Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, August 14, 2008

By Anika Tabassum

The rules of fair play do not apply in love and war", someone once said; but when it's a bit of both, when you have to compete with and (sometimes literally) fight others for your 'love', what happens ? Well, welcome to the era of the dating reality shows.

These shows set people up for dates or for marriage in a span of a few weeks or months- sometimes it's the boys who have to compete and sometimes the girls; but how successful are these love stories when the TV screen goes dark and the credits roll in after the couple are depicted in an embrace of happily ever after? Is love that easy to find, and more specifically, is it love at all?

Rehnuma, who sometimes tunes in to watch these shows, says, "It's definitely not 'love'. I wish love was that easy to find, but it's not. The makers of these shows are just trying to plant a false impression that love is so easy to find and what's more they make the shows disgusting and repulsive when they attach a certain amount of money. It stops people believing in the true value of love". Iftekhar, on the other hand, opines, "The relationships don't even last till the day they get the cheque, so the contestants are actually buying money with love, or love with money, whichever way you choose to put it. According to me, they don't even love themselves."

So what is it that the contestants really want? The majority thinks that it's the cash they're after, while attention is another factor. Primetime television is good exposure. Many hope to go into modelling and acting, though whether they can ultimately make it is a different topic altogether. Add to that the offer of the usually hefty prize money for the winner, and you have some contestants who would go to any lengths to win.

Whatever we say, though, doesn't alter the fact that there is a market for these dating reality shows. Almost everybody occasionally, if not regularly, admits to watching these shows. It's good time-pass for some people, but others admit that there's a certain amount of entertainment value attached too. Tauseef exclaims, "I watch it so that I can pochafy it later! It's a great topic for any stand up comedian (or for just plain fooling around!), and the fake accents that some people like to show off are just so hilarious". Raisa agrees-"They're quite fake, yet somewhat entertaining. The contestants are willing to take the risk, and that's fun to watch." Deboleena, on the other hand, retorts, "It's interesting to see how low people can stoop for popularity and recognition." Yet, almost nobody approves of these shows mainly because of the material shown in them. Eurydice says,"It's sickly annoying and strangely entertaining at the same time."

Can these shows call themselves quality reality television material? Sure, we get to see what's happening through hidden cameras and secret half-whispered conversations, but how much of it is censored, how much cut off, and how much edited is a matter of debate. The makers would naturally want to show what the people want to see, and as such they have a criterion to adhere to. These shows are filled with good-looking people who are constantly grooming themselves to conform to a particular definition of beauty. We almost never get to see people who aren't that good-looking, rich or, to be more precise, people who are actually quite ordinary without being extravagant, like most of us usually are.

There have been reports of relationships going sour after many dating reality shows come to an end. When the camera is recording your every move and when there's nothing private in your relationship, can it truly work? More specifically, will a contestant ever get to know his/her potential match in a few encounters in which they're both trying their level best to try to impress and flirt? The deadline for a show's end might potentially make it necessary for the candidates to hurry, thus giving it a 'forced' look.

One thing is for sure. Logic flies out of the window once you start watching a dating reality show. Like them or not, these shows are here to stay till the next genre hits television, and those of us who don't like them can only wait for that day. As for those who love watching these shows, well, enjoy them while they last. There's a chance that some of the whirlwind romances might even turn out all right, after all.



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