Five Truths About Reality Dating Shows

I had planned to write this week about "The Five Hidden Truths in Dating Shows." I was going to tell you all about how these programs look stupid but reveal real, useful information about relationships. Instead, I found five different kinds of truths about these shows. I got the idea after I was riveted by a line I heard in "Tough Love," the dating boot-camp reality show on VH1 that has the allegedly free-spirited Drew Barrymore among its producers. In the premiere episode, we are introduced to the eight "girls" including Stasha—a 33-year-old ballerina originally from Serbia who can also bench-press 200 pounds. After being censured for being too intimidating, Stasha says, "Just because you're comfortable playing a role doesn't mean the role is good for you." Or something full of wisdom like that. I can't remember the exact line because ever since that inspirational moment, I've been up to my ears in crap television trying to find the four other truths. (Article continued below...)

Let's just say, my search for truth on reality TV hasn't gone well. Please don't mock me for trying. But after repeated viewings of "Tough Love" as well as a DVR full of "Millionaire Matchmaker," "Cheaters," and Webisodes of "The Bachelor," my brain is atrophied, really. I am now more stupid than I was last week. This kind of television isn't a guilty pleasure. It's a toxic purveyor of the basest stereotypes about men and women. I'm serious—you could produce these same shows with finger puppets, a camcorder and 15 minutes' notice. The only kernel of truth I could find in those shows was the fact that people will do just about anything to be on TV. So here are the Five Hidden Truths That I Didn't Expect to Find, But Did:

1. Saying that you're "empowered" and have good self-esteem does not make it so.
According to The Self-Esteem Institute, signs of a healthy sense of self-worth manifest themselves in the following ways:

Does this remotely resemble the women on these shows who line up like cattle to be appraised and who voluntarily agree to be shocked with a buzzer if they say or do the wrong thing on a date? They say they're confident and proud, but chasing after a greased pig for a one-on-one date with Bret Michael is not an expression of self-esteem. It's the end of "The Stepford Wives III."

2. If you suspect your partner is cheating on you and you turn to the show "Cheaters" to find out, your relationship was doomed anyway. So save yourself the public humiliation and the sobbing.
I don't think I need to say more.

3. Despite what they say on those Geico commercials, cavemen are not sexy; they're sexist.
One of the rules posited by Patti Stanger, the "millionaire matchmaker" herself, is that "if you want to be in a healthy, loving, committed relationship, it is important to let the man lead the conversation in the beginning and ask the questions." I guess that's OK if you actually aspire to be arm candy; but equality and respect are fragile things, once you voluntarily give them away, they're really hard to get back.

4. If you limit your dating pool to millionaires, you are a gold digger.
Choosing a man by the amount of money he has is … well, just as bad as having guys who choose a woman by her cup size.

5. Weird is good.
I don't care what that matchmaker on "Tough Love" says. Weird is good. And you know why? Because we're all weird … every single one of us. It's what makes us lovable and unique and cool. If a man wants a Barbie doll, he can buy one at Wal-Mart for $9.98 and he'll get what he pays for. Same goes for us women, if you're looking for a man that's perfect, try a Ken doll. Maybe that's our next reality dating program: "Who Wants to Date Barbie?" Somehow that seems more honest than the shows we have now.