Love For Sail

| 04.12.12

The Lifetime Network's new "reality" series sets sail aboard the Norwegian Epic.

The Lifetime Network debuted a new "reality" series on Tuesday night where 10 strangers of both sexes onboard the Norwegian Pearl meet as a group for the opportunity to find a new "special someone."

It is would be fitting for the series to be placed on Norwegian Epic, indisputably the best ship for solo cruisers on the high seas because of its "studio stateroom" facilities – the only major cruise ship to have a network of 128 cabins specifically sold only to solo cruisers – one per cabin, with no singles supplement. The studio staterooms share a common "living room" where solo cruisers can meet up and arrange to go to dinner and shows together.

But unfortunately, none of that is ever mentioned during the show because even though about 10 exterior shots suggesting the ship was Epic, in fact the show was shot on Norwegian Pearl, which is really too bad, since in the end rather than showing what a real cruise ship singles scene should look like, the show just ends up propagating one of the most entrenched myths about cruise vacations; that they are mostly for single people who want to hook up and party all night.

The interior of the actual series' ship, Norwegian Pearl, is seen a little bit during the show but it is certainly not over-exposed as I have seen in other series that take place on cruise ships. In fact, the producers probably give more exposure to the ports of call (Jamaica in episode one) than the actual ship. Showing Epic from the outside while the was actually shot on Pearl makes the whole question of exposure for NCL just confusing. There are ample opportunities to see inside one of the suites on Pearl (which actually has significasntly more posh suites than Epic) but not much else of the ship.

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There is no mention of the great entertainment on NCL, or the variety of dining options. My guess is that the producers of the show were calling the shots and chose to ignore suggestions that the group all share a dinner in Teppenyaki, the Japanese restaurant where the chef entertains the group by cooking the entire meal tableside.

In fact, there are even more mysteries in the premise of the show which are never fully explained. For example, there are only four women and six men. Why the producers chose to have this imbalance is never explained (I like to think there is someone for everyone out there). Furthermore, the ladies call all the shots by getting the privilege of choosing who they will date night after night. Even so, as four couples walked off the ship (while the guys who didn't get paired up were just ignored by the end of the show) it was apparent for three of the ladies that they wanted to see their guys again – only one said she had found a new "friend" but not a romantic connection.

The series also features two people who supposedly work for Norwegian (I know they actually work for the series producers) who arrange these dates by asking the ladies who they want to see the following night, but there are big sections of the seven day cruise that remain unaccounted for – in fact, we are never even told it is a seven-day cruise. All you see is the first day at sea, one day in port and then the grand "farewell dinner."

And I still have one critical element to reveal: the six guys are considerably younger than the ladies. I suppose we are supposed to assume that is not supposed to make any difference as we watch the show because this is yet another imbalance that is also never even mentioned.

But there is an answer - on the Lifetime web site the ladies are actually referred to as "cougars." There are teasers to watch video vignettes of the show where one caption reads "One cougar has too much of a good thing when she catches the eye of two suiters." Another clip comes with this description, "One cougar betrays her roommate in the search for love in this bonus video from episode one."

Aha – now we get it. The real premise for this show was to present a "cougar cruise" where the older ladies are calling all the shots and supposedly have their pick from the herd of young, naïve and eager cubs. Possibly it was designed to be called "Cougars Cruising for Cubs."

Even though it is made apparent from the beginning of the show that all of the ladies are in their early 40s, while the guy's ages are 26, 30, 32, 33, 40 and 43, the age discrepancy is never mentioned. Nor is there any man making a typical "cub" comment like "I likes older ladies 'cuz they knows what they want, and I don't need no womens messin' with my head." (I have never read an article about "cougars" where a cub ever had anything intelligent to say).

Like most shows of this type, we see ten single people putting their personalities on the line to find a "love connection" only to either live a fantasy or get their egos pounded into fish food.

Still, I am really glad the actual premiere last night chose NOT to focus on the obvious "cougar cruise" scenario that the web site portrays. In fact, the word cougar is never even mentioned during the show, so I am guessing Norwegian agreed to do the show, but put its foot down when it came to the cougar theme. I am also guessing the producers got their revenge on Norwegian by choosing not to mention the word cruise very often or show much of the ship.

In the end it appears to be just another show like "Beauty and the Geek," except that in this case they just ignore the obvious style differences between the two sexes. Not mentioning the age discrepancy makes the show a little "disingenuous" as it suggests we should believe that age doesn't matter in a relationship, but in the end the only matchup that shows any promise at all involves the only guy in the same age bracket as the ladies, the 43 year old male comedian who gets with the 40 year old personal trainer after th 26 year pharma-sales guy dumps her for the 40-year old dyed blonde bombshell.

Bombshell and the other "cougars" disembark the Epic hoping the guy they picked is going to call them and that a long distance relationship is in the cards. Hmm, a long distance relationship between a "cougar" and a guy 10 years+ younger that was hatched during a seven day cruise. What are the odds?

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