Shallowness festers in darkness of dating show

Guys, do we really need more televised proof that women are better than us?

From the litany of doofus sitcom husbands to the strength and determination showcased around the clock on Lifetime, Oxygen and WE, there are fewer and fewer TV options where men can feel superior. They’ve pretty much dwindled to Bravo’s “The Real Housewives” franchise. And the WNBA.

So it comes as little surprise that the dudes don’t fare nearly as well as the fairer sex on “Dating in the Dark” (10 p.m. Monday, KTNV-TV, Channel 13), the series that looks to prove that love really is blind by letting each episode’s singles interact with their prospective mates only within the confines of a pitch-black room.

It’s every bit as compellingly absurd as it sounds.

Each week, three single guys and three single girls move into separate wings of a house and, over the course of several days, look for love despite having to wait until the very end to lay eyes on even a square inch of the opposite sex.

They’re allowed an awkward group meeting, they’re shown videos of each person’s best friend describing them, and they’re told which person they’re most compatible with. Then, after several “dates” — during which they can touch each other all they want, assuming they can find each other in the complete and total darkness, with infrared cameras capturing their every move — each prospective couple is given a few seconds with the lights on before they decide whether to pursue a relationship.

The results are about as fascinating as reality TV gets.

Now, I’ve mostly weaned myself off reality shows. Not out of some sort of snobbery, I just got tired of all the table-flipping and caterwauling. But I made time for “Dating in the Dark” when it debuted last summer based solely on the sheer hilarity of it all.

Almost without fail, both sexes would profess their love for one another as they waited to see their prospective mates for the first time. Then, after the lights came on, the girls would pronounce themselves even more in love than before while the guys would inevitably realize they weren’t really in the right place in their lives for a commitment.

Judging by Monday’s second season premiere, the men of “Dating in the Dark” haven’t grown much over the past year.

“When I first met the girls, I made it a point to shake their hand and do the ‘Ray Charles wrist check,’ ” says Joey, a 31-year-old from South Jersey. “Because that to me was a sign, OK, I could tell at least if they’re thin or heavy.”

The very next words out of his mouth, during the introductory group date: “So what do you guys feel, after you have, like, a child, like, what is your feeling about your bodies? … You know, do you get into that comfort weight and it’s like, ‘I’m just going to eat Twinkies every day,’ and that’s the end of it?”

And, in a move that’s sure to set feminism back a good decade, one of the girls finds that behavior “endearing.”

“Women definitely respond to my brutal honesty in a positive way,” Joey says later. (Spoiler alert: They don’t.)

It should be noted that every contestant I’ve seen is of at least above-average attractiveness. There are no zonks in this game. No sasquatches hiding behind a pleasant voice. But, to completely mangle a phrase, the guys continue to find new depths to their shallowness.

Even sympathetic Dave, a 26-year-old whose every move exudes “I’m a nice guy.” Dave’s insecure about his looks and acknowledges he’s “not the pinnacle of hotness.” “Dating in the Dark” is perfect, he says, because he has a great personality that the girls will get to know before they see him. But the instant one of those ladies says she doesn’t care what he looks like, that Y chromosome comes roaring to the front of his brain like a drunk to the bar during last call, convincing Dave that that’s something only an ugly girl would say.

The girls aren’t completely without fault. Kym, a 27-year-old waitress, knows she has a problem seeing beneath the surface. “I’ll admit that I’m pretty picky about appearances,” she reveals. “Things like teeth, small hands, height. That’s why I’m single.” And, once she’s fallen for one of the guys, she half-declares and half-prays, “You better be cute.”

But that’s downright adorable compared to the guys’ behavior.

While the girls want to know things like what a guy’s childhood was like and if he’s close with his father, Joey spends one of his dates complaining that his once-skinny ex-girlfriend “blew up like a tick” while feeling practically every nook and cranny of the girl he’s most compatible with to ensure she’s not fat.

Like most of the guys, he was dating in the dark long before he went on the show.

Christopher Lawrence’s Life on the Couch column appears on Sundays. E-mail him at clawrence@ reviewjournal.com.

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