Based on the commercials, I built up a strong dislike for this reality series, which premieres on Fox tonight. Then I saw the first episode. Ire undiminished. After the jump, my review, which appeared in Sunday's Beacon Journal.
I would like a lot less of More to Love.
The series ... claims ‘‘to prove that love comes in all shapes and sizes’’ by being The Bachelor for larger people. (It comes from the same producer as The Bachelor and follows a similar narrative path, although it gives out rings instead of roses.)
Most of the women weigh more than 200 pounds, and the man seeking love -- real-estate investor Luke Conley -- checks in at 330. Promotional spots have shown some of the contestants crying as they talk about how their size has affected their love lives. And one spot contrasts the average size of the women with that of female contestants on other reality shows.
That may sound as if the show has its heart in the right place. And that this show and Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva are giving plus-sized women not only more screen time but more respect.
Would that it were so. In fact, based on the first viewing, More to Love is treating its women as a collective novelty act, not to mention as people who can only find love with someone else of a great size.
For example, I have no idea what the weight is of each contestant on the most recent installments of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. More to Love not only tells us each person's weight, it makes that statistic part of the graphic identifying the individuals -- not once, but every time the graphic appears.
About the first third of the [premiere] show is devoted not only to introducing the women but having them talk about size issues. And Conley more than once explains how he understands the women because of reactions to his own size.
If More to Love was genuinely interested in showing larger women in a positive and romantic light, it would simply present them as individual personalities, without all the talk about their size. It would let us as viewers judge their characters based on what they do.
Instead, it marginalizes them. And it does so even more by having them wooing a heavy bachelor instead of someone who might well have walked off the set of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette.
And if you think the audience would not believe that a conventionally good-looking guy could love a woman who isn't toothpick-thin, then you are falling prey to the same prejudices that drive the ‘‘stick to your own kind’’ attitude underlying More to Love.