Robin Kassner‘s disastrous turn on The Millionaire Matchmaker is old news, but last week she won a Soup Award, which reminded me of the debacle. I think it’s an excellent example of how overweight women are made to seem ridiculous and pathetic in a romantic situation, especially with “hot guys.”
Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger seems to have issues with women in general, holding her female clients up to a more stringent standard (especially when it comes to who is/isn’t “in their league”) and generally having a hostile attitude towards them from the word go. But in the fourth season’s 11th episode (which aired January 2011), Patti displayed a special level of contempt for her client, Robin Kassner, an overweight PR guru. Patti calls her a “plumpty dumpty” and ridicules Kassner for wanting to date a Matthew McConaughey type.
Now, to be fair, Matthew McConaughey? Does that mean Kassner wants the smelly naked bongo playing bits, too? </joke>
Stanger tells Kassner she’s dreaming out of her league, and designs one of her social experiments on mixer night to put her in her place. She recruits Luke, a purportedly attractive (if you like cocky beefcakes) plumber with nothing in common with Kassner, who gives quips to camera along the lines of him not being attracted to Kassner, but up for letting her buy him things. In the other corner, we have a nice-guy, stocky, slightly awkward looking cop, who has tons in common with Kassner and seems to like her.
Now, as a viewer, I was rooting for the cop (Anthony), or really anyone *but* Luke. Not because I didn’t think a big girl like Robin deserved a “hot” guy, but because he played the part of the asshole (whether it was at the producer’s request is a legitimate question) and they literally had NULL in common. That said, I did think the cop was a bit of a under-reach — Patty says she think Robin needs to aim for a “5” not a “10,” and the cop was just a bit… meh. Are we surprised that Robin chose a young guy with a full head of hair… while she was drunk? Yeah, me neither. Who is Patty to tell Robin who she has to be attracted to? Yes, it’s key to not be superficial when seeking out mates, but what is it with people forcing fatties to downgrade? Patty *says* there aren’t that many 10s falling from the sky for people at any size. I call bullshit — she finds 10s ALL THE TIME, especially for her aging, pervy male clients.
Here’s the problem, with Stanger, the show and Kassner. Stanger thinks that Robin’s a silly fat girl who needs to lower her body/physicality standards. The show loads her up with alcohol (on camera they say there’s a limit; in post-show interviews Kassner has said they “force fed” her booze), and Kassner is apparently a light-weight. And then Kassner, who does have elements of the shallow and ridiculous about her, a sad parody of a young New York woman desperate to live out her Sex in the City fantasy, opens her tipsy/drunk mouth and makes a complete fool of herself. She simpers to a circle of men about thinking they’re all hot whilst sipping her cocktail, and talking about Hello Kitty, her pink apartment and her two dogs, Bruiser and Paris Hilton (no, really).
(Jezebel has the only clips I could find of Patty’s comments & the mixer. I can’t seem to embed them, so click to watch. See the ridiculousness that is Patty’s fat hating + Robin making a fool of herself)
And the date is a TRAIN WRECK. Happily, Hulu has a high-res clip of it:
Pretty bad, no? According to Kassner, much of it is a work of fiction. From an interview with her after the show aired:
They told Luke to be nasty to me. They told him to be obnoxious, that it was his role. I never said I wanted to have sex with him, they dubbed that in. I never offered him sex or a hand job. Me and Patti were talking about sex, and they dubbed that in to the middle of my date.
Regardless of whether or not Kassner is a little shallow, more than a bit ridiculous and a horrible drunk, the picture we get from this episode of The Millionaire Matchmaker is the sad, fat single girl who thinks she can throw money at an attractive (out of her league) guy so he will love her. She’s “easy” because she is fat and desperate. And we are meant to laugh and ridicule her, through well-cut montages and editing.
Kassner herself said it best: “It was both misogynistic and against curvy women.”
The message is the same one we get everywhere else — that if you’re fat, let alone a “millionaire” that you should take what you get. You’re over-reaching for a “10” — “5” or lower is where you should be. Any attractive man who goes out with you doesn’t actually find you attractive, and in fact is laughing at you behind your back. Other women, especially formerly “plumpty dumpty” women like Stanger, will be the most cruel to you in this respect. To wit:
Silly fat girl; love is for thins!
You can’t help but feel bad for Kassner, who probably went into this experience thinking she’d get some nice PR for herself and a date, and came out a national laughing stock; the latest poster girl for the silly, stupid fat woman with a dream. She’s still trying to milk her moment, including appearing on The Soup and trying to make fun of herself, but as she says the funny lines, her eyes are dead and you can just feel her sense of disappointment, and that hysterical despair we all feel every once in a while — everyone is laughing at me, because I dare to be fat and want love?
Funnily enough, The Soup is filmed in my building. I wish I had known Kassner was going to be here, because I would have gone down and given her a hug. I think she needs one.