Oprah Winfrey’s in the Love-Making Business
I saw the show Lovetown, USA advertised in a copy of O that I picked up to take camping with me last weekend. It was the first time I had read or even looked at O. Why do I need to explain that? For the same reason that, when she was on the air, people started sentences with, “I don’t really watch Oprah, but … ” And probably the same reason that, when she picked books I had read after I read them, it would irritate me: I didn’t want to be asked if I read a particular book, answer yes, and have anyone think I read it because it was “an Oprah book.”
Anyway, Oprah’s “next chapter” has her holding life classes both online and in person, publishing her magazine, and developing new shows for her TV station, the newest one being Lovetown, USA, premiering this Sunday on OWN and simulcast online.
I have no idea why the ad for this show intrigued me so much, nor do I know why I am still having so much difficulty understanding exactly what it’s about. In large letters, in a list, the ad says, “15,000 Townspeople/6 Singles/2 Matchmakers/1 Dramatic Experiment.”
I’m wondering if the town really can have only six singles among 15,000 residents. I’m wondering why the services of two matchmakers would be needed for only six singles. I’m wondering where the “drama” is.
In smaller font, there’s “ … Oprah has issued a challenge to its residents: in just 30 days, use the name of love on purpose.” And I’m more confused. Do people often use the name of love by accident? What is the “name of love?” How does it differ from love itself?
I was compelled to visit the site and have learned something more. Apparently, Oprah’s producers searched for a small southern town and chose Kingsland, Georgia as the place to shoot the show. I learned that the town itself will focus on love and forgiveness, with “a special emphasis on forgiveness.” Ok, so that sounds like some form of “purposeful love,” but what does it have to do with matchmaking?
The OWN site is currently showing a teaser video, and I was most struck by the inclusion of this sound bite from an older man: “Our town is supposed to focus on love for 30 days, and I don’t know what that means.”
I am glad I am not alone.
One of the tag lines of the promo is: “There are only about 14,000 people in Kingsland, but you only need one to find love.” If one of the two professional matchmakers is Paul Carrick Brunson, whom the movie Hitch was based on, how does he need the help of another matchmaker and an entire town to find dates for those six people? How will we know the love really “stuck” if we only get to watch them for 30 days?
I’m thinking this show is a conflation of a few different formulas. The video shows me a resident who says the town comes together on Friday nights, for football games, and a lightbulb goes off; I think, “Ok, it’s Friday Night Lights, a series I loved, crossed with The Bachelor, a series I have only read tweets about.
Then I see a quick shot of one of the singles mowing her lawn in her bikini; she says she’s excited about the idea because she thinks it will be better than having to “deal with internets and sites,” and I think, “Hmmm … maybe I’m wrong.” I see that another one of the singles is a bald woman, and (maybe) all of the women are single mothers? Then I think this show might be more like Twin Peaks crossed with any one of the “date-my-relative” shows on MTV, or even, what with all the shots of foliage, Love in the Wild.
I don’t know if I’ll watch the show. I need you to know that I wasn’t sure if I even get the OWN network. I have never watched it (see paragraph one), but I found out that I do get OWN by looking at Oprah’s site, which I also went to for the first time (I SWEAR). It is no surprise that the site offers tips on how to hold a viewing party. I could serve “Oprah’s Love Sandwich,” the main ingredient of which is—say it with me—love.