“CordCutting.com Watches” is a new recurring feature in which the CordCutting.com staff watches and reacts to a streaming show or a movie.
This time around, we’re watching “Stars on Mars,” the reality TV show on FOX that puts (real) celebrities on a (fake) mission to Mars and eliminates them weekly until a winner is declared.
STEPHEN LOVELY, Editor-in-Chief: Wow, what an episode for the CordCutting.com crew. I think I know how this discussion is going to go for me.
ANDREW COLE, Internet Editor: OKAY, STEPHEN! Now what? Tinashe is standing up and taking charge.
DEANNA NGUYEN, Streaming Editor: Yes! Tinashe finally became the base commander and she really came through with the leadership skills. She proved what everyone (except Stephen) has been thinking: that she has what it takes to win.
SHARI WEISS, Editor: Stephen, I immediately thought of you when Tinashe said she was “underestimated” and an “underdog” because you haven't been giving that poor girl a break.
STEPHEN: Yeah, when she said, “There have been times when I've felt very underestimated,” I felt that. She was talking to me, and she was right.
ANDREW: Are you a believer now?
STEPHEN: You were right and I was wrong. Tinashe is a force to be reckoned with.
SHARI: Tinashe, 1. Stephen, 0.
STEPHEN: Listen, I’m just thrilled that you all got the Tinashe content you’ve been demanding since day one. She was all over this one from the start. She even got to walk the robot dog.
ANDREW: I loved everything to do with the RADDOG.
STEPHEN: How do you spell the name that Porsha gave to the robot dog? “Maurisha?”
DEANNA: The closed captions spell it out as “Marisha.”
SHARI: Did we really need to see the robot dog poop screws? I can only imagine how proud the producer who came up with that felt.
STEPHEN: Was this thing that robot cop dog? I think it’s that cop dog.
ANDREW: I Googled it, and it’s supposed to be a “purpose-built robot dog for law enforcement.”
STEPHEN: Cop dog!
ANDREW: It felt like product placement. But how does it stop intruders? It has two-way video, vibrant headlights, audio speakers, and I guess a tow hitch? I don’t think I’ll be buying one any time soon for companionship or protection.
STEPHEN: So, early in the episode, Tinashe is off walking the product-placement robot cop dog. And who is she talking to? Lance! Tinashe and Lance, allies: what a moment for the CordCutting.com team. It's all coming together.
ANDREW: Ugh. His time is coming …
SHARI: Now that Lance is referring to himself as Lancé, I like him even less.
DEANNA: A lot of Lance’s remarks rub me the wrong way, like him asking when Tinashe was going to add him on Instagram — clout chaser much?
SHARI: I loved Tinashe's response: “When we get back on Earth.”
STEPHEN: Cope however you want, but facts are facts, and the Tinashe-Lance alliance helped her defeat Ariel in this episode’s base commander election. Though it probably helped that Ariel’s campaign speech was — and I quote — ”I'm not really great at advocating for myself in this position.”
SHARI: Tinashe totally dominated as base commander — and rightly forced Marshawn to give up the base commander suite like the boss that she is.
ANDREW: To quote Adam, “Tinashe does not f*** around.” Amen.
STEPHEN: Tinashe ran a much tighter ship (hab?) than we’re used to seeing. I didn’t even know they were allowed to plan their responses before the mission timer started. This is the first time that we’ve seen a base commander who doesn’t seem to be totally winging it.
DEANNA: She was laser-focused and told everyone their jobs without hesitation or second-guessing herself.
STEPHEN: Tinashe tapping her election foe Ariel as mission specialist was real 4D chess stuff. Have you guys read “Team of Rivals”?
DEANNA: Loved seeing Tinashe squash any animosity that would’ve formed between her and Ariel once she chose her as mission specialist — keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
SHARI: It also felt a little bit like female empowerment. Who runs the world? GIRLS!
STEPHEN: That or she just wanted Ariel as far from the action as possible. Ariel can’t screw up the mission if she’s not in it.
ANDREW: Speaking of the mission: I just want to point out that I said those plants were not long for this world.
STEPHEN: Let the record show that Andrew was right that the plants were doomed.
DEANNA: So noted.
STEPHEN: I loved the Michael Bay-style kick-off to the challenge. What a sequence. I have just one question, though, and it’s this: Why exactly did the plants explode?
SHARI: I was confused as to how the fire was “neutralized” when they were all out of the hab. I also had to roll my eyes at Shatty Daddy warning they may run out of food and have to “eat each other.” When did this become “Yellowjackets”? (Shoutout to the Yellowjackets Hive!)
DEANNA: So far, the missions have been split into two parts where they would have two separate groups. I’d like to see these missions break them into even smaller groups and pair people who don’t get along to complete their tasks together. I’d live for any of the drama that comes out of it.
STEPHEN: Agreed. Right now, the only drama comes from Marshawn being aggressively useless. He’s come a long way since his top finish in the first week’s power rankings.
DEANNA: Yeah. He’s been entertaining to watch so far, but, as Ariel and Tinashe have said, he does everything begrudgingly and doesn’t take anything seriously.
ANDREW: Marshawn’s performance was bad, but how in the world does Natasha continue to slip through the cracks and not get eliminated? Like, they literally sent away a professional athlete over the person who just stood around gagging for half of the challenge.
STEPHEN: Natasha and Marshawn are both starting to grate on me. Natasha’s self-aware joking — which we talked about last week — and Marshawn’s over-the-top goofing-off both feel defensive to me. It feels like they’re trying to avoid looking like they’re taking anything too seriously or trying too hard. I get that impulse, but I’m not entertained by that. It’s my job to laugh at the show and pretend I’m too good for it. You shouldn’t be doing that if you’re on the show.
Which is something I guess I should mention — they are both still on the show.
DEANNA: Richard voted himself off.
SHARI: I thought no way producers were going to break up Richard and Marshawn this early, but Richard made his feelings clear after the fire: “If this wasn't an experiment, we'd be burnt up to a crisp. I've had enough.”
ANDREW: Richard didn’t deserve to go, but when you’re done, you’re done.
DEANNA: I didn’t see Richard being as resigned in previous episodes as he was in this one, though it makes sense if his mental state was deteriorating the longer he was away from home.
STEPHEN: I guess he just wanted to go home! I wonder if he had a side bet with Marshawn over who could get booted first.
ANDREW: My favorite part of this episode came right at the end, where everyone starts to realize what’s at stake for the social part of the game. I mean, Ronda and Richard were about to be my favorite power duo, and just like that, it was over. Ariel can say what she wants, but where there are humans, it’s always a social game — patches be damned.
DEANNA: Ariel is digging her own grave by voicing her concerns about people forming alliances. When she was talking to Tinashe and Porsha at the end of the episode, it was clear that the latter wasn’t on her side, and it’s only going to divide their relationships even further.
STEPHEN: Yeah, and I think specifically targeting Marshawn is a huge mistake. As I wrote in this week’s power rankings, he may be in a weaker state, but he’s far from the easiest target in this game. Ariel’s in too deep, man. He's going to annihilate her.
ANDREW: My prediction: The team will keep hating on Marshawn for not being as much of an asset, but they will continue to struggle to eliminate him because of how much of a morale booster he is (plus, the ratings need him).
SHARI: I'm just hoping Ariel's insistence that this isn't a social game finally leads to the clashing and feuding that we, reality TV viewers, deserve.
STEPHEN: I think that’s something we can all get behind. Alright, folks — see you next week!