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Jewish World Review Jan. 10, 2000 / 15 Teves, 5761

Michelle Malkin

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Temptation and trash TV -- DOESN'T ANYBODY stay together anymore? In the age of drive-through divorces, maybe that's too much to ask. It would be nice, however, if the cheaters would do us surviving vow-keepers a favor and indulge themselves in private. Alas, infidelity chic is sweeping the airwaves.

This week, Fox television debuts a new "reality" series called "Temptation Island." Here is how self-deluded Fox TV executive Sandy Grushow describes the program: ``This is a show that is exploring the dynamics of serious relationships.'' You know from the trashy title that we are not talking about troubled lovers discussing their tribulations on a therapist's couch. No, the "exploration" of relationships takes place on an exotic resort off Belize. Four couples work out their relationship problems not through serious adult discussion, but through soft-core fantasies and juvenile"tests" of their love.

The show producers hired 26 "fantasy singles" to tempt the separated couples into betrayal during their island vacation. Among the lithe and lean seducers are a former Laker dancer, a former Playboy model, Miss Georgia 2000, the founder of an online dating service, a bartender, and a massage therapist.

Fox executives insist that the show is not about illicit sex. The heavy-breathing promos, including one that features a bikini-clad nymph lustily eyeing three men crammed with her in a hot tub, say otherwise. Press reports reveal that the tempters and temptresses were screened for sexually transmitted diseases. The Washington Post says that one of the seducers, a real estate agent, "likes it hot." We can safely assume he is not talking about taco sauce.

One of the couples includes a swinger; another includes a man who recently cheated on his girlfriend, who reportedly liked being hurt so much that she wants to recreate the trauma before a nationwide audience. Are these people for real? We’ll never know. The Fox network refuses to reveal the cast members’ full names and is urging inquiring reporters to "respect their privacy."

"Temptation Island" is only the most recent of a spate of tabloid TV shows that glamorize giving in to temptation. Another new program called "Cheaters," introduced last fall, invites viewers to report on their philandering spouses or significant others. The producers arrange for camera crews and bodyguards to barge in on trysts. The show then allows the victimized partners to dress down their half-naked mates. The thrust of the show, however, is less about catharsis than titillation. Ratings are high and e-mail tips to the show are pouring in.

Then there’s "Cheating Spouses: Caught on Tape," another reality special featuring adulterous voyeurism. The Fox network decided not to air the show, but it was rescued by the bottom-feeders at the UPN network – who are now planning a sequel.

It is sadly ironic that this trash TV torrent comes on the heels of news that teen abstinence campaigns are catching fire and showing success. Federal researchers reported last week that teenagers who take voluntary and public virginity pledges, under certain conditions, delay intercourse substantially longer than those who do not make such commitments to chastity. More young people are saying no to sex outside marriage as members of their parents’ generation tune in to watch vulgar acts of sexual infidelity punctuated with a laugh track.

There was a time when parables of temptation were taught to the young to show them the destructiveness of personal unrestraint. Now, it’s cheap entertainment. Somebody needs to tell the TV execs that the story of Adam and Eve was a cautionary tale, not a how-to guide.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


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12/26/00: Pardon Clinton? Just say no!
12/21/00: Smacking down free speech
12/18/00: Brace yourselves for Floridation
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12/06/00: The Amish vs. the feds
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11/29/00: Let the sun shine on the Supremes
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11/20/00: Baby Boom parents are asleep on the job
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11/10/00: Who cares about election fraud now?
11/08/00: Ms. Houston, you have a problem
11/03/00: The Million Mom Murmur
11/01/00: GOP revolutionaries head for the hills
10/27/00: My impeachment referendum
10/25/00: Gore’s Good Daddy Gambit
10/23/00: Tribulations of a dubious 'tribe'
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10/02/00: Not every senior demands a handout
09/27/00: Racial hype at the Olympics
09/25/00: Watch the other Washington
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08/07/00: Emily Dickinson's lesson for rude drivers
08/03/00: Leave the slogans behind
07/31/00: Hey, GM: Build cars, not quotas
07/28/00: Stop milking The Juice
07/24/00: Silencing Jeff Jacoby
07/21/00: Score another one for TV execs who want to keep us brain-dead
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06/29/00: When "Indians" exploit their own
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06/13/00: Tune out Eminem's pitiful "poetry"
06/07/00: "Pained" Dem leader Torricelli deserves to feel some; Why hasn't he?
06/05/00: Tom Green's hidden health-care lesson
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05/26/00: Awarding medals by race is a disgrace
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04/10/00: Playing hardball with taxpayers
04/06/00: Read W.'s lips: More new spending
04/04/00: The liberal media-in-training
03/31/00: Sticking it to the children
03/28/00: Declaring war on HOV lanes
03/22/00: Clinton and the Echo Boomers
03/17/00: Is Bush a Liddy Dole Republican?
03/13/00: Katie and the politics of disease
03/10/00: Maria H, Granny D, and the media Z's
03/07/00: Bubba Van Winkle wakes up
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02/28/00: Sluts and nuts --- and our daughters
02/24/00: Zoning out religious freedom
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02/10/00: Buddhist temple untouchables
02/08/00: CDC: Caught Devouring Cash
02/04/00: Hillary's poisoned poster child
02/01/00: Corporate welfare on ice
01/28/00: The silly sound of silence
01/26/00: The Old Media meltdown
01/20/00: The pied pipers of KidCare
01/18/00: Our imperious judiciary
01/14/00: Tune out Columbine chorus
01/12/00: Dying to be an American
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12/30/99: Reading, writing, PlayStation?
12/27/99: Fight money-grubbing mallrats
12/23/99: Christmas for Cornilous Pixley
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12/16/99: Shame on corn-fed politicians
12/13/99: EPA vs. the American Dream
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12/06/99: Amateur hour in Seattle
11/30/99: Stop the Ritalin racketeers
11/23/99: Welfare for a sports fatcat
11/19/99: Jeb Bush's political ploy of the week
11/16/99: Ben & Jerry serve up junk science
11/12/99: A monumental waste of our veterans' resources
11/10/99: Tax-and-spend schizophrenia
11/05/99: Spooky Guy Haunts the Capital
11/02/99: Mourning the loss of the last Liberty Tree
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06/15/99: Making a biblical argument against federal death taxes

© 2000, Creators Syndicate