TV With Laura: Tough Love

With The Bachelor dead and gone from our television schedule (for the moment, anyway), it’s time to start a new journey. For those interested in discussing the newest disaster on VH1, Tough Love, let’s do it. Jump for mild outrage, questions galore, and unabashed awe at the knack VH1 has for creating truly terrible shows.

So, the premise of Tough Love is pretty much “single women are desperate and stupid.” But not to worry, single ladies, help is on the way in the form of host/amateur therapist/professional matchmaker Steve Ward. He tells us from the get-go (in a tough, Bronx-y accent no less) that he is responsible for “countless marriages.” He tells women what they need to hear to find love. He follows it up with, “Nobody knows single women like I do.” No word on whether Steve is married, but based on the fact that he is missing an undershirt, I’m guessing no.

So, it’s time to meet the ladies. Question: why is it necessary that every single VH-1 show insists on giving women nicknames. Is the name “Jacqueline” so incredibly hard to remember that we need to call her Miss Bridezilla instead? Because that’s what we do. There’s Miss Party Girl, Miss Ball Buster, Miss Picky, Miss Gold Digger, Miss Fatal Attraction, and Miss Guided. (Incidentally, Miss Party Girl’s real name is “Arian,” which I think is such an odd thing to name your kid. But whatever.)

So speed dating ensues, and the wily Steve is in deep undercover. Our girls make mistakes. Miss Party Girl opens with “I used to dance with my clothes off.” Miss Ball Buster brags, “I’m Serbian. I’m a vampire.” In voice over, Steve says, “Rule No. 1: don’t be weird.” I laughed in spite of myself.

So, Steve reveals himself. (“We’ve been duped!” one of the women notes.) He makes quick judgments on all of these poor woman and then says, “If you don’t listen to me, you very well might end up alone.” Miss Gold Digger opines, “I don’t trust him with all the tea in china.”

Which turns out to be a prett good call because he tells them about their first challenge—possibly the worst thing I’ve seen in television in a long time. (Keep in mind, I watched Rock of Love Bus last night, so that’s saying a lot.) The women have to strut their stuff in the backyard for three men–strangers–who have been instructed to be “brutally honest.” It really is painful to watch. My heart goes out to Miss Guided, who ends up getting stuck in the curtains on her way out to the patio.

The producers hit paydirt. They managed to find men who have no souls, sisters, mothers, or girlfriends–how else to explain them saying things like, “She looked like she should have the body of someone 6 feet tall, but some guy squashed her down to 5 feet. And all the weight is still there in the hips…I would be p*ssed off if I woke up next to her.” The dude said that on camera. And the other two fellas were no kinder. (Unrelated: didn’t the one in Miami Vice mode look so much like Bob from the Biggest Loser? )

Steve justifies the experience by saying that’s what men do every single day. I would argue that’s what people do every single day–have inappropriate–sometimes mean, even–thoughts. But it’s your duty as a human being to maybe control yourself. Don’t say it out loud. I prefer to blog it.

But matchmaker Steve knows from his stint in the Marines (of which I have no confirmation on) that he had to break the girls down before he can build them up. So, after humiliating them, and after Miss Gold-digger battles with a bidet, the building blocks begin! All of the women must hand over their cell phones and for whatever reason (product placement? contact information for old boyfriends for future humiliation?), they are all given new ones from Steve’s purse. Then it’s off to the salon for a make-over! Here we learn that Miss Gold Digger might have legitimate reasons for being worried about money: she got pregnant at 19, lost custody of the kid after 16 months, and was homeless. Umm…the woman has had real tragedy in her life. Seems sort of callous to saddle her with a dumb nickname. (Although another contestant labels her a “glory wh*re,” and I kind of liked the sound of that for future personal use.)

After all of the ugly stepsisters are transformed into Cinderellas, they all board a Jon & Kate Plus Eight-sort of huge van. And here’s the best part of the entire wretched show: Steve is driving the bus! Is the budget on this show that small? I mean, even on Charm School, Sharon Osborne didn’t have to drive the little yellow school bus around for challenges!

During challenge two, all the girls improve dramatically, which is so hard to believe. Who could imagine that anyone would be more comfortable at a cocktail party than, say, strutting their stuff in front of three strangers in the crap backyard? Miss Bridezilla meets a man about whom she says, “I’m going to open my heart up to him.” Uh oh. The other women do okay, they jump in the scary van, and head home.

The next day, it’s time for Group Therapy. Miss Gold Digger has been taken to hospital with mysterious symptoms–who knows? But she’s my favorite. Steve makes this ominous pronouncement at the top of the session: “Generally speaking, women are more delusional than men when it comes to dating.” Quick rant: Untrue. Most women I know are painfully realistic about the world of dating and we manage our expectations accordingly. It’s men who are delusional. They expect perfection. And angels blowing trumpets. And fireworks.

Okay, I’m done. So, Steve announces the winner of the challenge–Miss Picky who is an entertainment journalist who was earlier accused of being fat. Umm…Yay for her? Miss Bridezilla loses because she dared to complain about her new haircut and her ugly shoes. “Children whine and complain. Women deal with it,” Steve chastises.

Did I mention that Steve is in business with his mom? He shouldn’t hate women as much as he does. I’m praying for a mutiny on the next episode.

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