The Choice, Take Me Out: someone rescue Cat Deeley and give feminism CPR

Last night, Fox debuted two summer reality game shows: The Choice, a comical knock-off of The Voice on which men pick women without seeing them, and Take Me Out, on which women judge men in real time. Both shows are the trainwrecks you’d expect from Fox and make The Bachelor and The Bachelorette seem progressive and feminist by comparison, thanks to the way they reduce dating and relationships to the absolute worst parts of the process.

As host of The Choice, Cat Deeley does her best, and is the best part of the show, though the whole thing seems so far beneath her it’s embarrassing. She’s great at improvisationally responding to whatever’s happening, but the show moves so fast it feels like she’s racing to burn through the parade of women. It’s dizzying, and Cat’s empathy really doesn’t have any place in this context.

Take Me Out, hosted by George Lopez, does little more than convince straight men that women have tiny, narrow ideas of what makes the perfect man and will cruelly reject someone who doesn’t fit into that, while The Choice shows men to be superficial and horny enough to decide to date someone based on their stupid answers to stupid questions. All four men pulled on their love handle (ha!) for the second contestant on The Choice simply because the audience went crazy over her body, even though they couldn’t hear a thing she said. The whole conceit of the show is supposed to be the opposite–that they aren’t judging based on physical appearance–but that fell away immediately, making the whole “blind auditions” thing pointless.

Both shows imagine that dating is a series of superficial judgments made by shallow people willing to accept or reject others only based on tiny, context-less pieces of information. However depressing that is, perhaps this is actually accurate, especially in an era of online dating and Grindr.

Magnifying it in these rapid-fire shows just makes the whole process seem ridiculous, though, and there’s no real consequence: No one imagines the “celebrities” on The Choice are there for anything but publicity, and no long-term relationships will be formed because of this stupidity. So maybe I should just lighten up. And I would if there was anything on either show except pointless noise and a celebration of the worst kinds of behavior.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.