Movie Mom

Movie Mom

‘Reality’ Dating: In the Dark and Overweight

posted by Nell Minow

I’m not a fan of reality shows about dating because they seem too artificial and everyone on them seems so self-obsessed (granted, inevitable given their constantly being asked how they feel). But two new variations are worth a mention.

Dating in the Dark takes the most superficial element of dating out of the equation. The couples meet with the lights off, and the idea is that this will keep them focused on the essentials. And that it will be fun to see what their reaction is when they finally see each other. But if one rejects another after getting a look, doesn’t that just underscore the essential superficiality of the attraction? And if we enjoy watching it, what does that say about us?

And then there is More to Love with a (euphemism alert) “husky” man looking for his “curvy” dream girl. Hosted by plus-size supermodel Emme, this show features a 26-year-old former college football offensive lineman turned contractor and developer who is 6’3″ and weighs over 300 pounds and twenty 20 women described as “voluptuous.” I have mixed feelings about this, but if it expands the notion of its participants (some of whom have never been on a date) and its audience about what and who is beautiful and lovable, that is unquestionably a good thing.

  • RGBush

    I like this show too…Chemistry is important and a factor, but given the opportunity to learn about the person first gives different perspective. Very thought provoking. Makes you want More.
    The only comment I have is, I want more and it would be great to have a follow up with the couples to see where they end up.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, RGBush! A great comment, and I agree that it is disappointing not to have a follow-up.

  • iorek

    I don’t know why you think that Dating in the Dark removes “the most superficial element” of dating; when you watch people hugging and kissing in the dark a few minutes after they’ve met for the first time, I think you’ve achieved new heights of superficiality. It’s like romance with a bag over your head.
    Besides, since when is sight a more superficial sense than touch? You can argue that a potential mate shouldn’t be rejected because they have a wart on their nose or 50 extra pounds, but on the other hand how can a mate be meaningfully chosen if you can’t see what their smile looks like, or what their eyes are telling you?
    Moviemom, I think you and ABC owe an apology to those of us who like to look.

  • Nell Minow

    Well, iorek, I have to agree with you to an extent, and admit I am married to an exceptionally attractive man. And I do not think getting physical too quickly is a good way for them to get to know one another. But most of the reality dating shows limit themselves to a limited notion of what makes a person attractive, and I like the idea of shifting the emphasis and having people get to know each other’s thoughts and feelings first, as a way to provoke some thinking on the part of the audience, if not the participants. You can hear and feel a smile just as well as you can see one.

  • Mary

    I haven’t missed an episode and I am FLOORED with the results thus far…….I am stunned that the women have all based their final decision on looks and the men have made their decisions based on substance and the connection that they made in the dark. We women have always prided ourselves on the exact opposite than what is transpiring on this show. Furthermore, most women would bet that a man would choose looks over personality and yet this show proves the exact opposite as well. I am embarrassed for us women….we are proving to be shallow while the men outclass us……….

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Mary! A great comment. It is these surprises that make the show fun.

  • Your Name

    I saw the show for the first time last night. There were 2 episodes, back to back. The first episode gave me a good feeling about the possibility that two people can be attracted to each other and consider the potential for dating before seeing each other. Chrissy, the black girl, was liked by the guy ( I can’t think of his name). I’m very much a Christian as well, but I can understand why the guy wouldn’t consider her. He really liked her but couldn’t get past how deeply spiritual she was. I would want a Christian as well- or someone as religious as I am. The blonde guy with the curly hair, he was so used to dating small-framed blonde women, and the woman he was paired up with was the opposite, and yet he ended up with her at the end, and that brought a smile to my face. It made me think there’s the possibility of someone being appreciated despite the physical, after all.
    But the second episode I saw ( the same one above- the july 20 episode) that came on last night, brought me back to reality. It saddened me and actually made me think about myself. I really felt for the guy that was rejected that didn’t have what the woman wished he had; the perfect body, a scruffy beard and perhaps a little bit older, even though she liked everything else about about him. Before the physical, she came to like him. They had the same dreams, the same goals. He was a good sweet man. She even said no other guys she meets talks about wanting to settle down and have kids, which is what she wants. This man wants that as well. Then she saw him and was disappointed. That man is me, every day of my life. Perhaps I’ll watch other episodes, but the second one really saddened me.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks for the comment! I think that the show does tap into some important issues. One reason that online relationships can get intense very quickly is that they can be a way of exploring people’s essence, liberated from appearance-related distractions. This was the case for a disabled member of our family whose appearance had always been a barrier to relationships. But there are some important risks in these kinds of relationships because we tend to project subconsciously our own wishes on to the parts of the person we don’t see. And without our ability to look each other in the eye and pick up signals, it is harder for us to tell when someone is not being completely truthful. So I think it is interesting to experiment with truly “blind” dating but ultimately it is just a gimmick that tells us more about ourselves than it tells the participants about each other.

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