When an inclusive television show is ironically exclusive
Just when you thought that the LGBTQA+ community was evolving and gaining an increased acceptance, a show called Finding Prince Charming drops on cable television. Although this show tries hard to be a carbon copy of The Bachelorette and The Bachelor, not even they have as many rising problems and scandals around their show as Finding Prince Charming’s Robert Sepulveda Jr. does. The audience begins to question whether they can even find true love if the men in the show’s house are too busy having sex with one another. While many may be raising their eyebrows in wonder at the idea, once the audience watches an episode they will ultimately be raising their eyebrows and rolling their eyes at the vile disgust of just how wrong the show and the creators behind it are.
A major problem that arose isn’t as much the fact Sepulveda himself has a past as a male escort as it is the way that the show treats the LGBTQA+ community and how the show brings about enormous amounts of hate and bullying. According to an article on The Wrap, homophobia seems to play too significant a role especially in a show about homosexual relationships and according to Revelist, “The treatment of the show’s most effeminate contestants has some viewers up in arms.” Many tweets have also commented on the internalized homophobia within the competition and how the producers have dealt with it, as well as targeting the idea of racial discrimination within the show itself. The more media coverage that goes out about the show, the more hate it is receiving. People who now search Robert Sepulveda Jr., are being brought up with NSFW pictures and videos that are embedded into many articles, such as in the Washington Blade and Gaypopbuzz, both of which have presented images of Sepulveda shirtless and in his underwear, with information about his escort past.
The contestants themselves pose the issue of lack of inclusivity. At first glance what could be wrong about 13 well-groomed, fit, prim and handsome men? How about the fact that not everybody in the world is that way? According to Queerty, “The average American male between the ages of 30 and 39 is 5’9?, has a 39-inch waist and a body mass index of 29 — to put that in perspective, anything above 25 is considered overweight and above 30 is considered obese.” Or how about the fact that the show has no variety in the contestants other than being a bottom, top or vers? One problem is weight. From this the idea, it could be argued that Logo is perpetuating the stereotype that larger-set people or people of normal size cannot find true love on a show like this. Logo is also reiterating that if anybody of regular features can find love, it will never be someone of Sepulveda’s status, perpetuating yet again the age-old idea that average is something The Bachelor-esque shows strive for you not to be. Or how about the fact that out of the whole 13 cast members, only about three are people of color as opposed to the 10 other clearly white men. It clearly goes to show that one thing this show seems to get right is the fact that in every way of promoting healthy and positive vibes about the LGBTQA+ community, they have gotten it wrong.
The media are also covering Sepulveda’s male escort past and chewing him out for it. Critics are turning his past against him and submitting him to countless amounts of bullying. “The past is the past. I was young and it helped through college,” Sepulveda said in conversation with host Noah Michelson from The Huffington Post about his escort past. “But what I want people to focus on is who I am today as an entrepreneur, as an activist. I started a nonprofit and, you know, focusing on the show. That’s really what I want people to focus on.”
One could assume that on a show like this, homophobia would be the last thing to be introduced. In fact it’s a prevailing theme around the series itself and clearly taking place between two contestants, Sam and Robby, with the latter being plagued by comments about how effeminate he is. Contestants saying, “I’ve never met anybody like Robby before, except for maybe in the theatre,” and telling Robby to “fix his dress,” exhibits a form of prevailing femmephobia, which The Wrap defines as a fear of men being too effeminate and not in touch with their masculinity.
Also let’s talk about the fact that in a show about finding love with “The One,” everyone is put in a house with lots of alcohol and then they begin to hook up with one another. The audience loses the essential goal. The contestants hook up and have sex with one another while also competing for the love of the bachelor on the show. It seems that the company and the production team are really at odds with how successful this show is going to be. Not only is it a bad idea to show them hooking up with one another as early as the second episode, but it keeps raising the stigma that all gay men want to do is to have sex.
The LGBTQA+ community is constantly ridiculed and berated because of the stereotypes associated with it. A show like Finding Prince Charming may have been thought to have some idea on the principles of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and could portray a homosexual male relationship right in a positive light, but unfortunately they prove that they haven’t the slightest clue on how to do so. A show tackling a homosexual relationship was intended to bring praise, support and admiration to the LGBTQA+ community though instead misses the message and delivers ironic homophobia, fat-shaming, and racial discrimination. So while many thought that maybe this would be a great way to show growth and support of the community, it clearly has only set us back even further. With shows like these, only one type of person is advertised: handsome, dominant, well-chiseled and ultimately the “perfect” guy.
Logo tried to start a world-breaking trend of having a gay-dating show akin to The Bachelor. They tried to promote the idea that it would be a new pop culture hit, but in the end everything about the show falls flat and the only interesting thing about the show are the rumors and publicity around it. In the end, the show fail miserably at being a positive and healthy chance for gay men to find love and more about the perpetual stereotypes and dangers that can befall a show before it even has its own footing. You can say goodbye to love and hello to the hate that the show is bringing towards its way and bringing towards the LGBTQA+ community itself.
Zach Schwarzkopf is a first-year writing for film, TV, and emerging media major who can’t tell any of the contestants apart. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.