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Reminiscent of the popular dating programme ‘Blind Date,’ ITV1’s ‘Take Me Out’ is a Saturday night spectacle where viewers witness a condensed and unorthodox version of the dating process. Hosted by proud Northerner Paddy McGuiness, a selection of ladies are dolled up and lined up on stage as a mystery man in want of a woman, begs for their affections. There are usually three or four success stories per week, with only an unlucky few rejected at the podium. The premise of the show is simple: “No likey, no lighty!”; it’s a light-hearted affair that employs little of the humiliation tactics of The X Factor, with a lot of the fake tan of The Only Way Is Essex.
Image is of course integral to the participants as they compete with each other to secure a date. Logically this would engender a desire to exhibit your own unique appeal, yet several of the contestants seem to deliberately exaggerate outdated female stereotypes in an attempt to gain attention. This appears to particularly be the case this year, as the last two series were such a resounding success.
Whilst some may argue that authenticity and reality television are mutually exclusive, others may feel disheartened that shallow ideals about what makes a woman attractive are being endorsed by the programme. Many of the women act in a ‘cute’ or ‘ditzy’ manner, with deliberately no evidence of their intellectual ability because they believe their looks are enough – and in most episodes this proves to be true. When the choice is narrowed down between a bubbly blonde and another contestant, the man often chooses the former. Arguably the type of men who apply for the show are looking for fifteen minutes of fame rather than a lasting love affair, thus justifying their fickle criteria. Whatsmore is the deliberate increase in the bosses at ITV selecting ‘beautiful people’ for a programme dedicated to helping those who are less desirable than most people. Those who break the conventional mould somewhat have clearly been chosen for entertainment value to account for their place on the show, such as this year‘s giggly Graice or eccentric Fleur. This is not to say that women are being objectified as both genders use cheesy chat-up lines and often appear uninterested in a spiritual connection, but diversity on screen should be easy to find in the twenty-first century, surely?
Whilst blonde hair, a fortunate bust and tanned skin is portrayed as attractive, so should a variety of looks and personality types. Take Me Out makes no claim to be as legitimate as cupid’s arrow but it does profess to be a platform for the unlucky in love, rather than those likely to turn heads easily. It would just be refreshing to appreciate the women on the show for their personality and wit, rather than poking some fun at their dim and ditzy nature.