, but besides being morally reprehensible, isn’t that illegal?
Editing is powerful, especially on reality dating shows. Sarah was a victim of completely ridiculous editing. While on a date, they filmed Sarah and Evan making out and walking into the chateau garden. They then added in blowjob sound effects to make it seem like that was what the couple had sneaked off to do. C-L-A-S-S-Y.
Not only did they make Sarah look like she blew a guy for money, they also threatened to sue her if she told people the truth. So in an attempt to do some sort of damage control, Sarah tried to be in the public eye as much as possible so that people would see that she wasn’t such a terrible person. She also went topless in Playboy, which I wouldn’t think is the best form of damage control, but what do I know?
Sorry, not sorry, Joe Millionaire. Thank goodness this terrible show is no longer around. Can we retroactively start a GoFundMe to raise money for these poor women? Perhaps that will help cover their therapy bills.