“They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that’s how I feel,” Emily Morse , “sex expert” and star of the new Bravo show Miss Advised shouted at The Observer over the DJ at the Scarlet Lounge last night, at a viewing party for the new series.
She was referring to the process of agreeing to star in a reality show, only to be met by the inevitable onslaught of criticism. The show, which follows Ms. Morse, relationship columnist Julia Allison and professional matchmaker Amy Laurent as they struggle in their dating lives, has been, like most Bravo Television, an easy target for bloggers and reviewers who call the girls everything from “self-absorbed” to “boring.”
But despite the obvious talent Bravo’s editors have for making the women look as shallow as possible and the pervasive negative press that surrounds each episode, Ms. Morse had words of encouragement for aspiring reality television stars. “We got such a good response from the viewers that I feel like [the experience] has been really positive,” she told us.
A couple of hours earlier, when The Observer arrived at the venue, we found the small, padded, chandeliered room nearly empty, save for a few organizers outfitting the room with the perfect accessories for a dating reality show viewing party: low-calorie white rum and mini cupcakes, of course.
But as the night wore on, the very type of supporters Ms. Morse was talking about began to trickle in. The ratio in the room was heavily skewed in the female direction, many of them were twenty-something and single, outfitted in pumps, looking, not surprisingly, exactly like the people you would expect to tune in.
Ms. Laurent was the first of the three girls to arrive, fitting perfectly with her characterization on the show as a workaholic. She told us in between bites of a small cupcake (“So hungry!”) that she also tries not to pay attention to the bad reviews. “I’m so proud of this show, and I know so many women and men out there love that show,” she told The Observer . “We must be doing something right for people to be talking about it.”
Ms. Laurent added that like Ms. Morse, people come up to her everywhere she goes to offer support. “I’ve had strangers on the street come up to me and say, ‘I love the show, I totally identify with you,’” she told us.
And most of the women present agreed, as they peered over their low-calorie cocktails and told The Observer that they love the show because it is “relatable.” One guest, Erin Hicks told us that she watches every episode twice. “It’s what every girl goes through,” she said.
And while every woman does not purchase a tiara for a date, as Ms. Allison did on one notable episode, another viewer Caitlin Leszuk told us that it doesn’t matter whether or not you are similar to the girls. “If you’re a Bravo junkie, it’s entertaining regardless,” she said.
The men at the party were not quite as supportive. The few suited men in the room were mostly present because they were personal friends of the girls. The Observer asked a few of these suits if they had a chance to watch the show yet, to a resounding “no.”
One attendee, Matthew Tyrmand , told us he only came for the “beautiful women.” He called the show the “death of society,” as he gestured to a few women posing for cameras behind him, among them Ms. Allison who, once again, had broken out the tiara.
But Ms. Allison has heard it all. Of all of the girls, she has received perhaps the most criticism for her antics on the series. “I cried not every day, but every other day,” she told us.Like her co-stars, she told us she looks to support from the viewers who relate to her search for love to weather any of the negative attention, as she pulled out her iPhone to show The Observer screen shots of encouraging tweets from viewers.
Ms. Allison said that the process has transformed her. “You never expect to achieve enlightenment from a reality show, and that’s what happened,” she told The Observer .
Monday night’s episode of Miss Advised had its share of cringe-worthy moments. In the grand tradition of Bravo television, a grown woman got in a fight (Ms. Laurent), one person sang a checklist of 73 items necessary in their ideal man to another (Ms. Allison), and the third woman attended a therapy session because even though she said “I do think I’m emotionally honest with myself,” she conceded that “everyone else thinks I need help” (Ms. Morse).
The viewers and supporters fervent enough to attend the viewing party didn’t hear any of this over the DJ, as the episode was being aired muted on televisions at the front of the Scarlet Lounge. And the stars of the show themselves had exited the party moments before the episode began to attend another event.
By that time, the flowing cocktails had transformed the room from a press event into a pick up bar and the very topic of the show: the young dating scene. As the few men in the room suddenly all became occupied by the attention of various female Miss Advised fans and one overeager couple started making out on a couch.
The muted show continued to play on deaf ears as the fans who told us they find the girls’ dating missteps “relatable” were free to make mistakes of their own.
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