Is There Anything Wrong With Temptation Island?
Below, read two views from two Jews. One praises the concept of the island while the other tells you to stay as far away as possible.

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By Two Jews

Tfdixie.com | Pro-Island: As a devout pupil of the gods of television, I think it's a great idea to have such creative, and dare I say, ground-breaking shows. Reality-based television, HBO, and Marv Albert's ridiculous toupee have jolted new life into television sets across this great country. I, like most of America, became enraptured by the Survivor phenom this past summer and waited with eager anticipation each Wednesday night for the new installment. I even caught myself perusing such low-brow Web sites like survivorsucks.com.

But hey, I'm voyeuristic and proud of it. I think most people naturally have voyeuristic tendencies. If they say they don't, they're probably just too embarrassed to admit it. Everyone in this country—from those in Internet Cafes downloading the Starr Report as it was being uploaded to simple bird watchers—we all want to catch a glimpse of something we weren't supposed to see. We all get the urge sometimes to say, "Hey, what would I happen if I yanked off that rebbetzin's sheitl?" How about a MikvahCam?

So, yes, I like watching Temptation Island. My VCR is already set.

RABBIS ON THE ISLAND

What bothers me is that there are rabbis who are speaking out against the program—without even having seen the program. Now, as a modern Jew living in America, I'm actually a bit embarrassed by these rabbis’ remarks. We already know that the religious establishment is not going to be lining up at Smith's Old Bar to watch the show with fellow clergy. They won't be downloading photos of the participants and using them as screen savers. That's a no-brainer.

By voicing their opinion, they put themselves out there to be derided and made fun of. How idiotic would it be if a true television critic denounced a particular show based on a 30-second promo? He would be the laughing stock of entertainment journalists. He wouldn't even get a seat next to Eleanor Ringel at the next Atlanta Press Club luncheon.

Additionally, by sending letters to local affiliate television stations (and urging their congregants to do the same), they are drawing much attention to the show they wants nobody to watch. (Look what Reverend Jerry Falwell did for the Teletubbies.) What the rabbis have done is counter-productive. I almost forgot about Temptation Island's premiere until I came across an article about the rabbis’ remarks. They have, unwittingly, helped me and countless others watch the show. I'm almost wondering if he's actually a plant from FOX.

DON’T HATE TI

Unfortunately, people have a knee-jerk reaction to despise Temptation Island. Why? I'll admit the show's got room for improvement, but it's still pure genius of a concept.

The show is a titillating mix of Fantasy Island/Survivor/Change of Heart/Miss America Pageant/The Cindy Margolis Show/Blind Date/and Divorce Court all rolled into a nice big septic tank of tawdry reality TV. It's a downright sleazefest that puts Jerry Springer to shame, and it's great.

The premise of this shockumentary is as simple as it is demented. Separate the couples on opposite sides of the island and see if they'll pick fruit from the well-stocked tree of temptation. Adam and Eve would look like saints in this Garden of Hedonism.

Future shows introduce viewers to such elements as The Bonfire, Temptation Island's low-rent version of Survivor's Tribal Council. There, the women can choose whether or not to view videos of their mates' dates and vice versa. How gloriously twisted? The couples themselves have become the voyeurs -- not us -- choosing to watch the videos of their mates' dates.

(On a total aside, I wouldn't be surprised if, in future seasons of Temptation Island, they pulled the gay card and had a gay couple as one of the participants. C'mon, we all know the rules of reality TV -- you need to fill your gay quotient to be successful. Just look at The Real World and Survivor.)

Temptation Island is an emotionally manipulative show, but isn't that what good television is supposed to be? It's a guilty pleasure through and through.

I think it's great that these couples are testing their faith and loyalty. This actually makes perfect sense. Wouldn't you want to know if your significant other was loyal before you propose? Spending time on this island would've saved Bill and Hillary from years of heartache. (Can you imagine our Commander-in-Chief running around this island?) Spending two weeks on this island could actually save commitment-phobic couples from years of therapy.

But, woe is to us. Unfortunately, all across the nation, TV critics are criticizing the show instead of embracing it.

Not to fret -- the bottom line is that our great nation of voyeurs watched and will continue to watch.

Game on.

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Anti- Island: Rant on, you say?

Well I've got a rant of my own!

Not that you care, but I think the idea of tempting ordinary people subject to ordinary temptation is a no-brainer. Let me remind you that 50% of the people watching that show sport a popular appendage below their belt buckle that has often gotten them into more trouble than they would be willing to confess.

Now, I know your average rabbi refers to that little trouble-maker as the yetzer harah (i.e., the evil inclination), but let's get real. After all, this is reality TV! Which guy, married or not (and of course, straight) isn't somewhat attracted to a beautiful woman? That's the way we were created—whether you like it (err, admit it) or not! And incidentally, if you don't happen to be attracted to the opposite sex, you might want to order another libido, and this time make sure it includes extra mojo.

The sad reality of this new reality show is that, as you accurately observe, "these couples are testing their faith and loyalty." Unfortunately, it is being done in a radically biased and unfair environment. If someone really wants to test their faith and loyalty, then forget about the World Series of Temptation Island, and work on improving your skill in the double A game of life. When you're ready to go "Pro", you can be sure that the Heavenly talent scout (a.k.a. G-d) will do what it takes to put you get you into the majors and right out there on the playing field.

As for wanting to know if your significant other was loyal before you propose. I might suggest that if you have serious doubts, then you've also got the wrong gal. While Temptation Island may have saved Bill and Hillary from years of heartache, it has the potential to just as easily "save" many happily married couples from years of true wedded bliss. But, don't despair, All of our parting contestants would receive a lifetime supply of plain old bliss—or a reasonable facsimile thereof—along with some Rice-O-Roni, to enjoy their many lonely evenings thereafter.

Finally, if commitment-phobic couples think that Temptation Island is the 21st century's cure-all to their phobia, let them not be too quick to delete their therapist's number from speed-dial.

In this individual's humble opinion, instead of seeking out ways to test the faith and loyalty of our significant other, we should try something a little bit more challenging and test our own faith and loyalty to our significant other. As anticipation mounts waiting for 9:00 pm Wednesday night to roll around, let that be the anticipation of going out on a long overdue date with your significant other and rekindling all those wonderful reasons why you were attracted to them in the first place. The temptation of doing otherwise should easily satisfy one's need for any cheap thrills that might come about from watching would-be stable couples destroy the sacred ties that hold their relationships together.

Alas! That's just my opinion. I too could be wrong.

But, I wouldn't bet your relationship on it!

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[What did you think of the two Jews and their two views? Send them an e-mail at twoviews@tfdixie.com]

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