Reality TV Three Years Later

Exactly three years ago, I wrote a blog post that detailed the experiences of Bryden Vukasin, a former cast member on “The Bachelorette.” The night before I published that particular entry I sat down with Bryden to pick his brain at a now defunct restaurant/bar in Missoula, Montana. He graciously answered every question I had about his experience with stardom in the world of reality TV. Our conversation opened my eyes to the fact that many of these programs rely both on authentic and  rehearsed components.

I published my blog post about Bryden Vukasin exactly three years ago on January 7, 2014.

I published my blog post about Bryden Vukasin exactly three years ago on January 7, 2014.

This morning I asked myself this question: After three years, has reality television improved when it comes to delivering “reality”? I wanted to write a blog post taking one side or the other, either asserting that the genre has improved in portraying a genuine experience or vehemently arguing that it has gone completely downhill in serving viewers a load of scripted crap. However, after going back and forth I reached the conclusion that reality TV has not shifted either way.

Bryden Vukasin and I during the summer of 2013.

Bryden Vukasin and I during the summer of 2013.

I believe that reality TV can be categorized in two separate camps:
1. The shows that are centered around a competition and don’t need actors or a predetermined script to skew reality.
2. The shows that revolve around a family, business, moral ground, theme, or a makeover that needs an extra shot of energy to make it interesting to viewers.

Shows in my first group include “The Bachelorette,” “Big Brother,” “The Apprentice,” and “Survivor.” These programs pick casts comprised of competitive, motivated, successful people. They then bait these individuals with a significant prize, whether it be money or a potential spouse. The recipe of above average people battling it out for a grand prize makes for television that doesn’t need significant scripting. Rather, it just needs the type of touching up that Bryden explained such as recreating events or editing scenes for optimal suspense (such as the rose ceremonies).

When it comes to shows in the second group, we are looking at programming such as “The Kardashians,” “The Jersey Shore,” “Bar Rescue,” “Vanderpump Rules,” “The Real Housewives,” and many, many more. Producers have to constantly bring in outside talent and introduce unlikely events to make these episodes entertaining. But make no mistake about it, when it comes to generating viewers, this formula works. The thing is, I don’t think many of us who watch these shows have wool over our eyes. It doesn’t take an interview with a “Bar Rescue” cast member to know that the show is fake. As reasonable beings, we can all identify that shows such as “The Kardashians” aren’t based on reality. However, just because the name of the genre might be deceptive does not mean we can’t enjoy it.

Even though we know that many of these shows skew reality, it doesn't mean we stop watching them or liking them. Sidney and I once went on a road trip where we visited three different bars that were featured on "Bar Rescue." This image is of Sidney and I in front of the tank at Klick's 22.

Even though we know that many of these shows skew reality, it doesn’t mean we stop watching them or liking them. Sidney and I once went on a road trip where we visited three different bars that were featured on “Bar Rescue.” This image is of Sidney and I in front of the tank at Klick’s 22.

Reality TV over the past three years has changed much less than it had the three years prior. People who work in TV are smart and know what works. By 2014, the reality show formula was down to a science. If it isn’t broke, why fix it?  Look for the reality TV landscape in 2020 to look very similar to that of 2014 and 2017. Don’t Blink.

The Truth About a “Bar Rescue” Experience

Everyone knows I am a big “Bar Rescue” fan. I watch the show like a maniac and I even planned a tour that took me to bars that were rescued by Jon Taffer. But I am not an idiot. I know the show is scripted worse than professional wrestling. However, I could never get anyone who was on the show to confirm it to me until now.

Recently I came in contact with Maria Bedient, a real life person who was featured prominently on the fifth season of “Bar Rescue.” However, don’t think the word “prominently” translates to accurately or glowingly. Her episode, titled “Emergency Exit,” portrayed Maria as an entitled, spoiled distraction who was sucking the life out of a bar called Murphy’s Law in Reno. The show explained that Maria owned 40% of the bar while her ex-boyfriend also owned 40%. A third partner owned 20%. After an opening scene outside the bar where Taffer is very critical of Maria, he later convinces her ex-boyfriend (Gary) to fire her.

This is Maria Bedient, the woman who was gracious enough to talk to me about her experience on "Bar Rescue."

This is Maria Bedient, the woman who was gracious enough to talk to me about her experience on “Bar Rescue.”

The episode is your typical “Bar Rescue” story line: The bar is initially depicted as a business in complete disarray. The stress test is a disaster. The staff eventually comes together. The re-model is out of this world. The grand opening is a success. The credits explain that after a short period of time, the sales of Money Bar (the new name of Murphy’s Law) went up 20%.

Murphy's Law in Reno is depicted on the fifth season of "Bar Rescue."

Murphy’s Law in Reno is depicted on the fifth season of “Bar Rescue.”

But not so fast. Like I said, it doesn’t take a reality TV guru to know that “Bar Rescue” is produced to attract viewers, not to tell the truth. Maria couldn’t have made this more clear.

How about we just start from the top? The opening of every show exclaims that the featured bar is ready to “pull open the doors, bust out the books, and make a call to ‘Bar Rescue’ for help.” While Murphy’s Law did end up pulling open the doors and busting out the books, it never made a call to the show. Believe it or not, “Bar Rescue” contacted various Reno area bars to gauge interest in appearing in an episode. The show dialed up Murphy’s Law and Maria says it was the worst decision they ever made to accept their offer to “rescue” the bar.

The original call from “Bar Rescue” came in late September of 2014. All filming was complete by March 15, 2015. Once the show converged on Maria’s bar, it didn’t take long to realize that there was an agenda at play.

Maria doesn’t dispute that the bar had issues. But what she does vehemently deny is the type/cause of issues “Bar Rescue” portrayed the bar to have. You just have to watch the first minute of the “Emergency Exit” episode to see the writing on the wall. Maria is immediately labeled as a “puppet master” and all the editing and sound bites of her from that point on paint a portrait of a toxic individual who is set on destroying a business. More on what this portrayal of Maria did to her later.

At the start of the show, there is an epic meltdown by the owner who controlled a minority stake in the bar, Nellie. While the cameras rolled, Nellie decides to walk off his bar shift while hurling expletives and flashing obscene gestures at Gary. The two men and Maria happen to take their disagreement out into the parking lot right at the same time that Jon Taffer exits his recon vehicle. A major confrontation takes place. The whole scene seemed, to put it nicely, less than spontaneous. This would be the theme throughout the entire filming.

A major part in the "Emergency Exit" episode of Bar Rescue is when Jon Taffer and the three owners meet outside Murphy's Law for a frank discussion.

A major part in the “Emergency Exit” episode of Bar Rescue is when Jon Taffer and the three owners meet outside Murphy’s Law for a frank discussion.

Maria explained to me that the main producer talked to all Murphy’s Law employees who appeared on the show separately. Roles were developed and certain behaviors encouraged. As for the smaller things that occur on a reality show to make telling a preconceived story easier, all employees were required to wear the same clothes throughout the filming. Also, just like what Bryden Vukasin told me about “The Bachelorrete,” show producers had the Murphy’s Law staff perform certain tasks/scenes over and over.

Some of the manipulation was more damaging. The couple sent in as part of Taffer’s surveillance operation definitely wasn’t going inside to offer impartiality. Encouraged to showcase Murphy’s Law as an incompetent hellhole, they did just that. Interestingly enough, the couple, Kevin and Brittany, eventually apologized to Gary and Maria for purposely making their business look bad. Of course, how can you blame them? The show told them to do something so how do you say no? Anyway, this individual story ends well as now Kevin and Brittany are regular Murphy’s Law patrons and friends with Gary and Maria.

Another tough part of the “Bar Rescue” experience for Murphy’s Law was that the hands of the owners were tied. In the show there is an infamous part where Maria is sitting at the bar gambling and hanging out. A clock appears on the screen that shows the length of her inactivity. The truth is, she couldn’t do anything else. The show specifically told her to not help out with any bar operations, a tough task for someone who is used to significantly assisting. This is a theme you see throughout all the “Bar Rescue” episodes so maybe now you won’t think that all those owners are actually that lazy.

This is the scene where a clock is put on the screen to show the inactivity of Maria. It showed her sitting there for three hours.

This is the scene where a clock is put on the screen to show the inactivity of Maria. It showed her sitting there for three hours.

Maria credits the “Bar Rescue” personnel for being nice and helpful up front, but it soon became hard to accept it as genuine. As the filming went on and on, the hidden agenda of the producers started to become more visible. This wasn’t the story of Murphy’s Law, it was the story of a generic “Bar Rescue” plot line that used a bar in Reno to help tell it.

But Murphy’s Law did go along with it. The employees played their parts, took their lumps, and put on their smiles after the bar was remodeled and renamed. Although I actually thought the 1930s old school style gambling hall makeover was pretty cool, Maria informed me that the staff, and, probably more importantly, the customers, didn’t.

A look at what Murphy's Law looked like after it was converted to Money Bar.

A look at what Murphy’s Law looked like after it was converted to Money Bar.

Before the episode even premiered, Gary had changed back the name from Money Bar to Murphy’s Law. Everything else wasn’t as easy to reverse, however. Maria tells me business has suffered dramatically since the rescue. She says the place lost thousands of dollars worth of equipment and personal belongings. The 20% increase in business that “Bar Rescue” reported as the credits rolled? Absolute hogwash, claims Maria. Not only is that number inaccurate, but “Bar Rescue” never even followed up in the first place.

Losing business is one thing; losing your sense of self is another. Believe it or not, after the show aired Maria received hate mail from viewers unable to decipher the truth about reality television. She was the subject of social media venom from trolls who would watch the show and then sound off using their keyboards and smart devices. It took a year before Maria could even talk about the experience. She doesn’t hide the fact that it has been a very tough road since the “Bar Rescue” experience started.

With that said, it says a lot about Maria that she can still see the silver lining in this whole saga. After Gary pleaded for Maria to return to the bar, thereby turning his back on the advice Taffer gave him, she has experienced the small positive fruits of the “Bar Rescue” exposure. Fans of the show frequently drop in at Murphy’s Law solely because they saw it on TV. While this group can never replace the scores of regular customers the business has lost, it does provide Maria the chance to meet new people and set the record straight.

I am well aware that people have either enjoyed or suffered through different “Bar Rescue” experiences. I have in fact talked to both sides. In the future, I look to talk to more. However, there is one major theme that is very important to remember. The word “reality” in front of TV is not synonymous with the words “truthful” or “accurate.” We need to keep this in mind when watching our favorite shows and give the benefit of the doubt to any cast members who might come across as disagreeable. Don’t Blink.

Why Sundays Are So Important For “Don’t Blink”

I think we can agree that everything is bigger on Sundays. Undoubtedly the hallmark day of the week, many of us notice that restaurants, television networks, and movie theaters place a high emphasis on the Lord’s Day. The same rings true for bloggers.

By a very wide margin, Sundays are the busiest day for Don’t Blink. So busy, in fact, that my blog receives almost double the traffic on Sunday than it does on the next busiest day of the week. Why is this though? Is it because I cause it by producing my best content of the week for this day? Or is it because Sunday is just simply the day where more people around the world jump online?

Sunday is a huge day for "Don't Blink."

Sunday is a huge day for “Don’t Blink.”

I can confidently say that it is the latter.

Even if I didn’t write a blog post on Sunday, there would still be a very good chance that the day would still generate the highest numbers of the week. Theoretically, I could lay in bed all day and decide against disturbing my weekend by taking 1-2 hours to tend to my blog. So, why not do what the bible says and rest on Sunday? After all, the numbers will take care of themselves.

Well, the reasons to avoid being lazy are numerous. First, although Sunday will most likely be my highest rated day despite if I write or not, a new blog post will add dramatically to the bottom line. A fresh piece of content will increase the views on my blog on a given Sunday by at least 30%. Of course, that 30% is made up of my regular readers, the ones who receive email updates when I publish something new or the ones who follow me on social media.

Speaking of my regular readers, a big reason why I don’t take Sunday off is because I put a lot of pressure on myself to deliver for them on this day. You see, my dedicated Don’t Blink fans have come to expect my best work on Sundays. It goes along with what I said at the beginning about the tradition of the day. Also, my Sunday blog post comes after my “blogging weekend.” I write for five straight days and then take Friday and Saturday off. After a break like this, it is expected that I come back rejuvenized and fresh with ideas.

I have capitalized on these expectations by giving my longtime readers what they want. Yes, I do try to save my best blog post of the week for Sunday. I mean come on, there is no excuse for bad quality, right? I have all day to write on Sunday (actually all weekend) whereas I am up against the wall writing after work on the weekdays. There better be a noticeable distinction. On social media I have marketed my first blog post of the week as my Sunday Blog Post. I post all of Sidney’s blog takeovers on Sunday as well.

To capitalize on the tradition of excellent content on Sundays, I post Sidney's blog takeovers on this day.

To capitalize on the tradition of excellent content on Sundays, I post Sidney’s blog takeovers on this day.

But the most important reason why I make it a major priority to blog on Sundays goes back to the influx of new readers I receive on this day. The heavy traffic I garner comes from random internet users typing something into Google and being directed to one of my 1,000 blog posts I have written over the years. After someone reads the specific blog post that corresponded to their “weird Easter bunny” or “Does Dickey’s BBQ sell beer” search, they will most likely click on my header and go to the Don’t Blink homepage. It is imperative that they see I am active and producing fresh content. When they notice that not only am I active but that I have actually blogged that day, the chance for them to become a regular reader increases. It is all about building my audience.

Here are some of the search terms that random internet users typed in to find my blog. As you can see, "Bar Rescue" inquiries are high. I write about this in the next paragraph.

Here are some of the search terms that random internet users typed in to find my blog. As you can see, “Bar Rescue” inquiries are high. I write about this in the next paragraph.

In closing, I want to just point out a quirkier source of my high Sunday blog traffic. Spike TV routinely shows “Bar Rescue” marathons on Sundays to lead up to the new episode at 9 p.m. Because episodes are shown for hours throughout the day, viewers are very much exposed to the program. This of course leads them to look up the show on Google. Because I have written a couple different blog posts on the show (here and here), every Sunday I get many “Bar Rescue” fans directed to my site. I am more than happy to welcome them.

If I ever decrease my blogging activity, Sunday won’t be one of the days I take off. I am thankful to all who choose to spend this special day of the week reading my blog. Have a great rest of your weekend! Don’t Blink.

Our “Bar Rescue” Tour

To read an actual account of someone who appeared on “Bar Rescue,” click here.

This weekend I decided to feed one of my minor obsessions while at the same time seeing some new towns in the South. In the past I have written quite a bit about my favorite television show, “Bar Rescue.” Those who read Don’t Blink frequently and those who hang around me know that my fandom for “Bar Rescue” is strong. While watching the latest episode last Sunday, I started looking up all the locations where Jon Taffer has converged on to rescue struggling bars. It just so turned out that last season he transformed three establishments in North Carolina. With a free weekend on the horizon I made plans for a little road trip.

Yesterday, Sidney and I hit the road to visit three different North Carolina bars that were showcased on “Bar Rescue.” Our Saturday tour would take us to the great North Carolina towns of Hope Mills, Garner, and Raleigh. Don’t think we were traveling all day, however. Raleigh, the furthest of the three towns from us, was only a three hour drive. Hope Mills was just a mere two hours away with Garner right on the outskirts of Raleigh.

Friday night Sidney and I sat down to watch the episodes of the bars we would visit. Surprisingly for an avid “Bar Rescue” watcher like myself, I had never seen the Hope Mills or Garner episodes. But after watching them I was filled with excitement for the next day’s adventure. Soon I would be walking on the same ground where Taffer once roamed.

22 Klicks (Hope Mills, N.C.): This bar in the sleepy town of Hope Mills kicked our tour off. In the “Bar Rescue” episode, Jon Taffer takes a place with little identity and immature employees and turns it into a patriotic-themed, well-ran bar. The aim was to make the bar resonate with the heavy military population of the area that sits just 13 miles from Fort Bragg. A military inspired look with American flags, old photos, and a tank was installed.

This is what Klicks 22 looks like from outside.

This is what Klicks 22 looks like from outside.

We arrived at 22 Klicks at 12:30 p.m. We walked in and immediately went up to the bar. We were the only ones inside the establishment besides the bartender and the cook. The bartender was a hilarious Irish young woman who talked with us and joked around the whole time we were there.

Our bartender on the left with the bottle display on the right.

Our bartender on the left with the bottle display on the right.

The whole place was really cool. It was spotless and the theme was presented perfectly. I really felt like it was a fitting tribute to those in the armed forces. The bar itself was top of the line and comfortable but it was so much smaller than what I expected based on watching the show. I would say that probably 12 people could sit at it. But it really had that homey feel to it and I immediately felt welcome and at ease.

Sidney and I in front of the tank at Klick's 22.

Sidney and I in front of the tank at 22 Klicks.

We ordered lunch. Although the gator bites were prominently advertised (as featured on the show), we passed on those. I got a meatball sandwich and Sidney got a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Both sandwiches tasted great but the French fries stole the show. Without telling our friendly bartender that we were at 22 Klicks solely because we saw it on “Bar Rescue,” we subtly encouraged her to talk about it. Although she didn’t appear on the show nor was employed by the bar at the time, she offered us some great insight:

This was my delicious meatball sandwich.

This was my delicious meatball sandwich.

* She said that her co-workers told her that Jon Taffer is extremely nice. She said that Jon fully explained that he would chew them out just so the full impact of the show could be delivered to the television audience.

* She said representatives from the show returned to the bar a couple months ago to film an update. She mentioned her co-worker was featured and that she particularly became annoyed at how close the camera would get right up in her face. She also added that the “Bar Rescue” crew directed this co-worker to go up to tables and introduce herself, solely so they could use it for the update.

I was given a Klicks 22 card!

I was given a Klicks 22 card!

I enjoyed my time at 22 Klicks! The Bar Rescue team did a fabulous job. It definitely stands out from your typical bar.

Dual Ultra Nightclub (Raleigh, N.C.): This bar went out of business! All I could do was get a photo near where it used to be. Although disappointed that we couldn’t truly visit it, I loved checking out Raleigh. The area we were in was covered with restaurants, shops, and bars. Right next to where Dual Ultra used to be was an Irish basement bar called Napper Tandy’s. We went downstairs for a quick visit. It was as if we were in a cave (in a good way) and the bar itself seemed to extend for a whole mile!

Dual Ultra Nightclub is now closed.

Dual Ultra Nightclub is now closed.

Moonrunners Saloon (Garner, N.C.): Sidney and I had to backtrack from Raleigh to Garner. This was an arrangement we purposely planned though because our hotel was in Garner, just a short walk from Moonrunners. I am extremely happy we worked it out this way because Moonrunners was definitely a place where I was happy to spend my whole night at.

Before leaving town this morning I took this photo of Moonrunner's Saloon.

Before leaving town this morning I took this photo of Moonrunners Saloon.

The bar was originally called Characters Quarters. It was a place where employees would literally dress up in costumes and serve families. Taffer came in and made it a prohibition moonshine themed bar. In the episode the relationship between a brother and sister is prominently displayed. “Bar Rescue” chronicles the way the brother (Guy), who is the owner, interacts with his sister (Alex), who is a waitress. As the show tends to do, this relationship was magnified and portrayed them both as polarizing characters.

It was "Bar Rescue" night at Moonrunner's last night.

It was “Bar Rescue” night at Moonrunners last night.

When we entered Moonrunners at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night it was absolutely packed. In fact it was so busy that we couldn’t even get a seat. It worked out perfectly though because as we were waiting two seats opened up at the bar. We quickly took the chairs because that is where we wanted to sit all along.

I took this photo as we were leaving Moonrunner's last night. When we arrived earlier in the evening, there was not a seat to be had.

I took this photo as we were leaving Moonrunners last night. When we arrived earlier in the evening, there was not a seat to be had.

We immediately saw both Alex and Guy. Alex was busting her butt serving the packed place and Alex was doing his job managing. He came over to us a couple times and asked us how we were doing. It was cool to see two people we watched on television the night before in person less than 24 hours later. We observed Guy’s managing style and he definitely runs a very tight ship with his employees. The way he holds his workers accountable though is definitely paying off though because like I said, the place was packed.

I snapped photos of both Guy (left) and Alex (right) in action last night.

I snapped photos of both Guy (left) and Alex (right) in action last night.

In addition to Alex and Guy, Moonrunners probably had eight other staff members working last night. Every one of them was as friendly as could be. Our bartender Summer was incredible and even asked Sidney if she wanted to wear her sweatshirt as she mentioned that she was a little chilly. Whenever one of the waitresses would come behind the bar they would talk to us. The highlight of the night came when a manager named Thomas gave Sidney and I free drinks. I had tweeted a couple times about how much I was enjoying Moonshiner’s and he gave us the free beers as a sign of gratitude for doing so. I thought that was really cool.

Sid and I enjoyed our time in Moonrunner's last night.

Sid and I enjoyed our time in Moonrunners last night.

The food was phenomenal. I had the Runner Burger that came with two patties, bacon, three cheeses, onion rings, French fries, and onions. The flavor of the patties tasted amazing. It was fresh and fun to eat. I very well could have ate the whole thing but wanted to feel decent the rest of the night so I stopped halfway through. I would love to eat that burger again. Sidney enjoyed her chicken sandwich with blue cheese crumbles. She also raved about her fruity moonshine drink she ordered. It was so memorable that Summer gave Sidney the jar she drank it out of.

This was my incredible burger at Moonrunner's Saloon.

This was my incredible burger at Moonrunners Saloon.

Moonshiner’s had a great vibe. I watched several basketball games on the TVs and Sid and I even played Bingo later on. It was a lot of fun. Because it was so busy and the staff was always tied up I didn’t get the chance to ask about “Bar Rescue.” But it didn’t matter because just by being inside the place I could feel the show’s presence. Moonrunners is a machine now and a testament to the fact that “Bar Rescue” works.

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I had a tremendous time on our “Bar Rescue” tour. Thanks so much to Sidney for going on one of my nerdy trips. My love for “Bar Rescue” has increased even more and I can’t wait to watch the new episode at 9 p.m. tonight. After visiting a couple of “rescued bars” this weekend, I can say that Jon Taffer does an amazing job. Don’t Blink.

The Grammys or Bar Rescue?

I am not asking for anyone’s help because I know this will be something that I have to deal with on my own. In the grand scheme of things, I know my conundrum is relatively small compared to the major problems of the world. Most of you will probably just laugh at my dilemma. I mean really Brent, you are fretting over what to watch on television this Sunday night? Yep, guilty. But here is the kicker…it doesn’t even involve sports.

This evening I will be doing my best to watch both the Grammys and “Bar Rescue” simultaneously. Here is what it comes down to: The Grammys is my favorite awards show while “Bar Rescue” is my favorite television show. Oh, did I mention that tonight’s “Bar Rescue” is the season premiere? In fact, it just isn’t the season premiere, it is the first time ever where Jon Taffer will RE-RESCUE a bar. You heard that correctly, Taffer will be going back inside a bar he had already torn to pieces and then resurrected…only to do it all again.

I am going to have a tough decision choosing what show I watch primarily  tonight.

I am going to have a tough decision choosing what show I watch primarily tonight.

Going for me keeping my television set on the Grammys is the fact that the show will only be shown once. The “Bar Rescue” season premiere show will most likely be shown throughout the week repeatedly. Also, the Grammy’s will draw a much bigger audience, thus making the social media conversation much more centered on the awards show as opposed to the semi-scripted bar makeover program. If you know me, I like to be right in the center of what is trending nationally.

But I would be lying  if I said I hadn’t been looking forward to the series premiere of “Bar Rescue” for about a month now. I kind of just realized this weekend that the Grammys is on tonight. And even though the Grammys will have a much larger social media following/discussion, “Bar Rescue” will have a much more passionate social media following/discussion. Look, Jon Taffer is going to be on his Twitter “A’ game at 9 p.m. tonight and I would be overjoyed once again if he tweeted at me like he did during the holidays. I am still on a high from that glorious tweet he sent my way.

I was so honored that Jon Taffer himself would tweet at me.

I was so honored that Jon Taffer himself would tweet at me.

So I know I started this post off by saying I am not asking for your help but I lied…I am asking for your help. Should I spend more time watching the Grammys or watching “Bar Rescue”? Please keep in mind that I don’t have DVR capabilities at my place. Thanks in advance for your help and have a great evening in front of the television set. Don’t Blink.

Bar Rescue Snub and More

After a well-deserved break last week because of Thanksgiving, the traditional Thursday rundown is back tonight. As usual the topics are random and somewhat boring so let’s get it over with.

Bar Rescue Shutdown: In past tweets I have expressed my desire to contact people that have appeared on my favorite show, “Bar Rescue.” I discussed my hope that I would be able to interview them on how scripted the program actually is and then follow it up with a blog post. Well, I have since used Facebook to creepily contact one Colorado bartender who I watched on a re-run this past Sunday. Unfortunately, my nice Facebook message and friend request wasn’t enough to get this particular person to spill the beans. She is not able to discuss the show. I might or might not contact others to see if they will give me my coveted inside information but I don’t think they will budge either. If only they were as open to discussing “Bar Rescue” as my friend Bryden was about discussing “The Bachelorrete.”

Sara Keller from "Bar Rescue" shut me down for an interview.

Sara Keller from “Bar Rescue” shut me down for an interview.

Holiday Messages: I fear that my new South Carolina friends might think I am really weird. On Thanksgiving I sent out my traditional holiday phone message. For those of you not in my contact list, I embarrass myself during the major holidays and send out an over the top, cheesy photo message (click here for full details). While old friends and family expect and love my holiday exploits, my friends down South might think I am totally off my rocker. I want to use this portion of my blog post to tell my valued east coast associates to not think I am insane, this is just something I do during special dates on the calendar to make the holidays a little brighter.

FCS Playoffs: The round of 16 in the FCS Playoffs is this Saturday. I will be on the sidelines as Coastal Carolina hosts Richmond at 1 p.m. in Brooks Stadium. If the Chants defend their home field, it is likely (barring an upset) that the team will travel back to Fargo the following week for a quarterfinal matchup against North Dakota State. Out west the Montana Grizzlies will head to Cheney once again to play Eastern Washington. I am hoping that the Griz avenge the loss in November and eliminate the Eagles. It would be really cool to have both the Chants and the Griz in the “Elite 8” of the FCS Playoffs.

That Weather Though: I feel obligated to gloat about the incredible weather here in Myrtle Beach. So far this month it feels like I am living in a Joe Nichols song as it has been “Sunny and 75.” I have never seen the sun nor temperatures above 40 degrees in December before so it has been a very welcome change for me. Especially after going back home over Thanksgiving and experiencing the cold again I am so impressed and thankful for the climate here in South Carolina.

I took this photo yesterday. It has been absolutely gorgeous out this month.

I took this photo yesterday. It has been absolutely gorgeous out this month.

Tweeted at by Major Company: Last night I wrote about my experience at the checkout register at Books-A-Million. I slightly criticized the major bookstore for a solicitation onslaught. This morning the Books-A-Million Twitter account responded to my tweet I sent out last night promoting my blog post. In a couple tweets, the company’s account thanked me for writing the post and noted that they would take my critique into consideration. I found this correspondence impressive for three reasons.

1. I never tagged them in my initial tweet.
2. They replied to me in two thoughtful and personal tweets.
3. They took the time to actually read my blog post.

By Books-A-Million reaching out to me in this way, my customer service viewpoint on the company has improved greatly. Well done, BAM.

It was really nice and professional of Books-A-Million to send me these tweets following my bad experience at the cash register.

It was really nice and professional of Books-A-Million to send me these tweets following my bad experience at the cash register.

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Talk about a quick and to-the-point blog post! Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful Thursday night and a great ending to your work week. Don’t Blink.

Bar Rescue

To read an actual account of someone who appeared on “Bar Rescue,” click here.

My common answer when asked about reality television is that I think it is all scripted but that doesn’t stop me from watching some of it. An example of such a show for me is “Bar Rescue.”

For those who don’t know what the show is about here is the very basic premise: A guy who specializes in revitalizing bars visits a failing establishment in each episode. He then works his magic and turns it into a money making machine (supposedly). The show lasts an hour and there is never a shortage of drama, cursing, and yelling.

My brother and I love the show. We text back and forth when it is on. We love it when Jon Taffer (the star of the show) loses it. We compare the bar featured on the given program to bars we have frequented. Whenever we go into a restaurant or a bar area we immediately ask ourselves what would happen if “Bar Rescue” converged on the place. We get a lot of entertainment out of the show that lasts us much longer than just when it is airing on television.

With that said, we don’t take it entirely seriously. In my opinion I think “Bar Rescue” is just as scripted as any other reality show out there today. I mean it doesn’t take much to realize that each show follows the exact same predictable format: Jon walks into a failing bar and notices horrific problems. He chews out the staff and belittles the owner. He brings in his people to transform the bar. He has the staff go through a “stress test” when they bring the public in for a soft opening of sorts…it always ends in disaster. After more yelling and patronizing everything seems to click. Taffer transforms the bar in one night. They have the grand opening and for that evening it turns out to be a smashing success. Rinse and repeat.

Every show is like that. There is always resistance. Terrible business practices and unsanitary conditions are always exposed, Taffer always overreacts, the staff always has a meltdown during the stress test, a magnificent bar makeover is always accomplished, and a lavish grand opening with a great performance from the staff and a record night of sales always concludes the show. If you watch reality TV hoping to be surprised don’t watch bar rescue.

Besides the scripted and predictable format other things just give it away that the show isn’t 100% “reality.” For some reason whenever Taffer is doing a stakeout in his car right before entering the bar the surveillance always picks up the bartenders fighting, an employee stealing, or an owner making out with his girlfriend in the corner. Although he looks like he might have been athletic in his day, I am also amazed that Jon always manages to sneak up on the bar owner before he/she can spot the large man and his camera crew. I also have zero idea how the show can bring the whole staff out in front of the bar and not have them look at their made over business until Taffer gives them the okay to turn around. I have also yet to see one of Taffer’s undercover moles go into a business and return without any incriminating evidence. It all just works way too well.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching “Bar Rescue.” But I know it isn’t authentic. So I will continue to watch the show and get my laughs but don’t think for a minute that I think Jon Taffer is working miracles. Don’t Blink.