Litmus Test: Vh1 Dating Dish

by Web Intern

Last night I watched a few minutes of Real Chance at Love , the latest of the Vh1 surreality dating shows. I’d seen the string of similar shows (I Love New York, Flava of Love, Rock of Love, etc), all which draw upon Vh1’s recipe for low-low-culture, sex-driven fauxmance, and never imagined such slimy stuff could last as long as it has.

The premise for each of these shows is essentially the same–one, or, in Real Chance’s case, two, semi-celebrities invite a dozen or so bachelors/bachelorettes into their eccentric, soundstagey, SoCal home, where they compete to win dates, and, subsequently, the heart of their beloved. The concept is innocent enough, until the gimmicks fall in.

For instance, every series begins with the host du jour stripping contestants of their names, and replacing them with pseudonyms that are more parts objectifying cat-call than amorous pet name (ex: Junk, Hot Wings, and Mamacita). Once named, players jump right into competitions like last night’s scantily-clad version of Wrestle Mania: opportunities to flaunt what they’ve got and win more degrading face time with the head of the house.

Surprisingly, the female response to these shows (where male hosts are most common) that I’ve encountered has been equal parts adoration and disgust. Most women I know sneer at the inherent objectification (one even wrote a paper on the correlation between Vh1 dating shows and slavery), but, still, there are some who can’t get enough of it.

Maybe it’s escapism, or the enactment of bizarre, socially unaccepted fantasies. Maybe it has something to do with increasingly popular ‘downward spiral’ shows–televisual diaries for people who really need an intervention and a good hot cup of self-esteem (think The Girls Next Door, or that one about Adrian Curry and Peter Brady). But I don’t get it.

So, trusty BUSTies: what’s the response? How are women reacting? And, if any of you are fans, what’s the draw? Let BUST know!

~Anna C

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