Tool Academy: A Guilty Pleasure Gone Wrong

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If you failed to switch off once Glee finished last night you'll be familiar with Tool Academy by now. The premiere of E4's new reality show could've been guilty pleasure heaven, but no amount of misguided hilarity could disguise the show's shortcomings. The clue was in the title really.

It all started when twelve "bad boyfriends" were coerced into appearing on the show. They thought they were competing to become Britain's Ultimate Lad, but it was all a horrible set-up by their girlfriends. The men were sent to strip clubs and asked to do photoshoots with half-naked girls to "keep up the pretence", but it was clearly just a ploy to let them embarrass themselves. Some were spectacularly better at this than others.

Laughing as the men bragged about their laddish credentials was easy: "I'm half man, half amazing" one quipped. Watching another cheat on his girlfriend was rather more difficult. Nevertheless, catching a contestant in the toilet with another woman was shocking TV gold. And, being the former home of Big Brother, E4 knew it—so they repeated it endlessly until the show ended.

All the emotions you'd expect to feel whilst watching a guilty pleasure were there. Despite disliking a handful of the men you really felt for the others—after all they had just been scorned on primetime television. When the reveal—that they were in fact on Tool Academy—was made, the discomfort was infectious. "It's all gone chicken oriental" one contestant helpfully pointed out; another just kicked down a door.

All of the contestants decided to stick with the show, thanks mostly to the £25,000 prize money. They're now subjected to group couple's counselling, where wooden Doctor Sandra Scott points out their flaws and asks them to commit. Two men didn't make it past the first session, but the reasons for this are still unclear. Somehow the guy obsessed with football and his big-headed competitor lost out to the likes of Mr Cheat and "Temper Tool" because they "didn't show signs of improvement". The admission that they made boring TV probably wouldn't have gone down as well. What Tool Academy needs, to disguise this facade, is a Beauty and the Geek-type challenge at the end of every episode, where the couples are tested on their knowledge of one another. Perhaps that would have been too transparent?

To help your continued viewing of the show (because you're totally going to want to watch it now) the producers of Tool Academy have helpfully nicknamed all of the contestants. Making it sound like Snow White's worst nightmare, the reality house is inhabited by "Randy Tool", "Stoner Tool" and "Massive Tool" among others. The voiceover man has omitted one idiot, however; over-indulged host Rick Edwards. Having graduated from T4 University with a first class degree in trying too hard, the presenter stands around uncomfortably adding insightful comments like "he looks like a lizard". Nice one Rick, because they're not suffering enough.

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