ABC Family’s entry into reality TV, “Perfect Match: New York” is perfect for fans of the genre who think sib ABC’s “The Bachelor” just has too much of that pesky exposition and character development. Why draw out the introduction of the contestants over several weeks when you can cut to the chase and have a honey move into the bachelor’s pad within the first 10 minutes of the show?
Although format adds little new to the genre — CBS’ “Cupid” beats this show to the punch with the friends-as-yenta theme — “Perfect Match” will find its niche among schadenfreude-filled reality devotees if it continues to find contestants oblivious to how cringe-inducing their actions are to the viewing public.
In the episode provided for review, 28-year-old Gothamite Andrew Connolly reveals he has minimal success in finding a mate because his main criteria for picking women is how they look. (So he goes on a reality show for a deeper perspective.)
Assisting him in this latest quest are two pals and “relationship expert”/self-help book author Harriette Cole, who travel to a country estate a la “Joe Millionaire” to winnow down 30 potential suitors to three.
After a series of painful interviews, including one in which an overweight woman tries to get the panel’s attention by dressing as a chicken, the panel picks waitress Christine, ad producer Stacy and sales manager Brigette to each move into Andrew’s apartment for a week.
Christine is up first, and via cameras placed throughout the apartment, we see the duo adjust to life as instant roommates with an eye toward romance. At the end of the week, the panel asks Andrew if he wants to stop and stay with Christine or continue for another week with the next choice. Much to Christine’s surprise — but no one else’s, there’s 40 minutes left in the show, after all — he elects to give the other two women a try.
At the end of the three-week tryout period, Andrew is given another choice. After mingling with the other 27 original contestants, he can toss all of his three gal-pal roommates aside for someone new or make a final decision from among Christine, Stacy and Brigette.
If it weren’t for the personality quirks of those three: Christine’s oddly profound emotional attachment to Andrew, Stacy’s goofy party-girl demeanor and Brigette’s soccer-mom ambitions — the show would be a bust. As it stands, Andrew’s panel selected women with enough entertainment value for the audience as well as for their friend. Others may not be as lucky.
“Perfect Match” is based on Blighty’s Channel 4 hit of the same name and shares exec producer Stephen Lambert. Production values are acceptable, given that majority of episode was filmed in Andrew’s dinky Manhattan apartment.