Checking Out The Choice Was a Bad Choice (Surprise, Surprise)

The Choice S01E1: "DJ Paul D, Romeo, Jeremy Bloom, and Jason Cook"


I’m pretty sure the working title for The Choice was So Which of You Bitches Is Going to Give me a Hand Job In My Limo? How else would you describe four semi-famous bachelors selecting from a pool of suggestively dressed ladies after a couple shouted questions and a 10-second deliberation?

Let’s quickly review the show's process, because it seemed remarkably complicated for a meat market and never paused to explain itself (Cat Deely, the hostess, has better things to do, like get this show in the can and move on to her next hosting gig. How many mortgages is this girl juggling?). The Choice loosely follows the format of NBC's The Voice in that it involves giant spinning chairs and celebrities playing "King for a Day" by judging mere mortals.

Basically four “celebrity” bachelors (The Choice promises there will also be celebrity bachelorettes later on) sit in chairs facing away from a stage. A lady comes out and has 40 seconds to start saying anything about herself to attract them. If the men are intrigued, they pull a handle on the chair and swing around. If two men choose the lady, she gets to pick between them. Once the celebrities have each collected three chosen ladies, those women then compete in a mini-pageant, answering their bachelor’s questions until he decides who he wants to take back to the limo for a quick BJ on a dream date! (Do people really even date anymore? Or do young people just go to raves together and dance around until their genitals line up?)

If you are expecting The Choice to be any kind of investigation into being attracted to someone for what’s inside versus their appearance, I’d direct you to the failed series Dating in the Dark, ABC’s ultimate elaboration on that thesis—and which, in comparison to The Choice, suddenly seems like it should have won an Oscar for documentary filmmaking. If The Choice was ever intended to be a show about women being judged on anything other than looks (HIGHLY DOUBTFUL), that lofty goal was struck down by the first boisterous hoot when the first contestant’s wildly shimmying silhouette danced on the 30-foot tall projection screen in the center of the stage.

The Choice is not trying to say that basing attraction on looks is superficial, it’s predicated on the idea you can ONLY be attracted to someone based on looks, and when you can’t look for yourself, you have to use every clue available to make sure she is, in fact, hot before you pull that “love handle.” The women onstage spent their precious seconds trying to convince the bachelors that they were good looking, describing themselves like prized show dogs. “I’m leggy! Long blonde hair! Big eyes! I look like a doll!” while the audience, who could see the contestants, registered their opinion with raucous cat calls. As in the case of the lovely Elyze, the audience response was so overpowering the bachelors couldn’t hear her voice at all and merely whipped their chairs around to see what all the hollering was about.

And, by the way, ALL the ladies were GORGEOUS. Obviously if the producers had thrown in a 350-pound woman with an acne beard and a good heart it would have been a debacle, and let’s hope they never do, because it would turn the superficiality of the series into something sinister. The Choice is all about rewarding the good-looking, and the fact that such a set-up implicitly punishes fugly innocents is not something it wants to discuss.

The Choice keeps its tone light, its girls beautiful, and its audience therefore reasonably polite. However even the show's efforts to sidestep bullying by only letting the audience rank 9s and 10s could not avoid a weird racial tension that floated below the surface. Like in the case of one bubbly girl who came out and introduced herself as “Asia” and then quickly assured Pauly D, “but I am NOT Asian.” Or the ultimate winner, Nia, a stunning black woman who answered a straightforward question about how she’d mend a broken heart by suggesting the white bachelor “put some coffee in his cream.” That answer was underlined even further when Annapurna, Nia's fellow contestant who hadn’t heard Nia’s answer, suggested “chocolate” as a good cure for a broken heart to the wild applause of the audience. It’s hard to imagine another context on TV where the emphasis on race in judging people would be as acceptable, but The Choice is very much about crystallizing sexual objects into their most obvious physical signifiers. “Typical California blonde.” “Eastern European beauty.” “Princess Jasmine-type” were all actual phrases used by the girls to to baldly advertise their race—a criteria for judging people that The Choice could have transcended if it were a smarter show.

What was probably weirdest moment of the evening was a round of shouted one-on-one questions (also conducted while the bachelors were still in their spinning chairs, in front of the pep-rally-caliber audience). Make no mistake, the guys (and eventually girls?) have ALL the power in this hour-long beauty pageant. They choose their three and then they whittle down from there, and at no point is any attempt made to see if the contestants necessarily even like the person they’ve been claimed by once assigned. However, some weird kind of attempt to ask the “celebrities” questions was made by each of the contestants during the shouted one-on-one time. It really felt like the producers backstage hammered it into the girls heads that they ask the bachelors questions to make it seem like each side was considering the other. This memo probably did not make it to the executive or network level, as there was no question about the girls turning down their Eligible Celebrity Bachelors for their Dream Limo Sexual Assault Date. So it made the rapid-fire exchange more confusing than anything else.

The Choice is grotesque and socially irresponsible on many levels. I feel like I can waive their promises of gender parity aside for the moment, because while there allegedly will be bachelorette episodes, Fox introduced the concept with guys judging girls and that’s significant. This show feeds sexual stereotypes, demeans women, encourages entitled performers and our cultish worship of them above, say, the doctors who are curing AIDS with stem cell research and encourages our already rampant societal emphasis on looks. Otherwise it’s light fun and frankly, ideal summer programming.


QUESTIONS:

1. Do people still date?

2. Who do you feel worse for: the bachelors who agreed to be on this show, or the contestants who agreed to be on this show?

3. What did you think of The Choice?

Comments (37)
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I thought for sure this was another Simon Cowell debacle when I first tuned in. Why is it that all the game/ reality shows need to have a judge or host with a British accent of some sort. It's like the accent gives them some degree of sincerity, authority, qualification,etc. Even the shows with American in their title (American Idol, America's got talent) seem to think the accent gives them more credibility. An example is Sharon Osborne, personally I like Sharon, but I think her talents are better served on a comedy stage. I certainly don.t think an accent and being married to one of the most famous rock stars validates a serious opinion for a talent contest and a talk show. As for Cat Deely, it's to bad such a beautiful artist has to strike such a career low with such a bomb like "The Choice" just so the producers can have another Brit accent. Richard Dawson must be rolling in his grave.
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I knew this was going to be a bust when I flipped the channel and saw Rob Kardashian sitting in one of the chairs, and did not know the other 3 "celebrities". I think that term is used far too loosely nowadays as none of the 4 guys doing the picking are what I would call a "celebrity". Horrible show. I feel my IQ going down as I continue watching this putrid program.
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"The Choice is grotesque and socially irresponsible on many levels."



Isn't it on FOX? You should have saw this one coming... pretty sure you did, actually.
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I agree that this show could have actually gained some credibility (however miniscule) if it branched out on physicality and the like. I find things like this relatively fascinating, for the sociological and psychological tidbits that you can find within them if you choose to dig (very, very deep). So the failed Dating in the Dark was actually more fascinating and practical and definitely could fall within a thin realm of informative. But this was just appalling, degrading, demeaning crap. Neither the males nor the females came across as anything remotely close to civilized. And poor Cat Deely seemed relatively disgusted half way through greeting the audience.
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Looks bad.......................
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This makes me miss the old "Dating Game" that I watched as a kid. Similar premise, generally classier, NO celebs (well, almost no).
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I haven't watched, I have no intention to do it. But after reading the review and the comments, all I can think of is "Oh noes, Cat Deely, what have they done to you?? Why? What? Oh noes!!! Someone in Fox has leverage against her!!
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Holy S, I think The Choice is the worst television show I've ever seen. I can't believe I just wasted an hour of my life on that. Honestly, what is even the point of the show? At least dating in the dark made sense, this show is just useless crap. Uh, fox what is wrong with you. Seriously? Seriously? Seriously?
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Citizens13, That is a silly question. What's wrong with Fox is "FOX".
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Kill the show just rude
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this was the greatest tv show i ever seen i am loving fox's dating block, can't wait for next week.
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Ok, I just watched it.



Your article was charitable.



I feel less human now.
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The dumbest, most ridiculous piece of crap I've ever had to sit through. Worse than Jersey Shore, and that's saying something. WTF was Fox thinking when they greenlit this?



Like the reviewer said, it's grotesque and socially irresponsible on so many levels. This is part of what's wrong with our already disgusting society. If I could describe the show in one word: Gross.
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"had to sit through"? You were forced? Shall I call the police? Can you describe the attacker?
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It's usually a girl forcing a guy to sit through this stuff. :-P
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Staff
Bernard?! LOL
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I thought it was fun to watch. Not quality TV by any stretch of the imagination, but a great way to stare blankly at your TV, contemplate what our society thinks has entertainment value, and waste an hour.
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A wonderfully written review. Really enjoyed reading it.



You've made me want to watch this train wreck at least once.
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1. i hope so. maybe just the more intellectual of those who are still single.

2. didnt watch it. if the contestants are dumb enough to put themselves out there as nothing more than some(one)thing to be objectified i don't feel badly for them.

3. didn't watch it.



your most risque comments in one article so far lily?



did any of the women have child bearing hips? because cat deeley doesn't. i don't know that she has hips at all.



did we get to see "princess jasmin type?"



did "eastern european beauty" look decidedly russian mail order bride? or like a floridian / southerner of europe, blonde?
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HA. I don't go blue often online but trust me, I'm a salty old sailor in real life.

"Annapurna" described herself as Princess Jasmin from Alabama or something else and I'm afraid she was very convinced she was going home with the soap star. She kept giving him like "I get you" eye-widenings.
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10 bucks says someone gives someone herpes(not gonna say who *COUGHCOUGH*Pauly D*COUGHCOUGH*) and sues their date and the network. Then Frank Murdock(who knows which film I'm talking about?) does the world a favour, breaks into the courtroom with an AK47 and executes the parties on sight.
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i think the only way that i would watch this type of show would be if they allowed people of all different shapes, sizes, age, color or intelligence participate then that would be interesting. I wouldnt want them to start making fun of some of the less attractive girls but still it would be interesting to see how people would choose without knowing what the person looked like along with the chance that they may or maynot be attractive. if all the girls are 9s and 10s then whats the point?

also it would be better if they had actual celebrities (i dont consider "reality stars" stars)
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They once had a program like you described. It was sooo good that it ran off and on for over 30 years. It was called the "Dating Game"
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If they got George Clooney, Justin Bieber, Viggo Mortenson and Joe Manganiello it would be a very different show.
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I would watch for Jason Cook but seriously only have the host be suggestively dressed, don't have the contestants dress poorly...total turn off...authenticity is IN this year not .....geez stupid casting directors....obviously the cameramen are skeeves also if they're makign the guys seem likee total pervs...not cool...The Choice better clean up their act!!
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i think you should check out Take Me Out hosted by George Lopes.. it's bad but more entertaining that The Chioce. actually, it's not that bad, it's just one of these shows that you don't want to admit watching it. some of the bit's got me laughing
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I watched for Cat, and holy god! Not that I expect much from these guys, but every time one of the girls mentioned that she was bright, or had a degree, or god forbid was a comic geek and on the debate team (the only girl that not a single guy turned around for, and also the only one of them that I might possibly ever be friends with). Even when they said they were impressed by something "intelligent" that the girl was into, the close ups on them deciding if they would turn around and their mugging at these kind of traits proved that they really were just in it for the BJ from the hot dumb chick. Gross.
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I agree - anytime they talked about their education or career ambitions everyone's eyes glazed over.
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Seriously it was troubling to see how the guys rolled their eyes at higher education/anything other than the girls saying how hot they were . But maybe those 4 bachelors are just dissmissive of degrees since I think we can safely assume none of them completed high school.
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This was horrible and felt like a beauty pageant. The dating show that came on before it was much better and no where near as sleazy. I thought it was going to be more about the women's personality but that was thrown out the window when the audience was obnoxiously loud and gave away the appearance of the women.
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I had no intention of getting near this show. Thank you for the confirmation. What a stupid idea.
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I don't know if I made one point clear from the below: this was certainly light, and it sounds like I was more hating of it than I actually was since it barely made an impact on me afterwards; but the truth is that it WASN'T fun in any way, it wasn't spontaneous enough, it wasn't clever or salacious or sexy enough, it wasn't exploiting celebrity enough. It only made the slightest impact in the moment by being awful as a show. It wasn't interesting the way Dating in the Dark was, or pretty to look at the way Love in the Wild is, it wasn't scandalous the way Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire was, it wasn't salacious the way Temptation Island was, and it wasn't clever about TV dating the way Blind Date was. It was just hollow.
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I ended up getting talked into watching this last night, and it was UNBELIEVABLY bad. Every negative word Lily wrote in this article PALES in comparison to how awful and unintelligible the show was. It was ugly beyond belief, it was amazingly cheap, it was blitheringly vapid, and the "rules" for the "game" were just impossible to follow until at least halfway through. The girls are all skanking it up, even the ones that didn't seem as skanky at heart had to fake it. Each girl's spiel came off sounding like an escort ad, and that's mainly because that's what the show was trying to do: whittle down which girl was getting pimped to the "celebrity" guys.



I can see an argument for feeling bad for the celeb bachelors, but ultimately they were the ones wielding control of the situation. The girls were lined up like sex workers at the Bunny Ranch and eliminated one by one in nonsensical fashion, their only tools to keep in the game being shaking their asses for the crowd and spewing dignity-slaughtering come-on line after come-on line until the last few seconds where they just had to resort to whoring or begging. And for what? To date Pauly D. and Romeo for 5 seconds? It's not like we saw what these "dates" were anyway, they literally seemed to be vying for NOTHING AT ALL, maybe screentime but nobody in Hollywood or in their families is going to find the screentime they got in any way valuable or positive.



The only way we enjoyed this trash was by being catty towards the contestants, they sorta knew what they were getting into so it was easy to judge them on their looks, their idiotic responses, their outfits, and their flaws. But even that lost its grotesque fun, and the show was ultimately just boring and surprisingly hard to follow for what turned out to be a relatively simple concept.



This was Fox at its worst - half-baked ideas stealing from other networks' successes and cheapening all potential value while focusing on debasing every single person involved from the talent on-camera to the names in the credits to the viewers themselves. This was low-rent garbage Fox has been infamous for vomiting out in its most notorious early days. Utlimately it's just one of those apps in the Appstore like "Andry Birds" - a cheap knockoff hoping to catch your attention with a lower price and name similar to something popular, but it's really just totally worthless garbage that has nothing but the slimmest thing to do with that which it's mocking.



Honestly, why Fox even bothered with this one I don't know, it won't catch on because - even with an audience entirely made up of black-hearted whoremongers - it's too cheap and too confusing to follow, and there's no real result at the end worth caring about.
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"Whore Mongering" would also have worked as a title. It's all those things, to be sure- cheap, stupid, demeaning, etc. I think my husband summed it up best when he said "I think someone just ordered too many of those spinning chairs and they had to make a show around them."
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I don't think the show needs much more than a single "Garbage" to describe it.



Deely, you're better than this.
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LOL the Deely fans are coming out of the woodwork on this review!!
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This is what happens when you cut SYTYCD to one night and leave Cat with nothing to do on Thursdays. Poor Cat.
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