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Logo's new reality dating show, Transamerican Love Story, is as much fun as I Love New York -- without the exploitation

Can't you see the 28-year-old junior development executive -- "We've had reality dating shows with a bi, a gay, and a ghetto about a transgender person?" A year or so later we have Logo's Transamerican Love Story. And as it turns out, it wasn't such a bad idea.

Reality dating shows are always good for networks because they're cheap to produce and garner decent ratings. The trouble comes with the inherent exploitation, when the audience is asked to laugh at the star and his/her suitors. There's usually some vague racism or sexism thrown in as part of the appeal, though the 28-year-old executives would swear that's not the case.

TLS bucks this trend. It's as fun as A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila, Boy Meets Boy, or the 18 Flavor Flav shows, but it remains guilt-free because the stars of the show -- trans bachelorette Calpernia Addams, Calpernia's best friend Andrea James, and host Alec Mapa -- are visibly winking at the reality genre, and we're laughing with, not at, them. All the same, TLS nourishes viewers with the necessary doses of drama -- it's the Scream of reality dating shows. (Full disclosure: Calpernia, Andrea, and Alec are all friends of mine and this magazine -- Alec's a regular columnist.)

Calpernia is best known as the onetime girlfriend of murdered soldier Barry Winchell; their relationship was dramatized in the beloved Showtime film Soldier's Girl. She has since moved to Los Angeles to act, write, and advise productions on trans roles.

On TLS she's an affable and quick-witted star, game for this whole silly setup -- one single trans girl searches for love among eight eligible bachelors/total strangers. When Calpernia first meets her beaus, she's preening on a horse-drawn carriage. We intermittently see her dreamily smelling flowers, spinning in front of a mirror, and splashing in a bubble bath. When the usually animated Alec communicates with the men, he's as dead serious as The Bachelor's host Chris Harrison, who acts like he's presiding over the election of a prime minister.

It's not clear where the suitors' heads are at. They all claim they're looking for a partner, but most have never dated a trans woman. Some seem sincere, like the youthful, innocent Peter, and some look they were cherry-picked by a casting agent for their "outrageous" demeanor. Case in point is Mark, a New Yawk wrestler who speaks to Calpernia through her chest.

After a revealing meet-and-greet with the guys -- where one guy drops a major bombshell --Calpernia throws a harem party while wearing what looks like Carrie Fisher's gold metallic bikini from Star Wars. She orders the boys to feed and fan her, and some happily oblige while others grow self-conscious (you'd think reality show contestants would have a high threshold for embarrassment). After she's sated, Calpernia retires to a secret room with Andrea to spy on the boys via closed-circuit cameras -- many are flirting shamelessly with the harem's belly dancers.

The next day, Calpernia chooses the seven suitors who will stay and compete for her affection. As she picks between the last two, she drags out her speech like a handful of Valiums just kicked in. "The guy I would like to stay. With me. And. Get to know better. Is..." This is quite intentional and quite funny. She then tells the chosen bachelor that he's an incorrigible flirt and that she's certain he doesn't know what incorrigible means (he doesn't). We get the obligatory limousine ride to the airport with the loser and the survivors sipping champagne with our heroine. A preview of next week's episode follows, and we see one of our beaus flirting with Calpernia as he holds a two-foot-long sausage in his hand. Now, if that was on TheBachelorette, they'd have me as a viewer.

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