Gay Bachelor TV Show Has Nasty Surprise

ByABC News

June 10, 2003 -- It started with a handsome, eligible man picking his ideal intended from a gaggle of beautiful women.

We continued with the opposite, a beautiful female and a bevy of boys vying for her lifelong attention.

In the interim, we threw in lovely ladies competing for the romantic consideration of a Tarzan-esque hunk who was supposed to be financially endowed.

We also got to see a gent who was chained to several lasses, a lass chained-linked to the gents, and another show where the general public got to choose the man and woman who would be partnered for eternity.

And who can forget the fair maiden who chose from a buffet of masked men, aided by relationship expert Monica Lewinsky?

You'd think we would've exhausted just about every way to finagle a dating show possible, right?


Thanks to the Bravo network, reality TV producers have one more trick up their diabolical sleeve — Boy Meets Boy, wherein an eligible gay bachelor seeks true love.

Bravo for Bravo, right? Equal rights! Don't ask, don't tell!

That certainly would be fair enough … if this show, debuting in July, were indeed fair. ‘Surprise! I’m Not Gay’

We find out about halfway through this six-week dating fiesta that there's a sour-lemon twist. The bachelor learns that some of the remaining contestants are not homosexual.

Instead, they're actors pretending to be gay, added just to spice up the game.

Creators and executive producers Douglas Ross and Tom Campbell say the show is intended to "open up the hearts and minds of gay and straight viewers as they experience both the romantic journey of our leading man — and the adventure of the straight mates having to walk a mile in a gay man's shoes."

As far as I can see, the concept may be groundbreaking, but the twist may open up a proverbial can of worms.

Think back to The Jenny Jones Show incident. In March of 1995, Jonathan Schmitz, then 26, agreed to appear on a secret admirers segment. Apparently, producers had led him to believe his admirer was a woman, not Scott Amedure, his gay neighbor.

Amedure told the audience of a fantasy that involved Schmitz, some whipped cream, strawberries and champagne.

A few days later, Schmitz was said to be so embarrassed by the so-called ambush incident that he went on a drinking binge and shot Amedure to death with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Schmitz was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and is serving a 25-year sentence. I realize that this is an extreme example of ambush TV, but it did happen.

I am all for a gay version of The Bachelor, as that's basically what we're talking about here, but what I don't understand is the need to put the added element of awkwardness in it if the gay man can potentially be rejected by a straight man and the straight man can potentially be embarrassed being chosen by the gay man.

Why can't all the contestants be homosexual men with the ideal ending being that two men meet, date and fall in love? After all, it wouldn't have made much sense if the single women who participated in The Bachelor were lesbians.

If we're trying to open up the playing arena and be inclusive with programming geared toward the gay community, then why not be clean with it?

Not to worry, I can answer my own question. If they were to make a show strictly about gay dating, it would likely appeal to a mostly gay audience, in which case they would be limiting the potential viewership of the show. And how could they achieve ratings superiority if they only appeal to a fraction of the overall population?

This brings us back to the harsh realism that the ratings and the subsequent advertising dollars they bring in are the driving force behind the continued ridiculousness of love-match television.

Let's face it, there's little reality to dating TV. There aren't many women who would subject themselves to being publicly scrutinized, then rejected, in front of millions of people.

There aren't many women who would go out in public with a guy in a mask, unless the guy is Batman.

There aren't many people who would walk around handcuffed to a string of other people hoping to fall in love with one of them.

There aren't many homosexual men who would intentionally fall in love with a heterosexual man and there aren't many heterosexual men who would make themselves fodder for a gay man's intentions.

And as far as I can tell, there still aren't many reasons to watch when TV shoots for mating ratings.

Heidi Oringer is director of entertainment programming at ABCNEWS Radio.

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