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Category Archives: reality tv

Millionaire Matchmaker Does Bi Woman Wrong

Millionaire Matchmaker

Image by freeloosedirt via Flickr

Watching Millionaire Matchmaker is my most guilty pleasure. Though Patti Stanger abuses her clients and makes off-the-wall mismatches, it’s great fun, and once in awhile she does hit one out of the park. She did it last night, matching a Christian farmer millionaire from Indiana with a wholesome former 4-H girl — and in the heart of LA–who’da thunk it?! These two seem headed for the aisle. Her other project this week, though, wasn’t just a bust — it was, IMO, a crime.

An adorable millionaire named Tricia who recently left her cheating husband told Patti with conviction that she wanted to check out her “bi-curious” nature. After sending the girl to a shrink to be sure she wasn’t just temporarily angry at men (groan!), Patti actually did a fantastic job of inviting  a bunch of A-list bi and lesbian women, and a few men, to Tricia’s mixer. She ended up choosing to date Tyler, a smokin’ hot  butch who claimed she’d “flipped” many a straight girl. When Tricia didn’t feel sparks on their date, though, she and Patti both decided in a New York minute that she was unequivocally straight.

Hello? When a hetero couple doesn’t hit it off right away, Patti doesn’t send them to the nearest gay bar; she finds them more hets to choose from. Plus, the reason Tricia didn’t drool over Tyler the way I (and no doubt every femme in SF) did is because she’d unwittingly screwed up the date by taking Tyler roller-skating; Tyler could handle it, but barely. Skating was something she was obviously not very competent or confident doing. Thus, on their first date Tyler was effectively emasculated .

This butch was the type who’d show a femme a great time, but here she had to spend most of her energy keeping herself vertical without appearing spastic. Meanwhile, Tricia showed off her repertoire of roller-skating tricks. What a sad waste of butch energy! If Patti knew the least little thing about butch/femme dynamics she would have seen what the problem was and sent these two off to climb a short hill with a picnic at the peak. Tyler, unthreatened, would have easily swept Tricia off her feet, something she couldn’t do with the babe on roller skates! I can envision her assisting Tricia up the rocky terrain with a chivalrous hand, the way a super butch once helped me, then putting down a blanket in a clearing and pouring the wine.

Tricia deserves another shot or three at women — unless the whole point was to reassure herself she’s not bi or gay. Straight girls do that. Ask any heartbroken butch who was a straight girl’s first and was later dumped for “the real thing.”

If I were a millionaire, I’d save Tyler’s butch ego by calling Patti about a date with her. I would only do it, of course, for that reason, to save Tyler’s ego.  As everyone knows, I’m straight.

Television

Idiot box. Boob tube. Little blue screen. Television: It’s bad for us. It scrambles our brains, makes us passive, kills creativity and eats up time. To most people, though, it’s irresistible.

Until I got older and began spending so much time alone in silent apartments, I wasn’t into random viewing at all. My family  got our first tv set when I was four, and even then I remember being restless and bored when it was on. When the whole family came together to watch The Ed Sullivan Show or Dinah Shore, it was such a rare event that I’d stay just to be in the same room with them, but I found it almost painfully difficult to sit still. (Maybe it was their choice of programming, come to think of it!)  I did like Jackie Gleason and Red Skelton, but most television bored me.

Now I couldn’t live without it. When I used the phrase “random viewing,” I meant that (1) I didn’t keep it on if I wasn’t actually watching;  (2) I never, but never, turned it on before dark; and (3) I only turned it on to watch a specific show, about which I was often obsessional. These were few in number; usually one or two shows a season grabbed me and I couldn’t miss a single episode—and we had no copying apparatus then. (I remember being freaked out lest I  go into labor with my daughter during the anxiously awaited final episode of The Fugitive.)

Since I love to make lists, I’m always looking for new topics. Herewith is one of the tv shows I’ve been insanely attached to over the years. If they seem like a lot, remember, we’re talking about a time period of fifty years. Half a century. Good Grief!

Sitcoms

Father Knows Best (I was ten-plus and wanted to be “Kitten.”)
All in the Family
M.A.S.H.
Mary Tyler Moore (#1)
Golden Girls
Kate & Allie
Cheers
Frasier
Seinfeld
Roseanne (in reruns only)

Dramas

The Fugitive
Doctor Kildare
The Lou Grant Show
Hill Street Blues
Cagney & Lacey (#1)
Law & Order (still!)
Knots Landing (guilty pleasure)
L.A. Law (in reruns–it ran opposite Knots)
Judging Amy
House (getting ready to retire this one soon; it’s going downhill)

Reality

Lately I find myself much more interested in reality shows – though some are truly unbearable – than in fictional tv. I’m just more curious about what real-ish people are doing these days (as much as they can be real on tv).

Wife Swap (actually I can no longer bear this, it’s vile; I used to like it until it devolved into real slime, and I needed to take a shower afterwards)

Top Chef
Kate and her 8 Kids, in whatever format
Supernanny
Millionaire Matchmaker with the crazed Patty Stanger
Animal Planet
(lots of shows that keep changing. Some favorites are Animal Cops, It’s Me or The Dog, Parolees and Pit Bulls, and #1, Pit Boss)

Then There’s Radio…

I’ve got NPR on 99% of the time, and occasionally KFOG. Now, Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m., I’ll be switching on KPFA for Robbie Osmon’s Across the Great Divide. Robbie chooses a topic from the past week and puts together two fantastic hours that express the theme. He knows every genre of music; he plays corny country, old rock n’ roll, and obscure artists with cult followings. GREAT stuff!) (Except that he began today with four, yes, 4! versions of We Shall Overcome, which he has been playing every single week lately! I suppose it’s appropriate, given the times.

Millionaire Matchmaker

I’ve been working on a list of books, movies, tv, and podcasts that I ingested in 2010, but it’s gotten to be quite exhausting, and I might not finish. I see I was being overly ambitious to think I could review or even briefly comment on every single piece of cultural flotsam and jetsam that came my way in the course of a year, and I’m probably going to omit many of them, and list some without any commentary. In the meantime, I offer this teaser, a fluffy commentary on my favorite fluffy reality show.

Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo. Patti Stanger, a “third generation matchmaker,” or yenta as they were known in the shtetl, takes on millionaires (of either gender) and finds their soul mates for them. Patti’s m.o. is to hold a “mixer” to which she invites a pre-screened select group of potential mates to mingle with “her” millionaires, as she calls them; at the end of the evening the clients select one person for a “master date” (which she articulates utterly poker-faced).

Not only are many of her clients out of their minds, so is Patti. Disobey one of her numerous rules and you’re “out of my club! Now! Out, out!” The show’s teaser says matchmaking takes “a lot of patience,” but this gal’s a fuse that blows whenever a client makes a misstep – which they frequently do. And yet, Patti turns out to be right every time: when a client disobeys her, he or she suffers consequences far beyond exile from the club: whatever they did, Patti triumphantly declares, is to blame for their miserable state of singlehood.

Patti’s punky assistants are a young man with a huge black mohawk and his wife, who, not to be outdone in the hair department, sports a hot-dog shaped roll of bright purple bangs upon her forehead. When these two started out with Patti they were somewhat shy, but by now they’ve adopted the boss’s bold style and attitude, to the point where they can blithely tell someone he’s “creepy” without mussing a spike or a curl.

The whole gang recently moved their headquarters from LA to Manhattan, where they freely toss out observations about the differences between the cities. Briefly, LA women are blonder, better dressed and physically maintained, but a little ditzy; New York women are quick and sharp, but dismal dressers and too aggressive with men. New York, in contrast to LA, is teeming with acceptable-plus single men, but unfortunately their response to female aggression has been to lie down and take it. Thus, confusion reigns on the New York dating scene – but not to fear: Patti’s on the case. After persuading a few women to change their dress style, she proclaimed her conquest over the City of New York. Yes, Patti is certifiable —  but it’s all very entertaining.

Kate Gosselin Goes It Alone

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Whatever else you might think of her, Kate Gosselin is one tough lady. Just a year after her very public breakup with hubby Jon, she’s back on television doing what she does best: running around with her little munchkins, laughing and loving and being bubbly for her audience.

Sunday night Kate Plus 8 premiered, followed by “Inside Kate’s Worlds,” which, unfortunately, I fell asleep during, and hope to catch on a rerun. Kate Plus 8, though, was the usual fun stuff: the sextuplets are now six, getting up there, and still unbelievably adorable; the twins are really getting up there; Mady’s still jealous of the gifts and attention bestowed on her younger siblings; and they went on yet another fabulous trip, this time to Discovery Cove, where they rode on the backs of dolphins, saw alligators, and fed parrots perched on their shoulders. The biggest change I discerned was the size of Kate’s boobs: I’m quite certain they weren’t as big, nor was her cleavage as deep, before. Even with a few weeks devoted to dancing (or trying), a year is plenty of time to get a boob job.

In an attempt to prove to the world that, despite Jon’s efforts to shut down the show by claiming the kids hated it, the crew’s arrival was a surprise to them. They were totally ecstatic, hugging the guys and shouting happily, “Back to normal!” One of them said something about Kate being “eliminated” (from Dancing with the Stars no doubt) so now things could be normal again. I noticed Mady’s face was not quite as joyful as everyone else’s at first sight of the cameras; this kid wears her heart on her sleeve, and might be taking on the family role of The One Who Feels for everyone else.

Of course, there’s no way to know for sure if this moment was rehearsed or not, but I’m inclined to believe it was real, mainly because I don’t believe much of what Jon says about anything. As time goes on it becomes more and more obvious that Jon’s a slimy, selfish prick. During their painful period of separating, I was desperately hoping, for the sake of the kids, that they’d reconcile. But now I think Kate is better off without him. She’s a dynamic, charismatic, energetic woman who deserves the chance to flourish. I never suspected Jon was holding her back, but seeing her today, and how she’s pulling through, tells me otherwise. Yes, she was pretty nasty to him at times – but maybe he deserved it. It’s hugely ironic, but the Gosselins have restored my faith in divorce.

Kate premieres in a new reality program, Twist of Kate, in the fall. It’s going to be interesting to see her life with her children as it continues to unfold.

Jon and Kate Plus 8

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Sextuplets

If I’d asked a random sampling of people as recently as a month ago if they’d ever watched Jon & Kate Plus 8, they’d stare at me blankly – but that was BT, Before Tabloids. BT, Jon & Kate Plus 8 was a half-hour weekly reality show on TLC that followed the lives of the Gosselins, a family of twins and sextuplets. We saw them doing the mundane—from breakfast to potty training—as well as the exciting—trips to Aspen, Hawaii, and Disneyland, paid for, I assume, by the sponsoring resorts in exchange for publicity.

Now, AT—After Tabloids—almost everyone’s heard of the hypocritical, shameful, exploitative—choose your poison—Gosselins: Jon’s “affair,” with a teacher he met in a bar, Kate’s “affair” with her bodyguard, Jon’s immaturity, Kate’s bitchiness. In the space of a few months the Gosselins have gone from being a much admired, church-going Christian-values family to a pair of child abusers and their little victims. I do not exaggerate: Kate’s book pages on Amazon bear this kind of commentary. On forums and chat groups all overMultiple Blessings cover cyberspace they’re talking about the Gosselins. People who’d never heard of the show before tuned in to watch the season premiere, giving the show the biggest share of the Memorial Day tv audience. A good many of these new viewers confess they feel uneasy, like voyeurs, watching “this train wreck.”

I have no such qualms: I’ve been watching the show since its inception three years ago. It’s the only reality program I watch: I ran into it surfing and fell instantly in love with the sextuplets. Now five, Alexis, Hannah, Leah, Aaden, Joel, and Collin, are the most adorable munchkins I’ve ever seen. If there were just one of them, or even two, as in the case of their older twin sisters, Cara and Mady, they’d still be gorgeous, with their mixed Korean-Caucasian heritage—but it’s the group dynamic that makes them so captivating. They don’t look alike, and their personalities are each unique–but they’re roughly the same size, and when they’re running around chattering and playing with each other…as I said, I’m in love.

As much as I enjoyed watching the kids grow up, at some point I began to wonder how these children were going to feel when they were old enough to realize that their lives have been meticulously documented and publicized. My own kids have given me grief for some of the pictures I took of them; how was Alexis going to feel, as a teenager, seeing reruns of her potty training on national television? How will Collin feel when his first girlfriend says she saw him rubbing chocolate pudding all over his naked belly as a toddler? I assuaged my fears by reasoning that the show would end once the kids passed the age of adorable—coming any minute now—and maybe reruns would end by the time they become teenagers. At least I hope so. I seem to have become heavily invested in the fate of these children.

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One of the constant themes on the program is Kate’s domineering control—of her kids, the food they eat, her house, and Jon. She’s a major control freak, phobic about germs and dirt: she told a potential housecleaner that she washes the kitchen floor three times a day. The stuff with Jon, though, is what gets everyone bananas. At times I ‘ve winced, she’s so bad: interrupting him, ridiculing him, correcting his grammar, criticizing his parenting, throwing him out of my kitchen. Jon would roll his eyes or make droll remarks that seemed to pass right over Kate’s head. Once, she attacked him for breathing too heavily next to her ear; he responded with a gentle tongue-in-cheek, “I’m sorry for breathing, dear.

During the course of the program the Gosselins outgrew their digs twice and moved; they now live in a huge country mansion on acres and acres of wooded land. Kate once said when she found out she was having sextuplets she’d lie around staring at her outsized belly, thinking, We won’t even be able to afford to take them to an amusement park. Hah! The sextuplets have been to more upscale resorts in their first five years than I’ve been to in my entire life. I don’t begrudge them the money, though, not a whit: they need the humungous house, I’m glad they can afford organic food, and I’m sure they’re socking some away for college educations. Of course, much of the public invective against the Gosselins has been about the money.

Get over it, people! Stop your knee-jerk, self-righteous judging and take a look at what’s really happening to this family.

gosselins-1It’s true that Kate spouts annoying Christian homilies—and I give the producers credit for keeping the religious jargon to a minimum. She also claims everything she does is for the children, when it’s clear that Kate herself is thriving on the career she’s been handed as Sextomom (If Octomom’s a word, isn’t Sexto?) I don’t begrudge her the career, the money, or her enjoyment of it. I do, however, find fault with the hypocrisy.

Early on it occurred to me that separation of these parents would be devastating on every level. I come from the 1970s, when divorce was all the rage and we justified it by claiming kids were better off with divorced than unhappy parents. What bullshit!--which I learned when I jumped on the divorce bandwagon myself; many studies have subsequently backed me up. I no longer regard divorce when kids are involved as a great option, but as a last resort. For these particular parents, everything and anything should be tried before going that route. And one thing that should really be tried is to get the hell off television.

large_gosselinsThe papparazzi have taken up permanent residence across the street from the Gosselin’s fabulous new home. Everywhere Kate and the children go, the ghouls follow with their cameras. She taught the kids to call them “P”, not wanting five-year-olds to get a false sense of self-importance, or to tell people “The papparazzi follow me.” On the premiere, as the entourage walked into a store to buy birthday decorations, the ghouls were out in full force snapping their cameras: yesterday the picture was on the cover of Star with a headline saying something like Kids beg Daddy not to go! Afraid of Control Freak Mom! Right. Little Joel is afraid of Kate. Alexis is cowering under her bed. Oh, Puh-leez! Anyone who believes this claptrap has to be pretty dim.

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Things can only get worse. Even if Kate and Jon patch things up, he isn’t happy living his life out loud anymore, while she’s adamant about continuing for the kids, despite the fact that she obviously can’t handle this kind of fame. More important, the children are being enveloped in a toxic atmosphere. Mady and Cara are pre-pubescent. They must surely be aware that the whole world is judging their parents, calling Jon immature and Kate a holy bitch.

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Off screen, Kate could still have her Sextomom career, writing her books and speaking to church groups and such. Jon complains about being stuck home alone with the kids when she tours, but they can certainly afford help. And if he hates it so much, let him go back to work—he had a good job before fame and fortune induced him to leave the mundane work world behind. Jon’s the kind of guy who’d be happier in that mundane world than as a stay-at-home-dad. And at this point, he could probably name his own terms.

Eight FacesI’m probably no better than the rest of the yentas, weighing in with my opinions and judgments. In my defense, I really do care about the kids. I don’t fully blame Jon or Kate for the way things have devolved; how many of us can say we’d do any better if suddenly thrust into a worldwide spotlight? How many of us could handle the intense scrutiny of others? I’m certain I wouldn’t be as graceful as Kate under her circumstances. Not to mention raising eight kids! Hello, strait-jacket!

Jon and Kate, it’s probably none of my business, but by being public with your lives you’ve made it so. I really hope you guys can work things out. Get the hell off the boob tube. Go see a counselor—and not a priest, for godsakes, but a skilled marital therapist. Be brutally honest with yourselves and with one another. Your kids deserve it. You deserve it. If it turns out you simply can’t stay together, so be it—at least you’ll be able to say you gave it your best shot.

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