Scott D. Pierce: Reality bites for pair of Utahns

Published: Thursday, April 30 2009 12:01 a.m. MDT

If you subscribe to the theory that Utah is somehow represented by the locals who appear on nationally televised reality shows, the past few weeks haven't exactly been good to the Beehive State.

And not just because Megan Joy got booted from "American Idol" and Tyson Apostol got voted out of "Survivor: Tocantins," but because of the way the two exited.

It wasn't pretty in either case.

Things haven't been quite this ugly since 2006 when Salt Laker Desiree Valentin was telling "Bachelor" viewers she was "a little kinky," and West Bountiful's Heather Hansen was shrieking at other contestants on "The Biggest Loser."

To be clear — I'm not for a moment suggesting that state pride is in any way dependent on TV reality shows. Or that Utahns are in some way responsible for representing the state when they appear on those shows.

But to ignore the fact that a lot of local TV viewers seem to think that's the case would be writing about TV with one eye closed.

Anyway, Megan Joy's exit from "Idol" was well-documented. (Although, had the auditions not been held here last summer, I'm not sure much of anybody would have really made much of the fact that she's a Utahn.)

She did, however, cause a bit of a stir — and not because of her numerous tattoos. (Whatever controversy there was about those seems to have been a purely local phenomenon.)

Love him or hate him, Megan Joy dissing "Idol" judge Simon Cowell and getting dissed in return made headlines. And then there were the weird bird noises Megan Joy made during her exit.

It was, at best, odd.

But in terms of embarrassing, Megan Joy isn't even in the same league as Apostol. When he got tossed off "Survivor," it was one of those pride-goeth-before-a-fall moments that just makes your jaw drop.

To spin it as kindly as possible, for much of the season Apostol was apparently attempting to be humorous. His humor — as portrayed on the show — came across as arrogance. And, more often than not, it just made him seem downright mean.

Again, that's apparently not the way he was perceived by his fellow contestants. More than once, he's been identified as the funny one who kept everyone laughing.

But — note to future "Survivor" contestants — you might want to watch Apostol's run on the show to see how not to act if you don't want to be seen as "a jerk," as his rival Sierra called him last week.

In the end, it was his personality conflict with Sierra that made Apostol look incredibly foolish. After telling her that she was absolutely, positively going to be voted out; after essentially calling her stupid on multiple occasions; after telling viewers he was looking forward to watching her cry when she lost the vote; after acting smug as the voting began — Apostol's face fell and he found himself the victim of a blindside by members of his own alliance.

It was great TV but terrible for Tyson.

And he didn't do himself any favors in his post-elimation, on-air interview. "I guess everybody deserves to be there. You beat me — that's a huge accomplishment," he said. "That bothers me that Sierra would be here longer than me. It's a little weird being outfoxed by an idiot, but I'm not crying over it."

And, months later, he told TV Guide, "They voted me out for being too awesome." And then he went on to insult Sierra some more.

I have to think he was joking. But — note to future "Survivor" contestants — it sure doesn't look that way in print.

And, quite honestly, his behavior toward Sierra didn't reflect well on him for another reason. If she had been voted out, she would be on the jury deciding who wins the million dollars. And Apostol was assuring that one (and possibly more) votes would not go his way if he made it to the final vote.

Honestly, if you actually care about Utahns on reality shows, Todd Herzog (who won "Survivor: China" in 2007) was a much better representative. He played the game well — with the required amount of deviousness — but without being arrogant or cruel to any of the other contestants.

E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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