[18 November 2010]
The fourth season of The Millionaire Matchmaker, takes Patti Stanger and her matchmaking assistants from Los Angeles to New York City. While the location has changed, not much else has. There are still millionaires looking for love and awkward on-camera attempts at romance. Patti continues her firing squad approach to the line-up of potential dates for her millionaires, verbally shooting down men and women who don’t meet her grooming standards. They’re too tall, too short, too hairy, too bald, too fat, too frumpy. Patti is the dating dictator which makes the show less about unraveling the mysteries of finding your perfect match and more about Patti herself. In every episode Patti yells, scolds, grumbles or whines. For a woman who is supposed to be all about love, Patti is one stressed cupid.
Yet, Patti’s stress is exactly why the show works. She may keep the focus on herself but she also keeps it real. For all her ranting and raving, she is right most of the time. When she tells one of her clients that women are not likely to see him as marriage material when he starts drinking at 10am and introduces his potential mate to five of his friends on their first date, you can’t really disagree. When she informs another client that a man is probably not impressed when she brings her gay best friend on the date and then talks about the size of his manhood, it’s hard to argue. The appeal of The Millionaire Matchmaker is that instead of just watching these crash and burn date moments, you also get to watch Patti verbally lay out her clients. It’s a “Oh, no they didn’t!” moment with added fight scene.
At its heart, The Millionaire Matchmaker is about conflict, not commitment. You don’t watch it for fairy tale, happily ever after endings. (That’s what The Bachelor is for—sort of). You watch it for Patti’s version of tough love. The clients we see on-screen are chosen for their dramatic value. They are the difficult and the demanding ones who hardly ever make it to a second date let alone find their soul mate. This is not a failure in matchmaking because the show is about Patti’s process rather than the end result. More importantly, it’s about Patti’s role as expert in that process. Her caustic approach to relationship counseling may be harsh in a reality TV world of rose ceremony romances but she does do her clients a service. Two months after an engagement, you aren’t likely to see them on the cover of a gossip magazine under the headline “It’s Over!”.