Category Archives: Essay

Fellatio, Fecal Matter, and Serial Killers: America’s Long Romance with TV Dating

From Hollywood, the dating capital of the world, in color, it’s The Dating Game.”

A heart-shaped spotlight trained on a yellow and red striped curtain. The cloth pulled apart and out strolled Jim Lange, host of the show from 1965 to 1980.

So began America’s long relationship with TV dating.

This was  back when televisions were blocky, wood-paneled boxes. But today, I’m watching the show on YouTube, and little feels foreign to me – nothing outside the aesthetic anyway.

Of course, there’s the décor – the psychedelic splatters of rainbow paint (Are they flowers?) that seemed to contaminate every single surface of the 1960s. And then there’s the total lack of color, which is to say everyone involved is white. (So incredibly white.)

But aside from that, there’s nothing novel about the show. Not in the 21st century. There’s nothing new about the concept, or the tropes.

It’s by turns awkward and teasing. Some bachelors and suitors are right at home in front of an audience. They’re charming and sly, giving creative and cheeky answers. Others are nervous and uptight. They stutter through questions and brim with boring cliches.

It’s not hard to see how viewers could quickly tire of the formula.

So in came the celebrities…

Sally Field, Dick Clark, Adam West, Andy Kaufman, Tom Selleck, Michael Richards, Vincent Price, Farrah Fawcett, John Ritter, Steve Martin, Ron Howard, Bob Saget, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Jackson and Pee Wee Herman all appeared on The Dating Game.

Turns out, it’s more fun to watch famous people pick and choose prospective mates from what might be considered ordinary* folks.

The term ordinary here is obviously subjective. No ordinary person expects to find love with Farrah Fawcett (or anyone else for that matter) on a TV dating show. Most of these people are likely aspiring actors or fame-seekers themselves.

In one especially morbid incident, a contestant turned out to be a serial killer…

When Rodney Alcala, appeared on the show in 1978, he was already a convicted rapist. On the show, he was simply described as a successful photographer. He would win. And two years later, he would be sentenced to death for the murder of at least 50 people.

We’re gonna have a great time together Cheryl,” he intones with sly grin on his face.

What’s your best time?” Cheryl asks.

The best time is at night. Night time… Because that’s the only time there is.”

That wouldn’t be the last time a murderer appeared on a TV dating show, either.

In 2009, the short-lived Megan Wants a Millionaire – a spin-off of a spin-off, of a spin-off, of a spin-off – was abruptly canceled after four episodes, when VH1 learned the show’s runner-up was being sought by police in connection with a murder. Indeed, third-place finisher Ryan Jenkins had killed his wife and stuffed her body into a suitcase before taking his own life.

Surprisingly, this didn’t end VH1’s dalliances with dating shows – a long chain of increasingly depraved installments that sprouted from its sleeper hit Flava of Love, snowballed with Brett Michaels-based successor Rock of Love, and continues to this day with Dating Naked.

It’s been a long, sordid journey, no doubt… But fun to watch.

When I was a kid I routinely watched Singled-Out – MTV’s Gen-X Dating Game spoof hosted by Chris Hardwick and Jenny McCarthy. I also enjoyed watching shows like Blind Date, and its predecessor Love Connection.

Love Connection ran 11 seasons and 2,120 episodes from 1983 to 1998. Its participants could choose a partner from a group of suitors or let the audience do it for them. Then they’d come back on the next episode to review the date.

Blind Date (1999-2006) cut out the middle-man. Cameras simply followed the date around until it culminated either in the suggestion of a sexual encounter or a total disaster.

Obviously, it’s Blind Date’s disasters that were most fun to watch. When people talk about fireworks on a date they usually mean it in a good way. But when it comes to reality TV, truly luminous displays only spring from dates that crash and burn.

These disasters cast a hot, burning light on the very worst aspects of humanity – self-hate, self-pity, self-absorption, ego, overindulgence, superficiality, cluelessness and outright drunkenness.

It’s trainwreck television, where resolutions aren’t fulfilling and romantic, but rather painful and cringe-worthy.

Like this:

What was really great about Blind Date, though, were the smug pop-up bubbles that would appear on the screen. These bubbles would color the experience, by shading the participants. Often times, the input came in the form of thought bubbles. Other times it was from made-up characters like Therapist Joe and Dr. Date.

This is a key element – one that I think marks the dawn of modern reality dating shows.

See, moments of embarrassment frequently arose in shows like The Dating Game and Love Connection, but they rarely had the effect of humiliating those involved. They were usually polite detours. They were mild expressions of discomfort whose spontaneity endeared the viewer to the subject. After all, most everyone can imagine being flustered upon being asked to sing a song or confess the details of a romantic tryst on television.

Blind Date was different. It put two people (albeit voluntarily) in an awkward situation. Then, after the fact, through the editing process, it provided snarky, often derisive, commentary.

It was never terribly hostile – always just a sideways glance and a “Get a load of this guy…”.  And in most cases, it was easy to laugh at because the dater deserved it. Often times they acted like a legit jerk. But even if they didn’t, this is what they signed up for.

Hell, many of the people that went on Blind Date weren’t even interested in finding love. They were actors trying to get TV credits to pad their resumes. They also got paid, and in standard reality TV fashion, much of the action was egged on by producers and even scripted.

The whole artifice is fake. That’s what reality dating is, pure spectacle. The only thing real is the audience’s appetite for schadenfraude.

But again, it was Blind Date that hit on this early. The butt of the joke was no longer daters saying “butt” in a joke, it was the daters themselves.

The days of of watching TV daters merely discuss once-taboo topics is gone. Audiences long ago stopped oohing and ahhing over slick innuendo and suggestions of virility that border on threatening.

Romance and foreplay are out, humiliation and conflict are in.

The change occurred in earnest when The Bachelor turned the Dating Game into Survivor. But it really hit a crescendo with one of my favorite reality dating shows of all time: Joe Millionaire.

In this show, 20 women were convinced the bachelor they were vying for was a millionaire. But in reality, he was really just a construction worker (/model).

The highlight came when Sarah, a lawyer by day, was caught giving the bachelor fellatio in the woods at night. The camera hovered on the moonlit trees, while the subtitles “Umh, (smack), Uhm, (slurp),” ran across the bottom of the screen.

Once again: A lawyer sucked off a construction worker in the woods, the whole time thinking he had millions of dollars. It was filmed and subtitled. 

Fox aired it, and the network was richly rewarded for doing so.

Joe Millionaire was a huge success, one that banked on making a mockery of would-be Bachelor contestants. The show’s audience averaged 40 million viewers, and 42% of adults age 18-to-49 tuned in for the finale – an audience bigger than all the other networks combined.

I was a freshman in college at the time and they aired it on a projection screen in the commissary.

The series ranked third in the Nielsen Ratings that year, scoring a 13.3. That came in behind CSI and Friends but ahead of ER, American Idol, Survivor, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Monday Night Football.

ABC’s The Bachelor came in at No. 16, with a 9.9.

Clearly, The Bachelor/Bachelorette failed to capture the attention of Americans the way Joe Millionaire did.

Draped in fancy clothes and wielding roses, these shows let the audience believe romance is central to the plot. But it’s really just a bougie illusion.

The Bachelor aspires to be something more elegant than it is, like a “tasteful” sex shop. It’s the old, generic, romance novel gathering dust on a shelf while copies of Fifty Shades of Grey fly out of the store.

For example, in 2014, a weeping contestant sat on a couch and asked the bachelorette that rejected him: “Knowing how in love with you I was, if you weren’t in love with me, I’m just not sure why, why you made love with me?


And that was a watershed moment for a show that was 10 seasons deep (17 if you count the original Bachelor). Finally, the show that had stubbornly refused to acknowledge sex acknowledged sex.

That show, the season’s finale, registered a 7.5 in the ratings – about half of what Joe Millionaire pulled.

More recently, The Bachelorette enjoyed the most attention it’s gotten in decades from a character known as “Bad Chad.” Chad’s defiant attitude, bad manners, and willingness to openly question the authenticity of the medium itself actually made this show watchable and entertaining… if only for a few episodes.

Chad is ridiculous but he scored big with the audience because he called The Bachelorette’s suitors out on their phoniness. He undermined the show’s key illusion (delusion, really) that these people are being earnest in their quest for “love.”

“I don’t know yet,” he responds when The Bachelorette asks what he loves about her.  “All these guys can all tell you the different things they love about you and they’ve studied about  you on TV or whatever, but I don’t know.”

Then he scolds the other suitors: “You can’t be in love with her! If you are that’s weird!”

Chad is clearly trying to set himself apart as the truth-teller, but he’s also right.

Who are these saps pretending to love a girl they know nothing about? It is what Chad called “a parade of losers.”

That’s what made Chad so great… And ultimately tragic because he didn’t last long. Still, his absence was such a blow to the show that they brought him back for “Bachelor In Paradise,” a spin-off few people even knew existed prior to that announcement.

So, once more, we see America’s lust for reality dating shows that are essentially self-destructing. 

And that’s why VH1 is, and forever will remain, the paragon of reality dating shows.

Yes, VH1 was peak TV dating, cranking out hit after hit, starting with Flavor of Love.

Who, if not an outdated and deranged celebrity could follow Joe Millionaire?

Why not debase reality dating contestants (and women) further by having them fight over a washed-up hype-man who at one point had a $2,600-a-day crack addiction?

Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh boyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Flavor of Love’s second season premiere ranked as the entire night’s most watched cable program ahead of Entourage.

It was notable mostly because a contestant literally shit on the floor. She had to poop. And she pooped on the floor.

Some 7.5 million people tuned in for the season finale.

Wanting to extend that success, VH1 followed up with Rock of Love with Bret Michaels.

For my money, Rock of Love was the greatest reality show of all time. And it’s not even close.

This show offered a coterie of shocking, amusing, and above all else, desperate contestants. But like Joe Millionaire, the man they were fighting for was something of a fraud.

Ostensibly these women signed on for the chance to date a rock star. But Bret Michaels was hardly that. When Rock of Love premiered in July 2007, Michaels was 44 years old (probably twice the age of the average contestant), divorced with two kids, and rocking hair extensions tucked beneath a bandanna. His band hadn’t been relevant in two decades.

It was clear to any viewer with perspective that this man was no prize to be won, and not just because of his moribund career. As a person, Bret Michaels could be very nice, friendly and sincere. (A friend of mine who once interviewed him, told me Michaels was just that.) But he could also be absurdly vain, thin-skinned, shallow, and self-important.

Case-in-point: Rock of Love’s defining moment came when a contestant got Bret’s named tattooed on the back of her neck in giant gothic letters. Michaels not only encouraged this but expressed physical arousel at the notion of a woman having his name permanently etched into her skin.


At the end of the show, he chose a different, far more sober-minded girl instead.

Michaels spent the entire show demanding blind loyalty, obsessive care, and uncompromised devotion from the girls competing. He repeatedly called on them to lower their emotional “walls,” to let their guard down, that he might truly connect with them and find his “Rock of Love.”

And yet, at the same time, Michaels spent multiple nights engaging sexually with those contestants that would act as groupies, but not girlfriends, only to cut them loose, as well.

His final plea to the show’s last two contestants: “Is there any way both of you will be my girlfriend?

(Spoiler Alert: He eliminates the one that debases herself by saying ‘Yes’ – the one with the tattoo.)

It was a fitting finale for a man who used these women as objects for his own emotional and sexual gratification, and who demanded they prostrate themselves that he might walk above them as their god.

Ultimately, the “winning” contestant chose not to pursue a relationship after the show, and Michaels asked for his cowboy hat back.

So, I say again Michaels was a fraud. He wasn’t a sensitive rock star anymore than Joe Millionaire was a business tycoon. Both men were merely fools’ gold dangled before a group of gold-diggers too desperate to even care.

That’s precisely why it’s hard, almost impossible, to feel sorry for them.

As with Blind Date, these women aren’t innocent lambs being duped by a mean-spirited TV show, but rather wanna-be-famous bimbos.

No one forced Heather to get that tattoo. And as much as she probably regrets it (she still had it as recently as 2014), she definitely did not regret the fleeting brush with celebrity it brought her. She appeared in other VH1 shows – I Love Money, competing for cash, and Charm School, in which fellow Flavor of Love and Rock of Love contestants were “taught” manners. And she even landed tiny, cameo appearances in Californication and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

Likewise, two Flava of Love and Rock of Love contestants went on to star in dating shows of their own – I Love York and Daisy of Love.

And a third, Playboy model and Rock of Love season two contestant Megan Hauserman, was the centerpiece of Megan Wants a Millionare, in which the self-proclaimed gold digger had her pick of wealthy suitors. It was this show that was canceled after three episodes when its runner-up killed his wife and then himself.

It was thus that VH1, having plumbed the depths of TV dating, found itself covered in the purest sewage of humanity.

But again, it wasn’t deterred. The network carried on with shows featuring Chad Ochocino, Antonio Sabato Jr., Ray Jay, and The Game. Most recently it aired Dating Naked, based on the novel concept of people dating while entirely nude.

Why not?

Somehow that strikes me as less crass than the average Rock of Love or Flavor of Love episode.

Meanwhile, the ever uptight Bachelor franchise continues to plod along on ABC. The big development there is that in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Seventeen, The Bachelorette features its first black woman.

In 2014, Fox tried to duplicate its Joe Millionaire success with a new show called I Wanna Marry Harry. It convinced 12 American women that they were competing for Prince Harry, rather than a doppleganger. The show got cancelled after just four episodes.

The network also rebooted Love Connection with Andy Cohen.

Indeed, the TV dating landscape is looking rather tried these days.

There are, after all, only so many sharks to jump.

Still, the relationship lingers on like a stubborn marriage, with two parties quietly accepting their hum-drum fate.

We’ll always have the memories though…

The first flirtatious steps of The Dating Game, the sexually-charged dalliances of Love Connection, Blind Date’s trainwrecks, the tabloid affairs with washed-up celebrities rubbernecked by VH1, and the faux-romantic dressings of The Bachelor.

The fellatio, the literal and figurative fecal matter, and the serial killers are all there in one, big sprawling photo album.

It’s cheap, it’s phony,  it’s sad, it’s horny, it’s desperate, it’s lethal,  and it’s quintessentially American.

The roses are fake but the tears are real.

Never Forget, Baby Boomers Invented Homemade Porn

Narcissists. That’s what Millennials are.

A bunch of spoiled, self-absorbed narcissists, running around taking pictures of ourselves.

We’re the “Selfie Generation”

This is how Baby Boomers view us; through the lens of a camera-phone at the end of an outstretched arm (or worse, stick).


Here’s the thing, though: We’re not the first generation to ever take pictures of ourselves.

We’re just the first generation that’s ever taken this many pictures of ourselves. And  that’s not because we’re the most self-obsessed generation to ever exist. It’s because we’re the first generation to ever have access to this technology.

We’re the first generation to grow up with mobile phones, the first generation to have phones combined with cameras, the first generation to have access to digital photography, and the first generation to make use of social media.

But I repeat: We are NOT the first generation to replicate our own likeness.

To prove it, I’ve built this timeline…

Selfies Through History


The point is this is a practice that’s literally as old as human history.

It just so happens we have technology that lets us do it… repeatedly… in a way that is really obsessive and annoying. We also have access to technology that lets us share those images instantly and with a wide audience.

I’m not saying it’s great. But it doesn’t mean we’re a bunch of self-absorbed assholes, either.

If today’s technology had been around 50 years ago, Facebook feeds would’ve blown up with dumb-looking Boomers snapping selfies of themselves at Woodstock.

And if you don’t believe me think about a close comparable: The video camera.

For a long time, home videos were impractical 8mm filmstrips. But the second VHS came out, the world was suddenly crawling with dads wielding giant black boxes. They filmed parties, pageants, soccer games, parades, and more.

Much more.

That’s right. Don’t play coy. Admit it.

You Boomers did something far worse with those camcorders didn’t you?


Talk about narcissism, you started filming yourselves fucking the very first moment technology would allow.

For every Millennial out there, there exists some grainy, unlabed VHS tape of their parents going at it like a couple of howler monkeys.

And why?

Best case scenario: You weirdos sat around watching yourselves bone on tape.

Worst case: You shared them.

The Internet is awash in homemade porn and I don’t even mean recent efforts. You can find plenty of footage of bad hair banging bad hair.

All that poor grooming backdropped by awful 80s décor. That fake wood wall paneling. The tacky couches. Some of it even takes place in vans.

It’s all so gross and seedy.

And the fact that so many of these videos still exist is testament to just how ubiquitous this practice was. This is 2016, for God’s sake. What’s survived is only a fraction of what was around 20 years ago.

And there’s still SO MUCH.

Did you guys do anything other than videotape yourselves fucking?

It’s hard to see how you did.


Even before the Internet, there were shows like “Naughty Amateur Home Videos” – a show that aired on the Playboy channel for 12 years from 1996 to 2008.

Guess what it aired…

Yes, Baby Boomers were once so desperate to share their sextapes with the world they went through the trouble of mailing them into a cable channel.

But now you see some 17-year old girl duck-facing for her smartphone and it’s evidence of generational decay.

Like you wouldn’t have taken selfies if film wasn’t such a costly pain in the ass to get developed.

Hell, you pretty much invented the polaroid camera just to get around it.

Pictured: Two old-ass Boomers take a selfie with the last cutting-edge camera technology they knew how to operate.
Pictured: Two old-ass Boomers take a selfie with the last cutting-edge camera technology they knew how to operate.

That, and so you could finally take dick picks and titty shots without getting banned from Motophoto.

You people are gross.

Gross and hypocritical.

I’ll take duck-face over O-face any day of the week.

And I think I’ll take all the selfies I please, thank you very much.

Here’s one of me stumbling across the amateur porno you forgot you made in 1986:


Go ahead, call me a narcissist.

You’re something far worse: The producer, director, and star of your own XXX-rated movie.

And that movie isn’t getting any one off but you.

It’s a short, limp vanity project with bad lighting and flabby ass.

Maybe next time pick a better angle and use a filter.

Fuck Your Participation Trophy, Our Prize Is Being Better People

(Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Boom Goes the Dynamite” a new feature on Drunk and Humble where I take Baby Boomers to task for their incessant Millennial bashing.)


You’ve heard right?

You must have. It’s a huge scandal. Participation trophies have turned an entire generation into spoiled, entitled, compliment-fishing babies.

I mean, books have been written about the subject.

To hear Baby Boomers tell it, we’re obsessed with these fucking things.

Funny thing is, I couldn’t care less about them. They just went and handed them out, when all I asked for was one of those sugary juice bottles. You know, the ones that they sold in bulk.

Hug Juice
The only “trophy” I ever asked for.

Does anyone still have their participation trophies?


No! Of course you don’t. They’re stupid and pointless.

It’s a piece of plastic bolted to square of marble, not the Stanley Cup.

Every participation trophy anyone ever got has ended up in a trash can, basement, attic or closet.

No one gives a shit about them. In fact, most of us wouldn’t have even played sports at all had our parents not pushed us into them.

So fuck your trophy. Keep it. I never cared enough about playing rec-league soccer to covet any kind of trash trophy for it.

I’m not the one who had the thing made. I didn’t want that trophy.

You did.

That’s right. Let’s not kid ourselves about who those participation trophies are really for: YOU.

YOU the parent. See, for parents, child-rearing is come kind of warped competition to see who can produce the most well-adjusted offspring.

Kids are little clusters of genetic pride. And if you’re going to prove that your dumb kid is better than the neighbor’s dumb kid, you better damn well have a cabinet full of plastic to back it up.

To parents, those tiny little trophies are proof of what a good job they’re doing.Everyone Gets a Trophy

Just look at how ACTIVE Julie is! So many ribbons!

Perfect. Now you can show your kids’ medals to your own mom and dad so that they’ll know what an amazing parent they raised. Yes, finally the parents you could never please will be mollified by the accomplishments of their grandchild, which YOU raised. Validation!

Congratulations! YOU WIN!

Your kid is an active and productive member of an established social order. They’re not some weird, lazy loner jerking off all day and torching ants with a magnifying glass. Those are the tragic and hapless products of shitty parents.

Those parents couldn’t child-rear their way out of a paper bag.

Not you though!

Gaze upon your ribbons, trophies and medals. You better hurry, though, because they’re going to end up in a box in the basement as soon as Julie goes off to college and gives you something new to brag about. Oh the prideful tears you’ll cry!

This is classic Boomer. Foist some self-serving bullshit on us, act like it’s what we wanted all along, and then write think-pieces about all the potential negative impacts down the road. Itchy & Scratchy

Just like they created a commercial-media complex overflowing with sex and violence, inundated us with its subversive messaging, and then asked the question: Why are today’s kids so oversexed and violent?

Or when they gorged us on a steady diet of McDonalds, Milk Duds, and Coke and then accused us of being lazy fat-asses. (Excuse me? Did you not see my participation trophies?)


Boomers are right about one thing though: Millennials ARE sensitive.

I celebrate that fact whole-heartedly, because it’s not a bad thing.

Not only are Millennials far more accepting of other races, genders, and cultures, we’ve straight up shamed you into agreeing with us.

See, while you’ve been ruminating on the far-reaching impact plastic trophies have had on an entire generation, we’ve been quietly advancing a progressive agenda.

Just ask your gay friends.

Oh right, you don’t have any gay friends (that you know about) because you’re a Baby Boomer!

You spent decades marginalizing gay people, and now you’ve all suddenly come around on the issue.

Here’s Hillary Clinton (whose husband signed DOMA into law) doing the classic Boomer-Two-Step.

This was in 2004:

Now, here’s 2015 Hillary:

Hillary Marriage

Ah yes, Hillary, you and all the other Boomers were right there with us all along. We were actually supposed to have made marriage equal back in the 80s but somehow got sidetracked by the Cosby Show.

Still, that’s better than dipshits like Jerry Seinfeld, who think the fact that people no longer chuckle at the word ‘gay’ is a sign that the PC police have run amok.

Get it? GAY French king? Gay people? French people? They’re both faggy amiright?

Amazing that line didn’t win over a college crowd.

It’s not us. It’s you, Jerry.

The problem is that in 1986 you could throw the word “gay” into a punchline and count on reliable laugh. Hell, Eddie Murphy did entire stand up sets about his homophobia. This is the same Eddie Murphy that got busted picking up a transgender prostitute on the Hollywood strip mind you.


Wow. For a group that’s constantly derided as being coddled, it doesn’t look like LGBT people had a very good go of it up until, I don’t know… now?

All these “helicopter parents” and yet LGBT Millennials had to tell themselves that “It gets better.”

We are a braver generation than you’ll ever be, because (in addition to fighting your pointless wars) we’re the ones who had to come out to you bigots.

And now we have to sit here and listen to you act like it was never a problem in the first place.

It won’t stop there, either. Because we won’t stop. We’re coming for every single one of your archaic symbols of institutionalized bigotry – from confederate flags to racist football team names.

Ole Miss Flag

And every single time one of these totems comes crashing down, we’re going to have to listen to you pat yourselves on the back like it was your idea. Most of you will deny your callousness ever existed, while the ever-shrinking minority dig their heels into the ground to try and stop our progress.

You scold us for being too sensitive but you’re totally unwilling to acknowledge the great awakening that that sensitivity has wrought.

WE brought LGBT acceptance. WE elected the country’s first black president. And WE are pretty fucking close to electing the first woman president right behind him.

You were the ones who voted for trickle-down economics and the War on Drugs. We’re the ones addressing income inequality and reforming the criminal justice system.

So yes, we are more sensitive than you. We do have a much higher threshold of empathy and understanding.

And yes, we do expect life to be fair.

In our society, everyone – gay, straight, black, brown, man, woman, intersex… – does get a trophy for participating.

It’s called respect.

Bors Trophy