Even Madonna and Gloria Steinem are, after protracted periods celebrating the adolescent joys of flying solo, settling down (and good luck to them both), but on TV we still get the Hollywood Happy Face: When it comes to portraying single life, the script that gets sold is not "Microwave Pizza Alone, Again," it's "Sex and the City." When it comes to portraying divorce, TV goes into cover-up mode: Fatherless Families! It's not a social crisis! It's a great idea for a new hit TV series!
In February, Fox will air "I Want a Divorce!" which is some sadomasochist's idea of an entertaining new premise for a game show. Couples who have already filed for divorce will go on national TV to hash out the details of their divorce settlement. Contestants may not have children under age 18 (thank God for small favors). If the two-hour special in sweeps week is a success, a series may be in the offing. The answering machine set up to answer calls from potential contestants trills, "Turn your divorce into a good thing!" according to Eve Tushnet's story in the National Catholic Register. Peter Isacksen, executive producer for the show's parent company, calls it good, clean "voyeuristic fun." Look for the sequel, "I Want a Root Canal!" in which the contestant who agrees to the greatest amount of dental work with the least amount of novocaine wins a new car. Coming soon to a network near you.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.