Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Would you take dating advice from a man in goggles?

Despite my recent vow never to watch anything on VH1 ever again after seeing Bret Michaels' train-wreck reality show, "Rock of Love," I have to admit I've been setting the DVR to record a hilariously lame yet mildly tenderhearted show called "The Pick-Up Artist" every Monday night. The premise revolves around eight socially awkward guys of a nerdy nature trying to learn how to successfully pursue women. Their teacher? A dude named Mystery who looks like a cross between a 19th-century pimp and Snoopy's Red Baron. It's almost sexy in a bewildering and, yes, ultimately troubling way. Mostly, though, it's just inadvertantly funny. Check it out:

I should probably be offended by the idea that we women can be entranced through simple formulas and hints and how-to's -- the sociological equivalent of waving shiny objects in front of our eyes -- but you know what? I'm not. (I'm more offended by the women in "Rock of Love," who should be forced to turn in their X chromosomes and leave the clubhouse immediately.) "The Pick-Up Artist" is actually kind of sweet. Most of the eight guys in training are the kind of lovable, awkward underdogs we all liked to hang out with in high school so I find it pretty easy to root for them.

Also, the show never really mocks. It would have been easy to make one of those "let's laugh at the nerds" shows, but Mystery and his wingmen -- yes, honestly, he has wingmen -- are respectful to the contestants. They encourage them and it's nice to watch a show where "cool" guys are being good to other not-so-cool guys in a relatively sincere way.

But the best part of the show is its utter ridiculousness. Mystery not only wears fluffy hats and goggles and occasionally places a fake red-lipped kiss on his throat, he also wears a cape and likes to feed the guys inane pick-up lines that, sadly, actually seem to work and are yet another sign of America's impending cultural doom.

And be forewarned, there are loads of slightly creepy aspects to the show, like trying to train a 45-year-old man how to pick up women by having him troll nightclubs filled with 20-year-olds. Also, the idea of kinda, maybe hiring women to make out with the guys, which had me worried that maybe the top prize would be a social disease, although I think I heard VH1 was saving that premise for next season. The show will star Bret Michaels.

But if you've got an hour to spare on a show that's less socially egregious than "Rock of Love" and if you're really just too lazy to get up off the couch and vacuum or something, then give "The Pick-Up Artist" a try.

Here's hoping my ringing endorsement turns up in some classy VH1 promos!

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