I was watching the new episode of Mystery Diners on mute while listening to the latest episode of Harmontown and playing Two Dots on my iPhone Monday night, when I thought, “Well, this is super fake.” This wasn't the first time I'd had this identical thought while watching Mystery Diners in the identical way. As a rule, I always mute my television when Mystery Diners comes on. The host of the show could have a voice akin to that of a primordial dwarf child, as far as I know. (If he does, let me know, because that might be worth un-muting my TV for.)
For those who don’t know, Mystery Diners is a reality show on the Food Network in which a mustachioed man and his team of secret agents (the titular diners), spy on the employees of a flailing restaurant at the behest of said eatery’s frustrated owners. These owners know something fishy is going on when they’re not around, but instead of, you know, talking to their employees, they hire some dude to install hidden cameras everywhere and infiltrate the restaurant with his cadre of community theater actors playing customers and, sometimes, new employees. The hijinks these cameras pick up and these mystery diners observe are often (i.e. always) utterly ridiculous and deeply suspect. It doesn’t take a college education to figure out roughly five minutes into a Mystery Diners episode that what you’re watching is pure, unequivocal bullshit.
Monday night’s episode was set in an Italian restaurant in Las Vegas that offered live piano music and tableside magic. I don’t know what the owners’ issues were—because as I’ve mentioned, the TV was muted—but I do know when I looked up at the screen the first time, the piano player was giving away the secret behind the magician’s floating cigarette trick (via subtitles: “You know he does it with magnets, right?), and the second time, the magician was doing the old “yank-the-table-cloth-off-the-fully-set-table” thing (You remember that classic magic trick!) just as the piano player was walking by, sending the patrons’ dinners—including a bottle of wine—flying everywhere, and the piano player herself crashing to the floor in a flurry of red sauce and f-bombs. One of the owners stormed in from the mustachioed gentleman’s command center (an abandoned building across the street, which I assume is purposefully kept abandoned for the purpose of secretly watching restaurant employees) at that point, and I turned off the TV because I was tired.
But before I closed my eyes and floated away to Dreamland, I typed the following three words into Google: Mystery. Diners. Fake.
First, I perused an article on Radar Online about how, WHAAAAA?!?, Mystery Diners is totally fake. This information came from former employees of the restaurants that have been featured and what-have-you. More importantly, there was a link to a Web site cleverly named MysteryDinersFraud.com. I, obviously, clicked the link, and, well, oh boy.
First thing you’re gonna notice about Justin Tribble’s Mystery Diners Web site is all the wonderful advertising. Then it will slowly dawn on you that, wait a minute, this is the ugliest Web site I’ve ever been to. But that doesn’t matter, because Tribble is here to expose fakes, frauds and phonies, not win some kind of Best Web Site on the Internet: Fraud Exposing award.
But who is this Justin Tribble? Well, why don’t I let him tell you:
“Justin Tribble is a Christian man of faith dedicated to exposing frauds, fakes and liars who pervert the truth and prey on the weak and vulnerable. He has investigated numerous cases of fraud, exposed hoaxers and liars and has appeared on national television and numerous radio programs.”
While I “admire” Mr. Tribble’s dedication to exposing lying liars and schemers of all kinds, I’m not exactly sure how Mystery Diners “preys on the weak and vulnerable.” I mean, if you want to watch it, muted while you play games on your phone or otherwise, go ahead. Or don’t. Mr. Tribble provides a list of all the restaurants featured on Mystery Diners and pleads with visitors to his site to “[p]lease do not patronize or support these restaurants!” Again, I’m not sure how eating at one of the restaurants featured on Mystery Diners, or not eating at one, matters. Food Network apparently doesn’t care that the show is largely made-up, and neither do fans of this family of reality programming. Personally, I am not a fan of the “re-enactment based” reality shows, but if you are, go ahead and indulge. We’re all gonna die anyway. May as well enjoy yourself.
Justin Tribble is not content merely exposing the lies and frauds perpetrated upon the American public via the Mystery Diners team however. He’s keen on taking down the Long Island Medium, the Ducky Dynasty guys, Dr. Oz, Storage Wars and the NSA. He’s also pretty excited about the upcoming Man of Steel sequel.
The title of this post promised weirdness, and while you may have just assumed the situation couldn’t get any weirder, you are sorely mistaken. Close to the bottom of MysteryDinersFraud.com, apropos of nothing, there is a picture of the young woman from the Wendy’s commercials, tied up with ropes. Fully clothed, but restrained. “The Wendy’s Girl is all tied up,” it reads next to the picture. “Learn more at Wendys-Girl.com about Morgan Smith Goodwin.” Not knowing very much about Wendy’s latest spokesperson other than the fact that she hocks my favorite artery-clogging fast food items, I clicked the link. What I found, was a little weird.
What the WTF?!?
Following some unattractive ads for Chuck E. Cheese and Hidden Valley Dip, we are greeted by a headshot of Morgan Smith Goodwin accompanied by a quote from Christian fraud exposer, Justin Tribble:
“She enchants me. She is all I want and all I desire.” -Justin Tribble, Wendys-Girl.com Webmaster
For even more "ick," Tribble answers some very important Morgan Smith Goodwin questions, but puts his own creepy spin on things to make the proceedings that much more vomit-inducing. Like his skin-crawling answer to the self-imposed question, "Do people just not realize how great she is?":
And how about this answer from Mr. Tribble--who is a virtuous man of faith with a passion for exposing other people's moral ineptitude--when asked if we should purchase the HBO docu-series Cathouse on DVD because some people say there is a prostitute featured in it that looks remarkably similar to the Wendy's spokesperson:
"Yes, I would. I bought it. It's a great show to begin with. It's about Nevada's brothel the Bunny Ranch. Some people consider it some of the finest television to ever air (this is not hyperbole). It's a fascinating look at Nevada's legendary "industry" which is still legal across the state, outside of Clark County and Las Vegas.
"I highly recommend the series. You can buy it here. As to whether Morgan Smith is in it, well, that's just a rumor. I was told by a good source she made an appearance in it under a different name about seven years ago. I've watched it and there is a girl who looks remarkably like her, but isn't. She's so much younger it's hard to tell. That said, she's insanely hot."
I think Camper Van Beethoven said it best in their song "Jack Ruby" from 1989's Key Lime Pie: all our heroes are bastards. Sure, Justin Tribble is fighting the "good" fight against reality television fakery that no one asked him to or, frankly, cares about, but he also feels compelled to provide us with a front row seat to what he's thinking about after he finishes a long day of posting restaurant names on his terribly designed Web site, and, quite frankly, that is something I can do without. I should've never clicked that link. Somethings you simply can't un-see.