Dating Wisdom We've Learned From Reality TV
By Sarah Crow Posted Jan 26th 2011 12:57PM
Since the early 1990s, when MTV rolled out the first season of its ever-enduring homage to voyeruism, 'The Real World,' reality television and its stars have become an inescapabale part of our cultural lexicon. From the waist-whittling starvation on 'Survivor' to the brutal effects of 'Bridalplasty,' we've come to see our own lives and the disturbing-yet-somehow-enviable lives of drunk, naked and carefree reality stars, through a new, maybe softer, lens.
Arguably, the most successful reality market is the dating segment, which has launched a number of successful, if short-lived, reality TV careers, as well as the platform on which many celebrities have reclaimed their success. Despite the pain, humiliation and abundant vomiting (we're looking at you, Bret Michaels) that so often comes along with finding love on TV, the struggles of these people, who are often so unlike any person you would have occasion to meet anywhere in our solar system, still strike a chord somewhere in the toughened, black knot we once called our heart. Inside, we reveal the greatest romantic insights we've learned from reality TV.
If you're reasonably attractive, there's no need to pretend you're not shallow.
For those of us who don't regularly visit the Playboy website, our first introduction to blond beauty Megan Hauserman was on 'Beauty and the Geek,' where the former Cyber Girl competed for -- and won -- $125,000 alongside adorably awkward teammate Scooter Zackheim. The aspiring something-or-other went on to use her good looks to woo Bret Michaels on the second season of 'Rock of Love,' but it wasn't until Hauserman was given her own show that her celebrity was confirmed. Hauserman and VH1 execs seemed to have their work cut out for them and didn't beat around the bush when it came to titling the show. 'Megan Wants a Husband?' Nah, too boring. 'Megan Wants a Guy With a 401(k) and a Jetta?' DREAM BIGGER. And thus, 'Megan Wants a Millionaire' was born.
Vomiting and making out go together like a weave and a bandana.
We like Bret Michaels. He's funny, a good musician and, from all appearances, a nice guy. So why did he spend three seasons mingling with some of the creepiest, most-backstabbing, least hygenic women this world has ever seen? Among our favorites of these lovely ladies was Marcia, the Brazilian firecracker whose love for Michaels was only matched by her love for tequila straight from the bottle. The combination of bumpy bus driving and cheap booze proved too much for Marcia on one occasion, causing some on-camera cookie-tossing, but Marcia was undeterred. Embodying Vince Lombardi's classic motto, "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up," the bubbly brunette moved quickly from losing her lunch to a lip-lock with Michaels -- all before she could brush her teeth.
It's OK to eliminate both of the final contestants from a dating show because, like magic, 30 more girls will line up to find out if you'll do the same to them.
Brad Womack may be handsome and charming, but math doesn't seem to be his strong suit. After eliminating both Jenni Croft and DeAnna Pappas in the final episode of his 'Bachelor' season, Womack found himself -- shocker! -- alone. But fear not for the good-natured entrepreneur, who, despite his bold (read: well-informed) choice, was given another chance at love on the 15th season of the show. With any luck, he's learned by now that 2-2 = 0.
Like twin birth, twin dating must happen at the same time.
Perhaps we should have been clued in to the inherent grossness of 'A Double Shot at Love' by the bachelorettes' self-imposed moniker the "Ikki Twins," but after Tila Tequila broke our hearts by eliminating Dani on the first 'Shot at Love,' we held out hope that something could be salvaged from those kiddie pools full of Jell-O and broken dreams. Unfortunately, it turns out that bisexual intrafamilial double-dating just isn't the fairy tale everyone makes it out to be.
People who weigh more than 110 pounds are worthy of love, but only if they provide constant reminders of their exact size.
America's obsession with weight has exploded into the reality TV market in recent years, with shows like 'Heavy' and 'I Used to Be Fat' joining the bevy of weight-loss series on TV. However, one reality show embraced the fullness of their contestants' figures, even going as far as to suggest that they were not only acceptable, but attractive, at their current weights. While we were never convinced that 'More to Love' would tip the scales in favor of a healthier body image for those who watched, we held out some hope that the show would, at the very least, err on the side of caution in its portrayal of the contestants. No such luck! Every testimonial shot of the contestants showed viewers not only contestants' names but their weights, in an effort to remind audiences just how unlike normal people the overweight are, even in a country where more than one-third of the population is obese. The kicker? Bachelor Luke ended up picking the girl with the lowest weight, who also just so happened to be a model.
Successful first dates for straight girls often begin with a married man and a gay guy.
Let's start by saying that 'Gay, Straight, or Taken' is somewhat of a misnomer for what's going on here. On this short-lived Lifetime reality show, a female contestant would go on a first date with three guys. If that doesn't set off your creep radar yet, this will: The girl's job was then to determine which of the men was straight and single, which one was straight and taken and which one was gay. Although it was never addressed, the gay contestant on the show was always in a relationship as well, but 'Gay and Taken, Straight and Taken, or Single and Looking' just doesn't have the same ring to it. After usually saying a bunch of silly and offensive things while making their determination ("Well, he does have nice eyebrows and like Rock Hudson movies..."), if the female contestant correctly identified the single, straight guy, the two got to do what most virtual strangers do on a second date: take a weeklong vacation together.
So, good luck in your romantic pursuits and remember, if there's a camera crew filming you, all bets are off. Put on your cowboy hat, take out your false teeth and let your freak flag fly. In the end, perhaps the most important take-away from reality TV is that no matter how difficult your personality, no matter how horrifying you, your significant other or the world at large considers your looks, or how upfront you are about being a total gold digger, there is not only hope, but abundant, drunken groping waiting for you in a lavish mansion somewhere.
- Jennifer Aniston
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