Flipping through channels Sunday afternoon, I happened upon NEXT on MTV. NEXT is a dating show where one person is set up on 5 blind dates in one afternoon. The minute the dater is either annoyed or is no longer having fun, he/she simply says ‘next” and the date is over. The sullen datee returns to the bus for some good-natured ribbing from the other 4 datees. After 30 minutes or more, the successful datee is given the option of either taking the money and ending the date or foregoing the money to go on a second date with the dater. I’ve seen it go both ways. It was cool though to see some gay date setups (but then again, it was MTV).
What cracked me up was that (on his/her way to meet the dater) a few datees walked off the bus exuding self-confidence and assurance only to be “nexted” as soon as the dater laid eyes on him/her. And of course, the datees were then instantly defensive about how the dater just simply could not handle “all this”. Some dates were ended based on immediate looks, some on political affiliation (I might have to agree with that), some religion, and some based on the fact that the datee was either too pasty white or too orange from tanning (personally I don't mind the pasty white thing, to me it just looks clean; however I too have a problem with dating someone who looks like he should have a 'Sunkist' sticker on his forehead). The pleasure of knowing that there was another datee waiting in the wings if the current one sucked seemed to sweeten the pot, as it should. But the rejected datees remind me of a line from The Golden Girls where Uncle Angelo says, “You mean to tell me I shaved my shoulders for nothing?” Classic.
What also cracks me up (I crack up a lot) is the lengths to which these datees will go in order to score the hopeful second date. One guy shoveled horseshit while the dater just stood there watching. That's horseshit, y'all. Another datee dressed as a rodeo clown and fended off a bull – that’s right, a bull – while the dater hid herself in a barrel. The motivation for staying on the date for the datee is 1) scoring the possible second date, or 2) earning $1 for every minute the date lasts (we are whores at heart, all of us).
On one hand, I kinda love this idea. There have been plenty of dates I have been on that I would have loved to be able to just administer a violent death right in the middle. There have been dates where I would have spared myself a lot of anguish simply by saying “next” before the appetizers even arrived. The date where the guy sent his steak back 4 times before we could eat - could have been completely avoided. The date where the guy decided to join me for dinner instead of staying home to nurse the quarter-sized zit on his cheek - might not have happened. The date with the dude who showed up in a tee shirt that read "Sore/Loserman '00" - should have stopped with the removal of the jacket.
But on the other hand, it’s simply just mean-spirited. And it all goes along with America’s incessant desire to witness failure in action. We watch “Survivor” to see who will be eliminated each week. We watch “Lost” to see who will die. What’s the reason for going into the Astros locker room after the World Series unless its to watch how despondent they all are (and perhaps a few unexpected beefy butt shots!) NEXT is just one of a myriad of these kinds of dating shows on TV right now. Is it any wonder the rest of the world laughs at us?