Let’s just come right out and say it: Fox’s “The Littlest Groom” truly is the end of civilization as we know it.
It isn’t a reality show so much as a “Saturday Night Live” skit come to life. You get the feeling it’s not quite what Louisa May Alcott had in mind when she wrote “Little Women”: a small man trying to choose a mate from among a group of short women. It’s “The Bachelor” meets “Arrested Development.” The resulting program isn’t merely achingly offensive, it’s also sociologically twisted, incorporating average-size women into the mix simply as a humiliation device. Thank you, Fox Broadcasting, for successfully lowering the standard of reality to the level of bedrock.
The fact that this two-parter (which concludes Monday) features little people isn’t even the worst of it. It’s more that it’s cast in a freak show-ish light at every turn. It isn’t enough that these dignified young adults are treated as circus tent fodder. They also have to cart them all to a golf driving range and take them line dancing to really drive home the point that, hey, little people sure look weird when they move around. Let’s all laugh at the funny mutants. It crosses the line into the territory of shameful.
What may surprise some people is that the participants possess abundant poise and decorum, so much so that we might even forget they aren’t of full stature if only their size weren’t made continuously, brutally obvious. The little groom of the title, 23-year-old cellular technician Glen Foster, is actually a cool and highly decent guy. His humanity is what makes the first of the two installments at least bearable. The producers were fortunate to find him.
Would Fox rig this show?
Glen must weed his little female competition from a dozen candidates down to five just after the first commercial break. And to his everlasting credit, he doesn’t necessarily choose looks over personality. This all takes place in an opulent mansion overlooking the cliffs of Malibu. The five surviving ladies spend the rest of the hour being wined and dined and eyeing one another cautiously, as is the wont of these contrived relationship extravaganzas. The diminutive size of the participants changes the basic structure not an iota.
The big twist -- such as it is -- occurs at the end of the first show when three gorgeous women of average height are tossed into the equation. We’re left to wonder what their motivation is. Do they really want to date a little man? Are they fetishists? Actresses? Perhaps it has something do with the disclaimer at the end of the show that reads, in part, “Some female contestants were not eligible for selection. The Littlest Groom was made aware of which contestants were not eligible before the selection process. These contestants knew that they were not eligible before appearing on camera.”
Not that we’d ever suspect rigging. Not on such a fine, above-board, quality exercise as this.
“The Littlest Groom” (hosted by the comparatively towering Dani Behr) embodies wretched taste on so many levels that it’s difficult to convey it fully. Here is one other example: At various points in the show, when the participants speak, subtitles appear onscreen -- the implication being that perhaps because they’re so tiny their voices don’t carry sufficiently for broadcast. Yes, it’s a small world after all -- and, in the matter of Fox’s sideshow mentality, getting smaller all the time.