Flashback Friday: Boy Meets Boy (2003)

For the most part, I dislike reality television. The manipulation by the powers that be makes me feel like I am being used for ratings. However, there is a certain segment of the genre that also pushes boundaries and opens doors.

The 2003 reality dating competition show, Boy Meets Boy aired on the Bravo network. Hosted by Dani Behr, James Getzlaff was the potential romantic partner of 15 men. As is standard for the subgenre, each vied for his attention and heart. In the end, he would choose one and perhaps walk into the sunset with him. Assisting James in the process was his bestie, Andra Stasko.

The twist is that some of the “mates” as they were called, were straight. If James chose one of the gay mates, they would win a cash prize and a vacation to New Zealand. If he chose a mate who was heterosexual and pretending to be gay, James would walk away empty-handed.

In a sense, it was progressive, given when it aired. Seeing the LGBTQ community as fully-fledged human beings was still a relatively new idea at the time. However, it was still a reality show, and questionable as to how “real” it was.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Flashback Friday: Work Out (2006-2008)

There are very few workplaces in which reality television has not touched.

The Bravo reality show Work Out aired from 2006 to 2008. The follow-up to another series from the network, Blow Out, the program follows Beverly Hills gym owner Jackie Warner as she both runs her business and deals with issues in her private life. As with every program in the genre, there is lots of drama that is supposed to draw the viewer in and keep them engaged.

Back then, it was appealing. It was a mixture of the beautiful people and their problems. Whether or not those problems were real or manufactured for the camera is another thing entirely. But just because I watched then does not mean I would watch it now.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Throwback Thursday: The Millionaire Matchmaker (2008-2015)

When we can’t find love on our own, it is tempting to look to a matchmaker to find that special someone.

The Millionaire Matchmaker aired on Bravo from 2008-2015. Premiering shortly after Confessions of a Matchmaker, wealthy singles hired professional matchmaker Patti Stanger to help them find their other half. Once a client was accepted into the organization, Patti and her staff went through the process of introducing him or her to potential dates. Known as being dedicated and perhaps a bit abrasive, she has made it her life goal to spread love as far and wide as she can.

Anyone who has entered the dating pool knows that it can be hit or miss. Similarly, fans of reality television understand that what they are watching is not as authentic as it seems. I would categorize The Millionaire Matchmaker as a guilty pleasure. We want to root for the subjects of each episode, even when they are repulsive or need a reality check.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Flashback Friday: The Rachel Zoe Project (2008-2013)

The balance between one’s work life and one’s personal life is not always 50/50. Sometimes, there has to be a push and pull between the time we spend at the office and the time we spend at home.

The reality show, The Rachel Zoe Project, aired on Bravo from 2008-2013. The program followed celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe as she expanded her business while she maintained her marriage and her need to be a mother.

While it was on the air, it was reasonably compelling. There was enough narrative meat to keep the viewer engaged. But looking back, it has a “look at me” quality that I find to be presently unappealing. Like all reality television, the line between “reality” and amped up drama is not quite clear.

Do I recommend it recommend it? Not really.

My Unorthodox Life Review

Walking away from the family we were raised in and the world that we have known our entire lives is not easy. In the world of Orthodox Judaism, the term is called “off the derech“.

The new Netflix reality show, My Unorthodox Life, follows the life of former Orthodox Jew and businesswoman Julia Haart. Living in New York City with her second husband and three of her four children, the viewer is introduced to the tug of war between Haart’s previous life in Monsey and her current day to day life.

After watching a few episodes, I can understand why some Orthodox Jewish women are annoyed by how their community is portrayed, I think the viewer has to take into account that this is Haart’s perspective. I like the mental health aspect of the series, addressing how many women in conservative or fundamentalist may feel trapped by the constraints of their gender and the rules of their gender. I also liked how positively Judaism is portrayed. Though Haart is no longer Orthodox, she is still Jewish and not afraid to be open about it. It is educational without hitting the audience over the head.

It has the gloss of a Bravo reality show, but it is slightly less trashy and not as much of a brain drain as other programs in the genre.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

My Unorthodox Life is available for streaming on Netflix.

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