It has been a question on viewers' minds since first seeing Patti Blagojevich floating downstream in a river in Costa Rica on NBC's "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here" reality show: why is this compelling television? (Note: some are wondering why it's television at all but that's an entirely different article.)
One answer as to why it's interesting is Patti is living a story well known to many Americans. No, it's not her life story she's living on camera, but rather the life of Charlie Bucket, the lovable protagonist of the hit 1971 film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
Think about it a second.
Once the similarities between Patti B. and Charlie surface, it can be hard to ignore them. Patti and Charlie are each shown as the only member of their household who can make a living to keep everyone afloat. They have families to feed and both have uncertain futures.
Most notably, the pair has been selected for an outrageous exotic adventure that will likely pay out a tremendous award if they can defeat the much livelier and more entertaining characters who surround them.
The similarities shine brightly -- even down to the fact that neither Charlie nor Patti were supposed to be in their respective contests.
For Charlie, the entire world thought the fifth and final golden ticket had already been found, and for Patti, Rod had ... well, we've all heard the stories.
Even the "celebrities" Patti is with in Costa Rica are somewhat reminiscent of the characters in the film. There's the jolly Augustus Gloop (comedy duo Frangela), the bitter and talkative Mike Teevee (Stephen Baldwin), the chirpy Violet Beauregarde (Heidi Pratt) and the spoiled Veruca Sault (Janice Dickinson...or maybe Spencer Pratt).
From the start, it was obvious Patti was on the show for different reasons, and viewers may differentiate her as being on a different kind of mission.
Contestants like Sanjaya Malakar, NBA star John Salley and supermodel Janice Dickinson all had back stories immediately known to many Americans, but no one in the crowd had nearly as dubious a background or introduction as Patti B.
The usually silent Patti gained her celebrity by being portrayed as some sort of a Carmela Soprano or Lady Macbeth who was overheard on federal wiretaps. Lou Diamond Phillips, meanwhile, was Ritchie Valens in "La Bamba," for goodness' sakes.
These other contestants are on the show to help bolster their celebrity status on national television.
As was seen in the Thursday, June 11 episode when the contestants went around the campfire explaining how they got their "big break," it was clear again that Patti was there for a significantly dissimilar motive and the show exploited this plot point.
She needs the dues, both financially and as far as her image is concerned. The show can theoretically help change both.
Her split from the cast supports the Charlie Bucket theory. Bucket wasn't famous or rich like Veruca Salt, or smart like Mike Teevee, but he still made it there, as did Patti B. And just like Charlie's tour of the factory, this may be the only fun Patti has all year.
But, will Patti B's experiences with reality television turn out to be as truly lovable as Charlie Bucket's rise to popularity?
America will decide. A little candy might make a difference.