Ladies and gentlemen, I have spent the last two days on Vh1.com, watching season 1 of Tough Love. Why? Morbid curiosity, masochism, and a deep and abiding love for trashy reality tv shows. I have been indicted for loving reality tv ever since season 1 of The Real World. I am an habitual voyeur, at best being a student of the human condition, at worst being someone who just really loves to watch skanks rip out each other’s hair extensions. I also watch PBS and read a lot. I tell myself that they cancel each other out.
I didn’t immediately seek out episodes of Tough Love because it just didn’t seem to hold a candle to, say, an ex-stripper sliding down a pole to hit the floor in a Chinese split (seen on For The Love of Ray J). There was also some little part of me that knew watching Tough Love would piss me off. It’s a similar feeling to when one has to place a service call to Comcast or, God help you, Dell.
The premise of Tough Love is that a group of women who are attractive but seem unable to find fulfilling relationships move into a house for a sort of dating boot camp with a matchmaker who bears a striking resemblance to Fred Savage. He tells things as they are, often with the help of a panel of straight-talking men, his mother and, in one case, electro shock devices. Anyone with half a brain will have these women pegged and categorized ten minutes into the first show: there’s the career woman, the tough gym rat, the gold digger, and the stripper. To make our lives easy, the stripper even admits to having daddy issues which lead her to constantly seek male validation. Please to enjoy some choice male quotes.
Episode 1: “You’re Smiling And Approachable!”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there’s something to the great dating theory that smiling makes people more attractive and confidence is sexy. I just don’t subscribe to the dating show theory that women should do everything in their power to appear to be giant balls of fluffy, non-challenging cotton candy just because someone in the room happens to have testicles. In fact, my logic tells me that someone who actually HAS testicles would like someone who doesn’t feel the need to behave like a benign pageant contestant. I should alsopoint out that I am single and have a cat, thus I am clearly defective, unlovable, insane, and nothing I say should be taken seriously, according to Public Domain Fred Savage.
Episode 2: “I don’t ask girls what their dreams are unless I’m really interested.”
I’ll give you a clue, Scooby. Our dreams are to be referred to as women, not girls. Not even Public Domain Fred Savage got the memo on this one. He repeatedly refers to the women on the show as “the girls.” I’m not a feminazi; I would have accepted “the ladies,” but “the girls”? Sorry, P.D. Fred Savage, I must question how well you know women.
Episode 3: “Her breasts are too big to be sexy.”
Allow me to translate: “I say things like this so women will think I’m highly-evolved and will have sex with me.”
Episode 3: “A man isn’t capable of being truly compassionate until he has a child.”
No word on who the hell is being stupid enough to have a child with someone who hasn’t yet displayed compassion, but I know it happens. I’ve seen Maury.
Episode 4: “She wasn’t difficult…she was easy.”
Oh, well. Thank GOD Taylor finally realized that she has to be blindly non-challenging. God forbid she disagree with anything her date says or present herself as anything but a warm, maternal dick cozy. “Really? I ALSO don’t think the Holocaust happened! We have SO MUCH in common!”
Episode 5: “You’re going to get raped.”
I feel for Arian. She’s had a rough time with guys and it sounds like she was named by white supremacists. Thus, when Public Domain Fred Savage tells her that he fears that she will get raped by acting slutty, I understand her outrage. Did she overreact by knocking over some lights? Maybe. Should a man who is a professional matchmaker know better than to use the dreaded “r word?” Yes. No matter how you phrase the sentiment “I fear that you will get raped,” it sounds a lot like “if you got raped, you’d probably have deserved it.” Say “I fear that, by acting this way, men may think you’re a good person to try and take advantage of” if you must. See? I am the least diplomatic person on Earth and I just rephrased that for you. I will be eagerly awaiting a thank you card from your non-kicked scrotum.
Episode 6: “Cute or Crazy.”
Public Domain Fred Savage puts the ladies on a mock game show, where an audience of men votes on whether the ladies’ quirks are cute or crazy. I’m not saying that owning five different tiaras shouldn’t set off the proverbial lights and sirens. I’m just saying “judge not, lest you be judged.” As the audience of men held up their paddles reading “cute” or “crazy,” I watched, picturing various men burying neighbors in the crawl space, keeping condoms in the fridge, or having a giant tub of Crisco under the bathroom sink.
Episode 7: “The world is not your stripper pole.”
Remember when PDFS said that thing about Arian winding up getting raped? Well, it’s come-uppance time, baby. PDFS has invited Arian’s mom to town, hoping that Mom will talk some sense into her daughter. He has, unfortunately, forgotten this he’s just invited the woman who named her daughter a homphone of “Aryan.” Mom shares Arian’s sense of humor, and thinks it’s hilarious when Arian “talks about fellatio.” She thinks it’s even funnier when PDFS says “fellatio.” PDFS responds to this by kicking Arian off the show. The “girls” respond to this by letting PDFS know that they don’t particularly care for him. PDFS, in turn, gets his mom to defend him. It’s like somebody put white bread and ego in a blender and decided to make a Los Angeles smoothie. Is “Los Angeles Smoothie” redundant?
Eventually, we are led to a season finale full of happy-jolly endings where even the ladies who didn’t get matched with a suitable guy say “but I just learned so much!” The post-finale follow-ups reveal that most of the women who left Tough Love with promising relationships wound up back home with relationships not quite working out. Oh well, ladies. You didn’t get married and push a human through your sex organs, but you DID give birth to some damn fine television.