Temptation Island

Joe Lavin's Humor Column

Prostitution Island

January 12, 2001


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Hurry up, and grab the remote. Prostitution has come to Fox. Of course, Fox doesn't call it prostitution. Instead, they call their new reality show Temptation Island. In it, four couples who are considering marriage agree to "test their bonds" by spending two weeks on an island with 26 sexy and eligible singles, all of whom are actually being paid by Fox to seduce the contestants away from their mates.

Well, that certainly sounds like prostitution to me, especially considering that everyone on the show was tested for sexually transmitted diseases. However, at a recent press conference, Fox executive Mike Darnell insisted that the 26 "fantasy singles" were not prostitutes; they were merely paid a "nominal" fee to be on the show. Well, then, I guess I stand corrected. These people aren't ordinary prostitutes at all. They're cheap prostitutes. Darnell also insists that the people are being paid only to "date" the coupled ones, not to have sex with them. Interestingly, that's usually the same excuse that most escort services try to use.

Not that there is anything necessarily surprising about having a television show about prostitution. This is Fox, after all. What do you expect? And, besides, Touched by a Prostitute does sound a lot more tantalizing than Touched by an Angel. Nevertheless, having suffered through well over twenty minutes of this dreck, I have to say that it's one of the most boring shows on television, even with all the skin. To paraphrase the great Bill Hicks, it's a lot like watching pornography with all the pornography edited out.

Among the fantasy singles are a former Laker girl, a former Playboy model, a Motorcross racer, a massage therapist, and a real estate agent who "likes it hot." Several of them are actors or models, and they obviously think that this show will be their launching pad to stardom. I'm not so sure though. It's not exactly the greatest acting credit, now is it? "Yeah, I was the girl in the hot tub on Temptation Island who slept with Dan and Jake and Roger and Bonnie."

I'm not entirely sure why all these programs are called "reality" shows. Alas, my reality does not usually include going to an island where thirteen beautiful women are trying to seduce me. That only happens in my fantasy life, but I guess the name Fantasy Island was already taken.

The best part of this is watching Fox try to dodge all the criticism. Last year, after the debacle of Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?, Fox swore off trashy reality programs. Granted, nobody believed them for a second, but Fox is still trying to insist that this show is somehow different from their past trash. "This is not a show, as you will see, that is about sex," Fox Entertainment Chairman, Sandy Grushow, had the nerve to say. "This is a show that is exploring the dynamics of serious relationships."

Yeah, right. The only way Sandy could have been any more disingenuous was if he had insisted that the show wasn't about ratings either. Contrast his statement with that of Andy, a contestant who traveled to the island with his girlfriend Shannon: "It's almost like being able to go down and take the Pepsi Challenge, but having the ladies be the actual soft drink instead of the soft drink." Somehow, I think Andy is planning to explore a lot more than the dynamics of his relationship.

Another contestant, Taheed, has already cheated on his girlfriend Ytossie even before traveling to Temptation Island, but she's willing to give him one more chance. Excuse me, but exactly what's the point of going to Temptation Island when you can't even stay faithful in the real world? Who knows? And, well, who really cares?

Still, the stakes are high for the couples. Think about it. If you cheat, not only will you destroy your current relationship, but you may never get another date again.

"Hey there, can I buy you a drink?"

"Wait, aren't you the guy who cheated on his girlfriend on national television? I don't think so."

The cruelest joke of all is that these people are humiliating themselves for no reason. Unlike other reality programs, Temptation Island offers no cash prize at all. Getting to appear on the show itself is the only prize. Even if one of the contestants completely destroys his or her life by succumbing to the temptation, there will be no money whatsoever with which to heal the wounds.

Better enjoy that can of Pepsi while it lasts, Andy.



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©2001 Joe Lavin