If you’re an enthusiastic supporter of tweets like this (random excerpt: “…drenched in a soak ‘n wet white mini-T & pink panties…”) and this: (random excerpt: “…it’s gonna be a WOUGH ‘n WILD one!…”), then you will be very pleased to learn that “child bride” Courtney Stodden and former Dharma Initiative employee Doug Hutchison have inked a deal to star in their own reality show. (If you have avoided the Internet over the last five months, or happened to miss one of the most unsettling Good Morning America segments in recent history, know that then 16-year-old Stodden married the 51-year-old Hutchison back in May, resulting in a media frenzy over their 35-year age difference.)
Banca Studios will produce the project, and the head of the production company, Roy Bank, told EW that the show will be Stodden and Hutchison’s “chance to let people meet them… to hopefully let people get to know the real them.” But do people really want to get to know “the real them”? (I put this in quotes because, as a colleague recently expressed, Stodden could be mistaken for a 30-year-old. If the world is just, then all of this is just a cruel, sick joke.)
The “celebreality” phenomenon has introduced us to a variety of fame chasers, plastic surgery addicts and BFF-seekers over the years, and EW staffers and PopWatchers alike have found some enjoyment out of the spectacle. In fact, some of these shows are the very definition of a guilty pleasure. We feel silly for watching them, but it’s a fun overall viewing experience that really isn’t hurting anything but our brain cells.
But for many reasons, this one just feels wrong. It’s not a guilty pleasure — it’s just guilt. This young woman is publicly referred to as The Child Bride, for frak’s sake. She used that title, and sexually suggestive tweets, to further her career and get her own reality TV show. And it worked.
If the couple behaves anything like they did on GMA, and if her tweets are any indication, then this is going to be … I’m truly sorry, but I can’t think of any word more fitting than gross. I’m picturing a barely-clothed supposed teenager sauntering through Hollywood and talking in an annoying baby voice as she provocatively licks lollipops and her creepy husband’s face. This is not the stuff reality television dreams are made of.
Yes, you can argue that a bimbonic age-gap reality show has aired before, and admittedly wasn’t all that bad. But The Girls Next Door, the E! series about Playboy magnate Hugh Hefner and his three bottle-blonde live-in girlfriends, gave us a weekly intimate peek at the bizarre personal life of a pop-culture icon, and rarely featured any detail on the sex lives of its stars. The Stodden/Hutchinson show will unfortunately be much, much different.
Stodden and Hutchison are not icons. In fact, before the wedding, I had never even seen Hutchison outside of Lost and a bit part on 24. And while Holly, Bridget, and Kendra were consenting grown women, Stodden is still a teenager. A teenager whose only appeal seems to be her disturbing sex life. This is a child whose parents willingly allowed their daughter to marry a 51-year-old man. This 51-year-old man, this child bride, and probably her consenting family are the cast of characters who will invade our living rooms (should we choose to let them) every week. It really is like that train wreck that you just can’t stop watching.
But here’s a novel idea: Let’s stop watching! Not all celebreality television, of course — there are many shows out there that inflict minimal harm on the psyches of both its viewers and its stars — but why don’t we, PopWatchers, try our best to draw a line? A line between The Girls Next Door and this yet-untitled Stodden project. A line between genuine enjoyment that stems from witnessing an interesting person’s life, and laughing at someone’s self-made humiliation. A line between of-age highly sexualized blonde bombshells and still-a-fricking-minor highly sexualized blonde bombshells. This line will be blurry and understandably different for each person, but if this Stodden project has proven anything, it is that it’s time to start talking about it.