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Premiere of “Tool Academy 3” Teaches Joys of Relationships

It’s no coincidence that “Tool Academy 3” debuted on Valentine’s Day. The VH1 show, now in its third year, serves as a what-not–to-do guide for young lovers everywhere.

In “Tool Academy,” if someone has a particularly cocky, smooth talking, cheating and/or egotistical partner, they can secretly nominate them to the show, where they participate in a sort of boot camp with their significant other while taking part in therapy sessions and revealing experiences. It has a “Survivor”-like feel in that one “tool” is eliminated every week. Whoever makes it to the end wins $100,000.

This season, however, is a little different. While the past seasons of “Tool Academy” have featured only male contestants, this year, two women are literally and figuratively fighting for their love. Also present is the show’s first homosexual pair, Courtney and Cheron, as well as the first married duo, Kevin and Jermika.

Also for the first time in the show’s history, a particularly cocky “tool” eliminated himself from the competition, walking out on his girlfriend, as well as his opportunity of turning into a nice, normal person.

The program opens with a back story – the participants are going to Cancún Mexico, with the hopes of partying, hooking up with scantily clad men and women and competing in various fun contests. During a public meet and greet, almost all of the participants indicate that they’re single.

One contestant of the show, Shawn, sums up the class of tools when he shouted like a frat boy that he was there to do three things, “get screwed, brewed and tattooed!”

Little do they know, their partners are watching all of this unfold thanks to hidden cameras, and providing their own embarrassing commentaries.

After viewers are introduced to the guys and girls, who are all given their own nicknames, such as “Surfer Tool,” “Toolette” and “Looney Tool”, they are given the opportunity to make absolute fools of themselves. That is, until the “Tool Academy” sign pops up and their jaws drop.

When they finally find themselves back in Los Angeles, they meet host Jordan Murphy who instructs them to go find their beds in the house they will be staying in for the remainder of the show. This becomes a physical challenge within itself, as contestants fight over where to sleep. The house filled with the partners of the tools, however, is more civilized, and no one needs to beat their chests to mark their territory.

The excitement of the show comes when the tools are reunited with their significant others, who enter the show like sad puppies with their tails between their legs. This is also their first introduction to their therapist, Trina Dolenz. Emotions are running higher than the tools’ overly-gelled hair as they watch interviews that they thought their partners would never see. The truth comes out as most admit to cheating, but the collective thought is that they need to communicate more.

Communication becomes the central aim of the first physical task. The tools are chained up inside dog houses, which the very emotional “Teary Tool” Angelo astutely realizes is not simply literal. The partners must work to free their loved one while ignoring the taunts of the other tools, and the victor wins a date with their wronged partner.

While each couple, now separated back at their “tool” and “partner” houses, has to worry about who will be kicked off the show, one tool is thinking only of himself. Said jerk ends up pulling out of the competition, shocking everyone involved.

Therapist Dolenz consoles the jilted gal, while creating a show catch phrase, saying “Sometimes a guy’s just a tool.”

Viewers can look forward to next week’s “Tool Academy 3,” when fidelity becomes the focus of the episode. Some mates are slapped, others are shoved, while still others croon to their lovers in an attempt to win them back. Looks like it will truly be quality television.

“Tool Academy 3” does teach its viewers a good lesson. No, it’s not that communication is the key to a good relationship; it’s not that one needs to stay true to their partner. Airing on what is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year, it taught its single viewers that they could have it a lot worse – they could be pining after these idiots.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at kaitlynm@student.umass.edu.

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