|Reality show junkies may enjoy this take-off on the “Bachelorette” series. Mattie Grant is looking for money to help pay the costs of her girl’s soccer league. She has invested her time and energy into the league and it is on the verge of bankruptcy. The Dating Game follows her as she is the star contestant in Love and the Average Jill.
Mattie thinks she is applying for a slot on the Survival of the Fittest game, but an interfering delivery driver mixes up her letter and she is now the star of the love show. Mattie must spend time with a dozen men and then pick one to be the love of her life. She is guaranteed $50,000 and gets more if she actually falls in love.
Mattie’s past is that she is the stepdaughter of a millionaire, who dumped her family when the divorce came through. Mattie hated the entire rich pretense and has vowed to just be a normal person, enjoying normal things like soccer and fun with the teens she is coaching.
David Simpson, a.k.a. Bennett, is a reporter for the local paper. He has been charged with being one of the bachelors and writing some kind of juicy story about the show. He figures out early on that Mattie is hiding her past and is ready to expose her. But sparks fly when they meet and he soon realizes that he is going to have to choose between Mattie and his job. Now to convince her that he is the one.
Mattie is a lovely woman, but is so scared to trust that she doesn’t know who to believe and who not to. She is attracted to David, but fears her feelings. Mattie shows some inconsistency when she knuckles under to the producers despite some strong feelings and yet is reckless later in the week when she tries to duck the commitment she had made. She is at times carefree and fun and at times, stuck up and conservative. It is hard to decipher the real Mattie.
David is sweet and determined, but his real motivation is cursorily explored because of the length of the story. Ultimately he is the good guy, but there isn’t much depth to him.
The story moves along well, but the whole time it seems as if the author is poking fun at these types of reality shows, which makes it hard to become invested in the love story. There are few characters beyond Mattie and David and the ones that are noted are generally caricatures of what one would expect of television people.
Overall, The Dating Game is a cute little story, but has little depth and little to truly recommend it.