Recapping the First Episode of Genuine Ken: The Search for the Great American Boyfriend

In retrospect I should not have done this, but here we go: The search for the great American boyfriend is on.

First we meet the eight ridiculous “Ken-testants”, twentysomethings who’ve been “chosen from thousands,” mysteriously, and then flown to a low-budget set in L.A. (this is a Hulu-exclusive online show). Once there, the young men are introduced to host Whitney Port, who kind of explains the purpose of the show, minus one critical aspect: “Each week you guys will be tested in all the qualities we women look for in our men. Things like sty-ole [style, but that’s how she pronounces it], romance, and athleticism. Whoever wins will be safe for the week, but for the rest of you, you’ll all be up for elimination.” But what are they competing for? It’s not mentioned anywhere — not at any point during the show or on any section of the wonderful website. I guess a true American boyfriend doesn’t care why or what he’s doing. He just does it, perfectly, and then is your boyfriend.

Anyway, the Ken-testants’ first challenge is to put on a talent show, because “a genuine Ken is always entertaining,” as we all know. They’re then given an hour to practice.

One of the Kens is a professional football player. Can you guess which? It’s the guy who can fit two heads inside his head.

TWO of the guys currently are or have been cheerleaders, and one of them is doing a split. “My whole act is me doing flips, running flips, I’ve got nothing to worry about.”

LOL two seconds later another guy is doing flips. (It’s the other cheerleader.)

One of the guys is a singer/songwriter with a crush on himself.

The football player is at a loss for what he can perform. “I’m a football player, what am I gonna do — tackle someone on stage? And then it dawns on me: I can do a great impression of a couple professional wrestlers.” Boom.

One guy’s talent is rapping, another’s is kickboxing.

Says the rapper, “I’m not worried — you can tell just by looking at me that I’m a star,” and then he turns to show that there’s a star shaved into his head.

Now we’re at the talent show (trying to burn through this as quickly as possible). (Also, Whitney Port’s voice is out of control. “I’m your ho-ost Whitney Po-ort?”)

OK here we go! There’s a bunch of ladies watching, it’s just on some random stretch of concrete.

Kurtis, the football player, does his imitation of The Rock, and then tears his shirt off.

The gross musician rolls up his shirt sleeves and sings some John Mayer-ish thing. Looks softly at the crowd once it’s over and licks his lips.

The kickboxer from Miami gives tips on how not to get raped. “When you’re by yourself, always have your key sticking out of your hand, just in case.”

A girl in the audience is into it.

The cute one — oh, there’s only one cute one, by the way, and he’s the other cheerleader — does a ridiculously bad dance routine, but everyone loves it because he’s so cute. Why is this contest even happening. Look at him:

Poetry Ken recites a poem. “This poem is titled ‘Love’: I am classic, confident, sexy, idolized. Dare I say Keith, the great American boyfriend, that’s me.”

Do I dare to eat a KEITH!

Afterward the star-head dude raps and uses light profanity (“ass”), and the judges frown.

They cut back to the blonde girl again, who’s still really into it.

One of the cheerleaders does a somersault. Ohhh, but then he does a bunch of handsprings. Fair enough.

And then there was “artistic Ken” Derek’s performance. Please watch:

He has an “outer body experience,” according to star-head Ken.

The verdict: Kash the backhandspringer wins, by unanimous decision. He “really showed that Ken quality today.”

Later, the elimination ceremony.

OK why is this show even happening? Give it to Cute Ken! LOOK AT HIM.

Whitney explains how the elimination ceremony works, which is that each of the Ken-testants is given a “Genuine Ken Tag,” which is a large plastic bracelet.

The legend of the bracelet: “In 1961 when the Ken doll was introduced, he wore a tag of authenticity to show he was the real deal and not a knockoff. When you wear the tag, it means you’re still in the running to become the Great American Boyfriend. However, when we take the tag away from you, it means that your time here is done.”

And STILL they haven’t said what these men are competing for.

“[Songwriter Ken], come on down and get your Genuine Ken Tag.” (Applause.)

Rapper Ken gets a dressing down for his juvenile rap, but he gets “bonus points” for referencing Ken’s last name (Carson) in his rap. “Works for me,” he says.

Football Ken gets one too. “I am so relieved I got my genuine Ken tag — now I can sit back and watch the rest of the elimination service with ease.” SERVICE! I think football Ken might be my favorite.

The judges find kickboxing Ken’s self-defense lessons off-putting, and soon he and Poetry Ken are the last ones without genuine Ken tags.

Aaand then Poetry Ken gets the last tag, so it looks like kickboxing Ken is going home — BUT WAIT!

“Leeron [that’s his name], you do not have a Genuine Ken tag, however, you were trying to protect women, so we’re going to let you stay. Come on down and get your Genuine Ken tag.”


“I did not see that coming at all,” says kickboxing Ken.

“No one is going home,” explains Whitney. Ahhh, this show.

ANOTHER TWIST! Kash, the backflipping cheerleader who won the contest, is given a pink Barbie tag!

“What this means is that you can use this tag at any point in the competition to save yourself, so you simply wear it on the day of competition when you think you might be going home and you’ll be protected.” (Paraphrased, because I refuse to rewind since the show is sooo close to being over.)

And now it is over! Twenty-four minutes. Amazing. The whole episode is streaming right now on Hulu, if you’re interested, which surely you are at this point.