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Denette Wilford

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The Project: Guatemala More Than Just A Reality Show

Posted: 09/23/2013 12:11 pm

The Project Guatemala
City

Aside from dance reality competitions and amazing and wild adventure shows where pairs embark on a race or journey together, I don't really dig reality shows. Big Brother, The Bachelor, Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives -- all shows I can't wrap my head around. It probably doesn't help that many of the contestants (of the ones in which a pot of cash is awaiting a winner) or cast members (where cameras follow them around, waiting for stupidity and hijinks to ensue) can be so damn annoying.

So if I didn't know the premise of The Project: Guatemala, I would've been throwing something at the TV. OK, a slight exaggeration; I would've just changed the channel. Really, though, just about everyone involved -- with the exception of awesome host Ray Zahab (Running The Sahara) -- deserved a punch in the mouth at one point. Again, perhaps a slight exaggeration, but a slap upside the head would also do nicely.

The Project: Guatemala features nine privileged 20-somethings who think they've been chosen to take part in a fluffy reality show where they can drink, party and hook up with fellow hotties in paradise. But because it looks like a reality show and sounds like a reality show and annoys like a reality show, then it must be a reality show, right? Well, let's just say it's certainly real.

The nine knuckleheads -- all of whom hail from either Ontario, Alberta or B.C. -- learn that instead of a posh hotel in Guatemala City, they're actually headed to a rural area to help build a community hall for orphaned children via Canadian-run charity The Project Somos Children's Village.

Back in June, Zahab spoke about the show, telling media at the City upfronts, "I'm very proud it's Canadian. This is groundbreaking, it's something that's never been done before on TV." Honestly, how many times can a reality show (or any show, really) boast that?

The young Canadians are given the choice right off the bat on whether to stay or go, and no one is forcing them to stay. They can go back to their privileged lives and pretend this awful, horrible nightmare didn't happen. Or they can suck it up, lose the "woe is me" attitude, look around and see what a true nightmare is and how lucky they actually have it, and work like they've never worked before. (No, really, some of them have never worked before.)

Once reality (real reality, none of this concocted BS "reality") sets in, it's the girls who are most affected by what the following six weeks will bring. Like, OMG, what are they going to, like, do without their heels and hair products and self-tanners? How could they go a day without showing their cleavage?

Maybe it's because my idea of dressing up involves a comfy pair of jeans and flats, not sky-high heels, shorts up to here, and a shirt down to here, but the women crying over what their hair looked like and bitching about being told what not to wear was both laughable and infuriating. I get that they're really far out of their comfort zones, but considering their new surroundings, one would think they would realize how trivial their complaints are. Honestly, I think I would have more of a problem with the latrine situation but, funnily enough, that doesn't seem to faze them.

The guys have an easier time of it, presumably because clothing and accessories and beauty products aren't that much of a concern, and some of them actually seem ready to embrace the challenge. And that is what I can't wait for with the rest of them. I can't wait for them to have that sense of accomplishment, something only hard work and dedication can get you. I want them to feel actual emotion about someone other than themselves, and while they might not completely lose the flighty, nitwit attitudes, I am rooting for them to dig deep and learn things they would have never known about themselves and the world. For the next six weeks, I can't wait to see how this entire experience changes them. Fingers crossed.

'The Project: Guatemala' premieres Monday, Sept. 23 at 10 p.m. ET on OLN and City.

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