A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this show is much less harsh in its criticism of the subject than other makeover shows, and it focuses far less on commercial products. Overall perfection isn't the goal; quirkiness and individuality aren't just allowed, they're admired, and the core message is that there's someone out there for everyone. That said, the show is based on the premise that some people are so nerdy they need to be "fixed" -- and that magically fixing one or a few shortcomings can result in speedy romantic success.
What's the story?
Transforming the dating-challenged is the name of the game in CAN'T GET A DATE, a witty VH1 reality show in which people who have dating trouble get makeovers. Subjects are socially impaired by a wide range of issues, including shyness, slovenliness, acne, and even toe fungus. Whatever it is, the problem is isolated within minutes in a slickly edited introduction, narrated by \"the Host,\" that also showcases the subject's quirky charm and potential for appeal. The Host is part observer and part ringmaster. He speaks but isn't seen, providing viewers with an intimate sense of involvement with the subject and also creating the sense of a mysterious, all-knowing omnipresence that's running the show and bestowing new blessings in the form of skin therapies, karate lessons, and other get-better-quick treatments. It's the even, reassuring, slightly ironic timbre of the Host's voice -- along with the smoothly percussive music -- that gives Can't Get a Date its hip, modern tone.
Is it any good?
Having met the subject and gotten the gist of the problem, viewers follow the subject's process as the problem is addressed. This isn't a total-makeover show -- the subject's overall appearance isn't completely altered. The makeover focuses directly on the top one to three issues that are hindering the subject. Throughout the process, the Host's voice offers advice, provides critique, and mildly delivers the same occasional, teasing quips the viewer might be thinking.
As the various treatments, lessons, and flirting advice unfold, they're punctuated by brief interviews with the subject, who may or may not follow the show's advice. No one pushes or cajoles the subject. The Host's voice and the cool music are only softly modulated as all the mesmerizing attention stays on the subject and how he or she reveals him or herself to be really, truly datable -- or not. It's all up to the subject, and that self-determination appears to be the point here -- you can lead the hapless to water, but will they actually take your advice and drink (without slurping all over themselves)?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes a person attractive. What about the person featured in each episode is charming or interesting? How do their values come across? What seems to be inhibiting them, and how could it be addressed? Do you think the makeovers are a success? What might they have done differently? Also, do you really think there is someone for everyone? Is it realistic to approach dating with that assumption?