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TV Series Review

One of the baser reality game shows, Meet My Folks exposes viewers to excessive drinking, bleeped vulgarity, enthusiastic necking, and frequent hot tub scenes in which girls wear skimpy bikinis or even go topless. But the series’ true rottenness comes from its premise. Parents assume the role of pimps as three hormonally charged men spend a weekend in their home battling for a human trophy—their daughter. Selected by mom and dad, one lucky lad is whisked off to Hawaii for an extended "date" with his brazen beauty. Amazingly, she’s thrilled to have been reduced to the status of prize cow at a 4-H show. (NBC also airs special bachelorette episodes, and says the new season will include a "Meet My Kids" segment in which teens pick dates for their single parents.)

Families selected are usually wealthy and worldly, featuring a father who’s a born intimidator, and an effervescent, flirty, coy mother who will respond positively to the boys’ manly charms. The young competitors are rarely more than a cross between Neanderthal and porn star.

Players are subjected to various tests and social experiments. One family even forced them to submit semen samples to see if they could satisfactorily provide grandchildren. To win, contestants must take a lie detector test (a shameless rip-off of the movie Meet the Parents), during which the folks ask intimate questions about their lives and romantic intentions.

Producers dig up dirt from the boys’ past, exposing everything from porn addictions and public nudity to sadomasochism and group sex. One man (who is picked as a winner) slept with an ex-girlfriend’s mom. Another videotaped sexual encounters with girlfriends without their consent.

A single moment of honesty and insight emerged when a losing competitor remarked, "I wouldn’t want my daughter dating a guy like me, either. So I understand their decision." Good. That means he’ll also understand why wise families won’t be watching Meet My Folks.

Episodes Reviewed: July 22, 31, August 5, 12, 26, 2002

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Steven Isaac

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