Reality shows like dating in the dark
It would have to take place under carefully controlled laboratory conditions, rather than poolside.It would have to include input and insight from the type of bright, articulate researchers who have faces made for radio and voices made for telegraph.The concept is that three couples live in a house, segregated from one another unless they are in the "dark room," which through the miracle of TV allows us to see the contestants though they cannot see one another.Through a series of "dates" (which amount, in many cases, to a lot of purposeful groping) in that room, they pair off based on who they believe they are most compatible with. The big denouement comes when the lights go up -- for 15 seconds they see one other -- and then each half of the pair must decide whether to continue groping.And that's a surprise, considering my first thought when I saw the ABC promo: Boy, is this going to suck.After all, the idea itself seemed stupid even by reality TV standards.Naturally, to add drama, one party waits on a balcony to see whether his or her potential life mate appears triumphantly or hightails it away from the house via the front door (visible from the balcony) with a suitcase. In the first episode, the contestants got a sketch artist to draw what they thought their dates looked like.In one case, the man's rendition of what his female companion looked like was uncannily accurate, while the same woman obviously mistook her date for Brad Pitt, while he looked a whole lot more like Al Pacino.
Billing this as something we've never seen before is incredibly dishonest.
This week, we've decided to give Media Reviews for Media People columnist Larry Dobrow a chance to find his most compatible fellow reviewer. I knew I'd met a kindred journo soul in Judy when, upon the occasion of our first electronic interaction, she opined that one of the individuals profiled on the previous night's "Intervention" might've had some issues.
Inspired by ABC's "Dating in the Dark," we set Larry and Ad Age Managing Editor Judann Pollack against each other to see if their opinions of summer dating shows would match up. I concurred, adding that said individual would be a fine candidate for intensive therapy or televised courtship of Flavor Flav.
We agreed to monitor this and other reality shows for similar insight into the human condition, and report dutifully on our findings. Still, after we clashed over "The Real Housewives of New Jer-Z" (she called them "classless consumerists," I called them "former neighbors"), I began to wonder if we were truly as pop-culturally simpatico as previously suspected.
Hence she suggested -- nay, double-dog-dared me into -- a dance-off over one of the summer's gauzy reality offerings.
So I thought, why not, with "Dating in the Dark," put our TV-viewing compatibility to the real test?