Note: This essay is contained in our fourth print edition “Counterrevolution: The Coming Storms“.

Note: This essay is contained in our fourth print edition “Counterrevolution: The Coming Storms“.

The Counter-Sexual Revolution will be Televised

By Brendan McNamara · 27 February 2024

Why We Should Create Our Own TV Dating Shows

The sexual revolution isn’t usually associated with TV dating shows, but they share proximate origins and convictions and make similar promises. Both were born in 1965; the sexual revolution through the Supreme Court’s ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut that states couldn’t legally restrict contraception, and dating shows with the premiere of ABC’s The Dating Game. Both promised emotional and sexual fulfillment through the ability to pursue multiple relationships. And yet, half a century later, both have failed to live up to their promises.

The sexual revolution’s rejection of traditional sexual morality in favor of relationships outside of marriage accelerated the atomization of society. In the post Griswold world, men and women were encouraged to leave relationships in which they didn’t feel totally fulfilled, ultimately creating a cycle in which both men and women are routinely discarding each other. This hypergamic game of musical chairs leaves many without the lifelong romantic partner they want. Since 1965, divorces, abortions, and the median age of first marriages have all skyrocketed, while birth rates have plummeted. At the same time there is no compelling evidence that people today are even happier than their ancestors.

Dating shows have mirrored the sexual revolution’s atomozing effect. Couples in these shows generally fail to form lasting relationships. For the ABC’s Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise, only 17% of the couples who left the show engaged remain together. Netflix’s newer reality dating shows such as Love is Blind have barely performed better, with only a third of matched couples still involved with each other.

In both cases, fewer and fewer contestants are falling in love. From 2019 onwards the majority of Bachelor contestants have left the show without proposing to any of the women on the show, and since its creation in 2020 the majority of Love is Blind contestants have broken up with their partners at the end of the season rather than continue the relationship. The failure of these shows to deliver on their promise of romance has resulted in a ratings disaster. In 2019, the Bachelor had 8 million viewers during its finale. These numbers have nose-dived each season with the most recent 2023 finale only drawing 3 million viewers.

What’s going on? Essentially, the problems of dating in the digital era are making themselves felt. Much as how online dating apps fuel the fantasy that there is always a superior match around the corner, contestants are increasingly using the profile gained from their presence on the show to date people off the show. Because dating shows are popular, contestants calculate that their best dating strategy is to utilize the clout they’ve gained from being on national TV to date the fans in their DMs, rather than the other contestants on the show.

Why does the relationship status of reality TV show airheads matter? No doubt, dating shows are the lowest of low culture; some even deride them as emotional porn. But we should not be so quick to dismiss them. The majority of Americans watch some form of reality television. Half of Netflix’s Top 10 most popular shows are reality TV shows. Dating shows are widely watched among the 18-34 female demographic. And it’s not just the popularity of these shows which makes them significant. What initially looks like nothing more than low-brow entertainment on closer inspections reveals itself as a powerful psychological weapon with a considerable influence over the traits people value in the sexual marketplace.

For many people, dating shows are how they learn society’s script of what attracting a partner is supposed to be like. The days of ritualized courtship and chaperones are long gone. In the modern era, dating is largely a private activity between two individuals. So how can people know what courtship is supposed to look like? Often by observing other people dating in the media, whether it be romantic movies or dating shows.

An Australian study of single people who watch dating shows found that 54% of respondents “learn about relationships from reality TV shows.” Dating shows offer a normative, cognitive script for the viewer in the behavior of the participants, and encourages them to mimic behaviors they see resulting in successful outcomes.

Where dating shows have an edge over movies is in the premise that the people on screen are real people trying to find real relationships. Dating shows are parasocial. Audiences follow the contestants around and watch confessionals in which they divulge their inner thinking. This element gives the audience a sense of familiarity with the contestants, as if they were people they knew. Therefore, the lessons learned from the successes and failures of the contestants register more as direct and relatable than the lessons supplied by the actions of fictional characters.

Binging multiple episodes of reality television causes audiences to insert themselves into the moral universe of the show. The antics of the self-professed guidos on Jersey Shore may initially seem ridiculous. But by the time the audience is on episode three, they understand the guido code of honor, and empathize with Pauly D’s frustration with JWoww over her behavior at Club Karma. Thus, dating shows like Netflix’s The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On can present the insane notion that the best way to know if you want to marry someone is to date other people, but after a few episodes the audience embraces this mindset as normal.

So, since dating TV shows have the power to alter the cognitive scripts of the masses, why don’t people try to use these shows to promote certain values? In fact, someone already is: Chinese communists.

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In 2010 the dating show If You Are the One became the most watched television show in China, with 50 million people tuning in for each episode. As a dating show, the format was brutal. One man would step up onto a stage and face 24 single women standing behind debate-style podiums. The man would describe himself and answer questions from the hosts. As he talked, women could hit a button to reject the suitor, generating a humiliating buzzing sound as the spotlight above them went dark. The remaining women would continue to interrogate the man, and if by the end of the struggle session there were any women remaining, they would go on a date.

The problem this presented for The Chinese Communist Party was that the initial episodes revealed how shockingly materialistic Chinese women had become. Any contestant that didn’t have a high paying job immediately got nuked by the panel of women. This point was famously captured in a viral moment in which a woman named Ma Nuo told a contestant who rode his bike to work, “I’d rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle,” as she slammed the “reject” button. Months later, another woman refused to shake the hand of a suitor because he made less than 200,000 yuan ($32,000 USD) a month. Men on the show who tried to woo the ladies by showing talents, such as playing the guitar, would get eviscerated by the women who were turned off that these men were pursuing hobbies instead of focusing on making more money at work.

This rabid materialism contradicted the ideals of the CCP, so government censors cracked down on the show. If You Are the One began vetting the women and contestants to make sure that they embraced less objectionable values. They stopped the live broadcasts, and instead began airing edited pre-recorded episodes which included statements where women affirmed their belief in the values the CCP supported. The CCP also made it so that contestants with artistic hobbies were no longer despised by the women, and the show began screening clips of women stating that these talents were romantic. In short, government censors carefully modified the show to rework what women found to be aspirational masculinity while downplaying materialistic aspirations. These changes seem to have been highly successful: they didn’t reduce the show’s popularity, and If You Are the One is still one of the most-watched programs in China.

American dating shows, by contrast, are floundering. One show, however, has found a way to evade the progressive trend, and it’s secretly the most reactionary show on TV. The Netflix dating show Indian Matchmaking follows single Indians living in India and the West, and Sima Taparia, a matchmaker from Mumbai who travels throughout the Indian diaspora. The show is able to avoid the perverse clout seeking incentives of American dating shows by targeting real singles who are truly trying to get married.

Whereas Western dating shows exist in an atomized and atheistic universe in which family and religious considerations are afterthoughts at best, Indian Matchmaking places these considerations front and center. The contestants express a religious and ethnic pride, and want partners who share their heritage and values. When the contestants are given their first potential matches, they examine the profiles alongside their parents and siblings, who give them input and advice. It’s an honest environment where contestants aren’t afraid to voice their preference for thin, fair, or rich matches; a candor you don’t see in most Western dating shows.

Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking”

Another element that Indian Matchmaking emphasizes is the role of the metaphysical. As Sima says, “marriages are made in heaven, but someone has to introduce them.” With this in mind, Sima meets with astrologists to determine what her client’s star chart can reveal about their life path. In one episode, she sends a young man having romantic difficulties to a priest, who orders him to perform a ritual in the Ganges to remove an ancestral curse. Physiognomy is real in this show’s universe, and Sima uses face readers to determine if two clients are a good match. (For those who are curious, the physiognomist calls it right every time.)

What makes Indian Matchmaking so refreshing is that Sima is at war with modernity and its Hollywood conception of what love is supposed to look like. She explains to clients that, in reality, they probably are only going to get 80% of the attributes they want in a spouse, but that this is enough for a successful and happy marriage. She sternly reminds clients that they will have to compromise, and that their expectations of what they think they want often doesn’t match the chemistry of when they meet someone. All of this is a direct attack against Western dating culture — and a highly succesful one. Contestants who adopt Sima’s advice and submit to the traditionalism of Indian romantic customs often find love, whereas those who refuse to depart from the siren’s song of the sexual revolution are left unhappy and alone. The message is simple and clear: the traditional way to find love, which have worked for thousands of years, still works today.

***

The values promoted by Indian Matchmaking are tradition, family values, compromise, and honoring the gods towards the ultimate goal of family formation. By contrast, Western dating shows are more concerned with the quest for self-actualization. Contestants repeatedly state in tearful confessions that they want to be seen and valued. “I know I’m worth fighting for,” is a frequent refrain. These contestants face the Herculean task of finding someone who loves them as much as they love themselves. They want to assemble the perfect person who meets 100% of their criteria, while simultaneously demanding that their potential partner accept them 100% for who they are.

The notion of changing for another person or restraining their sexuality is considered unthinkable. In The Bachelor/Bachelorette, in the penultimate episode, the three remaining contestants and the bachelor or bachelorette go to the fantasy suites, where it’s implied that they are having sex off camera. Whenever a contestant asks the “lead” not to sleep with two other people, mere days before they get engaged, the show frames this demand as an imposition upon the bachelorette’s sexual freedom. Family and religion take on a negative role: these considerations for marriage are seen as barriers that end relationships, rather than starting points for relationships.

The lesson in all of this is obvious: rather than allowing morally bankrupt degenerates to maintain a monopoly on one of the most psychologically powerful genres of television and using it to promote nihilism and promiscuity, our people should be producing dating reality TV shows that promote traditional values. There is a tremendous opportunity here to shape the culture from the bottom up. Whereas prestige scripted TV like HBO’s Rome costs $8.3 million per episode, reality television costs between $100,000 to $500,000 per episode. In short, one could make at least 16 dating reality shows for the cost of one scripted drama.

The cognitive scripting potential of dating shows are immense. They can serve as mini-morality plays in which contestants get burned for displaying behavior the show deems undesirable. They tap into humanity’s memetic nature in whom they decide to feature as a high value woman or man. A lot of people feel that they need permission to express certain opinions. Therefore, having people on the show express selected opinions and showing these opinions being accepted by the other contestants gives the audience permission to repeat those opinions in real life.

Courtship is an inherently competitive activity. There is no room for an egalitarian “everyone wins” attitude when a lifelong marriage and your future children are at stake. It isn’t an accident that many of our most fanatical liberal congresswomen have married the straight white men that they so passionately rail against the rest of the time: when it comes to selecting a spouse, “privilege” suddenly becomes attractive. Serious courtship provides fertile ground for conservative thought.

What is also great about these shows, is that young women love to watch them. Because women in modern society are the sexual gatekeepers, their preferences influence men to alter their behaviors in order to match them. If dating shows were created that gave women the confidence to abstain from sex until marriage, we’d be surprised by the number of men who would fall in line.

I’m not suggesting that we subvert reality TV dating shows — these shows are already subverted. What I’m suggesting is that we should rectify them. Dating shows entice their audiences with a promise of romance, but fail to deliver. It’s like tuning into The Great British Bake Off only to see a bunch of chefs fail to make a cake. People want to see shows that deliver on their promises, and a counter-revolutionary dating show represents an opportunity to give it to them.

***

How should these shows be formatted? The Bachelor’s model, in which a haram of suitors compete over one person, has hypergamy baked in — so that’s out. The best formats would be the following three: ‘documentary’, ‘audition’, and ‘Team A dates Team B’.

The documentary format is one used by Indian Matchmaking, which follows a few individuals seeking a spouse and introduces them to a small number of potential matches. This format is good because it shows real people looking for a spouse, and avoids the clout-seeking behavior of other dating shows. One could imagine a show called ‘Catholic Matchmaking’, which follows the journey of attractive, traditional Catholics looking for spouses who are also serious believers. In the same way that Indian Matchmaking’s message is that those who adopt the traditional ways find happiness and those who submit to modernity struggle, Catholic Matchmaking will show that those who adopt the church’s mindset on sexuality flourish, while those who succumb to the world suffer. An added benefit of shows like Indian Matchmaking and Jewish Matchmaking is that they help highlight and reinforce the attributes of subcultures they feature. In a ruthlessly homogenous modern society, which wants to do away with Western subcultures, having a show provide a model for an alternate way of life would be a tremendous asset.

Another approach would be to copy China’s If You Are The One audition format, and adapt it to America. A show where a single person is judged by 24 members of the opposite sex as a potential spouse would be a scandalous, though entertaining, way of promoting certain values. You wouldn’t need to apply the heavy-handed methods that CCP censors use. Simply by screening contestants to ensure that they share the values you want to promote would be sufficient to get your message across. Of course, you would also need to select a few people who clearly don’t share the values of the unwoke majority, so they can self-destruct on stage. For added spice, the idea of 24 men judging a woman would be unique among reality TV shows, and highly controversial, for reasons that would be very difficult for people who promote egalitarianism to articulate.

Finally, we could do a Team A dates Team B format. The context would be a fraternity/sorority mixer featuring college students who are serious about getting engaged before graduation. This show would serve as a cognitive script for how dating interactions take place, and at the same time move the Overton Window on Fraternities and Sororities. Greek life is an existing social structure that is hated by the regime, largely due to the aristocratic potential within it. Over recent decades it has been debased by an Animal House party culture which has removed it from its more elite roots of early years. The risk of this show degenerating to clout seeking behavior is higher than the others, so great care would be needed in casting and editing in order to make sure that it sends the right message.

Naturally, people may want to pursue reality TV shows outside of the dating realm. Personally, I would love it if there was a show called ‘Manning Up’ that would follow the Biggest Loser format. In the show, emasculated soyboys could compete to see who could increase their testosterone levels the most in 100 days under the guidance of right-wing bodybuilders. Or maybe an HGTV aesthetics show, say, a show called ‘Cottagecore’, in which a young married couple gets a home makeover but with interior decorators who practice classical, traditional, and cozy styles rather than the latest trend.

If the Right wants to prevail in the culture war, we need to make content that presents an attractive, achievable vision of the future, one that rejects the lies of the modern world and boldly embraces traditionalism. Let’s start the counterrevolution in a place they wouldn’t expect.

This essay is contained in our fourth print edition “Counterrevolution: The Coming Storms“.

Brendan McNamara is a writer interested in history, fiction writing, travel and screenwriting. He can be followed @brendanmac87.

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