For group observation exercise we chose episode 8 from season 5 of the show “Beauty and the Geek”.
In this show, young attractive woman (the “Beauties”) and intellectual, but not very sociable men (the “Geeks”) are paired in random couples, which compete against each other in order to win the final grand prize of $250,000 at the end of the show. All the teams are living in a big house and the couples have to share a room. In every episode the beauties and the geeks have to compete in challenges against each other. The team which wins the challenge is saved from being eliminated at the end of the episode. All the other teams are in “danger”, and can be voted out by the other teams (every team has one vote).
We decided to observe the team of Joe and Tara. In the episode we chose, the challenge for the couples is to build up a sleight and bring it to the top of a snow hill and slide down together without overturning before the other do.
One of the things which we all noticed is that Joe and Tara form the couple that probably causes the most drama. Their lack of communicative skills gets them frustrated very easily, which is why they are fighting most of the time. We also noticed that Joe and Tara are both the extremes of their category, with Joe being one of the geekiest geeks and Tara being one of the dumbest beauties. We think that this is why they have so much trouble communicating. However, maybe Joe and Tara are not such a bad couple after all, because they seem to be able to discuss their problems.
We saw that Joe and Tara were very dramatic because they were always drawing attention to them. When all the teams were just hanging out in the mansion, most of the time it were Joe and Tara who caused trouble. The terrible teamwork between Joe and Tara is very clearly illustrated at various moments. For instance, when all the teams are in the jaccuzzi, Tara hangs out with Tom rather than her own partner Joe because she feels much more comfortable with him. Furthermore, the challenge to build a sled turns into a disaster because of their poor teamwork. Joe and Tara don’t get close to each other, which forces Tara to yell at Joe. Joe gets very frustrated by this, which harms his (and therefore also Tara’s) performance during the challenge. Their ability to discuss their problems shows up in the end of the episode, when they have a clear discussion and finally make up.
The concept of the show is based on stereotypes. The “beauties” are stereotyped as dumb, arrogant and lazy, while the “geeks” are stereotyped as smart, shy and unsociable. The stereotyping causes that the “beauties” look down on their teammates, and so does Tara. She knows that Joe is attracted by her and tries to avoid any close contact to him. While they are trying to build up the sleight, they have a communication problem. Instead of telling Joe calm and friendly, which tools Terra needs from him to build up the sled, she shouts at him and talks to him very rude. Joe gets unmotivated and doesn’t know what Tara wants him to do. That’s why they don’t even manage to build up the sleight in time and fail. If Tara wouldn’t have looked down on Joe and talked to him in a friendly way, they might have been able to build up the slight in time and would have won the challenge.
When you observe Tara and Joe as a group, you might think that their group only consists of weaknesses. Their communication is quite bad; they are shouting at each other and they do not express their feelings towards each other, they hold their feelings for themselves. The most obvious reason for this is that Joe has a crush on Tara, but Tara does not feel the same. They both do not know how to handle this (Tara for instance builds a great wall of pillows) and this creates a bad communication between the two of them. This bad communication actually affects the strategy/organization of the team. This can be seen when Tara needs materials for her sled. Joe just keeps standing next to the snowman and jelling to Tara what she needs, instead of walking to her and asking her in a calm way which is of course a much better strategy.
However, with such a bad communication most teams might give up, but Joe and Tara do not! They still keep communicating and do not start to ignore each other. At a certain point they both can handle it anymore and they start a fight. This works out very well! They both pay effort to understand each other and they make up. This fight has a good impact on their communication, because they decide it together which team should go home.
Tara and Joe’s group’s biggest weakness is their lack of ability to honestly communicate with each other; to share and discuss with each other their true feelings towards the partner. They both held their feelings and annoyance for one another to themselves, and for longer than they should have; Tara expresses “60 per cent of the time I want to strangle you, I can’t stand you” while they were fighting and also says “the fight was obviously what we needed because there was so much I had to say, and obviously so did he”.
A list of ideas for solutions to improve this team’s performance:
- Honest communication
- They both should be more open up to each other, to appreciate the partner’s good qualities
We think the best strategy to improve Joe and Tara’s situation is to strengthen communication to each other, so that they are able to discuss and share things. We think it is crucial that they are able to honestly communicate with their partner because verbal interaction is essential in every relationship, although if they are in a reality show. If they express their feelings to each other instead of keeping them for themselves, they will understand each other much better and communication will be much easier for them in that way!