Pop Culture, Scourge of the Onelies (cross-listed as Guilty Pleasure no. 72x.5): Millionaire Matchmaker February 20, 2009Posted by Onely in As If!, Dating, Heteronormativity, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys.
Tags: bravo tv, compulsory heterosexuality, guilty pleasures, heteronormativeholes, match THIS!, millionaire matchmaker, nature/culture, nostalgia, we love being single
On Wednesday, Christina wrote a confessional post — and now it’s my turn: Ladies and Gentlemen, I must confess that sometimes, after a long Thursday, when I just want to kick back, have a beer, and relax in front of the TV, I watch Bravo’s The Millionaire Matchmaker.
OH I KNOW — you can stop throwing tomatoes at your computer screens (seriously, STOP – your computer will crash and I want you to read the rest of this post!)… I admit it, I’m horrible!! But it’s like … looking at the sun: The show just oozes with so many god-awful heteronormative-hole assumptions, I can’t muster up the strength to look away!
Here’s how the show is set up: Patti, the matchmaker, gets paid by millionaires to help them find intelligent, beautiful, successful, funny women to date. But here’s the catch – in order to stay in the “Millionaire’s Club,” the millionaires have to stick to her rules, which include: 1) Planning and coordinating all dates (taking the “lead,” as a “real” man should); 2) No sex for the first three months; and 3) commitment to basic life changes/communication habits, such as, don’t talk about yourself all the time when on a date (duh!), and get rid of the butler and start answering the damn door yourself! Patti calls all of this “courtship,” and she demands that her millionaires also commit to future goals of marriage and (sometimes) kids/family.
Already, the premises are glaringly flawed according to the Onely (feminist and queer) perspective – on a basic level, it’s clear that Patti is working to promote and maintain American nostalgia for the “traditional family” and the “naturalness” of heteronormative coupling practices. The show, and Patti herself, serve as perfect reminders of how these beliefs about sexuality and “the way things should be” remain normalized in popular culture today: Patti’s insistence on the “naturalness” of heterosexuality trickles down from the rich and powerful, helping to shape everyday beliefs and practices.
But there’s more – not only does Patti insist on what Adrienne Rich would call “compulsory heterosexuality,” she is willing to ignore red flags and probably bad matches for the sake of “getting the job done.”
In the episode I just watched (with great guilt, alleviated only by the fact that I was taking notes so I could write this post!), Patti stood her ground against one 45-year-old’s hangups about age (he only wanted to date women in their 20s) by throwing out this telling non-sequitur:
Peter Pan doesn’t end up wih the love of his life at the end of the party!
Oh, so that means we should couple up even if we don’t end up with true love?
And now, I’m going to go hide in a cave somewhere, I am so overcome with shame and regret for consuming this junk-TV d-lite. Even with a beer in hand, I’m not so sure it’s worth it.
Oh, and P.S. — did anyone notice that I never even had to specify that by “millionaire” I meant “male” for you to know what I meant?