Idiot box apocalypse: Arranged marriages on CBS?

Posted at 1:17 PM Feb 03, 2009

By Sharon Steel

The producers of Top Chef and Project Runway, who I love for making reality television about people who are actually good at things, are teaming up with CBS to create a new series about...marriages. The arranged kind! According to The Hollywood Reporter:

The show introduces four adults age approximately 25-45 who are anxious to get married but have been unsuccessful in their search for a mate. Their friends and family select a spouse for them, and the newly paired couple exchange marital vows. The series follows their marriages.

The rest of the details for the project, whose early working title is "Arranged Marriage," are being kept under wraps.
It sounds horrifying, but like Mandi Bierly over at EW's Popwatch blog, I'm already absolutely committed to watching this show once it finally airs. I have to understand what kind of person acquiesces to the double whammy of pre-selected spouse and cameras following the whole debacle. But here's the rub. The age rage starts at a fresh-faced 25?! Yes, indeedy, if you're not hitched by then, you're an old maid! A crotchety bachelor! And clearly a failure at life. Um, no.

Isn't that a little young to firmly believe you don't have a chance in hell of finding love on your own without some producers doing it for you?

Also, dudes, c'mon! Look at these stats!

[Hollywood Reporter]


meeepss said:

for the vast majority of history, arranged marriages were the norm. the concept of romantic love is only a couple hundred years old in the west, and younger elsewhere.
the smarmy tone of this post seems a little ethnocentric.

and as for the linked stats, I think they show the opposite of what i assume to be your intent, as that particular reality show has nothing to do with arranged marriages and everything to do with some infantile concept of finding one's "soulmate" and fitting into some storybook fantasy. if pursuing the faerie tale tends to fare so poorly, could a relationship fomented by a supportive family structure and a rational pairing of two people do worse? i think not, 20/20 just examined the topic and claimed that success rates as measured by percent ending in divorce was much higher in arranged marriages.

meeepss said:

oops, premature submit... i meant "success rates as measured by percent ending in divorce was much higher in romance-based marriages than traditional arranged marriages."

Sharon said:

meeepss, I think you're misinterpreting my intent. I realize how young the concept of romantic love is. But now, it's decidedly ingrained in our culture. Which is why a CBS show that capitalizes on the fact that, hey, maybe the old ways worked better, is pretty fascinating. Any snarkiness was attributed to the idea of a 25-year-old essentially throwing their hands up in their own unsuccessful search for love. In my mind, that's a little young to give up on yourself and relinquish control to your families. Most 25-year-olds don't know themselves as well as they will in two, three, five more years. Who is to say their parents know them better?

As far as the stats go, my commentary about The Bachelor breakups had more to do with the idea that a marriage or engagement -- or a romantic relationship of any kind -- that's formed on television, with crews filming you and producers questioning your moves as you make them, is unlikely to last when the cameras go away. I'm sure there are many happy arranged marriages. But there aren't many happy marriages that bloomed on a reality show, to my knowledge.

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