American Culture

Has reality TV finally gone too far?

by Amaury Nora

We had The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Temptation Island, Joe Millionaire, Who Wants to Marry My Dad, and many more. The latest reality show being marketed to the major networks by the entertainment industry will certainly add more fuel to the heated immigration debate.

Reuters recently reported that a Los Angeles company, Morusa Media, is marketing a new reality game show called “Who Wants to Marry a US Citizen.” Like other reality dating game shows, the show is also hoping to create a love match; however, the goal is to create marriages between immigrants who already have their temporary visas (green cards) and US citizens. Unlike other reality dating shows where a contestant eliminates several potential suitors until there is only one suitor left, the show will use the same format as the 1960s The Dating Game where a bachelorette (US citizen) will ask three bachelors – who are legal immigrants – a variety of questions. The twist: at the end of the show, the bachelorette will decide which one she would like to marry. Angelo Gonzales, the show’s host, says the “show [will] NOT marry people nor do [they] guarantee a marriage will result from the show.” However, they are willing to pay for both the wedding and the honeymoon should a marriage result from the show. A statement on the show’s website,, also makes this claim.

Show creator Adrian Martinez argues that the program wants to demonstrate that “true love knows no boundaries.” Nevertheless, the show has received its fair share of criticism from both sides of the immigration aisle. The minute word got out, the usual anti-immigration pundits were on top of this story. Not surprisingly, Michelle Malkin manages to mislead her readers by implying that the show is part of an evil plot by Islamic fundamentalists. She writes, “Hezbollah gives the show ‘two thumbs up!'” By way of explanation, Malkin provides her readers with a couple links. One link leads to an old article she wrote – “Protect America: Stop marrying terrorists!;” the other links is to a current post, “My God, she’s married to one of our people.” Malkin’s arguments suggest that she is incapable of grasping anything more than she really detest any one who is brown. But then again, this is coming from the same person who authored In Defense of Internment, where she explicitly defends racial profiling.

“Make no mistake: I am not advocating rounding up all Arabs or Muslims and tossing them into camps, but when we are under attack, ‘racial profiling’ — or more precisely, threat profiling — is justified.”

On the other side of the immigration debate, Yave on Citizen Orange contends that Who Wants to Marry a US Citizen will hurt the immigration process.

…any marriage that resulted from a game show with marriage to a U.S. citizen as the prize would lead to a strong presumption that the marriage was entered into for the sole purpose of circumventing the country’s immigration laws—hence, no green card.

Gonzales argues that the purpose of the show is to play matchmaker and that it’s a “win-win situation for all involved” because there are “thousands of US citizens seeking a spouse … just as many immigrants seeking the same.” As much as this is true, Yave points out that even if the couple were able show evidence that the couple entered into a marriage in good faith, “the suspicion of marriage fraud might be too great to overcome” because during the the marriage interview process an immigration officer could enter “any statements made by a winning contestant during the course of the show into consideration in making [their] decision.” If an immigration officer feels the marriage is a “sham,” the removal and deportation proceedings most likely would begin.

The real question is who are Adrian Martinez and Morusa Media? According to a 2000 Hispanic Business article, Martinez is a producer, songwriter, musician, recording artist and record company owner. In June 2000, he was awarded “Micro Business of the Year” by Los Angeles-based La Opinion newspaper and Bank of America. Interesting enough, two years ago, Martinez founded, an online radio station geared for pets and their humans.

One cannot help but wonder what Martinez’s real intent is for a show like this, because reality game shows are a very mixed bag. The problem with dating shows, when it comes to entertainment and matchmaking, is that the contestants who participate are pretty much devoid of all emotions or feelings. When it comes to selecting the game’s contestants, the producers and the television networks are primarily focused on amusing the audience (as opposed to demonstrating any concern for a person’s happiness or compatibility). Another problem: contestants are supposed to magically fall in love, even though they have little or no knowledge of each other.

Like other reality-dating shows, the show will make light of people’s real feelings because in the end these shows are not about true romance; they are about making good television. People don’t tune in to see true romance, but to see other people fail and/or make asses out of themselves. As Gonzales points out on CBS’ Early Show with Hannah Storm:

“We’re just trying to set an arena for these people to just get to know each other. We’re not trying to get involved with the immigration process. We’re in the business of love, it’s that simple. We’re just trying to have fun.

Gonzales added that the show will be “a lot edgier.” What does that exactly mean? Today’s reality dating shows provide a solid understanding of the changing economics of contemporary television. In order capture an audience, to be “edgier,” producers are forced to push the envelope so they’re able to win time slots and beat competing networks. This is the reason why shows like ElimiDATE tend to place attractive men and women into obviously tantalizing situations. Let’s all face it … as the age-old advertising adage goes, sex sells.

There is nothing wrong with sexually liberated adults, and there probably will be thousands of legal immigrants willing to become a Who Wants to Marry a US Citizen contestant, but the possibility this will lead to matrimony and becoming a full US citizen is tiny. When a dating reality show is willing to put a contestant’s green card at stake while making a game out of love, it’s not matchmaking, It’s exploitation of the worse kind. And the fact that Adrian Martinez and Angelo Gonzales are offering thousands of legal immigrants in the US a dream of a better and fuller life through a game show rather than a political organization is a sad but characteristic reflection of contemporary reality.

Here’s the video promo for Who Wants to Marry a US Citizen.

x-posted on ¡Para Justicia y Libertad!

6 replies »

  1. It’s television. He’s a producer. He want to makes money. For me, all else is diversion.

    A terrific post. Thanks.

  2. Welcome back, E. You’ve been missed.

    Stuff like this is the gladiatorial games of the modern era. They give us banal and brutal entertainment to distract us and keep us complacent, playing on our worst fears and stereotypical hatreds.

    Reality TV is some truly dehumanizing crap, and the best way to get rid of it is to not watch it.