Everything I Ever Needed To Know About Life, I Learned From Watching Joe Millionaire

February 26, 2003

By Lisa Dickson

My recent addiction to "Joe Millionaire" has led me to question the life lessons that reality TV might be imparting to our youth.

1.) "If a man is not ready to commit, it doesn't matter how gorgeous you are — or what a fabulous person you are. He's just not ready."

The reality series "Joe Millionaire" was based on a false premise. Evan Marriot was never looking for a wife. He just wanted to date someone who didn't mind that he was a construction worker.

2.) "Intimate relationships are based on quality, not quantity."

Having twenty women to choose from didn't guarantee that Evan would find a soulmate among them. Some singles might argue that having a hundred people to choose from doesn't guarantee that there will be a soulmate among them.

Joe Mil's women were selected on the basis of beauty, not character. It was simply the luck of the draw that there was a "Zora" among them.

3.) "Good girl/ bad girl: It's all in the editing."

All the characters on "Joe Millionaire" were caricaturized by the editing. But is that truly reality?

When we take an honest look at ourselves, we find both Zora's idealism and Sarah's pragmatism. We each have a dose of Zora's generosity and Sarah's greed. Sometimes, we stand by our convictions — while, at other times, we allow the desires of the moment to sweep us away.

It all depends on the time and the day. We are each capable of kindness or cruelty. Our words often wound, but sometimes heal. Someone could edit my life to show my love for children — or my quick temper, my deep affection for my husband — or my not-infrequent annoyance with him. If the camera is rolling, I hope that the Editor will be kind.

4.) "Life is not a fairytale."

Reality television stubbornly denies audiences those "cliché endings" that we have come to expect from the cinema. Although "love conquers all" in fairytales, a man who has risen from an unknown to a heartthrob might not be too eager to settle down. Although "bad people are punished" in fairy tales, a woman whose boyfriend allowed her to pursue Joe Millionaire might just take her right back into his arms when the series is over.

Poverty might end up being less of roadblock to love than a man who lacks maturity and common interests. And even villains like Sarah feel vulnerable and betrayed when the fairytale is over.

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