You know I love me a good reality TV show (*coughRockOfLovecough*), but I’m not sure what I think of the upcoming series More to Love, a Bachelor-style dating competition for people who don’t look like this. Touted as the first “dating show for the rest of us,” contestants of all shapes and sizes will compete for real love, in all its televised, hair-pulling, catcalling glory. Because plus-sized girls can get wasted and cry in limos, too! Fox president of alternative programming Mike Darnell said of the show, “For six years it’s been skinny-minis and good-looking bachelors, and that’s not what the dating world looks like. Why don’t real women -- the women who watch these shows, for the most part -- have a chance to find love too?”
Honestly, I find that more than a little patronizing. These dating shows are pure mindless fantasy (hence the phrase “fantasy date”.) Does anyone REALLY think this is how people, Trista Rehn aside, fall in love? I don’t think so. The fact that the contestants are always drop-dead gorgeous with huge implants and pageant queen smiles is ridiculous, of course, but I don’t think most of us watch The Bachelor and think, “Why can’t I look more like her?” or, as Fox might have us believe, “When will there be a dating show for ‘real girls’ like me, with cellulite and everything? We deserve love and shower scenes and overnight jaunts to Hawaii, too!”
I think what irks me is that by creating a separate show for “average-looking” women, it strengthens the media-driven stereotype that beauty if, in fact, buxom and blonde and thin, and anyone who doesn’t look like Barbie needs a separate (but equal!) show. Beauty and the Geek and Average Joe pulled similar stunts, but wound up basically making fun of the less-than-beautiful people they featured.
“We want to send the message that you can be the size you are and still be lovable,” Darnell says. “We aren’t going to thin these girls down so they can find love -- that’s a backwards message.” Indeed, it is, but isn’t cattle-calling “average-looking” women onto casting couches, hoping for embarrasingly good soundbites, and videotaping them in swimsuits and making out in communal jacuzzis (which I guarantee they’ll do) the opposite of making someone seem lovable?
PS Want proof? Just check out the hurtful reader comments already pouring in.