Smirk at This!

I always figured there were two kinds of people: people like me and Republicans. Or people like me and NASCAR fans. Or people like me and reality-show viewers. It's not that I have a problem with the other people, it's . . . okay, that's bullshit. I gleefully despise those people. Let's put it this way: everyone has the right to be a dumbass.

So you can imagine my utter shock—shock!—at having tuned in twice—twice!—to Cupid, a summer reality dating show on CBS. I do have an excuse: You know how the way to break into the television business is to know someone? I watch Cupid because I know someone. At a family party a couple of months ago, I met a tall, athletic, exceedingly affable Air Force lieutenant named Corey. As we all sat around the pool, Corey talked about how he'd just returned from a taped "audition," that he'd been asked to come back and that he could eventually split $1 million—if someone he doesn't know marries him. "Catch me on the first episode of Cupid," he said.

I deposited that request into my memory bank and didn't make a withdrawal until American Idol's limey hard-ass Simon Cowell showed up on Conan or Stewart or Letterman to pitch the July 9 premiere of a new show he'd created and executive produced, Cupid. I made a point to tune in and was surprised to find (a) no Corey and (b) I was totally hooked.

Like I say, I despise reality shows with every fiber in my bran muffin, but I do know enough about American Idol through every fookin' morning news show reporting what happened on every fookin' Idol to know that singers are critiqued by nasty ol' Simon, pushover Paula Abdul and woo-woo-woo'er Randy Whatshisbucket—and then NASCAR America narrows down the list of finalists.

Cupid's pretty much the same deal. A hundred guys from around the U.S. each get a half minute to convince a model-quality Detroit girl named Lisa Shannon that she should get to know them better. The 25-year-old advertising copywriter's catty best friends, Laura Restum and Kimberly Tarter, help her pick the finalists, whom America will vote off the show in future weeks. If Lisa and the beau left standing marry and can stay that way a year, they get the $1 million.

If you haven't tossed your tacos yet, this is why I love Cupid: Laura, who was either purposely cast to be as cruel as Idol's Simon or is just one of those chicks who get off on eviscerating men. And that's pretty much all she did the first two episodes, which seem to have been shot during full moons considering the goofballs who've tried wooing Lisa. Or maybe that's the talentless pool one draws when holding open calls for husbands. It at least explains why English royalty ditched the practice centuries ago and started inbreeding.

Speaking of Brits, Simon doesn't really do much on camera (thank you, guvnah!), other than appear in brief clips shot before a raging fire to smugly reiterate how dopey the preceding Yanks were. Smirk at this, spotted dick-breath: your show certainly hasn't won over the continent. While Cupid's premiere did finish first among the all-important 18-34 adult demographic and brought CBS nearly 2 million more viewers than whatever the network aired last year in the same time slot, overall ratings fell well short of NBC's mighty Law & Order.

Marry Me.

Fortunately, Corey did not fall short when he finally popped up in the July 16 second episode. Despite his cocky attitude around the family pool, he was shy, even shaking, with the ladies until someone wondered aloud whether he might be hiding a sense of humor. That brought Corey out of his shell, and the gals melted like buttah. My new best friend went on to the finals.

But if Cupid can hold on and a "star" emerges, it won't be Corey or Lisa or even Simon. It'll be Laura, who, despite being a tad older and less hot, gets more attractive than her bombshell friend with each successive ball busting. Or maybe I've just been a bad boy who needs a good spanking. Like I said, I don't really get this reality-show stuff.

Cupid. Cbs. 10 p.m. Wednesdays.

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