By David L. Coddon
When it comes to dating, reality TV needs a reality check. There's a reason why they call the hookups on The Bachelor and The Millionaire Matchmaker "fairytale romances." Enter Ken Gora, executive producer of a new, six-episode series he says will show the real thing.
The Romance: So You Think It's Love debuts the week of Valentine's Day on Channel 4 on Cox San Diego and Time Warner Cable. Viewers from San Diego and Orange counties can watch six local bachelors compete for their favorites among 13 women. The contestants, who range in age from mid-20s to mid-40s, include everyone from a killer-whale trainer at SeaWorld to a single mom with three children.
"We're trying to portray dating as real life," says Gora, who previously produced the series So You Think You Can Sell. "I don't fly to Bora Bora on a third date, and most of these people don't. We're not asking anyone to get engaged or married after seven weeks. I could get along with a grizzly bear if you flew me to Hawaii for three days. By putting the contestants in real situations, you can find out how people really are on a date and get to know them in a more authentic way."
The contestants, chosen from 330 who sent resumes, videos and pictures, won't be whisked off to Hawaii, but rather will do their dating in San Diego, visiting local restaurants, stores and wineries. "We're trying to brand a lot of the cool businesses in San Diego and help the economy through getting them new customers," Gora says.
Three judges - Gora (who has a doctorate in psychology), a relationship therapist and a Rancho Santa Fe matchmaker - will give contestants feedback during the series. No wonder Gora calls his show "the American Idol of dating."
While he may not enjoy success on the level of American Idol, Gora does hope to take The Romance to other cities and offer San Diego viewers a Season Two.
"I think there are stories about love and romance and dating that have not been told before," he says.
The Romance - see the premier February 25 at 8 p.m., and then every Tuesday at 8 p.m. on Channel 4 on Cox San Diego and Time Warner Cable.