A while back, when NBC first announced its summer schedule, I noticed a listing for a show called "Age of Love." It was a dating show, but NBC hadn't released any other hints about its premise. Now the details are out — and they're awful.
Here's how NBC describes the show, which will premiere June 18:
31-year-old Australian tennis superstar Mark Philippoussis will attempt to find true love among women ranging in age from 21-48 in this unique series based on the current phenomenon of younger men dating older women. Philippoussis will date 13 women from two very different groups — the "Kittens," six fun, enthusiastic women in their 20's, and the "Cougars," seven beautiful, sophisticated women in their 40's.
First of all: Mark Philippoussis? Random! Why would NBC spend its time hooking up a semi-famous tennis pro and not just some average dude? And how on earth did they know Philippoussis was looking for love? Did they come to him? Did he go to them? I'm baffled. Also, now we're probably in for a whole summer of tennis/love puns ("40-love," "mixed doubles," etc.). Greeeat.
As for the setup of the show, well, I just feel icky, so read more
Here's more from NBC's press release:
The suspense builds in early episodes as Mark — unaware of the concept — is first introduced to the "Cougars." As he meets them one by one, their ages increase much to his surprise. The series takes a dramatic turn when Mark learns there's a second group of much younger women — the "Kittens" — who will also be attempting to vie for his affections. Unaware of each other, the two groups of women meet for the first time taking the competition for Mark's affections to a whole new level. From there, each week the field of women will be narrowed down with the remaining vying for his attention — but only one can win Mark's heart.
When, exactly, did "cougar" become a desirable (or even acceptable) term? I've always thought of it as something close to a slur, not something that would be bandied about on primetime TV. Furthermore, as a woman in my 20s, I'm a little offended to be referred to as a "kitten." (And we worry about "Grey's Anatomy" being bad for women.)
Let's face it: There's no way this poor guy can win. If he dates an older woman, he'll be perceived as a little gross; if he goes with a younger woman, he'll be accused of doing the "classic man" thing — choosing the youngest, prettiest gal in the room. And what exactly are we going to learn — that everyone should date someone 10 years older, or 10 years younger? Yeah, don't think so.
Finally, reality shows where the contestants don't know the twist never seem to end well — anyone remember "Boy Meets Boy"? I'm going to go ahead and guess that Mark and the viewers won't "discover if love is truly ageless," as NBC promises. We're more likely to discover that looking for love on a contrived, offensive reality show is just a really bad idea.