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Model Your Pledge Program After The TV Show ‘Bar Rescue’

jon taffer bar rescue pledge ed hazing

Taffer: Look at me, and tell me you’re a loser!

Bar Owner: No, I’m not a loser and I work hard. I’m not going to say that.

Taffer: Say it! You’re a loser!

Bar Owner: I don’t believe that I am; I’m not a loser.

Taffer: Say you’re a loser or I’m leaving!

Bar Owner: Okay, I may have done some things that a loser would do. Are you happy?

This is a conversation, just about word for word, that transpired on an episode of Bar Rescue that I was watching recently. I was in the middle of a heavy binge — third episode in a row — when I realized that this man is the embodiment of the perfect modern day pledge master.

At the beginning of every episode, he sends in his spies to check in and report back on the bar staff doing some of the most ridiculous and outrageous things that, ironically, you might only expect to see happen around your fraternity house’s basement bar. Then, right on cue — just as if you and your pledge brothers had just royally screwed up — he comes storming in and berates the staff. My favorite part is when he yells, “Screw this, I’m outta here!,” leaving the staff worried that he has left because he thinks they were too much of a dumpster fire to even be worth saving.

The next day involves more hazing, wherein the staff is briefly “trained” for the “stress test.” The stress test is essentially a lineup that involves inviting an absurd amount of patrons into one of these rundown holes in the wall and berating the bar staff every step of the way for how terrible they are at running a bar. A nice touch are the selfie videos patrons take of themselves complaining that they’ve been there for thirty minutes and still have yet to get a drink or be served something from the kitchen. I’m surprised Facebook Live hasn’t taken over pledgeship yet with pledge educators recording themselves complaining about how long it’s taking for the house to get clean. In any event, these stress test lineups always end in the bar closing down for the evening and Taffer reflecting on how much the owners and staff are all currently failing at life.

This leads us into the fact that this show, Taffer especially, cuts VERY deep into the owners’ and staff’s personal lives. We find out about things like how much in debt the owners are (which is one of those things anyone with substantial debt always lies about when their friends ask), how some of the staff feel betrayed by their shitty owners, and how terrible the work ethic of some employees is (which oftentimes leads to on-air firings (blackballs)). Additionally, every time there’s a family that owns a bar together it seems as if they’re the most dysfunctional family on the planet. Taffer exposes all of this — puts it all out in the open — as a means of breaking down and rebuilding everyone involved through the process of their bar rescue.

In the end — and this is the part that infuriates me — the staff is amazing and doesn’t miss a beat during the re-open. There isn’t a single pledge class in the world that turns around like that. This leads me to believe that the experts are doing more during the re-open then they let on. A good pledge master tries his best to protect his pledge class, so I do respect the move to make them look like the A-team that Taffer and his experts have trained them to be. But I, for one, am not buying it.

History is overrated, but it does always find a way of repeating itself so don’t let your pledges slip up on the manual. Just know that you won’t find any better resource than Bar Rescue to guide you through your term as pledge educator.

Image via YouTube/SPIKE

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