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.
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.
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.
When it comes to talk shows, it’s popularity is based on the host as much as it is based on the guests or the format.
Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen has been on the Bravo schedule since 2009. Hosted by Andy Cohen, this late night talk show welcomes celebrities and pop culture luminaries. The topics usually center on what is going on in the world of Hollywood and entertainment. Instead of the usual late night talk show format in which only the host can ask questions, questions come from fans via social media and the telephone.
Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen is a pleasure to watch. I don’t watch this program very often, but when I do, I find that I am smiling. Andy is very personable, the topics and guests are a little off beat and I love the interactive aspect of the show.
The reality show genre has exploded over the past fifteen years or so. Every sub-genre under the term of “reality show” has had it’s day in the sun, for better or for worse.
Blow Out aired on Bravo from 2004-2006. The show followed the lives and careers of the staff of Jonathan Salon and the salon’s owner, Jonathan Antin. As with any reality show, the drama and personality differences between the participants created the narrative.
As I recall at the time, Blow Out was just another reality show. I understand the appeal of this genre, especially after a long day of work or school. Your brain has been pushed to the max all day and you just want to watching television that requires a little less thinking. However, as I recall, there was nothing special about Blow Out and in the end, it was nothing more than free marketing for the salon’s products and services.
Among the television spawn of the reality genre, there is none so compelling or mind numbing (depending on your point of view) than the competition program.
Shear Genius aired on Bravo from 2007 to 2010. Hosted during the first season by Jaclyn Smith and by Camila Alves (the other half of Matthew McConaughey) during the final two seasons, the purpose of the competition was to find the best hairdresser among the contestants. Each week, the contestants were challenged to create a unique hairstyle, but were forced to do so under restricted conditions. At the end of the reason, one contestant was named the winner.
Looking back, Shear Genius was not all that great. It was just another reality competition program where the competition was set in the world of hair styling. The only bright was Tabatha Coffey, who was named as fan favorite and had her own spin-off show, Tabatha Takes Over.
These days, there is a slew of makeover shows on television.
In 2007, Project Runway‘s Tim Gunn became the star of his own reality show, Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style (2007-2008). Co-hosted by Veronica Webb in the first season and Gretta Monahan in the second season, the subject of each episode goes through the standard head to toe reality show makeover. As long as each participant follows Gunn’s rules for fashion, they are allowed to express themselves via the clothes they choose to wear.
There is a reason why this program lasted only two seasons. Though Gunn is well respected in the fashion industry, the show was just a little too cookie cutter to survive in the cutthroat world of reality television.
A generation ago, reality television was something new and different. These days, every network is eagerly adding reality television to their programming schedule. Bravo is no different.
In 2006, the network introduced a new series to audiences: The Real Housewives of Orange County. The series followed the lives of a group of upper class women living in Southern California. Seeing that audiences were responding to the program, the executives began to expand the series to other cities. In the 13 years that Real Housewives have been on the air, the series has expanded to eight other cities and continues to be a staple of the Bravo schedule.
I have to admit that I watched Real Housewives for the few seasons. It was engaging, if not a little mind numbing. But then I got bored and stopped watching because each new spin-off was a replica of the previous season and city.
For many, the allure of running your own business and being your own boss seems like a dream come true. But underneath that allure is hard work. It has been said that more than half of all new small businesses close within a year of opening.
Tabatha Takes Over (originally titled Tabatha’s Salon Takeover) aired on the Bravo network from 2008 to 2013. Tabatha Coffey, a successful hair stylist, originally worked solely with the owners of hair salons in the first three seasons before expanding to other small businesses in the final two seasons. Her goal is figure out what is keeping the business from being successful. Working with the owners and the employees, the hope is that by the time Tabatha is finished, the business will go from floundering to successful.
Some might have said that Tabatha is well, a b*tch. She is direct, in your face and has no problem telling a business owner what they need to do to keep their business from going under. But, the format worked. About half of the businesses are still open today. Unlike other programs of this nature, it didn’t feel like the average reality show. I think that is because Tabatha was playing a character or a version of herself, she was being who she is and made no bones about it.
For some, the ultimate professional dream is to have their own successful clothing line.
In 2004, Project Runway premiered on Bravo before moving to Lifetime and then returning to Bravo. Combining the dreams of up and coming fashion designers with the format of a reality show competition, the end goal of the contestants was to win the show and run their own clothing line. Guided by Tim Gunn, the contestants were judged by supermodel and host Heidi Klum, fashion designer Michael Kors and Elle creative director Nina Garcia. Filmed in New York City, the contestants are often given out of the box challenges and every episode, they are judged by a celebrity guest in addition to the regular judges.
While Project Runway has all of the hallmarks of a standard reality competition program, it stands out because the contestants have an opportunity for real world success.
Words, words, words... well said Hamlet! A little blog to go off on tangents within the worlds of history and literature that interest me. From the Tudors to Tom Hardy's Tess, or from the Wars of the Roses to Wuthering Heights, feel free to browse through my musings to pick up extra ideas and points for discussion!