Reality Bites: The Millionaire Matchmaker
I realize the dating scene is rough. It was bad enough in the days when the only way to meet someone was through random nighttime encounters, via your parents/friends or by coincidentally running into them at various points during your life before finally realizing you were both made for each other on New Year's Eve.
The point is, social media, online dating sites, "flirting apps" and easily obtainable background checks have made finding Mr. or Miss Right equivalent to one of the labors of Hercules. And that's just the normal people. Think about how tough it is out there for the One Percent, who have the additional task of sifting through all those potential life partners who may only want them (*gasp*) for their money.
Thank Croesus for Patti Stanger, who pairs the über-rich with the ex-Hooters waitresses who (occasionally) love them.
Stanger is CEO of Millionaire's Club, an international service helping wealthy people find mates. The company has offices across the globe, if by "across the globe" you mean "in several English-speaking Western countries" (U.S., UK, Canada). Each episode of TMM features two millionaires looking for love, and begins with Stanger and her staff (COO Destin Pfaff and "VP of Matching" Rachel Federoff) watching their videos.
Each installment's millionaires are no doubt equally worthy of ridicule. In last night's episode ("The NFL Kicker and the Workaholic"), we were introduced to former punter (not kicker -- big difference, Bravo) Mitch Berger, who won a ring with the Steelers in 2009. And like all former athletes, he's conveniently decided to stop hustling every pair of boobs he meets now that he no longer wears a football uniform.
The second guy is Joe Moller, an Anaheim-based "VIP event planner" who talks about his by-her-own-bootstraps welfare mother in one breath and in the next giddily describes stepping over homeless people with the captain of the LAPD. I kind of glazed over during this scene, but I think he said he wanted to have sex with Sam Mendes.
My bad, it was Eva Mendes.
[Fun fact: Moller's Web site hasn't been updated since 2009. Maybe he was stabbed by a homeless person.]
Stanger next meets with these guys in person. Joe has some humanity under his wiseass exterior, while Mitch is laboring under the male equivalent of the biological clock (we also have to endure former NBA star John Salley throwing his two cents in). I don't really get the point of this exercise, as every show has the millionaires moving on to something called a "V.I.P. Mixer," which is a polite way of saying "cattle call."
Stanger, Pfaff and Federoff next vet the potential mates. It's impossible to keep track of the sheer tonnage of low self-esteem on display. The ladies run the gamut from lawyers to "models" of various stripes, and Stanger, Pfaff and Federoff decide who gets to attend the mixer. Just so we're clear, Stanger is 51 and single, though Pfaff and Federoff are married. To each other. How comforting to have this particular bunch deciding your romantic future. It'd probably be just as effective to stroll into a bar wearing ass-less chaps and hand out a list of likes and dislikes.
Book with confidence.
The mixer is about as painful as you'd imagine: Berger's dream concert double bill is U2 and Jay-Z, while Joe describes the mortifying experience of having his building manager stumbling upon his dog digging up the rooftop garden. That's almost as bad as when your lazy butler cleans your sock garters and they're still covered with schmutz! They choose two of the assembled women to sit down with and get to know better, and from there they pick the one they'd like to go on a (no sex, only two drinks) date with. For Joe, it's Melissa, who "seems really interesting," and she also looks like Eva Mendes with bigger boobs. Mitch chooses Bambi, the Playboy Radio host. With big boobs.
Joe takes Melissa to do portraits, because "art is really popular right now." Holy shit. His big mistake is letting the portrait artist, who looks like John Redcorn from King of the Hill, create a smoldering rendition of Melissa first. Mitch and Bambi go horseback riding, because he's never done that before. And because Bambi bounces bodaciously. They also have dinner -- Joe and Melissa at a restaurant, Mitch cooking for Bambi -- and love blossoms anew.
But wait! Melissa was noncommittal about Joe. I bet she went back to that studio and let John Redcorn's doppelgänger seek amends for the U.S. violating the Treaty of Ft. Laramie, if you know what I'm saying. Mitch and Bambi apparently hit it off (confirmed by recent syrupy Tweets), for as long as that will last.
Depending on when she's asked, Sanger has claimed a 90 percent, 80 percent or "very high" success rate. That's great news for the nation's rich, who will certainly find Sanger's high-end pimping a better option than, say, making the effort to meet a real human being themselves. Watching The Millionaire Matchmaker and realizing it's in its sixth season gives me some comfort. After all, if guys so dumb as to rely on Sanger to find them a woman can get rich, maybe Horatio Alger was right all along.