Patti Stanger gets the New York Times treatment this weekend, just before the kickoff of the New York City–based season of her hugely popular Bravo reality show Millionaire Matchmaker, and the paper is painting a surprisingly pretty picture of this lady. (And also notes that Judith Regan will appear later in the season!) It seems like, despite her arguably reactionary rules for dating (“women must enhance their appearance by whatever means necessary, men, for their part, need to remember that a woman must be wooed,” and, duh, women should always date a provider-slash-“hunter”), nobody can just hate this woman like they hate other Bravo caricatures. Jezebel, Bitch, and the Daily Beast have all confessed that they’re fans. So how does the Times’ Amanda Fortini make sense of this puzzle?
For one thing, Patti’s funny and vaguely optimistic:
[A client] told Ms. Stanger she met a man at a restaurant and went out with him three times, until she got “bored.” Ms. Stanger pounced. “What do you expect, people to entertain you like a puppet show?”
Also, she’s maybe right about everything:
In the end, most of her tips for getting her clients over themselves and into a match are basic and as old as the hills. Go out to dinner (“Coffee is cheap, drinks are an audition, lunch is an interview”), don’t talk only about yourself (“No one wants to be an extra in the movie of your life,” she tells an egomaniacal film director), be genuinely open to a real commitment.
Of course, there are questions about if she even believes her own tao:
Over a lunch of yam noodles and low-carb lobster rolls at a sushi restaurant near her office, Ms. Stanger abruptly announced that she was “getting nervous” about dating again following her broken engagement. She was about to emerge from a self-imposed 60-day exile she calls Dating Detox. “How do I date now? I can’t even go out in public. I went out Friday night with my friends and everyone harassed me.”
But Fortini hits upon the compelling paradox of Patti Stanger: Besides being incredibly entertaining, she’s often very right about mating, dating, and marriage, but nobody — not even Stanger herself — actually follows her time-tested advice. That’s why she has got so many single clients! (Or “women whining into their soup everyday [sic],” as she describes them to PopEater.)
We can almost see [Stanger] thinking, to borrow a phrase from Puck, another matchmaker of sorts, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” The show reminds regular folks that seemingly privileged people are flawed human beings who often reject each other on trifling grounds and are unable to translate their hopes into realities.
So just like on most reality shows, we’ll tune into watch people fail.
The Mating Game [NYT]