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Reality TV Idea #1: “I Complete Me” July 30, 2009

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Heteronormativity, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Hi everyone. Today, Jezebel alerted me to this EXCELLENT and highly entertaining video:

(Both Christina and I laughed hysterically and said “Oh my god, it’s SO TRUE!”)

The thing is, the Blogulator‘s got it right — for sitcoms and gender stereotypes, at least. But this got me thinking that we need a show that, instead of reversing the way married men and women are portrayed on TV, would subvert the way that singles are (most often) portrayed on TV — as desperate, lonely losers always struggling to find a mate. And where has television cornered the market on this portrayal of single people? That’s right — Reality TV! Take your pick — from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette (those old standards), to Rock of Love, More to Love, or a Shot at Love, to Blind Date (which, I’ll admit, is a personal fave), to Joe Millionaire, to Who Wants to Marry My Dad, and even Married by America — the basic premise of all these shows is that if you’re single, it’s time for an intervention!

So, Christina and I have decided to pitch our own Reality TV show, called I Complete Me. We don’t have any illusions that anyone will actually take us up on the offer (hell, there’s no way Fat Wife would make it), but just for kicks, here’s what we propose:

I Complete Me
(alternate title: A Shot at Independence)

Summary: Instead of forcing (supposedly inept) single people into the world of coupling, (overly dependent and unhealthily) coupled people are forced to navigate the world as singles for a full month. Both members of a pair are ranked and judged against other pairs according to how well they handle the single life.

Contestants: Pairs are nominated and chosen on the basis of how “unhealthy” their friends and family think the pair has become as a result of coupling. The best contestants are those who (separately or together) have lost track of the “selves” that friends and family used to know and love. Have they stopped paying attention to their single friends? Have they dropped their favorite hobbies? Is every weekday and weekend night spent, in some way, shape or form, with the significant other? Do couples take personal offense at invitations that do not automatically include the significant other?

Goal: Emerge from the month able to live independently of your significant other, aware of the consequences (to yourself and others) of couple-maniacal behavior, and committed to coupling only in ways that promote the best and healthiest sense of your (individual) self.

How to Win: Success (which the producers and audience know, but the participants don’t) is measured according to the following criteria:

  • Ability to maintain/develop relationships with others other than the individual’s significant other. When this occurs without prompting, bonus points are given.
  • Ability to travel alone and have fun doing it.
  • Ability to make choices that match what friends and family have noted were the contestant’s “favorite” activities prior to coupling.
  • Ability to eat alone, without anxiety.
  • Ability to sleep alone without sensory or sentimental supplements to remind one of significant other (such as using the significant other’s T-shirt as a pillowcase).
  • Ability to let go of desire for constant contact/communication. Going 48 hours without communication (texting, emailing, phoning) constitutes significant progress.

Reward: $100,000 for the couple to split — to be spent on solo or group expeditions (no resort/honeymoon-type vacations allowed!).

So, Copious Readers — what do you think? Can we sell this bad boy or what?

— Lisa


1. Lauri - July 31, 2009

Actually, I beg to differ about singles on sitcoms! I was actually thinking about this last night while watching Seinfeld reruns. Seinfeld was a fantastically Onely show. All the characters dated, but dating and relationships were treated as a joke. The season when George was engaged and wanted to get out of it so badly was fantastic. There were episodes about not wanting to go to a wedding on the superbowl, giving someone an engagement gift and then they break up, making fun of people who make a big deal about having babies, tons of lines about how when you break up with someone you just move on to the next. Elaine was fantastic single female character IMO- she dated when she wanted to, had a great career, occasionally felt pressure to marry but then rejected it, etc. The married couples- the Costanzas, the Seinfelds, are treated as jokes. In the end, all the 4 characters relied on each other like family members.

I feel like the 90s were a great time for singles in TV shows. While most of the people on Friends ended up coupling off, the show was originally about single people relying on their friends like families once would. I was also thinking of the Gilmore Girls- with a few spots of exceptions, awesome Onely show. Loralei refused to get married so she could live her own life, and in the end Rory made the same decision when Logan asked her to marry him. The Gilmore Girls lived in a great community where everyone knew each other and helped each other out. Then there was obviously Sex and the City, which in the beginning was ahead of its time in exposing the issues facing singles.

Before that there was the Golden Girls! OMG, I’ve been watching those reruns lately, and what an AWESOME show, about feminism, singlehood, friendship, aging. Now look at the best comedies on TV: 30 Rock- almost all single characters. Liz Lemon is supposed to be a sort of “pathetic” single, but the joke is that she’s actually NOT. It’s a satire of the stereotype. Then there’s The Office, which isn’t about families, etc at all…

I think that the single characters on the best sitcoms are much better portrayals of single life than on “reality” TV.

Onely - August 28, 2009

Those are great examples, Lauri–the only thing I’d add is that perhaps we should say the problem is with REALITY tv instead of sitcoms. . .

2. Special K - July 31, 2009

Gotto agree about Sienfield, and Golden Girls (My Boys, Gilmore Girls,)…and then I AM CRAZED right now about 30 Rock. Yet, don’t you always notice the token “single friend?”
But you guy are also right in saying a lot of tales are about finding a mate…it is the most well beloved archetype of our time. But on my blind date recently (see my post) for reality TV, singles are poorly represented as lame, desperate, or highly promiscuous. All those shows are not “reality” at all.
One big missing piece is the notion of single men who are not players being single…

Lauri - July 31, 2009

“One big missing piece is the notion of single men who are not players being single…

hmm very true. there’s always the idea that single men have to “reform” and settle down. That being single is a choice they all make in favor of getting sex from multiple women, but the right thing to do is give that up and become a “real man” who owns a house and lives in misery. ha!

3. Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles - August 3, 2009

I love this reality show idea! I really think you should pitch it if you can. It could be very humorous, and I think there ARE a lot of people out there–even coupled people–who are creeped out by how their friends disappear into relationships and would get a kick out of staging an “intervention.”

4. Vanessa - August 7, 2009

What about Wife Swap? It doesn’t profess the same goals, but it does seem to work toward some of the same ends… Of course, the families remain intact (at least in the short hour-long show), but a lot of times the “lessons” of the episode seem to piss off everyone in the show, and wedded bliss or familial bliss doesn’t seem so blissful anymore.

onely - August 8, 2009

True, though I’m still waiting for Husband Swap. . .


5. Singlutionary - August 8, 2009

I love this idea! I actually think it would be a great experience . . . a great challenge for folks who are coupled . . . especially the ones who bitch and moan about how single people have it easy all the time.

And I agree about Golden Girls. I enjoyed that show as a little kid although I didn’t get half the jokes. But there was something about it I could relate to. I’m glad other people are enjoying the reruns too. I kinda feel like a freak for loving it and being in my 20s still.

6. Writer Vixen Explains It All - August 10, 2009

I’m with Singletude — this idea deserves a serious(ly funny) pitch!

Brilliant. Inspired. ‘Nuff said. 😉

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