Why I Hate to Love Three Sheets

17 03 2010

Americans have received quite the stereotype while traveling abroad: the well meaning and good natured oaf. Sure, we may be loud. We may eat and drink a lot. We may get in the way. But we are friendly. And we like to be liked. And there are worse things to be.

The hit show Three Sheets works very hard to reinforce this stereotype.

The show is simple. Host Zane Lamprey (which, by the way, sounds more like a Glam Rock singer than a name for an actual human being) travels the world meeting people, drinking, and making a general fool of himself; although a well meaning and good natured fool. On the first day, Zane learns about local specialties. In Tuscany, he drinks Chianti. In Barbados, its rum. In Greece it is Ouzo. That night, he goes bar hoping. He learns about local food culture and drinking culture. On day two, he does more bar hoping. And on day three, he learns about local hangover cures.

Check out Zane in Hamburg, Germany, where he learns all about Jaegermeister. Decked out all in Jaegermeister gear, he finagles his own Jaeger tap and creates his own drink called “Zane is Awesome in his Porche.” In the episode in which he goes to Lesbos, Greece, he essentially makes twenty minutes of lesbian jokes. He approaches an old man and says, “Sir, I hear you are a lesbian.” The old man looks at Zane and says, “Yes. I am a Lesbian.” To which Zane responds by looking at the camera and smirking like a twelve year old boy. In Tuscany, he goes to a monastery and hangs out with Franciscan monks and proceeds to get drunk off of flaming spirits. He is rude, a bit crude, but always very charming about it.

In many ways, Zane is the quintessential American tourist. He is loud, he brings attention to himself and he always brings the party. And for that reason, I love him and I hate him. He has the job we all dream about. Traveling the world, drinking large amounts of alcohol and making friends. I wish I had his job! But on the other hand, I am disappointed there is a show out there that reaffirms this stereotype. And while not as bad as other tourist stereotypes, it is still pretty bad. I wish this show weren’t so entertaining. It is like looking into a fun house mirror. I see myself in Zane. Not only when I travel abroad, but also when I am with my friends in my local bar.

I guess there is nothing inherently wrong about three sheets. Nor is there anything inherently wrong about being the well-meaning, overly-friendly oaf. But it is a small window into what the rest of the world sees in us Americans while we go out drinking. And, in the end, a little bit more self awareness doesn’t hurt. Maybe it will make us a little less oafish.

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