'More to Love'

Mike Fleiss' latest expansion of his dating-show empire brings a new dimension to a tired genre.

“‘The Bachelor’ for fat people” hardly sounds groundbreaking. After all, we already have “The Biggest Loser” catering to overweight America by trying to help itshrink multiple sizes. But damned if producer Mike Fleiss’ latest brand expansion of his dating-show empire doesn’t bring a new dimension to a tired genre — and not just by adding weight to the usual name-age-hometown-occupation boilerplate. Foremost, the cast (with one key exception) seems less manicured than its slimmer counterparts — and that rawer quality should resonate with a diet-happy, plus-sized nation.

Luke Conley, a 26-year-old former football player, tips the scales north of 300 pounds, and he’s presented 20 women ranging in weight from 180 to 280. As the direct-to-camera confessionals begin, though, the waterworks freely open, with the women shedding plenty of tears as they discuss their dating histories and, in some instances, despair at the prospect of ever meeting anyone.

One girl talks about how she’s “never had a second date.” Another wonders why guys “love the skinny bitches” — you know, the ones that populate every other dating show.

Because the women appear more vulnerable, the program feels more emotional, even if there isn’t a single original note otherwise, from the mansion setting to the protracted elimination ceremony. Frankly, the only conspicuous difference is that they squeezed fewer would-be Mrs. Conleys into each limo.

Nevertheless, these women aren’t looking for steady gigs on MTV, and they cry at the drop of a hat. That somehow makes them more real, however contrived the situation might be.

The weak link, actually, is Conley, who sounds far too determined to make a positive impression and say all the right things. He comes across as an over-solicitous salesman (the guy’s somehow connected to real estate) or modern-day Eddie Haskell, spouting the usual dating-program platitudes about how he’s going to “put myself out there,” blah blah blah.

Nevertheless, “More to Love” might help reintroduce the format even to some people put off by how manipulated it is and the dearth of enduring couples. Of course, the whole “fat people find love” premise is calculated and condescending — believe it or not, beyond TV, obese people manage to pair up and breed — but simply by virtue of its casting, the series does break out of TV’s conventional “skinny bitch” mode.

It’s a slim tweak to the Fleiss formula, to be sure, but even so, it just might leave Fox with a big fat hit on its hands.

More to Love

Fox, Tues. July 28, 9 p.m.

Production

Produced by Next Entertainment and 495 Prods. in association with Warner Horizon Television. Executive producers, Mike Fleiss, Sally Ann Salsano, Martin Hilton; co-executive producer, Kevin Finn.

Crew

Supervising producers, Mark Allen, Jason Cherella, Pam Lalima; producer, Damon Epps; director, Ken Fuchs; senior story producer, Gregory Carroll; casting, Robyn Kass, Doron Ofir. RUNNING TIME: 60 MIN.
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