It seems the reality TV show explosion hasn’t run its course yet. Millions of people are still glued to the boob tube, salivating as much as before. A lot of us still talk about Trishelle’s eating disorder on MTV’s the “Real World” and still hurl over the fact that Chandra downed slugs and shots of cow bile on “Fear Factor.”
The reality show concept was born merely as a 24-hour camera surveillance of diverse personalities crammed into a house together, but not long after, blossomed into much more. Television producers got smarter and started attaching themes to the reality, experimenting on their cast like rats in a maze for our viewing pleasure.
A theme that has mixed really well with the whole reality show concept is dating. Dating is such a salient concept in our society, and shows that focus on this topic capitalize on our desire to find true love, or at least sex. This desire is so powerful that countless singles are willing to put themselves in a vulnerable position, which results in audiences begging for more.
Dating shows are not a new concept however. Take the original “Dating Game” for instance, which was mildly racy for its day, airing from 1965 to 1974. It consisted of three bachelors ? unseen behind a curtain ? trying to win the hand of a lovely lady. All they had to do was answer questions like, “If we were marooned on a desert island, what’s the first thing you’d do and why?” Chaperones accompanied the couple on a date, but disappointingly, the viewers were not updated on the outcome.
And then there was the “Love Connection” which was on TV from 1981 to 1993. It gave singles a choice of three potential dates, with the twist being that audience members made the pick. Then, on the next show, the couple returned to report on whether they’d made a love connection. Viewers may have heard about a little nookie, but they certainly didn’t have the opportunity to witness it.
“Singled Out” was one of the more hip dating shows, popular in the ’90s, one with which more of us are probably familiar. With vixens like Jenny McCarthy and Carmen Electra flaunting their jugs throughout the episodes, it was a good pair with our afternoon Dunkaroos. A big group of people started off behind a curtain and were “singled out” by one lucky bachelor or bachelorette.
These shows have definitely proliferated the notion that dating is fickle. Most participants did not leave viewers confident that they had found their true loves and that they were going to marry. It was more about witnessing the awkwardness of first dates, the uncertainty of meeting someone and becoming attracted to them for the first time.
Today there are countless shows that pair reality with dating. Most of them are trashy and provide an excuse for audiences to make fun of participants’ vulnerability on screen. Here are some examples of dating shows that take us on journeys of sexual tension, exposure of emotion, occasional love at first sight and sometimes outright disrespect or incompatibility.
The most talked about show right now is probably “The Bachelor,” which is aired on ABC at 9 p.m. on Wednesday nights and is in its second season. The premise is that there is one bachelor who starts off dating 25 eligible ladies and has to eliminate them through rose ceremonies until he finds the one he would like to marry at the end of the season. The length of the encounter and the fact that there is marriage involved makes this show a little more serious and involving than the rest of them. The bachelor, whose name this season is Aaron, must go on group dates, single dates and meet parents in an effort to determine his future bride. Many girls are hurt along the way. You probably won’t want to take this show seriously if you have a sensitive heart. Bachelorettes are crushed left and right.
On the opposite side of the dating show spectrum is “Shipmates.” Chris Hardwick hosts a show, which sends a couple on a three day, two night date aboard Carnival Cruiseline’s Fun Ship.
It’s a date with no escape! Chris’ tongue-in-cheek humor along with the clever pop-ups commentating on the progress of the 72 hours is hilarious. If you want to see a lot of sexual tension and animosity, this is the show to watch. It is broadcast on UPN at 6 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.
Another trashfest show is “Blind Date,” which is on the WB at 11 p.m. on weeknights. This is a show where a guy and a girl hook up and go around town to see if they are right for each other. They do fun things like stuff chicken sausages together or take walks in the park. They usually go out to eat, as well. Like “Shipmates,” through out the date the television puts wise-cracked pop-ups about the people.
“Dismissed,” an MTV favorite, which is on at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, consists of a guy or girl on a date with two people. One unfortunate competitor is dismissed at the end of a pseudo-romantic night. The show “Elimidate” ? WUHF Rochester, 3 a.m. ? has the same premise, except that it has four suitors to one lucky single. The goal in both of these shows is to outsmart and out-flirt the competitors and be the last one standing.
“The 5th Wheel” takes the dating show idea to another level. It is hosted by Aisha Tyler who gives off a holier-than-thou attitude, cracking jokes on everyone between segments.
Here, two guys and girls date , then switch, and then a fifth wheel is introduced, causing tension to rise through the roof. At the end of the show, everyone picks who they want with one person left heartbroken. If you want to make fun of people or gawk at their fickleness, tune your dial to WGN Superstation at 2:30 p.m. weekdays.
And finally, “The Dating Story” fits the position as less trashy and more cutesy, as it is the The Learning Channel sister of “The Makeover Story,” “The Baby Story” and “The Wedding Story.” There are back to back shows on weekdays at 1 and 1:30 p.m., which consist of friends setting up friends who they predict will result in a match made from heaven. I am just waiting for one of these couples to show up on “The Wedding Story” one day.