I did not move to Southern California to be part of the “scene,” whether that word is preceded by “entertainment industry,” “Hollywood,” “celebrity” or some other term. It’s fine with me if others are immersed in that, but I prefer the serenity of beach town life. Of course, due to our location, one can theoretically bounce between serenity and “scene” as one wishes. And Hollywood is a mere 15 miles away.
One area, however, where “Hollywood” and my beach town come crashing together is in the countless films, television programs, commercials, videos, and print ads that are shot near me in Marina del Rey, Venice, and Santa Monica. I never realized how often this happens until I moved here. Usually, I’m proud and excited to see my neighborhood pop up on television or the big screen. But the television program containing more scenes filmed in my area than just about any other, “The Millionaire Matchmaker,” is also one of the most annoying, and represents some of what I dislike about Los Angeles.
The “Millionaire Matchmaker” for whom the program is named is Patti Stanger, who may be a beautiful person in real life but who, on television, comes across as overbearing and abusive, yet charismatic. On the show, Stanger fixes up Los Angeles millionaire men (and a few women) with a bevy of bimbos/bimbros. Her bluntness in dealing with them all can be brutal. For example, she inspects a would-be millionaire date’s hair and tells her that it is “destroyed.” Sometimes, this is like watching the proverbial car wreck.
Patti often meets her clients near the beach (for example, at the Novel Cafe in Santa Monica), and the clients sometimes go on their televised dates in my area as well. In one episode, a millionaire client (who I have met once or twice, back on the East Coast) went on one such date near my home. On the “love” side, I was happily surprised to see my neighborhood, and even my building, in the background, but on the “hate” side, this Hollywood guy inaccurately described to the camera where they were. Maybe he didn’t even know, or care. And “The Millionaire Matchmaker” dates are often filled with limousines, yachts, and silicone. These episodes might give the impression to viewers that our stretch of beach is just a day trip destination for seemingly superficial Hollywood tourists.
I guess I’m touchy about my town because I see it as one thing, and others may see it as something else. Maybe the truth is that it’s both. Maybe that’s true about the mythical “Hollywood” and much of Los Angeles. Maybe I’m guilty of some of the same media-fed generalizations that I deplore. Maybe that’s what makes this area such a fascinating place to live.
So why, you may ask, do I bother watching any episodes of “The Millionaire Matchmaker”? Just like my love/hate relationship with Los Angeles, the real/fake contradictions inherent in “reality television” shows, and my strange attraction to Patti, it’s complicated.