Last night, ABC premiered a new dating show called Conveyor Belt of Love. According to ABC’s website, it was a one hour special, so maybe this was a one time event? Or maybe they were testing it out and depending on how well the show does they’re going to bring it back on MySpace and cell phones? I have no idea how TV works anymore. The premise of Conveyor Belt of Love is simple enough: four single women sit in chairs purchased at Target on a raised dais made of plywood, as men are dragged in front of their view on a CONVEYOR BELT and given 60 seconds to make their case for why they are a special snowflake that deserves a special snowflake date. If more than one woman is interested in a man (the women hold paddles that read “interested” on one side and “not interested” on the other side) then the “tables turn” (actual rule on the show) and the guys get to ask the ladies questions before making their choice of which lady to date, possibly, if they don’t get eliminated on the next go-round of the OL’ CONVEYOR BELT. At the end of the episode, the ladies and the surviving men go on dates, reality TV show style. And that is a show. Now you’re cooking with a show.
I’m pretty sure the marketing campaign at the upfronts last May was “conveyor belts haven’t been this exciting since Henry Ford revolutionized the industrial production complex!” Seriously, it is 2010, and we are still fascinated by watching things SLIDE AROUND LATERALLY. The thing is, once you get over the novelty of using a conveyor belt to present men like they’re all-you-can-eat-novelty-sushi, what we’re left with is another sad depiction of the depressing state of normative reality TV concepts of “love.”
For one thing, the guys were pretty carefully selected to fall into one of two archetypal reality TV categories:
Let me demonstrate:
The only thing that was really “interesting” about the show was watching adults try to sell themselves. Remember, these are human beings, many of whom have lived in a world of human beings for as many as 30+ years, and these are the ways not only that they choose to reductively represent themselves, but also the ways in which they think they will be attractive to others:
Like, the guy who was basically Jim Cramer from Mad Money who came out wearing a silk boxing cape with a dollar sign emblazoned on the back and then proceeded to do magic tricks? We should all be so lucky as to find something in this world that makes us happy, but we should recognize when those things are going to make everyone else the opposite of happy. You know? PRO-TIP: unless you are Jim Cramer, you should avoid being like Jim Cramer, magic aside.
Not that the “hot”/schadenfreude didactic always worked. Sometimes the ladies, in their desperation to not end up the only one at the end of CONVEYOR BELT OF LOVE (actual name of “show”) without a man standing in her “box” (no pun, but also this show was called Conveyor Belt of Love, so let’s not take things too seriously!) would subvert their own desires and interests. Like, what is happening here?
I’m not trying to fit everyone into a pre-conceived box of social conformity, but COME ON, BRO! Incidentally, he gets eliminated before the end of the Conveyor Belt Portion of the Show, because duh. The only “surprise” guy who makes it through to the end is the overweight guy who does an “excellent Chris Farley impersonation” (his words), who ends up on a date with the “blonde” woman who seems to wear her panic as perfume. She was like a full season of Cougar Town in a mini-dress. She has to put a lot of product in her hair because otherwise it will be matted to her forehead with the desperation sweat of a thousand nights spent dreaming of a FUCKING HUSBAND. The fat guy seems completely overwhelmed that someone would actually pick him for a date, and the blonde girl seems completely confused why the hotter guys on the Belt weren’t attracted to her neediness and existential lack. WIN-WIN.
The only two people who could possibly have anything to do with each other once the cameras stop rolling was the insufferable Tila Tequila knock-off (as if there is another type of Tila Tequila knock-off) and the man who made his entrance wearing nothing but a Speedo and carrying his purse dog. They clearly just want to fuck each other on camera in the hopes that someone is looking to cast on FOX’s upcoming new show, Spiritually Bankrupt People Want To Fuck (on a Conveyor Belt), or whatever. Nice fedoras, BOTH OF YOU. Their love is symbolized by their dogs?
As far as what this show says about “love” or “modern dating,” obviously the answer is nothing. In fact, in the world of reality TV, which is emotionally retarded and intellectually stunted as a rule, I would be hard pressed (nullus) to find a show that says LESS about “love” or “modern dating” than Conveyor Belt of Love. “Modern love is all about sixty second attempts to get the good side of the paddle and then go on an unfulfilling afternoon date at a low-rent outdoor cafe surrounded by a second-tier camera crew.” No. But this show does tell us one thing about the way we live now: WE LOVE THINGS ON CONVEYOR BELTS STILL.
UPDATE: HOLD THE PRESSES, VICKI VALE! I have just been informed that Scott Schofield, the unusual “dude” in the clip above, is actually a post-op transgender performance artist? Here is his website! DID CONVEYOR BELT OF LOVE JUST CHANGE THE WORLD? (No, but also that is hilarious and awesome?!)