The first sign that something was awry was when a Speedo-clad Lorenzo Lamas bragged, “I have the sack of a 25-year-old.”
Actually, the erstwhile Reno Raines wasn’t wearing a Speedo. The onetime Renegade star sported something called a European Casual Pouch (“Dot com,” added Lamas, ever the adept celebrity endorser) as he strutted his stuff before his fellow contestants on The Full Bounty, Spike’s search for “the next great bounty hunter.”
Time’s been hard on Lamas. Living proof that a little cosmetic surgery goes a long way, the 55-year-old Lamas sports goofy deltoid tattoos and a permanently pasted-on smile. Squeezed into his Casual Pouch, he sort of looks like the Incredible Melting Man. But who could doubt his bounty hunter bona fides?
There’s actually reason to do so, because The Full Bounty doesn’t exist: It’s a setup, a fake reality show within Spike’s The Joe Schmo Show. The bounty-hunter competition is populated entirely by actors, with the exception of Chase Rogan (28, clean-cut, affable, professional agronomist; as of this writing, 35 of his LinkedIn contacts endorse him for “Turf”), the titular “schmo.” Unbeknownst to him, the entire thing is scripted; if Chase reaches the finale without questioning the show’s veracity, he wins $100,000. The eliminations are planned, the competitions are rigged, the deaf girl isn’t deaf. Even Lamas is in on the joke—a real actor playing a fictionalized version of himself on a fake reality show within a real reality show.
Joe Schmo rewards viewers’ over-familiarity with reality TV with a broad satire of its tropes and conventions. The opening credits introduce each actor with a pithy title card (“Chloe, the model”; “Lavernius, the black guy”; “Karlee, the deaf girl”). Lamas could be any has-been star trying to grasp at the last vestiges of their disappearing fame. (His European Casual Pouch recalls Basketball Wives star Evelyn Lozada’s awful line of catchphrase-emblazoned T-shirts.) The Karlee character was reportedly inspired by Marlee Matlin’s stint on Celebrity Apprentice. [...]