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File:The Joe Schmo Show 5045.jpg

The Joe Schmo Show was at once a Reality Show and a spoof of reality shows. The first season centered around Matt Kennedy Gould, a regular guy who is selected as a contestant on the reality game show Lap of Luxury. What he didn't realize, however, is that everybody else around him was an actor, specifically selected to play a reality-show archetype such as "The Rich Bitch", "The Gay Guy", "The Asshole", and "The Smarmy Host". The scenes in the house were cut with standard reality-show style interviews, both from Matt and from the actors, who would describe how they felt about keeping the charade going on this guy. (Once they got to know Gould, and realized how much a truly nice and upright a guy he was, fooling him became emotionally harder and harder for the actors involved.) Despite several close calls, Matt didn't find out the truth until The Reveal in the season finale. After this, the series was rerun under the title Mo' Schmo, with Matt giving a running commentary over it now that he knew the whole thing was fake. (Though this only lasted for four episodes before Spike pulled these repeats due to sagging ratings.)

Joe Schmo 2, the second season, brought in 2 schmoes, Tim Walsh and Ingrid Weise, for a parody reality relationship show, Last Chance for Love. This season was often criticized for taking the premise way over the top, and for practically daring the schmoes to figure out the truth (which one, Ingrid, eventually did; they kept things going by having her join the actors and bringing in a new Schmo, Amanda). As well, neither Tim nor Ingrid was really as likeable as Matt was. Because of this, season 2 never really did quite as well as season 1, Ratings- or acclaim-wise.

The Joe Schmo Show provides examples of the following:

  • Ambiguously Gay: Gerald.
  • Berserk Button: Kip only wants to see pictures of positivity in his photo album. He doesn't want to see anything negative, like, say, photos of someone else's buttcheeks.
    • Also, do not even think of harming Bryce's pet frog Everett.
  • Blatant Lies: In at least a couple of instances, the actors couldn't keep their stories straight and had to come up with complicated explanations to try to smooth things over. Generally, they managed to get away with it, except in the case of Ingrid, who managed to see through enough of the lies to pretty much piece the entire sham together.
  • Camp Gay: Kip.
  • Confession Cam: They had to be very careful with this, as the actors generally recorded their confessionals out of character. This led to a moment of panic in the first season when everyone thought that Matt Kennedy Gould had overheard Lance Krall ("Kip") speaking out of character.
  • Disney Death: Everett the frog and Montecore the falcon in Joe Schmo 2, both of which were brought out in the finale and shown to be just fine. Additionally, Ingrid's grandfather. She stated that he was still alive and they could bring him out at the finale, but for unstated reasons, this didn't happen.
  • Eat That: A good portion of the drama in one of the episodes of the first season focused around one of these. Matt Kennedy Gould said he was specifically assured before the show started that he wouldn't be put in a situation like this, yet one of the latter episodes featured a gross-eating challenge. The dishes were all supposedly Foreign Queasine, such as monkey testicles or moufflon eyeballs, up until Matt's dish, which was claimed to be canine feces. Matt, having a well-known gag reflex, was immediately grossed out, but then seemed to decide that it couldn't possibly be real, until he was assured by a producer that it was. (He later revealed that he had so grown to trust the producers that the fact that none of them would even look at him led him to believe that it really was real.) Having refused to eat the canine feces, Matt met with a fake Network Executive who told him that the challenge could still be won if he got Ashleigh and Molly to either kiss or go topless. Because Girl-On-Girl Is Hot.
  • Elimination Catchphrase: "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, ----, you're dead to us" & "your wick is cold / your neck is bare and so is your place in ----'s heart. Please take your walk down the Last Chance For Love Trail of Tears."
  • Elimination Statement: Often quite interesting, since the "contestants" being eliminated were actors. The special features on the DVD of the first season of the program contained much fuller versions and made for some very revealing viewing.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Matt tried to work on making some reality show alliances and voting strategies, but given that everyone else was an actor working from a shared script...
  • Fan Disservice: In a game early in the first season, the guests are split along the gender line and are asked questions about members of the other team. A wrong answer results in having to wear a penalty outfit. Unfortunately for the audience, all of the outfits are intended for women. This results in Earl wearing a Bo Peep outfit, Matt wearing a schoolgirl outfit, Hutch dressed as a French Maid, and Brian in a Playboy Bunny costume. To make things worse, the penalty outfits come with a penalty action. This entails Earl pole-dancing, Brian giving Matt a spanking, and Hutch giving Earl an oily foot massage.
  • The Frog Prince: The Bryce character believed that the frog Everett was a real person, trapped in the form of a frog.
  • Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Lampshaded, as with so many other tropes on this show, when the Network Executive demands that Molly and Ashleigh kiss to boost the ratings.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The intention of the first season was to seek out the nicest guy they could find for their experiment, once it became obvious that Matt was every bit as decent and honest as he presented himself in his audition video the morality of lying to him became a central part of the show's drama.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Molly.
  • Is That What They're Calling It Now?: The Hutch - "Yeah, I have respect. I respected all over Dr. Pat's back."
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Gerald's name is pronounced with a hard G.
  • Manipulative Editing: While reality show contestants often complain of being portrayed in the worst possible light, the editors on this show seemed to go out of their way to portray Matt Kennedy Gould in the best possible light. Matt himself tried to downplay it a bit, basically saying that he wasn't quite the saint that they were trying to make him out to be. Not quite as true of the second season, though they did basically seem to make the Schmoes seem like good people.
  • Never Work with Children or Animals: The falcon in the second season was said to be a nightmare to work with. During rehearsals, he crashed into the doors to the mansion, so they decided to leave them open, only for the thing to end up getting into the house and flying all over the place.
  • Non Gameplay Elimination: A number of these were created for plot purposes. In the first season, Dr. Pat was offered $25,000 to "voluntarily exit" the program. The votes revealed that The Hutch would have been eliminated had she not left. The Hutch was later ejected from the program for making threats against another contestant, but returned on a legal technicality and went on to "win." In the second season, Bryce the Stalker was eliminated via the normal elimination, but invited back to the show. He was then ejected later on for supposedly killing the falcon, Montecore.
  • Old Soldier: Earl.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: Matt Kennedy Gould, the original Joe Schmo, had a heavy dose of this and admitted more than once that had it been a real reality show there would have been no way he could have come anywhere close to winning. Of course, anyone with too much Genre Savvy would eventually figure out the gag, as Ingrid Wiese did.
  • Reality TV Show Mansion: Both seasons of the program were set in one. One of the rules of the fake reality show was that anyone that stepped outside the front door of the mansion without permission was automatically eliminated. This led to a plot point in the first season of the show when the character Molly threatened to walk out to chase after her "boyfriend," William.
  • Rich Bitch: Ashleigh. She also played something of the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing before truly bringing out the bitch personality in latter episodes, handing out friendship bracelets in the first episode with the intention of toying Matt around before playing him. Matt, being admittedly naive when it came to reality shows, said in the wrap-up following the program that he had no idea why she gave out the bracelets, as it didn't seem to fit her "bitch" character. She also turned out to be a bit of The Cassandra as well, as several of the things she warned Matt about turned out to be true, yet he ignored her.
  • Running Gag: Towards the end of one of the episodes of Joe Schmo 2 one the producers revealed that Everett the frog had been killed by Montecore the falcon. Ingrid suggested a moment of a silence and a memorial was shown on-screen to Everett. In the next episode, Bryce, the owner of the frog returned, but before a certain point, everyone kept avoiding the issue of Everett's death. However, the characters kept working in subtle references to Everett and, whenever they did, the memorial was shown again.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Ambrosia.
  • Screwed by the Network: True to at least some degree of Joe Schmo 2. Once Spike TV decided it wasn't getting the ratings that they wanted, they moved it to a scheduled time of 11:05 P.M., but with the caveat that it didn't air until after WWE Raw had finished. Raw often ran late and in one instance ran so late that the original broadcast of one of the episodes of Joe Schmo 2 didn't air until after midnight. Additionally, an episode that was originally scheduled to last an hour-and-a-half was edited to fit within an hour timeslot. The full length version of the episode wasn't seen until the program came out on DVD, several years later.
  • Shocking Elimination: Poked fun at by including the phrase "the most shocking elimination yet" in several of the promos either going to break or at the end of the episode.
  • Smarmy Host: The hosts' being that of "smarmy host".
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The Hutch from the first season!
  • The Masquerade
  • This Is a Competition: Several of the supposed contestants.
  • Token Minority: Noting that contestants with an ethnic background typically tended to be eliminated first on reality-relationship shows, the producers decided to have a "black ball eviction ceremony" in the premiere episode in which several were eliminated before the program had even really gotten started.
  • Tonight Someone Dies: One of the promos for Joe Schmo 2 promised "We've laughed with them. Cried with them. And on the next episode, one of them is going to die." The "death" was that of Everett the frog, who had supposedly been killed by the falcon Montecore. Later, Montecore was supposedly killed off as well. Both were brought out at the finale and revealed to be just fine.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: After The Hutch was kicked off the program in the first season, the promos for the next episode clearly gave away the fact that he was coming back.
  • Truman Show Plot: Lampshaded in at least a couple of instances. In the first season of the show, Ashleigh stated that if she won the money, she would go to Fiji. In The Truman Show, Truman Burbank's dream destination was Fiji, because it was where he believed his first love to be. Later, when he is eliminated from the show in Joe Schmo 2, Tim tells everyone "if I don't see you guys, good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night," a play on one of Truman Burbank's Catch Phrases.
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