Murphy’s Law – A big, bright, shining star

Joel Murphy

Now that all of the good television shows are on hiatus, I find myself seeking out programs I wouldn’t normally watch in an effort to keep my DVR from collecting dust. In an act of true desperation, my fiancée and I have begun taping The Moment of Truth, the ridiculous Fox reality show where contestants are hooked up to lie detectors and asked very personal questions, while their friends and family sit close by, looking horrified and slightly jealous that they aren’t the ones in for a big pay day.

The show itself isn’t much to watch. The producers manage to stretch 15 – 20 minutes of actual content into an hour long episode. If I wasn’t able to fast forward all of the repetitive content and over-the-top promos on my DVR, the show would be completely unwatchable. With heavy fast forwarding, the show manages to be tolerable, but ultimately disappointing, since it never lives up to the hype Fox creates with its ridiculous promos that promise “the most shocking questions ever in the history of television.”

As I sat there watching an episode, I found myself less interested in the contestant (who seemed to be nothing more that a self-absorbed, spoiled whore) and more interested in the host, Mark Walberg.

He is, of course, not to be confused with the other Mark Wahlberg, the Calvin Klein-wearing, Boston native who went from being the charismatic leader of The Funky Bunch to an accomplished actor who stole every scene he appeared in in The Departed. No, Mark Walberg (minus the “h”) is a television personality who seems to be the go-to host for all sleazy Fox reality shows (as if there were any other kind).

Ironically, both Marks got their start in 1991. The year Marky Mark was making a big splash with his hit song “Good Vibrations,” Mark Lewis Walberg was making his television debut as a sidekick to Pat Finn on Shop ‘Til You Drop. I’m only hoping that in 1991 someone tried to convince the gameshow host to change his name to avoid confusion, leading to Walberg shouting out a Michael Bolton-esque, “Why should I change? He’s the one who sucks.” Bonus points if at any point Walberg referred to Marky Mark as a “no-talent ass clown.”

(On a side note: How many Hollywood parties do you think guests have gotten excited when hearing the news that Mark Walberg will be making an appearance, only to let out sighs of disappointment when the gameshow host comes walking through the door?)

Since his Shop ‘Til You Drop days, Walberg has gone on to have a long career on television. He made a name for himself hosting Antiques Roadshow and a variety of gameshows, including the less exciting than it sounds Russian Roulette. He is also the former host of Temptation Island, an evil show that separated happy couples, liquored them up and then dangled chiseled, morally-ambiguous strangers in front of them in the hopes that they would cheat on their partners. If they did cheat, that footage was shown to the significant other, with a nice tight camera shot on the partner’s face so that, like when Lisa Simpson broke Ralph Wiggum’s heart on Krusty the Clown’s show, the producers could freeze frame the exact moment when the significant other’s heart broke. Walberg also hosted Joe Millionaire‘s “Aftermath” special, which looked back at the entire season of Joe Millionaire, a show which tricked money-hungry sluts into believing a dopey blue-collar worker was actually a millionaire.

What’s fascinating to me about Walberg is that he seems to have no problem hosting these trashy shows, but he does it with faux sincerity. On The Moment of Truth, he first asked the contestant to confess that she believed her good friend was a talentless guitar player who would never make it as a professional musician, while the friend sat there on stage, looking crushed (moments earlier, she admitted to having been sexually attracted to this friend in the past, even though she has a boyfriend now). Walberg went on to ask her questions about her father, who was also on stage with her, and got the contestant to admit that her parent’s divorce ruined her childhood and that her dad was an untrustworthy individual who wasn’t the type of guy she would like to marry someday. While Walberg continued to ask these relationship-shattering questions, he kept expressing empathy for the contestant’s plight and reminding her that she could quit at any time. While he did his best to appear sincere, Walberg nonetheless ploughed ahead with more prying questions.

At one point, while talking to Walberg, the contestant’s father said something like, “If you ever become a father, you’ll understand how I feel right now.” Walberg responded by saying that he was a father already. According to his Wikipedia entry, Walberg has been happily married since 1987 and has two children.

I’m not sure why, but I find it fascinating that the guy who earns a living destroying other people’s relationships has been happily married for over 20 years (which is even more impressive considering he is a quasi-celebrity and celebrity marriages tend to last months, not years). Is he just able to leave work at work and not come home wondering if his wife is cheating on him with a shirtless island-dweller? Or does he invite his wife down to The Moment of Truth set to hook herself up to the lie detector “just for fun”? Is he a liberal parent, or is he overprotective of his two children, knowing that someday they might grow up and appear on a gameshow sharing all of the family’s dark secrets?

I guess it’s just hard to get a read on Walberg. Could he really just be a dedicated family man who takes gigs on sleazy reality shows in order to pay the bills, or does he simply offer faux-sympathy while secretly delighting in the suffering of others? Does he seek out these shows or does he take a “walk of shame” to the bank every time Fox cuts him another check? Does he secretly have a Marky Mark voodoo doll that he shoves full of pushpins every time someone asks him if he’s seen Boogie Nights?

I need answers to these questions, damn it. I say we hook Mark Walberg up to a lie detector and start grilling him. If nothing else, it would definitely make for some entertaining television.

Random Thought of the Week:

A 30-foot lighthouse in Wellfleet, Massachusetts that historians believed was destroyed in 1925 was actually relocated to Point Montara, California, but no documents can be found explaining how the lighthouse was moved across the country. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the relocation involved a creepy man in a Dharma jacket turning a giant donkey wheel.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.


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