You Mean Reality TV Might Not Be the Best Place to Meet One’s Soul Mate? I’m Stunned.

You Mean Reality TV Might Not Be the Best Place to Meet One’s Soul Mate? I’m Stunned.

If there’s any phenomenon in the entertainment world that is more inaccurately named than “reality television,” Calico doesn’t know what it is. Far from being unfiltered presentations of reality, these shows are contrived bits of manipulated drama that offer their participants an environment in which their worst impulses and behavior are not just rewarded, but celebrated.

In Calico’s view, the worst of all the reality show genres is the dating/relationship breed of show, especially those which purport to depict people pursuing true love, lasting relationships, or anything beyond a brief period of notoriety and infamy reality shows typically produce for their ‘stars.’

How can anyone take seriously the idea of finding the love of their life on some cheap, unoriginal, reality show? Do they think the idiot standing there with a rose is smiling because he’s in love, rather than because he’s imagining a pot of fame-driven gold at the end of that season’s rainbow?

Now it seems there’s a new sub-genre of reality program which wants us to believe that because their participants are not allowed to have sex — or even see each other — before they strike up a relationship, that means they’re on the way to true love.

Does Calico buy it? To put it mildly, no she does not. Read the reasons for Calico’s skepticism in her latest post, “You Mean Reality TV Might Not Be the Best Place to Meet One’s Soul Mate? I’m Stunned.”  

by Calico Rudasill, Reality Porn for Women and Couples

reality tv

Ever since it first reared its cheap, tacky, transparently contrived head, I’ve hated so-called “reality television.”

OK, maybe that’s an unfair thing to say – but only because I’m not sure what is generally regarded as the first reality TV program, so I can’t say with absolute assurance that I’ve hated the form since it “first” reared its head.

I’ll admit to watching a few episodes of Top Chef back in the day, but that was less for the reality TV drama of it all than learning something about cooking. Not that it did me any good; it turns out that even if you learn about cooking techniques, you still have to spend time in the kitchen in order to put those techniques to use – and very few of them involve something as simple as hitting buttons of my microwave, something I have mastered over the decades (more or less).

We’ve Adopted A Curious Definition of “Reality” Here

While I hate the very idea of reality television in general and have watched very little of it, I can still say confidently that my least favorite genre, based mostly on TV commercials for them, is the dating/relationship/sex category of reality show. Whether it’s Cheaters, Boy Meets Boy, The Bachelorette or any number of other examples, you just can’t pay me enough to watch this crap. 

I’m not primarily opposed to watching them because the shows are classless and dumb (which they certainly seem to be); I’m opposed to watching them because they’re (a) completely fake, set up garbage and (b) about as interesting as watching my neighbor’s weeds grow.

The implausibility of the concepts involved is bothersome, too. People are going to meet their “true love” or “soul mate” on a television show which is structured to encourage shitty behavior and everybody-look-at-me antics? Please. That’s not ever going to be anything close to “reality.”

As I see it, the only way to capture people acting “real” on video is to film them without their knowledge. As soon as they’re in front of the camera, people stop acting like themselves and start acting the way they think the viewing audience wants them to act – or, more accurately, in a way they imagine the audience will think is cool, or outrageous, or amusing, or worthy of voting to keep singing on the island full of naked British people baking cakes, or whatever the hell that show’s absurd ‘reality’ construct calls on them to do.

Sex Sells – Even When it Comes in an Abstinence Wrapper

Evidently, there’s a new trend in reality TV, in which the show makers want people to think they’ve making a show that’s explicitly NOT about sex – but which is totally, obviously, unquestionably and completely about sex.

“While reality TV has long been about the wanton drunken hookup — even series like The Real World, which started as a social experiment in cohabitation, quickly devolved into who’s-screwing-who — the new trend is all about keeping belts firmly buckled,” writes Breena Kerr for Rolling Stone. “Too Hot to Handle comes on the heels of another Netflix hit, Love Is Blind, which has cast members get engaged before they’ve ever laid eyes on one another. Even the most recent season of MTV’s Are You the One?, while not sex-free, incorporated a relationship coach to help its queer couples strengthen their bonds.” 

“In 2020, emotional horniness, it seems, is all the rage,” Kerr adds.

Like Kerr and the commentators she quotes, I’m calling bullshit on the notion these shows aren’t about sex – not that there’s anything wrong with a show about sex, mind you, but please don’t insult my intelligence by claiming that’s not what you’re giving me, Netflix and the rest of you platforms and networks.

“Too Hot to Handle is ostensibly about chastity, but it’s actually about sex more than any reality show I’ve seen in a while,” Danielle Lindemann, an associate professor of sociology at Lehigh University, told Kerr. “In the first episode, the cast members are all talking about how they want sex and are going to climb all over one another. They talk about sex all the time. There’s a guy comparing his penis to a can of air freshener.”

OK I’ll admit it: I’m a little curious to hear why this guy’s penis is like a can of air freshener. Just not curious enough to watch some dumpster fire of a reality TV show to hear how the analogy works.

Which Way do I Swipe to Turn Off the Reality TV?

These shows seem to be premised on the notion that the participants/contestants have all been going about finding love the wrong way and that they need to form deeper connections with their partners if their search for love is ever going to bear fruit.

As Chris Coelen, the creator of Love Is Blind, puts it, the idea was “we based the show on is that physical attraction is one of the least important things to the success of a long-term relationship.” 

“Study after study shows that,” Coelen added “And yet, I think as people date, physical attraction is right up front.”

As Kerr relates, though, the relationships established through this blind dating method don’t seem to hold up any better than ones founded in a singles bar on nickel beer night.

“Indeed, the bulk of Love Is Blind follows the couples as they settle into ‘normal’ life together and plan their nuptials, all while trying to reconcile a disquieting reality: The disembodied voices they fell in love with are somewhat different than the real people they belong to,” Kerr writes. “The couples who fare the best seem to be the ones whose emotional chemistry carries over quickly to the physical.”

Gee, you mean to tell me that sexual compatibility is important in relationships – and maybe meeting someone on a dumbass reality TV show, one that won’t allow them to explore their physical chemistry before trying to form a lasting relationship, isn’t that effective an approach to crafting a long term relationship after all?

Color me shocked.

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