Volume 95, Issue 62

Wednesday, January 23, 2002
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Ryan Moore is a one man Twilight Circus of dub

Screw love, gimme action!

Porn o' Plenty

Mayer caught with Dirtybird

Screw love, gimme action!

Molly Pop
Molly Duignan
A&E Editor

It's evolution, baby.

Once upon a time, people needed help finding Mr. or Ms. Right and televised dating shows seemed to reflect this.

In their genuine desire to meet someone worthy of relationship-dom, people sought out shows like the original Love Connection, where the audience helped choose which single would best suit the searching soul.

Bachelor number 1, 2 and 3 sat on the other side of a partition on The Dating Game, where the attractiveness of bachelors and bachelorettes was gauged entirely on the quality of their answers to select questions.

These shows held the viewer at bay, encouraging further commitment to the show by giving the warm, fuzzy feeling that it's actually possible to find true love.

These are the dating shows of the past, reflective of an era long ago lost. They have been replaced by the Jerry Springer-esque spectacles that presently frequent television listings.

So, if the shows on television are reflective of the audience who watches them, I guess one can assume the dating shows of the 80s and early 90s revealed that a large number of 20-somethings were sincerely searching for a person who shared their interests. People who – according to their video-bios – were tired of meaningless relationships and casual dating.

That said, what does it say about our generation, that subscribes religiously to the self-deprecating dating shows of the 21st century?

It seems increasingly popular to subject oneself to public humiliation in the form of getting into a hot-tub nude with a complete stranger on Blind Date – and that's only the first date.

On Change of Heart, one can see a struggling couple foaming at the mouth, while listening to the juicy details of one partner's adulterous date.

The Fifth Wheel, which airs immediately after Blind Date, along with the likes of Elimidate and Chains of Love, give contestants whirlwind opportunities to make a connection with somebody – anybody – in order to continue on the show.

On a larger scale are the shows dedicated to documenting the destruction of existing relationships in order to form newer, shorter-lived and less-meaningful ones.

Temptation Island, and shows like Love Cruise, take the dating game to the next level, isolating the aspiring actors – oops, I mean open-minded, unassuming couples and innocent singles – on a boat or an island resort to watch how many pieces their egos and life-long bonds can be broken into.

Three themes dominate the new breed of dating shows.

First, instead of actual relationships, contestants appear to be on a mission to get what they can as fast as they can. Second, the destruction, rather than the development, of lasting relationships is much more interesting to watch for contemporary audiences.

And thirdly, we've officially evolved into a world where voting people off a show based on the insecurities of others is completely acceptable.

So this is the evolution of the dating industry, as television will have it.

Love, once a coveted, perhaps less-commercially exploited emotion that fuelled inspiration for a new wave of game shows, has evolved into a spectator sport, where victory or loss is not nearly as important as the action the players provide.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001