From Catfights to Catwalks: How TV Gets Single Life All Wrong
It seems everywhere I look these days, there’s a new dating show. Always a new angle… on the same premise. Cram one man and multiple women into an enclosed space complete with a castle, a cheesy soundtrack, and contrived dates, add a heap of drama and a dash of scandal and you’ve got the formula for a hit show. Easy as that. Very little assembly required.
Our culture (myself included!) is addicted to watching gaggles of single women scratch, claw, and pull each other’s weave out to claim the affections of one charming (or not-so-charming) beau. I suppose maybe we enjoy the cattiness and the romance and the drama of it all. (Oh, the drama. “Next week, watch the most dramatic episode in Bachelor history…” And so, we watch. Of course.)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a television junkie. I currently DVR 20+ shows (including several reality shows) and am helplessly addicted to Netflix and Hulu and Amazon and on and on and on.
I’m such a TV nerd, I once drove twelve hours to Wilmington, North Carolina to be an extra on Dawson’s Creek. But that’s a story for another day. Despite my passion for the small screen, however, I have to say – I find it troublesome how inaccurately singleness is portrayed on America’s “Must-See” TV shows.
I’m 37, never been married or engaged, and I can say that the single life is not nearly as dramatic as the girls on these shows would have us believe. And you know what? It’s not “desperate” either. For me, my relationship status says nothing about me except whom I happen to be walking with.
Granted, it’s not always comfortable to be alone in a couples-centric society, but in my opinions, no “Prince Charming” is worth manipulating, begging, or crawling over seventeen other women to get to.
So, if my singleness doesn’t mean I’m desperate, then I must be ultra-glamorous, right? Lots of hot dates, big nights out in the city, designer clothes, and wild vacations.
Nope, wrong again.
Being single is not adequately portrayed in the catfights of The Bachelor, but neither was it in the catwalks of Sex & the City either (or its modern-day counterpart, Younger. And I LOVE Younger. I like to pretend that I could pass myself off as a 26-year-old and land a ridiculously hot tattoo artist 20-something bae, too…but c’mon. I know my Ponds night cream can only cover so many flaws.) My stilettos tend to come from Target instead of Manolo Blahnik, and I’ve found the bulk of the joy of single life is found in the quiet moments rather than in crowded rooms of even the most uber-chic and fabulous.
The typical single girl’s first date doesn’t include trips to Vegas or sunning it up in the Bahamas. And that’s okay. Give me dinner and a movie that’s rooted in something real any day.
TV tells us that singleness swings on this pendulum between cat-fighting drama and thrilling sophistication. And that’s just plain false. (What are these wild expectations that we’re creating for women?)
Instead, the single life is about finding deep contentment and real satisfaction in this stage, this season, this chapter. Whether it’s for now or forever.
We are not lonely, mournful, pathetic creatures who have no identity without a man and no worth without a relationship.
What we are is brave. Too brave and too sure of who we are to settle for a life OR a love that’s less than what we deserve. Even if we are walking away from settling in chucks instead of Louboutins.
In the movie Sex & the City 2, much to my dismay, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw essentially discounted everything single and fabulous about herself that we came to love about her throughout the series with this one quote: “The minute I kissed Aiden, I remembered who I used to be. Someone just running around New York like a crazy person, trying to get the one man I love to love me back.” That was all she was doing that whole time?!
Funny… I thought she was inspiring us with her fierceness and confidence and independence… and really it all came down to a man. Sigh.
What are your favorite TV shows and how do they butcher single life? OR how do they get it right? Sound off in the comments below!
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