Sunday, April 5, 2009

Millionaire Matchmaker: A Cultural Low Point

I don't watch television that often lately, mainly because my TV got damaged in the truck when I moved from NYC to Boston and the picture is crappy. But this has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, since unsurprisingly watching the boob tube numbs the creative juices I need to write.

Occasionally, however, I give in to temptation and watch some out-of-focus Rock of Love (the girls actually look more appealing NOT in HD clarity). And then the other day, I accidentally stumbled upon Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo.

Watching this show made me feel icky inside for a number of reasons. And yet, like a 5-car pile-up on the freeway, I found it hard to turn away and subsequently ended up watching 3 episodes in a row. And then felt like I needed a scalding hot shower.

First of all, I find the matchmaker, Patti Stanger, to be fascinatingly devoid of charm. She's abrasive and rude and her opinions about courtship and male-female roles in relationships would make any self-respecting feminist's jaw drop. This woman needs to be bitch-slapped by Gloria Steinem stat. She's also weirdly insecure and especially catty when dealing with female clients, i.e. successful women who've made millions actually DOING something constructive with their lives.

The men on the show are, for the most part, grotesque. On a recent episode, the world was introduced to Jimmy D'Ambrosio, an egomaniacal club owner from Chicago who always refers to himself in the 3rd person as "Jimmy D." Alex Edelstein is a big fan of blingy cufflinks and Sammy Hagar-style hair:

Money is the only thing these guys have going for them. So it's stomach-churning to then watch scores of women at Patti's "mixers" throw themselves at them. Each episode follows the millionaires on dates, which usually go poorly due to the blatant superficiality of both parties. The men feel entitled to only date hot women and choose usually based on looks, and the women unapologetically are only there because of the guy's money (and feel entitled to only date rich men because they are beautiful).

It's all very depressing. You would think millionaires would want to find someone not interested in them just for their money, but the men who seek out Patti's services are so lacking in social skills and charisma that their millions are their only selling point. They literally have nothing beyond the promise of a comfortable lifestyle to offer. And the women have become so jaded that they've decided to settle for rich, boorish and unattractive.

Patti claims to have a "99% success rate," but I'd like to see how she tabulated that. She doesn't help people find love -- she helps shallow men and women find trophy wives and sugar daddies, respectively.

Personally? I'd take Bret Michaels over these dudes in a heartbeat, hair extensions and all. At least he seems to have a sense of humor about himself and a refreshing awareness of his show's absurdity.


Suzanne said...

I, too, stumbled upon the "Jimmy D and Hatch" episode. I changed the channel when she asked Hatch to meet with an "etiquette specialist" and then proceeded to harp on traditional gender roles that haven't been in place since the 1950s.

J said...

It was great to find this post! I too got sucked in to MM; I feel like the first season was less obviously horrible (though still clearly superficial and harping on creaky gender roles). But either I've seen enough eps or it's gotten worse; Gloria Steinem should only be the first in line to slap Patti silly. Not only is she rude, but she's insistent that "she knows what women want" and, of course, what men want. She tears down women in the "auditions" unrepentantly for any number of normal human foibles that, of course, she would accept in the Millionaires. She might yell at them, but she'll still take their money, natch.

I've been trying to find a decent deconstruction/discussion of this show all afternoon, thanks for this.