July 27, 2009

I adore reality shows, specifically the love/romance/dating/wedding genre (I was even in the audience for “The Bachelor’s” first “After the Final Rose” special).

I also love “chick” shows—those fictitious romantic/comedy/dramas geared to those of us with two X chromosomes.

I get the best of both worlds this summer with two new series: “Drop Dead Diva” on Lifetime and “Dating in the Dark” on ABC.

“Diva” tells the story of a thin, blonde, beautiful party girl named Deb who dies in a car accident at the same time a heavy, intelligent, brunette attorney named Jane is shot by a vengeful former client at her firm. The soul of the blonde ends up in the body of the brunette—so Jane now has Deb’s memories, confidence and fashion sense coupled with her own intellect and knowledge of the law. The combo makes for some interesting and heartwarming scenes of Jane with her client, such as last week when she represented a waitress whose weight gain got her fired from her job at a hip L.A. bar. The twist is that Deb’s former boyfriend is the newest lawyer at the firm: Can Jane garner his love when she doesn’t look like Deb?

The premise of “Dark” asks: Can two people find love without ever seeing each other? Every week, three men and three women spend time in a house (different wings of course), without ever seeing each other. They all first meet in a room and then are told who they are most compatible with. They have several dates with that person, but can opt to go on dates with anyone. They date in a pitch-black room, learn about each other by checking out each other’s clothes and have only their other senses to tell them whether they are with Mr. or Ms. Right. At the end of the week they may choose one person of the other gender to see in the light—however, that person can’t see them at the same time. Once reality has set in, each couple has to decide if they want to continue the relationship out of the house by meeting the other on a balcony. On the first show, two of the three couples had a “happily ever after” (at least an implied one). What was painful to watch was the last couple: A nice Jewish boy named Seth got shafted and had to watch the non-Jewish girl he spent so much time with walk out the front door and down the driveway. Maybe he’ll end up on JDate?

I love that both of these shows focus on a person’s inside and not just their outside. How many of us have ever gone on a date—or turned down a date with someone—based totally on the way they looked? These shows go beyond “Beauty and the Geek,” which puts up contestants at both extremes. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

This week, Fox is debuting its new show: “More to Love,” which is being touted as a “Bachelor” for the size 12-14 set. The show was created by “Bachelor” developer Mike Fleiss and is hosted by “plus-size” model Emme.

A show for the “normal-size” girls?

Maybe we haven’t come as far as I thought.

” title=”Dating in the Dark” target=”_blank”>“Dating in the Dark” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

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