Plus-size dating show offers "More" emotion

Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:51pm EDT
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More to Love

By Randee Dawn

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Eventually, Mike Fleiss will have made a reality show for every subgenre of the human animal.

He set in stone his formula of McMansions with pools, wall candles and copious tears with "The Bachelor/ette" series and has branched out to include (cough) old folks with "The Cougar" and those recapturing their glory days with "High School Reunion."

And for years, that formula has been channeled through the cathode-ray nipple to great ratings success. Ultimately, we like Fleiss shows because we can trust that the pixilations of naughty bits and bleep-outs of swear words will be cut to a minimum. In the reality TV world, that's class, baby.

So when I say that his latest venture is a "Bachelor" for the skinny-challenged, it comes from a place of love, understanding -- and curiosity. Fox's "More to Love" brings more nontraditionally attractive women to the small screen than may ever have appeared there before, all hoping to earn the affections of similarly sized real estate developer Luke Conley. The pilot mimics a "Bachelor" show: the contestants meet and greet, there are drinks and bitchy remarks, and someone ends up in the pool. A symbolic object is handed over to and/or rescinded from those who get to stay (here, a diamond ring).

All of this could have gone tacky in the wrong hands, and to Fleiss and his experienced gang's credit, it doesn't. Instead, "More" is half reality-hookup show, half Oprahesque tearfest. Only a true sociopath wouldn't sympathize with women who say that they've never been in love, never had a second date and have all but given up expecting anything from men. This is a show with at least 25 percent more tears, 50 percent more hugging and 100 percent more long, flowing hair than any other, and it's moving.

That Conley is a 300-plus-pound guy comfortable in his own skin helps, as does his genuine affection for the larger ladies. And all of that makes this otherwise routine Fleiss confection a notch or two more interesting. Equal parts empowering and exploitative, "More to Love" does offer more -- but of exactly what, I'm still trying to decide.

(Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters)