Category Archives: tv

50 thoughts on turning 50: #25 Women, freedom and “Dating Naked”

VH1's new show "Dating Naked" premiered in July.

VH1’s new show “Dating Naked” premiered in July. (Source: VH1 pressroom)

Last year, I went to visit the Susan B. Anthony house and mused afterwards about what Susan B. Anthony might have said about the reality show, “The Bachelor”, in which women basically throw themselves at a man in the hopes he’ll pick them to be his wife. I likened it to emotional prostitution and pondered the idea that maybe women have forgotten the battle their foremothers fought for equality and respect.

Yes, women in America now have the right to educate themselves, prosper, and express themselves in ways women 100 years ago could only dream about. But have we taken those rights to such an extreme that we’ve enslaved ourselves to a celebrity driven/sexuality saturated culture?

I bring this up again because I saw a story in today’s entertainment headlines that makes me think yet again that we women have misused our freedom and set women’s rights back a few steps.

This summer, VH1 premiered a series called “Dating Naked”. The premise, according to a press release:  “Do you find love easier when you truly have nothing to hide?”

This season a rotating group of frustrated singles answered the show’s challenge to “bare it all” in the quest for love. After embarking on a series of blind dates, twelve people currently consider themselves “in a relationship” with someone they met on the show … Filmed in a remote exotic locale, each close-ended episode follows a man and a woman both going on three naked dates, including two with other suitors and one with each other.

It is an interesting premise, to consider what would happen if two people were left to woo each other without the material trappings of technology and social conventions. But when you take away the clothing? There are going to be problems.

Today, reports that “Dating Naked” cast member Jessie Nizewitz is suing Viacom, the parent company of VH1 and the channel that airs the show, for $10 million in damages after the producers allegedly failed to blur out a shot of Nizewitz’s crotch.

In other words, the naked contestant on a televised naked dating show is upset because she was shown … well, naked. Continue reading

What Would Susan B. Say: “The Bachelor”


“I would not object to marriage if it were not that women throw away every plan and purpose of their own life, to conform to the plans and purposes of the man’s life. I wonder if it is woman’s real, true nature always to abnegate self.”

- Susan B. Anthony, letter, 1888 (as quoted in “Failure is Impossible”, by Lynn Sherr)

I’m embarrassed to admit it but I’ve been watching this season of “The Bachelor”. Not because I’m enjoying the show, but because it’s like a massive train wreck that I can’t tear my eyes away from.

Am I the only one who sees this show for what it is: a dating game that sets women’s rights back a hundred years?

If you’re not familiar with the premise of the show, here’s a recap: Handsome Guy is presented with a group of about two dozen women, all who are vying to become Mrs. Handsome Guy. Handsome Guy whittles the group down by wooing the ladies with outings to exotic locales, fancy dinners and romance, and generally trying to get them all to fall in love with him. Once he’s done that, he picks the one he wants and offers her a proposal of marrige. The women, on the other hand, have convinced themselves the day they meet Handsome Guy that they’re desperately in love with him; they then befriend and betray each other, all with the goal of sticking around to the end and hopefully get the coveted marriage proposal.

It looks very much like emotional prostitution. Continue reading

Davy Jones dies; goodbye, my childhood!

Sad news today: Davy Jones of The Monkees died today at 66. Goodbye childhood!

Of my earliest childhood entertainment memories, The Monkees are at the front of the line (followed very closely by “That Girl” and Carol Burnett, but that’s a story for another day).

In fact, as a child I got to meet The Monkees. How’s that for cool? (And possibly where the seeds for my entertainment writing stint were sown? We’ll never know, will we.)

The Monkees had flown into the Rochester, NY airport. It was maybe 1967 and I was maybe three-years-old, but I was old enough for the memory to be imprinted on my brain. I knew where we were going and who we were going to see. There was a crowd, and I remember being at the fence as the guys got off the plane – this was back when people got off the plane and walked around on the tarmac.

And then they came over to us, and I remember being scared. One of them had a beard and was carrying a movie camera and had it pointed as the crowd; my mom thinks it was Mickey. Someone – she thinks Davy Jones – wanted to reach over the fence to hold me and I started screaming like a baby.

Well, I pretty much was still a baby!

My mom thinks there may be a slide photo of the moment somewhere in the cases and cases of projector carousels I have stored in my spare bedroom that date back to the early 60s.

Yes, Kodak holds a special place in our hearts here in Rochester, and in our personal photo albums. It’s more than the decline of a company as Kodak gets out of the picture business; it’s the end of an era of memory-making. But I digress

Watching the video clip of the opening and closing credits from “The Monkees”, I realize how much pop culture really does shape our lives. It can be for good or bad – methinks today’s music falls on the bad side of the spectrum.

But in this case, it was good. Very bubble gum, pop rock, innocent cutesy, let’s try and walk like The Monkees because it’s fun kind of good. Super innocent, puppy love, Marcia Brady falls in love with Davy Jones kind of good.

It probably won’t surprise you that from The Monkees I graduated to … ta da! The Osmonds!

My sister and I reminisced today about seeing The Osmonds in concert – I was seven years old, I’m pretty sure. My dad took me and my sister, and my cousins came in from Pittsfield to see the show with a guy named Ernie who was dating their mom. I remember the opening act – Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods, of ” One Is The Loneliest Number” – and that my dad bought me a life sized poster of Donny Osmond that hung on the back of my bedroom door until til it fell apart.

Sigh. Innocent pop music. Those were the days.

Today is a sad day. Rest in peace, Davy Jones. And thanks for the memories!

PS: My dad just called. He now lives in Pennsylania and he’d forgotten until he saw the local news tonight that Davy Jones actually lived in Middleburg, PA, just up the road half hour from where he is in Milton. Who would have guessed? See, your childhood never really goes too far away, does it? They’re going to have a celebration this weekend. Wish I could make the trip; it would be fun to have another Monkees moment, even if it is a sad one.

CBS Sunday Morning’s Faith Salie, “Not A Pet Person” (video)

This morning CBS Sunday Morning did a show of reruns of pieces they’ve done on pets, from Dean Koontz’s book “A Bit Little Life” to Alexandra Horowitz’s “Inside A Dog” to Bill Geist at a fish show to Austin, TX and their bats.

Tucked in there was a commentary from Faith Salie about not being a pet person. I’ve only seen her commentaries a few times, and every time I think, “Good grief, she may be the most annoying person on the planet.” Well, with today’s commentary, she solidified that honor.

So she’s not a pet person. Good for her. But she’s such a … well, you know … about it that it’s probably a good thing. I mean, would you trust your dog to a woman this bitter?

(PS: just to clarify, Faith, your pets don’t give you the plague. Fleas spread the plague. And you can get bit by a flea even if you don’t own a pet.)

Charlie Sheen: if life imitates art, what’s the problem?

For days now, we’ve all been having a good chuckle – or at least a head scratch – over Charlie Sheen’s interviews about his drug and alcohol problems. While he claims to be clean, you only have to watch a few minutes of interviews to realize that there is something not right about him.

But one thing I haven’t heard any bring up is this: Charlie Sheen is a drug and alcohol addicted, misogynistic narcissist playing a drug and alcohol addicted, misogynistic narcissist on the most highly rated television show on the air.

So … we love one and mock the other? It seems a little bit hypocritical, if you ask me.

Not that I’m trying to justify Sheen’s actions. Yeesh, the guy has gone totally off the deep end. Just watch the interviews.

But really, didn’t we as the American viewing audience – or at least those who watch the show – just encourage his behavior? Who are we, really, to make a show like “Two and a Half Men” #1 and then turn around when life imitates art and shake our heads in judgement?

Give yourself the gift of forgiveness

I love this segment from Ben Stein on CBS Sunday Morning. What a great idea – start the new year with a gift of forgiveness – for others and yourself!

Grace Coddington, my fashion idol

OK, so the headline is a little misleading. I’m not a fashionista, so technically I don’t actually have a fashion idol. But after watching the documentary “The September Issue”, it’s the only way I can describe Vogue creative director Grace Coddington.

(Totally aside: before I watched this film, I watched “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia”. Quite a contrast, I must say.)

The documentary, directed by R.J. Cutler, takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes peek at making of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine. While editor Anna Wintour was supposed to be the main focus, it was creative director Grace Coddington who stole the show. Not that Wintour isn’t interesting; had the filmmakers wanted, they could have explored her in depth and had an intriguing film. (Her daughter’s thoughts on her mother’s career were surprising, for example.)

But Grace Coddington was the warm fuzzy in this flick. She’s smart, personable, chatty, feisty, and much more interesting to watch than Wintour, at least in this documentary.

That’s not why I love her, though.

Anna Wintour (left) with Grace Coddington (right)

Have you seen her hair!?

When I first saw her, my thought was, “Gee, they let her get away with letting her gray roots  peek through? Has someone suggested a less frizzy coif?” That’s because, without a flat iron and regular appointments at the salon, I’d have the same hair. And thanks to the fashion industry, I’ve been brainwashed to believe that not having perfect hair is a beauty disaster.

And yet, there Grace Coddington is, hobnobbing with the fashion industry’s most respected designers and photographers and insiders, hair all afriz. I wanted to cry, I was so happy.

Even more, she looks her age. Well, not her actual age; she’s almost 70. But she doesn’t look nipped and tucked and Botoxed. She looks like a woman who has lived and enjoyed life.

Not only that, in the documentary she wears frumpy shoes. She wears a lot of black dresses that I suspect hide the soft body of an older woman. While she’s a creative genius, she also doesn’t seem to feel the need to put on airs or  play to the industry images of perfection.

Yay for Grace Coddington!

At 46, I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years frustrated with the aging process. Extra pounds refusing to budge. Hair that, as it gets grayer and grayer, is more difficult to color and style. Feet that just aren’t happy in heels. Eyeballs in need of bifocals.

My image of what I should look like, much as I hate to admit it, is influenced by the media. Magazines, TV, movies, etc. And I’m a woman who knows that those images are fake, that magazine covers are airbrushed and edited. But still, as I see other women my age who don’t seem to have wrinkles or fat or glasses or gray hair, I get more and me unhappy with the way I look.

After watching “The September Issue” I have a different outlook. Grace Coddington isn’t respected in the industry because of the way she looks. She’s intelligent. She’s creative. People see what’s inside of her, past her frizzy hair and simple wardrobe.

And for that, I thank her.

You can check out “The September Issue” on Netflix.