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Gay, Straight or Taken?
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 dating reality/game show puts a woman and three men in semi-intimate situations designed to help the woman determine the men's sexuality and relationship status. In one episode, a woman wearing a bikini top gets a back and face massage by a male contestant. The camera focuses intensely on the men's bodies, especially when they're asked to take off their shirts. The female contestant must analyze the men's appearance and behavior and make assumptions about their sexuality. While this is mostly handled with respect, plenty of stereotyping occurs.
What's the story?
In GAY, STRAIGHT OR TAKEN?, a single woman must guess the status of three male suitors. Her challenge is to determine which of them is straight and single (as opposed to gay or already in a committed relationship). If she chooses correctly, the two of them go on an exotic vacation together; if she chooses incorrectly, the man she picked goes on the vacation with his partner, and she gets nothing. For example, in one episode, 27-year-old real estate agent Jenner checks out her three good-looking, well-groomed, physically fit prospects, wondering whether form-fitting swimming trunks mean a guy's gay, or a confident massage means he's straight. Because each man is hoping to be chosen, the women can't trust anything the guys say or do.
Is it any good?
Gay, Straight or Taken? puts the potential couples through familiar dating show set-ups designed to get them comfortable with each other -- yoga instruction, pool time, a salsa lesson, etc. Each of these scenarios is awkward and hardly revealing, but, unlike some other dating shows, Gay, Straight or Taken? feels lighthearted and barely competitive: no binge drinking, no topless hot tubs, no catfights.
With its fairly original take on the dating-show concept, and one based on the day-to-day dating habits of heterosexual women all over the world, this show's premise is based on making assumptions about someone based on their appearance and actions while also being deceived -- obviously not the greatest lessons for teens. But watching an episode or two might provide a good starting point for a discussion about assumptions and identity. And although stereotypes about gay men are certainly presented, viewers are often surprised by who actually ends up being gay -- offering a lesson in avoiding snap judgments and assumptions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about making assumptions about people based on their appearance. What kind of things can you tell about people from looking at them? In general, what's wrong with making assumptions based on looks? Have you ever been judged on your appearance? Have you ever made assumptions or snap judgments about other people that turned out to be very wrong? Do you think you're a good judge of people? What messages is this show sending to viewers?