The Mormon TV show I won’t be watching tonight

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TLC Mormon Half LoveRemember when the L in “The Learning Channel” used to stand for . . . oh, I don’t know, learning?

Now the network has devolved into a medley of voyeurism, including its newest scopophiliac offering. The new series called Mormon Half Love is supposed to debut tonight (though when I checked the TLC lineup to confirm its airing at 10 p.m., I saw instead a planned marathon of episodes of My 600-pound Life).

The series focuses on the dating life of a Utah woman who was born without legs:

Meet Melinda, who was born with caudal regression syndrome, meaning she has a shortened spine, and non-functioning legs. Brand new series, ‘Mormon Half Love’, follows her remarkable life. An office worker for the Ministry of Defence by day, she loves outdoor activities such as surfing in her spare time. Melinda is about to start a part-time degree in criminal justice, and runs a teenage girls group at her Mormon church. Always cheerful and lively, Melinda wins admirers with her determination to try anything. But despite her many qualities, Melinda has still not found love. Previous relationships didn’t work out, but her dream is to marry and start a family. Now, conscious that she is 40 years old she just needs help to find her perfect man. Join Melinda in her busy life in Cedar Valley, Utah, and explore the experience of living with a physical disability, and looking for a partner.

This is the second time just this year that TLC has shined its spotlight on the Mormon people. But unlike the show My Husband’s Not Gay, which met with ferocious protests before it even aired, Mormon Half Love has not attracted a whiff of a complaint so far. Maybe that’s because the promo videos show it fitting neatly into two of America’s unfortunate reality TV tropes: the quest for an eligible bachelor and the “makeover” show.

The whole thing just makes me sad. On the one hand, good for Melinda, who seems to embody the optimistic can-do spirit that is the best of the Mormon religion. Nothing has held this woman back. On the other hand, have the rest of us not yet graduated from the seventh grade, that we are so interested in watching her be romantically rejected?


  • susiebjoe

    TLC just unbelievably low on the learning scale.

  • Jen K.

    I get this sick feeling in my stomach when I see television shows exploiting and sensationalizing people for the almighty dollar. I hope Melinda doesn’t end up feeling exploited. They’re using her and her physical limitations to whip up a spectacle that seems (to me) to be contrived, perhaps even morally bankrupt. I hope I’m wrong and that something good and uplifting will come of it – but I won’t be watching.

  • Wayne Dequer

    How dare anyone complain about reality TV having little to do with reality and being roughly equivalent to a circus side-show. Crass exploitation and the crowd (or at least a media puba) has a cultivated appetite for more.

    Bring on the clowns . . . They’re already here.

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  • Jeff P

    Wow, I thought they couldn’t go any lower… But, I find myself thinking that every time a new ‘reality tv’ show is announced….

    The only ‘reality tv’ show that I enjoy, one of the few I haven’t felt ‘dirty’ after watching, is Story Trek, on your own BYUTV. They interview randomly-chosen houses, and talk about their life for a few minutes. Cowboys, hippies, stay-at-home-moms, retired people fighting illness, young people struggling with addiction, etc… Rather than amusing the viewer by embarrassing or degrading the participants, Story Trek shows that ‘average’ people usually (but not always…) react to life’s difficulties with grace and perseverance and selflessness.
    OK, end of commercial….

  • MarkE

    I must confess that I was not at all aware that such a show as this was even under consideration. So, no, I hadn’t registered any well-deserved ridicule and disappointment (once again) with TLC.

  • JP

    This aired on TLC months ago, so your entire article is pointless.

    But, I think your story is very offensive. What is wrong with this woman sharing her story? You’re judging it as a freakshow, which is hateful and hurtful. You can say that TLC is exploiting her, but the real issue her is your lack of comfort in watching her be on TV. If you’re really looking for the “learning” maybe you try to put yourself in her world and understand why it’s important to see a variety of people and experiences on TLC.