Readers defend Evan, Zora, and the American Dream.

Published February 20, 2003 6:54PM (EST)

[Read "I Want My Two Hours Back," by Sheerly Avni.]

What two hours of a "Joe Millionaire" finale would Sheerly Avni have felt was time well-spent? A three-way with Zora and Sarah?

Avni's condescension and, frankly, nastiness toward Zora for being a good person (can't be true!), unhip and "virginal" (for not going down on Evan in the woods?) hints at something deeper than annoyance at not having seen the proverbial car crash -- if the good win, what happens to the rest of us?

A reality show with a tenuous premise - a man pretending to be a millionaire to find a partner disinterested in his money -- actually worked. Evan recognized the real woman in the bunch, and Zora predictably passed the ultimate ethical pop quiz with flying colors. Dare I say it? Good for them.

Here's to the Gamma girls that the Alphas leave without a dress to wear and without a hot-tub date to herself!

-- Jennifer Hindel

How could "Joe Millionaire" end like anything but a Hollywood production? It was just another brilliant Fox creation: a slew of conservative politics cleverly shrouded in supershocking sex and scandal. How perfect that the last remaining contestants neatly embodied the age-old feminine-identity dichotomy of virgin vs. whore? And how currently relevant and subliminally reassuring that, in the end, good triumphed over evil yet again?

It's hardly a shocker, especially if you've paid attention at all to any of Fox's other infomercials for conservatism. What was "Temptation Island" but a sinful, steamy, catty plug for monogamy? And what was "Joe" but newfangled vintage propaganda that the demure girl wins the man? It did, after all, bill itself as a Cinderella story from the beginning.

-- Jess Collins

If Sheerly Avni promises to write more scathing, hilarious sendups of reality TV shows, I'll make myself sit through them. It was worth the agony of that two-hour "Joe Millionaire" finale just to read the review. Mercy, I needed that good laugh.

-- Gita Smith

Sheerly Avni's complaints about "Joe Millionaire" are sillier than the participants, and even more revealingly shallow. Why is virtue rewarded a Hollywood ending with the implication it is without merit? A cliché it may be (though not easy to find these post-posty-modern days), but it is still a redeeming projection of some moral integrity in a social world where identity flounders. Zora is reflexively castigated by Avni as if her sincerity and do-good nature must by some rule of cynicism be false. Only in your blinkered, competitive world, Sheerly dear, where you and your friends believe with Sarah and her ilk that Zora "doesn't handle manipulation well" when she objects to lies in courtship.

Personally I found "enigmatic, virginal, frumpy Zora" extremely good-looking not only because her features were pleasant but because they reflected her evidently well-adjusted nature, and her understanding that cynicism and selfishness may win you a slot in Salon firing cheap shots at sitting ducks but they are exactly what defeat genuine relationships in real life. And the naive and fumbling efforts on the part of confused people toward romantic fruition and ultimately family are not to be jeered at, but redirected.

The award of a million bucks to this couple was no more than what they deserved for their attempt to retain their humanity in the face of manipulative producers, and I am sure I was not the only one to find the ending redemptive. If TV can come up with a decent value as a moral at the end of a twisted tale, more power to it.

-- Anthony

I loved Sheerly Avni's article on "Joe Millionaire"! I don't have a TV and thus have never seen a "Joe Millionaire" episode.

But it is so much good fun to read a woman writer doing that "woman thang" of ripping the shit out of other women. Not because of misogynistic leanings on my part, but because it's so freaky and foreign to the average male, including me, to observe such clever and heartfelt probing and knife-twisting.

Avni's attempt to analyze and categorize some of the women in "Joe Mil" reads like an example from Phyllis Chesler's "Woman's Inhumanity to Woman."

Embarrassingly, I find such displays of female firepower utterly entertaining, like a great boxing match between arch enemies, or, better yet, like the Ultimate Fighting matches featuring bare-fisted martial arts. Only female subterfuge and competitiveness dwarf anything I've seen on a playing field, court or ring. I can only imagine that actions on a battlefield rival the intensity of effort and sense of purpose of such female attacks.

I couldn't stop reading her article even though I don't know shit about "Joe Millionaire." Her invective is like a long-nailed teenage girl scratch fight.

I felt I learned more about Avni than "Joe Millionaire," and I like what I read. She's a vicious hit writer I would love to read again. Maybe her own radio show would be cool.

Keep up the good work. I can hardly wait to read her next article, assuming it's about women. How about siccing her on Condoleezza Rice after warming up on Margaret Thatcher?

Or, better yet, tell her Rush Limbaugh is a woman and have her write about him (I mean, her).

-- John Gordon

By Salon Staff

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