Fox TV's reality dating show More To Love get's real about much more than body size.
More To Love's teaser opening shows tiny girls in bikinis with the captions: "The average girl on reality TV is a size 2. The average American woman is a size 14." More To Love's format is simply The Bachelor Plus Size: a total ripoff, and yes, it's cheesy. But, like most reality dating shows, it fed my need for vicarious romance. At first, I was fascinated by the marked difference between these larger women and the usual skinny-biotch personalities; these women were self-deprecating instead of self-aggrandizing, weepy instead of hostile. But as the season went on and Luke started falling for Tali, the Israeli, I totally fell for the inter-religious dating storyline.
I wouldn't call myself a The Bachelor completest, but I have watched my share. I never, not once, heard daters speak about religion. My husband and I wondered about how this extremely important subject seemed to never come up. We figured these discussions end up on the cutting room floor -- perhaps too controversial for prime time. Then, suddenly, More To Love, this second-rate-reality -dating-ripoff show, starts discussing Tali and Luke's "different backgrounds." "Uh, yah!," I exclaimed to my husband, "'different backgrounds', 'different cultures'... can't they just come out and say, 'she's Jewish?'"
Well... to my surprise and joy, that's exactly what they did! Tonight, on prime time TV, America got to watch the typical realities of a Jewish person getting serious with a non-Jew. Although my philosophical and religious beliefs are different than Tali's (and my husband's different from Luke's), my anxieties and experiences with meeting my husband's non-Jewish family were very similar.
Reality One: The "Do You Think They Are Going To Like Me?" Discussion. All couples have this discussion but the Jewish person has the additional worry of, "will they not like me because I'm Jewish?" Tali softballs the issue by asking, "How do I need to prepare to meet your dad?" Luke doesn't catch her drift so Tali gets more direct with, "Do you think your dad is going to ask me questions about being from a different religion?" He assures her he will but says, "I don't think it would cause him not to like you." (He doesn't know his dad so well.)
Reality Two: Worrying About How The Truth Will Come Out. "Jewish" isn't usually obvious. Jewish is something that has to be revealed -- somehow -- and in some way, hopefully before a blunt refusal to swallow the wafer. Tali has it easy because she is from Israel, so immediately upon revealing that fact most people will assume she is Jewish. (For me it was months if not years, before some of my non-Jewish family and I discussed my Jewishness.) Luke's dad frames his question (Are you a Jew?) like this, "As far as being Israeli, how do you feel about Christianity?"
Reality Three: The Family Blessing In Jesus' Name. Have all inter-dating/intermarrieds experienced this? I suspect yes. It is the family blessing which starts with holding hands, bowing heads, and the silverback male of the family saying a few words of gratitude for food and family. Most of it is wonderful and good and not too different from a brucha. However, instead of thanking G-d, the Jewish person is preoccupied asking Him a favor, "oh please, G-d, let him thank you and leave the other guy out of it." Tali grins and bears it well.
Reality Four: The Relative Who Really Gets It. Our non-Jewish significant other loves us, wants to know us, and deeply respects our Jewishness or we wouldn't be in this relationship, right? So where does that openness, respect, and curiosity come from? There is usually at least one if not several non-Jewish family members who are open, respectful, curious, if not pleased with our Jewishness. (I am blessed to have many members of my family-in-law who fit this description.) Tali found this person to be Luke's mom who immediately sensed the connection between Tali and Luke regardless of the religious differences.
I'm sure there are more "realities" of getting serious with a non-Jew. Readers, please share your experiences. For now, I'll sign-off with a hardy thank you (not in Jesus' name) to Fox TV producers for showing these realities!