No! Now is just too soon for Monica Lewinsky to play the duenna! Lewinsky, once our glad ingénue, cannot already have become the stout matron of Mr. Personality (Fox, Mondays, 9 p.m. ET), calling a new debutante “sweetie” and supervising sweetie’s suitors, can she? Shouldn’t she, at this time, be swooning herself into the hands of a handler, maybe in another country, where a cordon sanitaire could be drawn around her scandalous role in the impeachment of an American president? Fox has said no, presumably with Lewinsky’s cooperation. So much for romance. Monica of the Oval Office, Monica of the long public silence, Monica of the front page, is now merely Monica the bulky chaperone, shoved stage left in favor of a forgettable redhead named Hayley Arp. Hayley Arp?!
Mr. Personality, the reality dating show that premiered Monday night,is unexpectedly sinister. Arp, a fatuous stockbroker, is presented with 20 masked men, and—after a series of Disneylike trials during which each hypothetically reveals his character—she will choose one as her own. In Monday night’s show, Lewinsky made only fleeting appearances in an underdefined role. She seemed to have been left to do her straggly hair for herself, and the camera, maddeningly, wouldn’t spend any time on her. Viewers, apparently, had to be disciplined to focus on boring Arp—and the upsetting knightlike masks, with nasal guards and slits for eyes. To a one, they seem to be dangerous creeps. Each had a number; that’s how Arp told them apart.
Just to confound the results on this bozo experiment, Arp’s in the dark about more than the guys’ looks; the men are also forbidden to discuss their work. If they did, it’s implied, she might make a “superficial” judgment—based, for instance, on swapped stories about finance—rather than a real one, based on the antiquated salesman’s quality of “personality.”
On Monday, an astrologer sussed out the sexual habits of the masked men. Each then gave a mini-aria about how hot he was. Among them, the only standout so far is a deranged motivational speaker who told the camera he was going to work some subliminal magic on Arp by repeating his number like a madman. It worked, and he made the cut. One guy, an NFL mascot, wasn’t so lucky, and in parting he tried to stick it to Arp for listening to the astrologer. Doffing his mask, he said, “This totally sucks. … You let a 1-800-number psychic make your decision on who you’re going to be with for the rest of life!” (As opposed to a dating show with masks? No way!)
Arp’s many presents from her suitors seemed to have been chosen in haste (did the gift-giving ceremony replace an earlier segment?). One by one, she accepted oddball offerings, including earplugs, a guitar made of wires, and snapshots of a dog named Buddy. At the name “Buddy,” we got a reaction shot of Lewinsky, but she was sphinxlike. The late dog of her ex-boyfriend, the ex-president. Maybe it was too much. It was for me.