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 The Proposal is a matchmaking game show that has a lot of confusing messages about finding love. There's some sexual talk and joking, but attempts are made to keep it respectful (but not always classy). Words like “ass” are audible at times, and sometimes people's backgrounds include serious subjects. Traditional gender roles are reinforced on this show, and its weird approach to finding a partner is more grotesque than fun to watch.
What's the story?
From the creator of The Bachelor comes THE PROPOSAL, a game show where men and women compete to impress a mystery man or woman they want to marry. Hosted by Jesse Palmer, each one hour episode features 10 eligible men and women participating chosen by matchmakers in four pageant-like rounds designed to highlight their physical attractiveness, their personalities, their life goals, and their overall compatibility. After each one, the contestants who fail to charm are eliminated. The two remaining in the contest get to meet the mystery person face-to-face, and learn who they have chosen to propose marriage to.
Is it any good?
This awkward matchmaking competition feels like a pageant with no real winners. It shows men and women displaying themselves and their personalities in front of a unidentified stranger for the first time in hopes of getting engaged when the episode is over. It attempts to frame the whirlwind events in a positive way by characterizing their willingness to participate in the process as honest and courageous. It also sends mixed messages, including highlighting the importance of getting to know someone’s inner-self, while requiring contestants, most of whom do not look or dress like models or athletes, to participate in a bathing suit round to be judged on physical appearance.
It’s hard not to cringe as contestants stand in front of a person hidden from view (and a national audience) in partial dress, answering questions, and briefly offering personal details about themselves. Also troubling is the fact that despite the show’s non-traditional, almost carnivalesque approach to making a love match, the response to contestants who don't favor more traditional gender roles in a relationship isn’t very supportive. Overall, The Proposal is a pretty dysfunctional viewing experience filled with baffling ideas about finding a soulmate.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the possibility of finding true love on a game show. Can you really know if you've found your soulmate after asking them a few questions?
Is The Proposal really supposed to help people find try true love? Or is it just supposed to be entertaining? Why would people agree to expose themselves physically and emotionally to someone they don’t know in such a public forum?