Humorless Reality Show Goes Straight To Stereotypes

Gay Straight or Taken?
Jenner is a sensitive lady. Modest, unwilling to be the center of attention, she is quietly seeking true-blue love in the singles jungle of LA. When she meets potential life mates, she opens herself to their unique qualities, eschewing snap judgments that reduce people to stereotypes.
That’s why she is appearing on the premiere of Lifetime’s “Gay, Straight or Taken?” tonight at 8.
The new reality series allows her to spend a few hours with three charming muscular bachelors — Chris, Mike, and Luciano — taking yoga classes and dance lessons with them. Hey, there’s an awful lot you can learn about a guy by watching him in a downward dog. Is he flexible? Is he too flexible? Does he sweat? Does he not sweat? Lifetime will give Jenner the time to find her eternal soul mate.
Well, OK, so Jenner has to rush things somewhat. The rules of the show require her to guess correctly which of the three men is straight and single, which is gay and partnered, and which is straight and partnered. Only then can she proceed to have her luxurious dream getaway with Mr. Available and plan their futures together. “I have to play detective,” Jenner tells us.
And so Jenner assesses each of her gentleman callers based on tried-and-true signs of sexual orientation and relationship status. Does he have a dirty car? Straight. Does he wear a bikini bathing suit? Gay, for sure. Is he unwilling to hold her tightly during a waltz? Taken. Definitely taken. If she guesses incorrectly at the end of the episode, the man she chooses gets the dream getaway, to enjoy with his partner.
Yeah, it’s as silly and fake and tiresome as can be. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t exploit its own great potential for humor. As Jenner tries to sharpen her gaydar and her already-taken-dar, she employs a number of grotesque stereotypes, and yet she doesn’t enjoy their ridiculousness. She appears to seriously think that if a guy sings opera, he’s got to be a homo. Or if he looks her deep in the eyes while giving her a sensual massage, he must be a solo hetero.
There will be different contestants in each episode of “Gay, Straight or Taken?” so it’s hard to predict whether future bachelorettes will be more playful. If they are, the series could become a frivolous send up of dating reality shows and the absurdity of gender clichés. But I doubt “Gay, Straight or Taken?” will morph into a comedy. After all, the players are much too busy working out at the gym and auditioning for higher-profile network reality shows to develop a sense of humor.
from The Boston Globe

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