Having become hooked on the endlessly entertaining “Project Runway” my attention has lately turned to another Bravo program, “The Millionaire Matchmaker.”
If you haven’t caught it, the show is about the labors of Patti Stanger, a modern-day matchmaker who specializes in finding dates for wealthy men too busy or too shy to do it themselves. Her company, The Millionaire’s Club, promises long-term committed relationships with the ultimate aim of marriage. After paying a hefty fee these fellows submit to a thorough review and consult with Patti on everything from their hopes and desires for a “dream girl” to their choices in fashion and home décor. Once Patti deems a man sufficiently committed to the process, she takes him on and begins to open his world to the joys of purposeful dating.
At first glance, this looks like a typical exploitative and exhibitionist reality show. But when you start to get to know Patti, you begin to see one very old-fashioned girl under all that lip gloss and high-tech. For one thing, she’s only interested in matchmaking clients with “pure motives”—that is, the ones who really want a wife and a soul mate. Serial daters or men (and women) just looking for a swinging hook-up are summarily dismissed. As Patti hotly points out, “I’m not Heidi Fleiss”.
For proof, just look to her “Dating Commandments”: these ten rules for the ladies read like a primer from Miss Manners. The demands are heavy on things like:
1) Being polite (return calls promptly)
2) Honoring your commitments (follow through on promises)
3) Being ladylike (modest consumption of alcohol; no drugs; polite discourse—no discussion of failed relationships or emotional baggage; no overnight home visits!
4) No gold digging (though it may be argued this is time-honored, if nothing else)
5) No overt gifts, such as any gift purchased for the man in front of him, but plenty of give and take, including a home-cooked meal!
6) No sex, period. Women are admonished to wait until the relationship becomes committed and monogamous.
The kicker? No shacking up! According to Patti, the mystery goes out of a relationship when two people live together before getting wed. On that last issue, Patti argues that “it takes four seasons to get to know a man” and that if he hasn’t proposed by the end of a year, you need to move on.
Before anyone gets red-faced over the rules for the women, please note that the men have even more—15 commandments to the girls’ ten. These cover much the same territory as the rules for the ladies, but in greater detail, with even more emphasis on the importance of treating her like a lady and being a gentleman oneself.
It makes for an interesting discussion. Patti is a self-described “third-generation matchmaker”. Her mother and grandmother were free-lance (and fee-free!) yentas with very successful track records. Patti may have taken the tradition into the 21st century with a high-tech twist—and a profit motive—but her approach and basic morality is not that far afield from the Jewish tradition of making happy and long-lasting matches for singles.
She may be bucking the social tide of casual hook-ups but as evidence of the need for and interest in her services, her show is a hit and her Millionaire’s Club idea is being successfully franchised in other parts of the country as well as abroad.
So, what do you think?