Last week, NBC premiered Ready for Love, the latest bland iteration of reality dating shows. In the show, three interchangeable clean cut dudes pick from groups of interchangeable attractive women and hope to find true love. I can't tell you if they found it, because I could only keep the nausea down for about 40 minutes of Ready for Love's 2 hour premiere.
Into this cynical landscape comes Burning Love, a genius web series spoofing reality dating shows.
Shows like The Bachelor and Millionaire Matchmaker not only reduce romance to opulent displays of consumerism and gender conformity, but they distract us from actual consideration of the role of class in relationships and the need to negotiate those differences on a real, ongoing, interpersonal level.
Susan Douglas's seminal 1995 book Where the Girls Are: Growing Up with the Mass Media explored how woman see and are seen in pop culture, tracing feminism in
pop culture from the 1950s and '60s through the 1980s. Her newest book, Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism's Work is Done, revisits the subject of women's representation in the mass media, and finds a troubling series of mixed messages, empty "empowerment," and consumer imperatives masquerading as postfeminist power.
As longtime fans of Douglas's wit, irreverance, and spot-on critique, Bitch is thrilled to feature the epilogue of Enlightened Sexism. It's after the jump, as is an interview with Douglas by Andi Zeisler.
It's easy to point fingers at narrative television sometimes and claim the writers are foisting outdated and unfair gender roles onto the audience and therefore, by extension, society. Reality TV pokes a lot of holes in the Big Hollywood theory, because the people who thrive on reality TV are the ones who are crafting -- and benefiting -- from a stock trade in stereotypes.