It's amazing how truly awful television can be. Just when you think it can't get any worse, Bravo brings us Boy Meets Boy, a reality dating show from the gay point of view. The kindest thing anybody can say about this "groundbreaking social experiment" is that gays, too, can bring us hideously banal and grotesquely insulting TV. Bring on the street parades, fellas, we've soared to new heights.
Boy Meets Boy introduces us to lovelorn James, a 32-year-old benefits administrator from Los Angeles. Competing for James's affections are 15 "mates" (why they're called mates, I haven't a clue), who've been brought to Palm Springs for the ten-day, all-expenses-paid chance at finding romance.
Andra and James
Skittish about its own abilities to keep viewers hooked, Boy Meets Boy employs the latest reality twist to reel audiences in: the cruel joke. Like Joe Millionaire, in which the beautiful babes are tricked into believing that Evan comes from the Marriott fortune, James doesn't know that some of his mates (wink, wink) are actually straight. And neither do we. So America gets to giggle as James makes a fool of himself and we guess who's who and what's what. The payoff? If James picks a gay guy, he gets $25,000 and a trip to New Zealand. If he picks a straight one, the hetero gets the money.
But never fear, James has brought along his best gal pal, Andra, to help him sort through the boys. James and Andra share everything, we're told, and there's nary a secret between them. If the mates know what's good for them, James says, they'll be nice to Andra because she wields a veto, and she's watching them like a hawk.
In some circles, this is called codependency. Maybe the reason James hasn't found a relationship is because he's incapable of making an adult decision on his own like, say, choosing a boyfriend. A word of advice, James: therapy.
But, I suspect, depth of thought isn't James's strong suit. He marvels, for example, at the incredible "cross-section" of guys picked as mates -- all of whom could easily pass for Abercrombie & Fitch and Gap models. Summing up his first day, James describes schmoozing with total strangers as an "amazing experience so far." Folks, the Louvre is amazing. The Bill of Rights is amazing. Poolside cocktailing? Not amazing.
On some level, Boy Meets Boy -- and every other reality dating show for that matter -- just pisses me off. The creators must think American viewers are complete morons. Like any of us really believe that James is going to find true love in 10 days at a Palm Springs resort. The mates blather on and on about "emotional connections" and that "first kiss" as if relationships were nothing more than a feature article in Seventeen magazine.
In truth, reality dating shows are about ratings and money. The more people watch, the more the networks can charge for commercials. Plus, they're cheaper to make than scripted shows -- no writers, no actors, no Friends-sized salaries to pay.
So when sweet, handsome, freshly-scrubbed James dreams of "meeting eyes" with that special person and "that's just it," well, it's no wonder Bravo pulled one over on him. Despite the pretty scenery, I wouldn't force a houseplant to watch this show.