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It's 1997, and Jenny Mc Carthy appears behind a crowd of several dozen men in an MTV studio, wearing a tan lace-up shirt and grabbing her own ass. To understand dating-as-sport TV, we have to start with the date itself.
After two more rounds, one that was stunt-based and another that was question-and-answer, a "couple" was born.
and The ,000 Question, wherein the prizes were monetary, had become commonplace. The Dating Game was simple: three contestants would compete for a date with a person of the opposite sex.
Each contestant was introduced to the audience before the bachelor or bachelorette (way before The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, this is how dating shows referred to those seeking love on TV) was brought to the stage, seated out of his or her eyesight behind a rotating wall.
"The freewheeling 1970s made shows like The Dating Game seem downright chaste," proclaimed Katie Couric in a 2005 Today Show segment.
"No one felt the need for a marriage license to have sex and the pickup scene at bars stayed in full swing throughout the next decade." The next major television dating show was Love Connection, which debuted in 1983 and followed a different format.
The first round eliminated large swaths of contestants based on a questionnaire they filled out before appearing on-screen; men could be removed because of their "package size," and women could be banished due to the size of their breasts.
It wasn't unusual for people to appear on the show more than once, nor was it unusual for men and women of color to only be paired up with other men and women of color (there were either no same-sex couples on the show, or so few that extensive internet research yielded zero results).
The show leaned heavily on gender stereotypes, insinuating via caption that any woman looking to "settle down" was obsessive and psychotic.
Instead of watching the matchmaking process, the TV audience would meet a couple for the first time after they had already gone on a prearranged date.
The episode was a combination of recap and testimonial from both singles. " The show would kick into gear with an interview from the main bachelor or bachelorette, with commentary from the other person on the date shown in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.