Perhaps nothing better illustrates the artificiality of TV "reality" shows than the hostess for Fox's latest edition of Monday night footsie: Monica Lewinsky.
In her new five-week show, "Mr. Personality," Lewinsky will escort red-headed stockbroker Hayley Arp through the challenging task of picking an alleged "lifelong" love match from a batch of 20 men -- wearing clunky masks that make them resemble crash-test dummies.
What qualifications does Lewinsky have to be mistress of ceremonies? Brian Gadinsky, the executive producer for this typically vulgar Fox masked ball, was blunt: "Tune-in curiosity. We thought she'd be a great choice to garner interest in the show. It's worked. Everybody's talking about it." The reason was buzz and buzz alone. (Gadinsky also claimed he hired her because she had a "great personality.")
The Fox Web site suggests in its show biographies that Ms. Lewinsky is best known for her B.S. degree in psychology from Lewis and Clark College, and "she currently lives in New York City and is considering a future career in law." Her greatest qualification for Fox's circus ringmasters is undoubtedly her infamous White House sexual escapades.
But think of how Monica's presidential-dating style actually makes Fox romance shows look like slow-motion courtship. Five weeks of getting to know you? If she wanted Lewinsky's advice, the show's protagonist could just flash a thong at a powerful boss and get on with the nearly anonymous office action. Remember Monica complaining that she and the president had conducted a series of steamy encounters before he seemed to remember her name? That could make "Mr. Personality" look like "Leave It to Beaver."
But Fox doesn't really want to look demure. They like the naughty image. Here's how Fox chose to "recap" its own premiere online: "We're hit with a fast-paced montage of hot tubs, semi-naked frolicking, a guy screaming 'sit on Daddy's lap!' and other such debauchery." Fox has a history of exaggerating its offerings. They don't tell you they're describing the first 60 seconds of the show, which gives viewers a preview of all the lowlights to come.
The show wants to manufacture an acceptable mix of fairy-tale romance and dirty-dog sexual entendres. In the first show, the supposedly secretive suitors were loose-lipped about how they're "pretty good in the sack," and one boasted "I want to please my woman over and over and over again."