Yes, “Ready For Love” aired this week, but for those who watched and can’t wait to see where the show goes next, don’t hold your breath.
Late last week, NBC announced they’re cancelling the show after April 30. Which is unfortunate, not just because NBC pulled out all the promotional stops in the weeks leading up to its season premiere, but also because we were having so much fun recapping it! Bring on more dating shows! As a matter of fact, we staunchly believe there should be a whole network of nonstop dating shows. But I digress…
For most viewers, it seemed “Ready for Love” was like a first date with few sparks but plenty of potential. As we said in the series premiere recap, the show was smarter than “The Bachelor,” or at least it had the potential to be. After 17 seasons of nonstop bachelors and bachelorettes, we were more than ready to begin a new relationship with a new show. But as evidenced by dismal ratings, “Ready for Love” just didn’t cut it with audiences. Here’s why.
1. Two hours was too long.
“The Bachelor” is two hours long, but if I recall, it didn’t start that way. That franchise worked itself up to the two-hour status only after it got obscenely popular. “Ready For Love” should have done the same. For a new show, it was exhausting. Even watching on Hulu, where the commercial breaks are minimal, the show came in at 1 hour and 40 minutes.
2. It needed to focus more on the matchmakers.
The idea to bring matchmakers into the selection process was a smart one. Matthew Hussey, Amber Kelleher-Andrews, and Tracy McMillan were a welcome presence on the show, and gave us a reason to watch that had nothing to do with the bachelors and their women. No they weren’t Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, and Paula Abdul, but they were damn interesting, and NBC would’ve had a standout show if they’d have focused more on them. A show focused solely on how three matchmakers matched people up — with some REAL COMPETITION between them — would have had had us hooked.
3. Real guys, please.
Tim is a rock star. Ernesto is a rich philanthropist. Ben is a hospital CEO. Does anyone believe these guys need help finding love? I’m a guy, and if there’s one thing I know about being a guy it’s that wherever we are, whether we’re with a girl or out stag, we size up the competition and play our positions accordingly. I can always identify who in the room will clean up, who will get on base, and who will strike out. Sometimes, the person I think will fail ends up hitting a homerun — same for the guy I think will only get on base. But the guys who NEVER surprise me are the ones I can see are just in it to run up the score. Guys like, oh, say, rock stars, rich Honduran philanthropists, and ex-bankers who lived in Dubai. I understand reality television has distorted our views of “reality,” but I still believe people tune into these shows in hopes of seeing their own lives mirrored. These bachelors were as real to most people as a million dollars, which is to say, we all know a million dollars exist, but few of us have seen or touched a million dollars. These guys were ready to be on TV more than they were ready for love.
4. A distinct lack of color.
“Ready For Love” was tragically white. Yes, Ernesto was Honduran. Yes, there were contestants like the sultry Parisian, Sham, and Alba, a former Miss Puerto Rico, and even Olivia, a Catholic Iraqian. But the show was still culturally dry, and could’ve adopted more of a “We Are The World” philosophy. Aesthetically, it looked no different than “The Bachelor” except for the bells and whistles on set. “Ready For Love” could have been the dating show for blue staters who appreciate the culture clashes we see on non-dating shows like “Modern Family” or “Scandal,” (the latter of which has more surface-level diversity, but still a mix that brings other people in). We’re not naive enough to believe Hollywood cares about something like symbolism in television, and nobody was requiring NBC to make a statement about diversity with the casting. But make no mistake, tokenism, as offensive as it is, is required in 2013 — just ask Lena Dunham. You could tell by looking at the set that NBC put a lot of thought into presentation. Too bad that didn’t reflect in the show’s casting.
5. Love is a strong, strong word.
You know what’s wrong with the modern-day dating show? It over-promises and under-delivers. Eva Longoria said as much when she was promoting this show, which she produced. In the very first episode she says, “I always loved dating shows, but let’s be honest, they don’t do too well at matching people.” Yeah, Eva, we know, and we didn’t expect “Ready For Love” to be any more successful at creating a couple who would last happily ever after than any of its predecessors.
The jig is up on shows like “Ready For Love” and “The Bachelor.” No one TRULY believes that people are going to find true love on a dating show. So why don’t these shows get back to the basics of romance, AKA, dating? Help set people up on dates, document those dates, and then show what happens in a reunion season finale. But most importantly, loosen up and quit upping the stakes to fairytale-like levels. In other words: Don’t say “love” in your show title if you don’t mean it.