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Tempted? Don't Be!


by Neena Louise

I thought that the 1999-2000 television season was the worst season ever, and that it would remain the worst on record. But as the old adage goes: it can always get worse. With the 2000-2001 season finally beginning to show itself for what it is, that adage has never proven itself more true.

The new shows are so bad they almost make me want to cry. Dreadful alleged "comedies" like the already-canceled Normal, Ohio, the appropriately titled Cursed (renaming it The Weber Show hasn't helped it at all), and one-joke shows like Welcome to New York and Bette, make me think there's nothing funny this new year/millennium/century. As for drama, returning shows like The Practice, Providence and Judging Amy are already starting to show their age, and new shows like Boston Public, Ed and Gideon's Crossing, while decent enough, look startlingly similar. What's left? You got it: Reality television.

Riding on the coattails of last season's ratings bonanza Survivor, a whole slew of really bad reality shows have popped up, and will continue to pop up until the networks GET A CLUE and realize irresponsible over-cloning leads to in-bred retards. The worst of this relatively new genre is Temptation Island. As I struggled through the first half hour (I couldn't bear to watch any more), the same thought ran through my mind: "What kind of sick mind thought this up?", quickly followed (as I turned the channel) by, "What kind of sick mind would want to watch this crap?".

Temptation Island's premise is to separate and "strand" (in the lap of luxury, I might add) semi-committed couples on an island with a group of hard-bodied singles to see if they could be tempted to fool around on their significant other. I'm not sure what the winner gets, because I just couldn't stand to watch it long enough to find out. The mostly under-30 (maturity-wise, under-16) couples ogle the singles and eliminate the ones they think their mate might like to mess around with, as the host Mark L. Walberg (and, no, not THAT Mark Wahlberg), tries for drama and winds up with unintentional hilarity. I watched and wondered what possessed the participants to want to do this in the first place. It seems to me if you are unsure if your girlfriend/boyfriend would be tempted to fool around on you, you're not ready for a serious relationship in the first place. And if you're willing to discover your partner's level of commitment in front of a national audience, despite the potential (more like inevitable) humiliation...well, there's something wrong with you.

Most of the participating singles aren't airheads, either - none seem to be the lazy loser type. Many are aspiring actor/models (big surprise, there), but surprisingly, many are professional people: a medical resident, a crisis counselor, a teacher, etc. Why would they want to appear in what amounts to little more than a jiggle show? Could they be like Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire's Darva Conger, who insisted she merely wanted a free vacation (and we all know how well that turned out)? Or do they just want to strut their beautiful bodies on camera for millions to see? Or is it just about money? Are people so greedy and insecure that they're willing to humiliate themselves and sink to such depths in order to achieve such shallow goals? And are we so desperate for something new on TV that we're willing to watch this? Oh, lord, I hope not.

The most ridiculous thing I've heard about Temptation Island is that one of the couples was disqualified because they have a child. Oh, so I guess the message the show is trying to convey is that having sex with a virtual stranger behind your partner's back is acceptable, but having a child with your longtime partner without being married is NOT? Oh, puh-leeze!

I really didn't think there would ever be a worse, more exploitive, more ridiculous, more sick show than Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire. Ever. But Temptation Island manages it nicely.

Only on Fox.  
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