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I watched episode 2 of ‘Stars on Mars’ because I hate myself

TBH, Lance Armstrong and Ronda Rousey were pretty good this week

Lance Armstrong to compete at Enhanced Games

On Monday, Uncle Matt had to keep his longstanding tradition of watching  Stars on Mars. I’ve been watching the reality show now since as long as I can remember, or maybe June 5. Feels like an eternity, frankly. Anyhow, if you’re just back from Jupiter or wisely skipped my summary last week, there’s this new tire fire of a reality show that pits a bunch of celebrities from all walks of life on a simulated “Mars,” which is actually just some studio in the middle of Australia. (Spoiler alert.)

Stars On Mars is hosted by Canadian William Shatner and features a variety of competitors. You’re probably wondering, “Why is Uncle Matt writing about a seemingly idiotic reality show on a top-notch, high-quality cycling website that usually has deep dives, analyses and well-written think pieces?” Well kids, that’s because one of the contestants is “former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong.” On June 6, several other cycling outlets covered the show, just for the novelty of it. But that novelty is about as far gone as HAL’s logic at the end of 2001, and yet here I am, still standing, still writing about this godawful television show.

The “Stars” of “Stars on Mars”

There’s a bunch of other contestants from sports, TV, and music. You’ve got guys like former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, UFC star and actress Ronda Rousey, Modern Family’s Ariel Winter, Tom Schwartz from Vanderpump Rules, Tallulah Willis (daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore), Porsha Williams Guobadia (The Real Housewives of Atlanta), former NFL cornerback Richard Sherman and singer Tinashe. There are probably some others but honestly, I’m already exhausted cutting and pasting their names from FOX’s website because I’ve honestly never heard of some of them. So let’s move on.

Ariel Winter mistook Lance Armstrong for astronaut Neil Armstrong on ‘Stars On Mars’ Premiere

So every week there are “challenges,” meant to simulate a typical day on the Red Planet. The show starts off with Lynch, who was the previous “base commander,” losing his post to Willis. She, by the way, is charming and positive, but also a bit out-there. (Oh btw, there was also a great little scene with Rousey just smoking the former Super Bowl winner in a wrestling match.)

Martian challenge accepted

The first task involves Winter and Schwartz heading out to the “planet’s surface” to clean the solar panels. Then, oh and you’re going to like this, Armstrong and Williams Guobadia do “health and wellness checks” on the rest of the cast. Armstrong is actually somewhat earnest-ish here and asks how each contestant is doing, I won’t lie. Schwartz and Winter work away at cleaning, with the former saying, “Mars sucks.”

Then I got sort of bored and ate a bunch of Cheetos and flipped through the channels.) Fast fact: Did you know Cheetos are designed to coat tongues and stain fingers? Some sort of weird marketing trick akin to the Mark of Cain.)

I came back to the show, post-Cheetos, and there was some mega drama! The pipe outside disconnects, and the crew needs to head out to a cliff, repel down it, and get water on this tarp thing into a hose. Armstrong is fine with rappelling but Williams Guobadia is freaking out as she is afraid of heights. The “former professional cyclist” and the others help her out with encouragement, and they then work on extracting water.

Rousey and Armstrong are the glue of the show

During the next phase, where a bunch of reality contestants try not to be too useless, Rousey and Armstrong are the clear leaders. It’s probably because of their athleticism, but they guide everyone on making sure the aqua gets from the tarp up to the surface. That goes on for a while, until Schwartz forgets basic math and miscounts. There are four barrels and somehow that rocket scientist only gets two-and-a-half filled, and the mission fails.

“Honestly, Tom counted the water buckets wrong. Which is really crazy, ’cause how do you count to four wrong?’ ” Tinashe said off-camera, making a pretty good point.

That means that there has to be a vote as to who is “mission critical,” and who ain’t. Everyone is up at the chopping block, and (almost to create drama, or something) Armstrong is the last man standing. Willis gets sent home because she was the base commander and it’s on her, the captain of the ship or something. “I love you all. I love you all,” Willis said as she left, on the other side of the “airlock” and living quarters. Think of the scene with Spock dying in Star Trek II, but just incredibly dumber.

Rousey and Armstrong are definitely the stars of the show, and the most capable–as both leaders and athletes. The “former professional cyclist” is much more subdued than some of his braggadocio from the old days, and I expect the show will want to keep him on as long as possible. He did, of course, sneak in a nice little gem toward the end.

Some of the cast was asking who the episode’s VIP was. In a confessional, Armstrong armstronged hard. “If I had to pick a VIP, it would definitely be me.”

Side note: Natasha Leggero coined a new nickname for the “former professional cyclist.” When he was summoned back into the room after surviving another episode, she called him, “Be-loncé.” It’s catchy.

“Stars on Mars” continues on June 19, as does my pitiful existence covering this. 836 words. FML