The Sorry State Of Reality Love Shows

You know how there’s that certain type of guy you want to dramatically douse in a glass of red wine, just to wipe the smug look off his face for a split-second? That’s how I felt last night watching Wes Hayden’s behavior on “The Bachelorette,” when he realized Jillian Harris was on to his cheating, publicity-hungry ways. As if telling the guys, “If [I’m voted off], I’m gonna go home and have lots of sex,” wasn’t gross enough, on his limo ride out of Barcelona, he bragged, “I’m the first guy on the ‘Bachelorette’ to make it to the final four…with a girlfriend.” Ding, ding, ding! Wes, you’ve just one a million dollars! Wait, no, that’s not how this show works. Hello, smart guy. Guess who watches the “The Bachelorette”? Women. And more specifically, women who’re rooting for the single person in the driver’s seat to not only find love, but have it last for more than 10 seconds. In other words, if anything, this was a pretty bad career move for an aspiring country musician. “Bachelorette” fans aren’t going to listen to this reality TV villain’s music. Just like no one’s going to buy Spencer Pratt’s rap album.

Okay, rant over. But last night’s “Bachelorette” got me thinking—are reality dating shows intrinsically broken? I watch an embarrassing number of shows with love in the title: “Rock of Love,” “The Age of Love,” “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila,” “The Flavor of Love,” “For The Love of Ray J.” Yes, I could go on. The premise of these shows is always the same: 20 or so contestants compete for the heart of one person who, at least in theory, is a serious catch. The joy of watching these shows is threefold:

  1. You get the sadistic pleasure of watching attractive people pushed to their breaking point, cooped up in a house without contact with the outside world while having to participate in crazy challenges were they’re forced to cage wrestle or eat animal testicles.
  2. You get the reassurance that there are many, many people in the world even more confused about this whole relationship thing than you.
  3. There’s a slight (slight!) glimmer of hope that maybe in the end of the process, the show’s namesake will find the person of their dreams. Sure it’s only happened, like, once. But there is the possibility.

However, on the latest two incarnations of this formula, “The Bachelorette” and “Daisy of Love,” multiple contestants have come on the show despite the fact that they have significant others waiting for them at home. (Wes! Brooklyn! Fox!) Other contestants have left the show voluntarily before they’ve been officially ousted. (Ed! London!) Long gone are the days of the first “Bachelor,” Alex Michel, who had no real reason to doubt any of the women who were throwing themselves at him. Cue Daisy de la Hoya, with tears and snot running onto her ginormous fake boobs, after finding out that yet another dude on her show is a complete a**hole. This trend has had one very annoying side effect. You can barely watch these shows for more than three seconds without one of the following phrases being uttered—”Is he here for the right reasons?” “Baby, I’m here for you.” It’s like little daggers continually assaulting your ears. [Made easier by turning them into a drinking game. — Editor]

So have casting directors really run out of good-looking, well-intentioned single folks willing to cordon themselves off from their lives for 2+ months and go on television? Or do they like the drama of adding shady characters into the mix? And do people really think going onto one of these shows is a good way to launch an acting/singing career? Come on, name one contestant on these shows who’s gotten so much as 15 milliseconds of fame? Seriously, even the stars of these shows are strictly D-list. (Though Ray J, call me.)

The upcoming crop of reality love shows looks even more like a race towards the bottom, with VH1 leading the way. On August 2nd, “Megan Wants a Millionaire” will premiere starring Megan Hauserman, a former Playboy Cybergirl who’s done stints on “Beauty and the Geek” and “Rock of Love.” After that, Terrell Owens’ gets a dating show. (Yeah, I’d never heard of him either—evidently he’s a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver.) Next will be Pepa of Salt-n-Pepa and Chilli of TLC, who are each getting separate shows. Oh, but perhaps the craziest version in the works? The producers of “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” are bringing you “Wolfboy: Divorced and Looking For Love,” starring Larry Ramos Gomez, a circus performer with a rare disease that causes him to have hair all over his body, including his face and eyes. Let’s just say that he’s not exactly Taylor Lautner. And while Gomez has a son who doesn’t have the disease, if he ever has a daughter, he’s very likely to pass it on. Hey, sign me up!

All I’m saying is—can we bring back “Shipmates” and call it a day?