Objective: The objective of the competitors is to change from a street gangster into a real gentleman, to better their lives. There is also prize money of $100.000 involved. Each episode the group members are given a challenge they have to complete. They have to work as a group in order to complete the challenge but they also have to individually impress the show’s host, Mr. Bentley, in order to win the show and prize money.
Although we looked at it from different angles, one saying that there was no teamwork at all to another saying that there was a team but that the relationship between the members was stressed, we reached a general consensus on our observations. By presenting our rationales for each observation to each other we marked them by importance. For instance, where our male group member found the less loud types less intimidating, the female member found that the participants that said little during the actual engagements and more during the reflective montages more intimidating. Even before reconvening with our answers to the individual answers it was apparent our initial impressions were similar. We agreed that the motivation of the group was not the one provided by the show, the transformation from street-thug (G) to gentleman (gent), but simply the money rewarded to the individual who seemed to have made the most progress.
We analysed the body language of the team members and their interpersonal communication skills to get an impression of the group behaviour. All of us had the initial impression that the group members acted in an aggressive and rude kind of way, which could be seen e.g. in the confrontation between Kesan and Creepa, where latter also got violent. Furthermore, we evaluated the group member’s appearance, which stressed our initial impression of the group. The way the group members were dressed, showed that they all belong to the lower class and come from a poor background. Moreover, the participants talked in a colloquial and rude way to each other, which could be seen on the fact that they curse frequently.
Stereotypes were not only a sidenote in the episode, but part of the overall setup of the challenge given in this episode. In an attempt to quell the misogyny present within the gents they were to take care of a group of women so as to prove they could interact in a gentlemanly fashion. This worked out well but it seemed that one member, Stan, could not conquer his anti-female prejudices. As a male stripper he had lost all respect for women as he saw “women that are married, getting married, coming in paying for sex.” However, it goes even further than this as he says that the female strippers “can’t do what [he does],” further categorizing them as being the lesser gender.
Even after discussing the rules of being chivalrous he refuses to comply by them. At the challenge at the end of the episode he lets women take body shots from him: a clear sign that he has not yet matured yet and refuses to treat women as his equals, merely complying his role as a stripper.
An odd observation we made though, was that there were no issues between race. When we first saw the cast we expected there to be conflict between the black and white members of the group however, we found no discrimination on base of skin colour.
Although the activities are assigned as teamwork and the team has a goal for the short run activities, they don’t really work together as a team. Instead of working together, each of them aims to win the overarching challenge. Due to the fact that only one person can win the challenge and the 100.000$, they consider themselves one-man teams. This brings forth a lot of rivalry and competition within the group and hinders the participants to work as a team. We also recognized that the participants seem more interested in winning the prize money, instead of becoming gentlemen, which is the real purpose of the series.
The rivalry regulates the group though, as demonstrated in this episode, where Kesan is asked to leave the group because of threats he made and aggressive behaviour he showed. Although they condone certain behaviour, in this episode, Shaun assumes a leadership position, telling others what to do, yet doing nothing himself. And no one says anything about it. Furthermore, because of the competition and their backgrounds, which are often violent, they do not know how to handle or discuss issues in anything but an aggressive manner. This leads to fights, which one could see in the physical interaction between Keesan and Creepa.
The greatest flaw to the team is not the individuals themselves, but the competitive nature of the show, as only one of the team members can win. Their combined experiences do bring them closer together, however it does not allow them to leave behind their pasts, as influences and attitudes that they had left behind to take part in the show, simple followed them there in the form of their team members.
It is the incentive that drives their motivation, and yet it is also the catalyst for their splintering. As even during group assignments they compete with one another for the praise of their arbitrar, Mr. Bentley. This seems to be main reason for poor group performances and fights between the group members, as they are fully aware that only one of them can win the prize money.
A good strategy to increase the desired teamwork as well as transformation, and in turn decrease the often decadent behaviour of participants would be to not only praise and reward personal achievement, but rather laud the best team player: the person that shows that they don’t only better themselves, but form a positive inspiration for those around them. Giving away more prizes, such as a second and third price would also be a good way to lower the competition between the group members.
However, apart from this form of positive reinforcement, a more unremitting approach could be chose. Rather then praise the best, the worst team player could be eliminated. This would drive the individuals together through fear and necessity rather than willingness to please, and better their fellow contestants.
Nevertheless, neither strategy is perfect. Rewarding team players may eliminate those who would have improved the most, and although it evens out the improvement amongst the group, it could potentially also slow down the improvement of the most willing as they must be sure that everybody included. Even forming smaller groups through runner-up prizes might decimate the team and splinter it into fractions as smaller groups stick together to ensure victory.
Complex as group dynamic is, it is impossible to determine the exact outcome of each of these corrections. One may assume that rewarding teamwork will not detract inertia from the ambitious, as the final objective remains the same. Allowing the most supportive to receive a small prize every episode allows there to be a second winner, without detracting from the overall incentive.