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Is Dating Dead?

By RD Heldenfels Published: June 12, 2006

At least, have we seen the end of dating as we used to know it -- two people meet, go out together, get to know each other? I've been feeling that it's an outmoded form based on the modern dating shows -- ''Date My Mom,'' "Next,'' shows where the idea of making a match also means making a gimmick. But I was especially disheartened by ''How to Get the Guy,'' premiering tonight on ABC, which indicates that smart, capable women still need to be instructed in things like making eye contact and paying compliments.

At least, the show's two love coaches end up giving advice like that to the four women on the show, and it's especially sad that in the premiere a lot of the advice goes to the one repeatedly branded the ''girl next door.'' Isn't ''girl next door'' supposed to refer to homespun qualities that might include how to talk to ''the guy''?

I had modest hopes for ''How to Get the Guy'' since I was entertained by ''Hooking Up,'' ABC's matchmaking series from last summer. But ''Hooking Up'' operated on the assumption that its women had tried other approaches to finding men and just hadn't succeeded, while ''Get the Guy'' goes back to basics. Way back. The people on ''Hooking Up'' also seemed more interesting than the ones on ''Get the Guy,'' where the reduction to cultural stereotypes (as in, ''girl next door'') seemed all too understandable.

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