Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where Dating Shows Have Never Gone Before.....and NEVER Should Have

Once upon a time, there was "The Dating Game". Fans tuned in during primetime TV hours to watch a contestant ask three hopefuls questions in order to choose one of them for the covetted date. Simple concept, neatly packaged in thirty minutes.

Then, a decade later, we got "Love Connection". Why not bring in audience participation AND a description of the date we never got to see with its predecessor? Instead of the euphoric and hope-filled meeting scenario, why not find out what happens AFTER that, for better or for worse? Oh, and with the added bonus of Chuck Wollery asking the questions that drags the dirt out from under the rug?

Could they ever have seen where that was ultimately going? If they could, Chuck would have been booted from the business long before any of the participants picked their potential partners.

I blame VH1.

Ok, I fully admit that shows with variations on "The Bachelor" certainly did contribute to the out-of-control spiral these programs have taken. Who can forget "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?" and its disasterous results? However, VH1 had to take that giant leap into the completely ridiculous first with "The Flavor of Love". VH1 forced its audience to watch Flava Flav in "The Surreal Life", and the network should have noticed something about his completely incomprehensible train of thought there. Instead, the creators of VH1's programming decided to focus the scrutinizing lens on the frightening "convenience of the moment" relationship that "blossomed" between Flava Flav and Brigitte Nielson. It was only a matter of connecting a few dots before you got "The Flavor of Love"--and more than one cycle to boot. Then, because VH1 realized that the network couldn't justify the break-up of every one of Flava Flav's love connections, whether staged or genuine, so someone must have thought "why not bring in a chick-oriented version?" and "who better to use but someone completely outrageous from the previous show?" Voila--born is "I Love New York", currently in it's second run. And, for the rockers out there, so you don't feel left out, your consolation prize was "The Rock of Love" with Bret Michaels.

Each one of those shows had its share of hard-core personalities, cutting their way to the top, mostly for fame and recognition than the subject of the program. There were outrageous moments, people and events you don't expect, and lots of alcohol to go around.

However, nothing compares to "A Shot at Love" with Tila Tequila. NOTHING. Gotta give it to MTV for taking a VH1 concept and infusing just enough of Jerry Springer into it to truly take it to a level it never should have gone. It's actually a lot like that scene in "A Christmas Story" where the kids are standing by the pole and one of them is daring another one to press his tongue onto the frozen metal surface to see if it will stick. The two of them are going back and forth in the "I dare you" volley, until one of them skips the "I triple dare you" and goes for the "I triple dog dare you" instead. What happens? The kid is forced to lick the lamppost and out comes the fire brigade to get it off. Similarly, MTV skipped the seemingly logical next step in the process and creating a same-sex dating show and went straight for the absolutely outlandish in the form of Tila Tequila. Tila apparently is having trouble choosing between men and women, so MTV jumped on that and created a dating free for all where men and women compete for Tila's love. More alcohol than ever before, a physical fight after every elimination, and participants who make you wonder where they came from (and when they will be returning there so we never have to see them again).

Yet another reason why networks like VH1 and MTV should go back to doing what those little letters stand for--showing music videos, featuring musical performances, and generally staying entirely out of the creative programming world.

15 comments:

courtney said...

you forgot Strange Love! They got FOUR seasons of out Flav. Surreal Life, Strange Love with Brigitte, and then two seasons of Flavor of Love... sigh. Four too many, if you ask me.

Bridget said...

The sad part of all this is not so much that VH1 and MTV show these programs, but more so that people actually watch them. What is happening to this world? Since when do people surf through the channels to find the crappiest program possible? Remember when networks actually tried to put out good quality shows because that's what got viewers? That is so not the case anymore. It's really sad how dumbing things down to the trashiest level possible is what is most successful. P.S. I miss the music videos...BRING THEM BACK! And not just at 6am because I'm still asleep then.

DanaLee said...

I am so glad to hear others are repulsed by these shows. I always hear my grammy's voice saying "Who watches that smut!" when I click past and it's on. I seriously thought maybe I had just become a giant prude or had finally become too old to watch these channels.

M@ said...

You've put a lot of thought into this, pilgrimchick.

I'm going to post about all the "goddman" World War II coverage on the History Channel. It really chafes my rawhide....

M@ said...

I never liked that show when I caught some of it between channels. Lots of very smarmy younger folks. Is THAT how you're supposed to act on a date? No wonder I don't have a television show.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

We had 'Blind Date' for many years here in Britain. They were just publicity seekers.

Kat said...

While it was neither on VH1 or MTV, you forgot to mention Temptation Island. Proof that dating shows could really sink no lower.

booda baby said...

It's weird. Programmers aren't idiots, but neither have they ever - EVER - felt any obligation at all to put anything on that raises the bar.
For all of the audience sophistication (and there definitely is a lot of that; boy, people want their production values), it's amazing how many viewers STILL forget or ignore the fact that there are PEOPLE behind what they're watching. People choosing their idea for them.

(Can you believe I'm a liberal?) I just wish the viewers would step up and take SOME fricking responsibility. This writers' strike is good.

anonymous jones said...

I'm in shock. Sounds awful. And I thought our humble "The Farmer Wants a Wife" was bad!

Rose said...

"The Farmer Wants A Wife" is bad - the very title makes it sound like they came up with a working title and forgot to come up with something better before releasing it.

Woe. Tila Tequila? Television in general makes me want to cry.

Raphael said...

I have no problem with the old school dating game because the producers were interested in hooking people up. The new dating games only care about the rating by creating drama among the contestants. Of course the contestants are looking attentions and to be on television.

And yeah, VH1 and MTV should get back to showing music videos. They need to get back to basic. Their names are false advertisements.

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Zero said...

MTV, VH1, etc., they all suck.

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dear friend

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aka AngelDust

Francis said...

The traditional dating shows were better. Nowadays the actors that show dating with drama carry the day.