The Hero: interesting concept, obnoxious cast

TNT debuted its new The Rock-hosted reality competition The Hero last week, and it was a fascinatingly bizarre hour: The extreme challenges that were actually challenging and visually interesting. The temptation twists. The definition of a hero. The Rock breaking the fourth wall constantly to ask the audience questions that we weren’t asking ourselves. The complicated game structure that seems reminiscent of The Mole, but with lots and lots of complication.

I’m not quite sure if it is spectacular or a disaster, but I’m intrigued enough to keep watching (episode two airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET). But I don’t know if I can, at least not without muting my television.

That’s because The Hero has the most obnoxious, grating group of contestants I can ever remember populating a cast. Viewers have to select one of them as a hero, really? Maybe if it had been titled The Zero–ZING.

The contestants don’t lack personality, but their expression of it nearly always involves, at best, talking loudly at one another (unless the contestant is Patty, who cried even at the furniture). No one listens, every one shouts, and it’s more abrasive than rubbing a cheese grater up and down fresh road rash.

The editing, producing, and/or coaching may be to blame, too, because that annoying, constant conflict was pretty much all the premiere focused on, save for a moment of levity which the editors used to contrast between what was happening in the one-person hero’s challenge and back at the apartment.

There’s a lot of talk about what makes for a hero, and whether or not being selfish immediately disqualifies one for that status. However, if I was on the show, I simply couldn’t imagine giving up significant amounts of cash so that it could go to one of the strangers who’s clearly an asshole. Isn’t it a lot more heroic to keep that money to help your family or even just you?

Perhaps the cast will mellow out over time, but the preview for the season didn’t seem promising, with clips of verbal brawls and more yelling. It may just be enough to drive one to seek peace, quiet, and sanity by tuning in to Big Brother.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.