In case you’ve missed the latest reality TV dating show spectacle, let me enlighten you. NBC’s Age of Love put The Guy, aka 30-year-old Aussie tennis pro Mark Philippoussis, in the awkwardest of positions when it presented the flock of ladies from which he’ll select his Ms. Right-or, if reality TV dating show tradition holds, his Ms. Right Now. Billed an “experiment,” the show aims to determine whether age matters; ergo, when the first group of ladies-forty-somethings, sensitively dubbed the “cougars” on the show’s promos-introduced themselves to Philippoussis, each told him her name and then : her age. Unsurprisingly, Philippoussis appeared utterly dumbfounded. The first episode proceeded with the standard televised matchmaking fare-group dates, “alone time”-before ending with a bomb: the arrival of a group of fresh-faced, fresh-out-of-college twenty-somethings, the “kittens.” And when you pit cougars against kittens, the fallout’s bound to get a bit : catty. Ahem.

As for what to make of it, I’m torn. On the one hand, of course, it’s disgusting, dogged by the general offensiveness of any dating show that features a bunch of women lining up in front of one man, pleading “Pick me!” Clever cougar/kitten metaphor notwithstanding, no one wants to be reduced to her age. (Are all older women cunning huntresses: secure, successful, just a little bit desperate? Are all younger women wide-eyed innocents: immature, playful, just a little bit dumb?)

On the other hand, it brings up an interesting issue. Society barely bats an eye at a May-December couple, but when the tables are turned and it’s a December-May arrangement, or hell, even a September-July situation we’re talking about, tongues begin a-waggin’. But the times, they are a-changin’. Although (or maybe because) the hot-mamma/trophy-guy thing is subversive, it exudes a certain Letters-to-Penthouse-Fantasy type appeal. This is, after all, the era of the MILF, Botox, Demi and Ashton. And perhaps this is what biology intended: Men are younger when hitting their sexual peaks, and they die younger, too.

So, which way will he go? I couldn’t care less. At its core, the show screams simply, “Trashy, Mindless Entertainment Here,” and for that, I’ll be watching. Meow.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.