We watch... so you don't have to.

The Moron in the Iron Mask

So Fox, having failed in its mission to lay waste to our most cherished social institutions and religious sacraments with Joe Millionaire and Married by America, gives it another try on Monday, with the latest in its series of reality programs conceived and pitched by Lucifer himself -- Mr. Personality. Part of Fox's ongoing attempt to figure out the lowest common denominator to the 12th decimal point, Mr. Personality is your typical modern-day dating show, in which a woman with a pleasant face and a respectable set of knockers hopes to find her one true love from a collection of would-be suitors hand-selected by disdainful network production assistants wondering why they couldn't land a job on Fastlane. Only this time, the twist is that our pleasant-looking, adequately-stacked heroine won't be able to see the faces of her potential life partners -- Fox has outfitted each one with a colorful mask, so that it looks like the woman has gone trawling for a mate at a Lucha Libre match. Which is why I suspect that the surprise twist at the end of the series will be that the woman winds up betrothed to Mil Mascaras.

(Mr. Personality, incidentally, is hosted by Monica Lewinsky. Man -- who'd she have to blow to get that job?)

Since Fox cannot actually come clean and admit that the only reason it airs this senseless drivel is to find out how idiotic the network's programming has to be before viewers will start clawing out their eyes, there's some desultory rumblings from Fox executives about how Mr. Personality is really part of some grand social experiment -- a way to find out whether it's physical beauty or less tangible qualities that win a person's heart.

The correct answer, incidentally, is neither. It's cash followed closely by liquor, as any doughy guy who has ever spent any reasonable length of time in a bar will tell you.

But let's take the duplicitous Fox network executives at their word and pretend for a moment that Mr. Personality really is about finding true love and determining just how big a part inner beauty plays in the process. If so, the network is going about things all wrong with Mr. Personality, and the show is doomed to fail. True, thanks to the masks, the female contestant cannot actually see the faces of her luchador suitors, so it's quite possible that when Mr. Right unmasks in the series finale, his girlfriend-to-be will discover that she's given her heart over to someone who's hideously ugly -- a sunken-eye, buck-toothed amalgamation of recessive genes and generations of especially reckless in-breeding, scarred by acne and industrial chemicals and beautiful only in the eyes of the Lord. And while that would admittedly make for great television, it's highly unlikely. Because while the suitors' faces are covered by masks, the rest of their bodies are completely visible. So the pleasant looking young lass can make her selection confident that while she may be picking someone who's been hit a couple of time across the face with the ol' Ugly Stick, her final choice will at least be tanned, toned and conspicuously free of any third arms sprouting out of his back.

No, if Fox really wanted to test the limits of human affection, the network would have commissioned a show where the would-be suitor is locked in a crate and can only communicate with his lady love through a narrow slit in the side of his four-by-four-foot prison. Love in a Box, they could call it, and each week, the happy couple could get to know each other through a series of conversations and physical challenges. Win the challenge and the woman gets to see a single body part of her choosing (and since this is Fox, we know which parts she'll be encouraged to pick). At the end of the series, the woman gets to choose -- open the box and free her true love inside or move on without ever setting eyes on this wonderful man she's gotten to know in front of a national TV audience.

The surprise twist, of course, will be that all that time in a hot, sweaty box will leave the suitor with an untreatable skin condition. Still, it's all in good fun, unless someone dies. Then, it's mostly in good fun.


TeeVee - About Us - Archive - Where We Are Now

Got a comment? Mail us at teevee@teevee.org.

* * *