I know the title of this article is dumb on the outside, but just bare with me. After watching several people compare Paulie to competitors like Wes and Jordan, I felt a need to find the right comparison as a Challenge super-fan. Wes and Jordan were the obvious ones, Frank Sweeney and Brad also came to mind, along with Laurel as a cross-gender comparison. Paulie is a weird mix of uber-obnoxious confidence and elite competitor who is fearless when it comes to these challenges. In my heart of hearts, I kept returning to Abram as the perfect comparison.
You might think the comparison is simply due to the fact they both have/had Cara Maria as a sexual partner. In part, it is. Cara Maria is particular when it comes to the men she is attracted to. Abram, Kyle, and Paulie are all pretty white boys with loads of confidence and charisma, as well as manipulative traits. Abram can go from macho psycho to deeply artistic intellectual in a heartbeat, similarly, Kyle can go from chill tall guy at the bar to affectionate lover, and Paulie flips the switch from fun jock to captain insane-o in a second.
Cara has a type and these two men are it.
When you watch Paulie compete and then go back and watch Abram’s old seasons, it’s scary how similar they are. Paulie and Abram sprint through heights challenges where competitors are terrified to even walk. They are undersized, yet they attack physical competitions as though they were the biggest guy in the room. The two men can architect a team and build a game-plan on the fly. They can go berserk at any moment, and they can be nurturing and caring. If you watch Abram compete on Cutthroat with Cara, you can see the same relationship between Paulie and Natalie on Final Reckoning.
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Readers who love Abram are likely going to be pissed I’m making this comparison because they see Abram as a complete badass while in their minds, Paulie is a lunatic loser. I’m sorry, but in many ways, Abram is as legitimately insane as Paulie. Fans loved Abram having a threesome with Veronica/Rachel on the Gauntlet and him going psycho on Cutthroat to lead his team all season — Abram had completely unhinged moments both on and off the show. This is a guy who was kicked off of both his Road Rules seasons for fighting, a man who carries self-inflicted wounds as tattoos, and literally spread his own shit on the walls of a prison cell.
At the same time, Abram is an artist, a musician, and a truly brilliant individual who, if you look at what he posts on Instagram every once in awhile, seems like a genius. Their social media behavior is a marked difference between the two, as people follow Paulie’s daily shenanigans in which he seems wired on Instagram lives, or his Twitter hijinks in which he calls people scared and often jumps to violence as an answer for his problems. Yet, he succeeds on the Challenge, he was a collegiate soccer player, and has the charisma to juggle multiple girlfriends. Paulie seeks fame and wants everyone to know about his decisions and whereabouts, while Abram seemingly only uses it to reach people through his art.
Still… It feels so much like they are the same person. Think of it as a coin. All coins have two sides. One design could be a figurehead, a tribute to a great human, a president, a king, a civil rights activist, etc. Imagine Paulie as the figurehead, a person who is ego-driven and wants to be remembered completely for his actions. Meanwhile, the other side of the coin might be a monument or a famous geographical site, a marvel of nature for humans to feel pride in. Imagine Abram as the monument, a person who wants to create something others can find beauty in. Two completely different images, yet on the same coin, worth the same monetary value, just directly opposite morals and tastes. Abram and Paulie are a yin and yang.
Part of me loves watching Paulie fearlessly compete in these challenges because the dude is an absolute monster of a competitor. At the same time, I log onto Twitter and the he makes me nauseous. It honestly makes me wonder, if Twitter existed when the Gauntlet aired? How would a younger Abram interact with fans back in 2003? Also, will Paulie still be on my television in half a decade when he’s Abram’s age? In the end, Paulie has somehow beat Abram when it comes to worse tattoo idea possible already.