I’m all about ladies supporting ladies, but why the need for visible, Facebook-likeable singlehood affirmation? It reminds me of kids’ sports teams handing out participation trophies to everyone, just to make sure nobody feels undervalued. I agree that marriage shouldn’t be seen as the signpost of official adulthood, but I also believe that being a certified grownup comes with forging on with or without gold stars and pats on the back. It’s ignoring peer pressure and following through fearlessly as though no one is watching and judging. And unfortunately, sometimes, it’s blocking out the nagging questions from friends, co-workers and even 8-year-old nephews as to when you’re going to get around finding that special somebody already…we’re in the midst of a major cultural shift that is upending the traditional, heteronormative path toward wedding bells and homemaking, which is a good thing. Even still, the 21st-century relationship landscape ranging from single-by-choice to polyamorous favors the bicycle-built-for-two marital structure for now. But fancy singlehood celebrations that only hearken what we’re weary of aren’t the great equalizers…
It’s tempting to laugh all this off as harmless fluff, but the impact is real. Dating shows in particular portray women as bitchy, catty, and desperate. These shows also tend to exclude intellectual, professionally accomplished women…According to a recent Girl Scouts survey of 1,100 girls, young women who regularly watch reality TV are more likely than non-viewers to “accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression, and bullying” in their lives. They’re also…more likely to believe that “It’s in girls’ nature to be catty and competitive with one another,” that “It’s hard for me to trust other girls…”
What’s most outrageous, however, aren’t the celebrations on display: It’s the show’s voyeuristic, stereotypical, judgmental, and shallow depiction of one of the world’s most misunderstood and, at times, abused minorities. “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” (a terrible, degrading title to begin with) claims to offer one-of-a-kind insight into a unique community, but it manages to achieve the opposite. Viewers are instead offered an overly simplistic view of the cultures of Travellers and Roma—two distinct groups, though the show happily conflates them into one category—with scarcely any historical or political context about their place in the United Kingdom and Europe more broadly.
President Obama’s speech Sunday night announcing the death of Osama bin Laden drew twice as many viewers as last week’s Royal Wedding and outpaced his recent policy addresses. Despite being hastily scheduled and a late hour on the East Coast, the President’s telecast was watched by 56.5 million viewers.
art: drawing by Paul Sahre