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 show is to parent show The Flavor of Love what The Bachelorette is to The Bachelor -- only cruder and more cringe-inducing. Through contests and conversations (most of which are accompanied by drinking and some sexual activity) one woman chooses a boyfriend from a group of 20 bachelors. Her choices are often based on extremely superficial characteristics. While most of the lessons to be gleaned from the show are simply immature, some -- like choosing a mate because he likes to drink a lot -- are borderline dangerous. The show features crass humor, wild behavior, excessive drinking, and highly sexual scenarios. Intense homophobia is at play, particularly directed at the effeminate, caricatured male personal assistant.
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What's the story?
A spin-off of the cringe-inducing series Flavor of Love, I LOVE NEW YORK is basically the same show. But instead of former Public Enemy rapper Flavor Flav in the spotlight, it's one of his most flamboyant paramours, Tiffany "New York" Patterson. The show follows her quest for true love (or as much fame as she can get out of a VH1 reality show) as she gathers 20 love (or is it fame?) seekers into an ornately decorated mansion replete with a romantic grotto and swimming pool. The 20 men -- who have nicknames like "Tango," "Bones," and "12 Pack" -- vie for her attention while living together in the house. Patterson's quest for romantic perfection is aided by her mother, Sister Patterson, whose seriousness is comically intense.
Is it any good?
Teens might love the car wreck that is I Love New York, but with its warped examples of romantic relationships, the superficial standards by which someone is judged ("New York" likes one guy because "he looks good in clothes"), the excessive drinking (she likes another guy because "he drinks a lot"), and the orgy-like atmosphere, many parents will want to change the channel.
Both Flavor of Love and I Love New York take the reality dating show genre to new levels (sub-basement ones, that is). Fighting, cursing, and talking about bodies, sex, sexuality, etc. are all part of the game -- and the goal isn't just to win the heart of the show's star, but to become a star oneself. In one scene, Sister grills several of the young men with her most pressing question: "Are you gay?" She hones in on one particularly buff guy who admits to plucking his eyebrows. When she asks if he's ever had the opportunity to sleep with a man, he answers affirmatively, telling her that he could probably have sex with "New York"'s male personal assistant, the ultra-effeminate Chamo, if he wanted to (though of course, he doesn't want to).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about dating and relationships. What do teens and parents see in this show that goes against their beliefs about dating and relationships? What purpose does a series like this serve? Is it just meant to be a guilty pleasure? For parents: What are your thoughts about the dating process? Do you have ideas about what kind of person is right for your teen? For teens: What do you look for in a potential boyfriend or girlfriend? Do you think those criteria will change as you get older?