The Telefile

TWoP 10: Stealth Geniuses on Reality TV

by Angel Cohn July 29, 2011 6:00 am
TWoP 10: Stealth Geniuses on Reality TV

On reality television, there is no shortage of people who aren't exactly the brightest bulbs, or who just generally act like idiots in order to gain a little bit of attention. And most of the time, these folks are about as smart as you'd imagine. But lately, we've been noticing a trend of players and personalities who may be cleverer than we might have given them credit for.

10. Professor Splash (America's Got Talent)
He's a grown man who does belly flops for profit. And he's got the entire judging panel freaking out about it. So much so that he not only made it through the semi-finals, but he also landed one of the few coveted places in the finals. For belly flops. Sure he does them from extreme heights into little pools, but being a real-life cartoon and finding a way to make that into multiple TV appearances and maybe a million-dollar Vegas act? That's brilliant.

9. Bai Ling (Celebrity Rehab)
Sure, she climbs roofs, runs around and largely forgets to wear clothing when she attends red-carpet events, but on Rehab, she's the only person we've ever seen to question the fact that Dr. Drew and Co. prescribe drugs to cure drug addiction. Yes, we know there's a science behind it, but really, on paper it is confusing. She also really seems to understand how Hollywood exploits people. If nothing else, her real personality makes far more sense than her stint on the worst episode of Lost ever.

8. Pauly D. (Jersey Shore)
In anticipation of the new season, we've spent some time looking back and Pauly really does... nothing. He just acts goofy, smiles enormously and basically is a sheep to Vinnie or The Situation. And yet, he's pulling in the same big salary the rest of the Shore stars are getting. Money for nothing? Cool story, bro.

7. Chumlee (Pawn Stars)
He's like a big dopey teddy bear who has made some pretty good deals lately, earning both money and his keep around the shop. Even when he bought a fake mandolin recently, he had a good rationale for it and managed not to get fired -- he's comic relief, after all. Plus, who would haggle with Chumlee? They'd probably feel sorry for him.

6. Nick (Platinum Hit)
He comes off as a people-hating jerk (and he may well be), but his abrasive attitude has gotten him far in the competition. He's a straight-shooter who knows when to slack off and when to actually make some musical magic in order to stick around. It's no wonder that everyone else dreads getting stuck with him on a team.

5. Abby (Dance Moms)
She wasn't a world famous dancer, she's qualified to be on Biggest Loser and she isn't exactly what you'd call pleasant. In fact, she's a complete bitch who nitpicks to the last detail and yet has found a way to make a profit (a hefty one at that) off of it. She makes up to $16,000 a year off each student, and moms gladly hand over that exorbitant sum for the privilege of having this shrew scream at their children and make them rehearse around the clock.

4. Kenny (The Challenge)
He barely wins any weekly challenges since he DQs all the time, but instead of people eliminating him since he's a big threat in the finals, they comfort him and offer him encouragement. He comes up with plans that don't work, has a rivalry that is more of a friendship, calls himself Mr. Beautiful with a straight face and yet he still seems to end up in the winner's circle season after season. And he's a Fresh Meat player, not even a Real World or Road Rules alum, yet he has managed to parlay his "fame" into hosting after-shows on MTV.

3. Constantine (The Bachelorette)
He seemed like a dopey guy who put himself on a reality show about "finding love" while promoting his local Greek family-run pizza place, but he made the smartest move of the season by dumping Ashley before he shamed himself by having sex with her on national television. And he did so without looking like an ass like Bentley.

2. Kelly Bensimon (Real Housewives of New York)
A year ago she had a fit about a gift bag and started eating jellybeans while spouting gibberish about "satchels of gold" and we were worried for her sanity. Then, this season, something strange happened and she came back totally coherent and with an ability to rationalize through people's problems. She was also the first one of the RHONY ladies to piece together Sonja's financial troubles. How'd that happen?

1. Jordan (Big Brother)
We totally chalked her first win on Big Brother up to a fluke. But now she's back and she's still in a relationship/alliance with Jeff, seems to understand Rachel's strategy and has a genuine understanding of how the game is played... if not how the world works. What really stunned us and skyrocketed her to the top of this list was the way that she figured out from three bars of soap and a pair of glasses that their guest celebrity was David Hasselhoff.

Watch TWoP's editors preview August's big TV shows in this segment airing on the New York Nonstop news channel:

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