By Lesley | July 28, 2009
Today, the brilliant Marianne of the The Rotund has a piece on The Daily Beast about More to Love, the fatty-focused Bachelor-simulacra premiering tonight on your local Fox affiliate. For those unfamiliar with this type of reality show (you few lucky bastards), More to Love features a fat dude named Luke, who is shut up in a mansion for three weeks and faced with a bevy of fat ladies from which to select his soul mate.
Yes. I know. Misogyny ahoy! Permission to board granted!
I was initially uncertain of whether I’d watch this show; the only reason I even considered it is because it lacks the weight-loss component compulsory to pretty much every other reality show with fat people on it. That said, the lack of diet-induced misery doesn’t mean it won’t be depressing as hell. I could do what I do with several despicable and absurd reality shows and, in lieu of actually watching the show, just read other people’s possibly non-fat-positive recaps and ignore any bad fat politics contained therein.
Or I could do recaps myself.
So here we are.
The prize of this competition is a dude named Luke Conley, who is 26, apparently successful at whatever it is he does (anybody remember Joe Millionaire?), and 330 pounds of maybe/possibly love. Based on my initial impressions, Luke manages to make himself seem likeable and nonthreatening and legitimately fond of women he (revoltingly) terms “thick and juicy”, while deftly skirting the very edge of full-on chubby-chaser creepiness. The contestants, henceforth The Laydeez, range in weight from 180 pounds to 279 pounds (I am left to wonder whether it was intentional that none of the Laydeez come within fifty pounds of the prize steer over whom they’re trifling). Also, no word on whether these are real weights or Hollywood weights (“250lb Kirstie Alley collapses!”). Arriane, at 37, is the dinosaur of the bunch, so I immediately want to root for her. 25-year-old Bonnie, with her tattoos and Bump-It hair, is my favorite based on looks alone. There is also a real live rocket scientist, though I understand her time amongst her less-intimidatingly-employed peers is pretty limited. And, the rest.
I should say starting out, as a caution to those with high hopes for this show, that my expectations are abysmally low. This is based partly on conversations with Marianne after she saw an advance copy of the first episode, and partly on the show’s early press. The first glaringly off-putting aspect is the relatively low ratio of women of color to white women amongst Luke’s would-be soul mates. The casting clips on the show’s official website are chockablock with women representing a wide variety of race and ethnicity, while the selected twenty features (based on my highly inexact assumptions) only one maybe-light-complected black woman, and a couple of other women who are potentially biracial or of non-WASPy backgrounds, but the rest of this group is a sea of blinding whiteness.
Finally, of course, there’s always the uncomfortable intimacy with the unavoidable hypocrisy of real-life unscripted humans going about their lives, even when their lives are taking place in a bizarre fishbowl environment. But without this – without conflict, and bawling, and pettiness – we wouldn’t really have a show. For example, from an LA Times article that took a behind-the-scenes look at the show:
Supervising producer Mark Allen (one of 20 producers on the show) calls Conley over to tell Conley it’s time for one-on-one spa treatments. Mandy is thrilled to learn she is first. They head for hot stone massages and cozy up on a sofa, holding hands. She brings up Conley’s relationship with God.
“I am who I am because of my relationship with the Lord,” he tells her. “I pray every day and I read the Bible, and it’s important to me to meet someone that shares my faith.”
Mandy seizes an opening: “Just so you know, not to be competitive, but no other girl in the house has a Bible. . . . To me, God is a third person in the room.”
Soon, they are passionately kissing while he rubs her thigh. Next door, at least a dozen people are watching on monitors, including [executive producer SallyAnn Salsano], who deadpans: “Excuse me, where did God go?”
Man-God-Lady threesome, y’all. Now that’s good TV.
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