The Undateables


I thought only I could repel women with such raw efficiency. ~from “Patch Adams”

Only one of these folks is a dummy

Occasionally I run across a news story (in this case, by accident through my Twitter feed) that infuriates me, enrages me, and turns me into a female version of the Hulk. I give you this story from the Daily Mail about a new British reality show. The premise of the show: people with varying disabilities are labeled “undateable.” Take a good long look at the people in the photos. They’re probably types of people you know. They might even be your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers.

I’m usually no longer shocked by what producers of “reality” shows will put on the air. This one is different. Now that I’m an official member of the disability community, I’m even more outraged. Those people deserve everything a so-called “normal” person does. If they want to date or have romantic relationships, more power to them. They don’t deserve to be, as one critic put it, participants in a modern-day Victorian curiousity show.

I know for a fact most guys would consider the two women using wheelchairs attractive by conventional standards. Personally, I think the comedian with Tourette’s is kind of cute. (And I wouldn’t feel offended if he called me a “slag.”) And besides, it shouldn’t be about absurd standards of beauty. Every one of those people in the photos deserves to be love and be loved if he or she chooses. I’d like to think there’s a lid for every pot, even those pots that are unusual sizes and shapes.

Why do I even care about this story? It’s been a long time since I’ve dated and I have no intention to get back in the game. There’s plenty of outrage-worthy events in the news these days, anything from war to mass starvation. Hell, even the stories sent through the Humane Society’s Twitter feed are sometimes enough to make my blood boil. So what is it about this one?

In some way I need to speak up against idiotic programming like this. Some would argue that the people in the story probably voluntarily signed up, that they inked a mountain of legal disclaimers. That’s not the point. I’m sure each and every one of them are intelligent adults. But then, the prospect of money is enough to make some people do strange things. Including voluntary humiliation and exploitation (this could be said of any number of “reality” shows, which I avoid scrupulously).

I hope this “show” never sees the light of day, although my gut tells me it’s too late. One of my cardinal rules is to never ridicule anyone for a trait he or she cannot control. Ethnicity and disability are the two biggies here. That being said, I do have certain deal-breakers that I could never overcome in a potential mate. Some of these:

Smoking, hate towards animals, religious fanaticism, inability to keep a job, extreme slovenliness, bad personal hygiene, abusive behavior, compulsive lying, terrible manners

You’ll note, dear readers, that all of these are factors in which we have a choice. We can become tidier or more genteel or more ambitious. It’s not the same as being born with a genetic condition or forced to use a wheelchair.

Personally I’d be willing to date somebody who was just a little different. I’ve found that most of these people (myself included) are willing to try harder because we are so often overlooked. So what if I’m not blonde, size 4, skinny, with no disabilities and a perfect smile? I don’t know too many people who are. And they’re probably pretty boring anyway.

What about you, my readers? How do you feel about shows of this nature? What would you consider absolute deal-breakers in a relationship? I’d love to get some feedback on this one!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on March 27, 2012.

21 Responses to “The Undateables”

  1. All of these so-called reality shows are just scripted exploitation. Something to make you feel bad, hate, agree, etc. To me it is all one big commercial to tell everyone else who is desirable and who isn’t in the most degrading way, while making people feel inadequate about themselves.

    The only reality shows that I feel are worth a shit are things like Mythbusters, or anything that is actually informative and you learn from. Those are few and far between.

    Mind you, that is just my point of view and opinion on a lot of it.

    • I agree. Reality shows are a kind of modern counterpart to the Bread and Circuses of Rome. Exploitation at its basest.

      You’re right about shows like Mythbusters, which I’d argue aren’t reality shows but educational shows. There’s a few guilty pleasures I’ll admit to, like that one about the people who try and seriously look for Bigfoot.

      Hey, nothing wrong with a little opinion around here. You and I usually agree anyway. πŸ˜‰

      • I may not like the Bigfoot/Ghost/Alien hunting shows, but at least they aren’t doing it to the point of exploiting someone else, just themselves. They aren’t hurting or exploiting someone else to do what they are doing.

        Sometimes I never know, so I do not want people to take my point of view/opinion as law.

  2. I think it’s pretty off to label anyone undatable, let alone someone with disability. It’s just arrogant. That said, I wouldn’t date someone with bad breath or bad teeth. I just couldn’t.

    • You’re spot on about the bad teeth/bad breath. That can be fixed. The kinds of people who like to label others? Usually they’re pretty empty inside themselves. Thanks for stopping by tonight. πŸ™‚

  3. The only thing most reality shows are good for is giving me something to ridicule in blogs (seriously, I’ve written at least 5 or 6 pieces about one aspect of reality shows or another).

    Sadly, the litmus test for whether this show succeeds will be the tastes of the general public. If there’s one thing you can never under-estimate, it’s how little taste that group has.

    On the bright side, i was pleased to see that I only ticked one box on your deal breakers list. Unfortunately, it was the compulsive lying, so I might not have been entirely truthful about how well I scored.

    • George Carlin was right about the average person being stupid, and half the population in fact stupider than that. πŸ˜› You’re absolutely right that ratings drive everything in the TV business. Sad but true.

      As for compulsive lying, it’s not all that bad. (It served Faceman rather well in “The A-Team,” didn’t it? πŸ˜‰ Thanks for your comments.

  4. I haven’t seen anything of the show, so wouldn’t like to comment about its offensiveness (or otherwise), but the official website makes it sound a little less exploitative – http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-undateables . From a British point of view, Channel 4 sometimes go for shock tactics to make a serious point, while the Daily Mail exists purely to stoke fear and outrage.

    But yeah, reality shows mainly just exist to exploit people, especially some of the ‘talent’ shows that air over here. I’m not a fan.

    • Thanks for the link (and the British point of view), Matthew. That story does indeed make it sound less offensive, but I’m still not really convinced. Since I don’t have access to most of the British media aside from what I get through American outlets or Twitter, it’s interesting to consider. Thanks for stopping by; as always your input is most welcome.

  5. I think a program like that is just kind of exploitative schlock. I don’t watch them. I think that would be a deal-breaker (among several) for me: regular watching of reality TV. Good post Heather.

  6. Amen to the rant on the evils of reality shows, but after reading the articles on the show, it seems more like they took a potentially good idea and cocked it up with an awful presentation.

    Close-mindedness was my deal breaker when I was dating.

    • I can see what you mean. I’d have liked a show about people traditionally overlooked who want to date, if it weren’t condescending.

      Closed-mindedness is a definite dealbreaker. You’re right on there.

  7. I hate reality shows, too…..can’t imagine that in 25-30 years, people are going to be clamoring for the box set of any of them on DVD or whatever technology is popular then, but maybe I’m wrong. Give me good old fashioned escapism any day…..but actually my escapism shows may actually be more realistic than the so-called reality shows. I usually see a lot of myself in certain characters.

  8. I’m afraid I despise all reality TV, but particularly those which give the morons on the other side of the screen licence to ridicule those people on the stage.
    British TV goes further and further down the drain. I don’t watch it any more.

    • I’ve heard that about British TV. Hard to believe anything could top the mindlessness, depravity, and inanity of the American tube, but I suppose Americans borrow just about everything from the Brits anyway. Other than sports, I don’t watch much TV at all.

  9. It is detestable that someone would have the audacity to do such a thing. I wouldn’t mind watching a show about how people with disabilities try to find their mate, but the title is what enrages me. Insinuating that those with disabilities are “undateable” is utterly insulting to say the least.
    And…..
    Blondes actually aren’t the “ideal” type anymore. People with more diverse and darker genes are more so in the spotlight now. These Amazonian women dominate the “ideal” position now. Lol. Kinda leaves short, blonde people like me on the sidelines. πŸ˜„

    Allie.

    • Detestable is exactly the right word for it, Allie. And you’re right about non-Scandinavian types being desirable these days…what about Beyonce, Zoe Saldana, America Ferrera…I could go on. I’m sure there’s someone for everyone out there, yourself included. πŸ™‚

      • Lol. Thanks. I actually have no problem with how I look. I was just making a little point. And there could be someone out there for you too. It’s never too late to fall in love! ❀

        Allie.

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