Okay, so if you’d asked me three weeks ago if I’d be interested in a show about boxing, I might have rolled my eyes, scoffed in a condescending manner, and turned back to my book about the origins of postmodernism and my lime-packed, gin-based cocktail.*
But if you’d asked me if I was interested in watching a show about inarticulate sweaty men without shirts, co-hosted by Uber-Scrag Charlotte Dawson and featuring a man in a leopard-skin suit who considers his own penis as the single love of his life, I would have signed on the dotted line with ink distilled from my own tears of joy.
Hence, here are my thoughts regarding the pugilistic juggernaut that is The Contender.
I know. I’m as astonished as you are.
I’ve been a bit slow off the mark with this show, so I’ll just get you up to speed with what you really need to know about the first episode, screened last week.
Point one: Make no mistake: this show is about Sonni “Jungle Boy” Michael Angelo. Anyone who turns his back on Anthony Mundine in a bright yellow, leopard-skin-lapelled suit jacket is welcome ‘round at my house for kangaroo-based metaphors anytime.
Point two: There are fourteen boxers, two hosts, two trainers, and a dude who looks like a dessicated geriatric Mr Sheen, except instead of cleaning, dusting and polishing, he does... um... well, nothing. Unless you count wearing unnecessary tracksuits. Which I don’t.
Point three: There are two teams, who compete weekly in the most complicated challenges in the entire world ever since the dawn of everything. If you win a challenge you pick the two blokes who fight that week, and if you win your fight you get a necklace and your name gets slotted into a big board and you’re exempt from the following week’s challenge and you get to pick the exact wardrobe that leads to Narnia and I need an aspirin and a lie-down.**
Point four: There is a boxer called Adrian. Oh, you know what I’m doing with that when the time comes, bitches.
Right. So on to...
The Philosophy Of Hitting Blokes And That.
These guys aren’t just boxers. They can lead you through, like, life and stuff. Need proof?
• Daniel Amalm tells us that we have “boxers, fighters and warriors”. It’s his way of telling us that he really really loves his new Thesaurus.
• Upon winning the first fight, Josh says it was “Like I had two tennis balls under each arm”. Your guess is as good as mine, really. When he’s given his golden gloves necklace, he says “I’ll only wear it out if I’m going somewhere special”. Badge draw night at the Mount Druitt RSL won’t know what hit them.
• Garth informs us, as a reason he was a little off in the challenge, that ‘too much masturbation sends you blind’. He did, however, break the record for Earliest Mention Of Personal Fiddling In A Reality And/Or Children’s Program.
• Luke lets us know that he’s “not blessed with any natural athletic ability”. You should totally go on a show about boxing or something, then. And by that, I mean ‘pretty much anything except a show about boxing’.
• Garth is confused by Sonni’s under-performance in the weekly challenge, and wonders if his ploy is to ‘perform like a busted arsehole’. I dunno – with the amount of shit that Sonni spouts, I’d say he’s performing like an arsehole in perfect working order.
• Luke explains that he has ‘fought in and out of a suitcase, in places that you wouldn’t tie a dog”. Don’t make me come over there and explain why this is awesome. Don't. Make me.
This week’s challenge, as devised and calibrated by qualified actuaries and that dude who solves Rubik’s Cubes really fast:
• First, the boys have to punch a blue dot on a wall.
• Second, the boys have to punch lots of little lights on a wall.
• Third, the boys have to throw a ball.
• Fourth, the boys have to run around a pole.
• Fifth, the boys have to run on a treadmill.
• Finally, the boys have to swear at Sonni and do what they can to avoid shaking hands with him. They pretty much kick arse at this one.
The Ladies And Offspring Of The Ring.
Boxers are nothing without their families (and their various gods and whatnot), and serious style and parenting lessons can be learned by studying the women and children behind the man behind the gloves behind the other dude in front of him with the gloves on as well.
• Luke’s missus pretty much lets the side down by dressing in a tasteful, understated blouse and non-slaggy jeans. His mother, happily, saves the day in a loud print, hair recently gusted sideways by a wind straight from the Eastern Suburbs, , jangly jewellery and a lipstick thick with matronly pride and chardonnay. THAT’S how you dress for the boxing, ladies.
• Daniel’s missus is back in New Zealand in a hoodie, so his best mate Henry visits him in the locker room, which is seriously no fun at all. Let’s have the ho-nails and inappropriate puppies-out polyester back next week please, girls. It is your duty as ringside WAGs. Thank you.
KOs and OKs
• I’m a little bit in love with Nader. He utters the phrase that will feature on a t-shirt I hope to have made soon (and one that features in the introductory chapter of Joining The Mile-High Club – A Guide): “Step up. Ball up. Stand Up”.
• I’m not entirely sure that anyone on this show eats anything besides fried mushrooms.
• Charlotte. Honey. You’re wearing a sloppy joe, tracky dacks and yellow sneakers. If they’re not lined with Swarovski crystals and phoenix feathers, I JUST DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE ANYMORE.
• Junior completes the running portion of the challenge in his underwear, and adjusts them thoroughly enough to show us the... er... lawn around his Hills Hoist. I’m going to need a little quiet time. Back in six or seven minutes.
• I really don’t think that any blokey, biffy reality show is complete without its fair share of cuddles. The Trainer Who Speaks Like He’s Drunk (sorry – it’s only the second episode, so not everyone’s name has sunk in yet) calms Sonni down with a touching bathroom clinch. If it wasn’t for Sonni mentioning that he wanted to shoot someone, enter their stomach and start eating them from the inside, it would be almost beautiful.
• I LOVE TRASH-TALKING FACE-OFFS LIKE BINDI IRWIN LOVES HAIR CRIMPERS. It’s all chest-bumping and cussing and other blokes getting involved with their arms and shoulders and lifted chins and wide eyes and SIT DOWN, SONNI. Wow. At this rate, I may never need porn agai... um... y’know, ever. There are few things more romantic than two men standing an inch away from each other, staring each other down. If any of them ever kiss (and I live in eternal hope), I will give each and every one of you a dollar to put towards new underpants.
• Junior, Alex Perry wants his sunglasses back.
• Can someone Everlast give me a clue Everlast regarding who this show Everlast is sponsored Everlast by? I think I blinked and missed it. Everlast.
Daniel and Luke take off their pyjamas, put in their good teeth and smack shit out of each other. I don’t really understand the rules of boxing, but from what I can see, the guy with the smallest number of bogan tattoos wins. JUST LIKE LIFE.
Bye, Luke. Your skill with spelling and grammar will be missed and stuff heaps and that.
And we close tonight with some images of a naked man in a shower in dim blue light. I’m pretty much going to insist that every show on television finishes like this from now on, including the news, Mornings With Kerri-Anne and all Zoot Reviews. Back me up.