Remember high school?
Well, I sort of don’t. In the words of Christopher Durang, “Repression is a gift from God, and we must honor it as such,” so I try to think about other things.Â I seem to recall a few years of my life where I would try to slip from class to class unnoticed, hide in the yearbook room to work on my layouts, top pizzas on Friday nights, freak out about my incompetency in math and science, pretend to be interested in girls and experience the stomach-dropping feeling of heartbreak and dread wherein I walked through a bustling lunchroom with a mom-packed lunch and try to find a place to sit.
Not that I’m an exuberant Johnny Goodtimes now, but you guys should have seen me in high school. That shit was depressing. I spent a lot of time on my schoolwork (that pretty much ended in college) and a lot of time hating the alpha dogs: There were two pairs of fraternal twinsÂ who pretty much ruled my senior class. One pair, a boy and a girl, were, respectively, the singer for the school’s ska band and the party girl who was inadvertently pictured in the yearbook with a Budweiser. The other pair, girls, were valedictorian and student government czar. Then there were the football people, the cool drama kids (to be distinguished between the other drama kids — the freaks/backstage kids), SGA, blah, blah.
So, it’s through this high school experience that I base my undying love and support for the underdog.Â Thus, whenever I watch a competitive reality show I generally have a tendency to root for the oddballs and the downtrodden.Â It usually ends in heartache.Â (Side note: In addition, I am almost always predisposed to root for women and minorities as well — go figure.)
Keep in mind, true underdogs have to something going for them, even if it’s as small as a resilient spirit or a sense of humor.Â Otherwise, it would just be called “rooting for someone who sucks.”
Here’s a quick round-up of my current brood of characters who are just barely hanging on.
Why she’s an underdog:Â Cirie started off at the first tribal council by stating her status as a couch potato and relating her shock at how hard life on the island was.Â “For the people at home that are like me on the couch: Stay on
the couch,” she said.Â How can you not love that?
Even though she has hung on for dear life for the first few episodes, she’s shrewdly stationed herself under the radar. When she found herself on the outs with her tribe, she consciously bit her tongue while the volatile tribesmates bickered and tore each other apart.
Cirie gets by on charm and savvy, as she’s no physical powerhouse.Â On last night’s episode, the immunity challenge required the castaways to dig in the sand and scoot under a wooden bar.Â Everyone watched and thought, “Cirie, there’s no way your boobs are going to get under that thing.Â You’re going to need heavy machinery.”Â And she lost, of course, and Terry won, of course. (Terry, fyi, is this season’s captain of the football team.Â A former jet pilot, he always wears one of those golfing polo shirts that they issue to you when you become middle-aged.Â You know, in that care package with the fishing supplies and copies of The Economist.)
Prognosis:Â I don’t really think she’s going to win, but I think she’ll make it far — maybe even to the final four.Â The power players have bigger fish to fry before weeding her out.
Show: American Idol
Why he’s an underdog: Despite having one of the best technical voices in the competition, I always see Elliott as this awkward, insulin pump-wearing mama’s boy.Â He’s got some quirky good looks (for sure the cutest boy in Hebrew school), but there are definitely some more purtier contestants.Â Plus, he’s a softie — breaking into tears when Stevie Wonder surprised the contestants with an appearance and calling his mom his hero.
Often, Elliott tries to pull off some sort of gangsta chic, but he just ends up looking adorable.Â Like some sort of leprechaun who got really into a Halloween costume.
Prognosis: He was in the bottom three this week, and I honestly can’t see him getting past contestants like Chris or (shudder) that whacked-out hillbilly Taylor.Â But he’ll probably go at least another 3 episodes, or so.
Show: Project Runway
Why she’s an underdog: I mean, did you see her?Â Her extreme nerdiness was probably half editing, but her stuttering delivery, the glasses, the problems with “polarity” on her crazy magnet garment all point to geekdom.Â And it’s totally why I loved her and why she tugged at the ole’ heartstrings week after week.Â She never really wowed me, but whenever she made something that was kind of nice I was like “Good Diana, you show ‘em!”
Prognosis: Well, show’s over.Â She lost.