The sense of irony is not lost on Jenny McCarthy that she first burst into people's living rooms as one of the hosts (with Chris Hardwick) of MTV's dating series, "Singled Out" and now, 17 years later, is hosting yet another dating show. Taking over as host for the second season of NBC's "Love in the Wild," McCarthy will now be helping singles get together in a more treacherous environment than an MTV soundstage. While last year's "Love in the Wild" destination was Costa Rica, this season the singles are taken to the Dominican Republic to not only test potential chemistry but also undertake challenges that could make or break any budding romance.
Our Jim Halterman sat down with McCarthy at NBC's Summer Press Day held recently in Pasadena to get the lowdown on what she'll bring to the show this season, whether the guys or the girls bring more drama and why dating is still so damn hard!
Jim Halterman: You know the whole dating show terrain since you have a history with it but why was it this show when you've said you've been asked to be involved with other dating shows?
Jenny McCarthy: Because I didn't believe in the other shows. I thought they were a little fluffy, if that's the right word for it. I saw that this format worked in seeing that people in these adventures are crazy and exciting just to watch. But what winds up happening is this other layer that I loved which is, everyone would start off like 'Hi' and now they're in a state of 'Shut-up!' You lose that fake self immediately in the show. Then we give them this opportunity to switch out with a different partner after a few weeks. They all flip-flop based off chemistry. You can tell that looks are what attract them in the beginning and so quickly it's chemistry and that's what I loved. So there was a good message in it.
JH: Now what do you bring to the show that maybe wasn't there last season?
JM: I wanted to put some funny in the show. I think anything you take too seriously is a little ridiculous. So I kind of made fun of it without making fun of it, and just had fun with them. I brought a little bit of the Jenny where, ya know, girls making fun of the guys and I had a good time with it.
JH: Is the format the same for the most part or are there differences?
JM: It's the same. The only thing that's different is the accommodations. So when the couples run in, wherever they are placed is where they'll stay in a tier of accommodations. So, the first place winners of that adventure will stay in like this gorgeous oasis mansion. Second through fourth is a tent, no cabins. And fifth and sixth are like the tents and the seventh place is a lean-to, and that's what's really exciting in this one because no one wants to stay in the lean-to in the Dominican Republic because the mosquitoes are horrific. When it rains there, it's like a monsoon and there are no doors to a lean-to. It's a roof with wood and that's it.
JH: Who do we get more drama from in the course of the show - the guys or the girls?
JM: Without a doubt the guys bring more.
JM: Oh yeah. I mean the girls, don't get me wrong, have a lot of little snickering here and there but for the most part they seem to be kind of friendly to one another. Sure they're talking behind their backs but the guys really blew me away. And that to me was the biggest surprise when someone... there was a moment in the season where a guy stood up and professed his love to not let anyone switch with her because he loves her. Then it got escalated to almost a fight that night. So the guys definitely brought it.
JH: I don't see a bad looking guy or girl in the bunch from what I've seen. Do you think looks became the primary reason why a lot of these people were chosen for the show or was it the personalities?
JM: When you watch the show, you'll see that it really isn't based off looks. There's a lot of real, girl-next-door girls in there. I think the casting was based on their athletic ability to get through the adventures. I think they had to make sure they're covered safety-wise. And then I think, without a doubt, looking manicured if you will, along with having the ability to speak in front of a camera.
JH: I'm guessing everybody had to be strong physically. How strong did the singles have to be emotionally because that clearly seems to be a big part of the show?
JM: Yes. The hard part is everyone's ego, because you think you're with your guy and if he winds up switching on you when you already said that you wanted to stay with him, those are really big blows for anybody. When I'm standing there and I hear it and I'm the host, you should see my face. I'm like 'What?! No way!' I'm shocked. So emotionally there were definitely tears that happened but it really is exciting to watch.
JH: So just being a part of the show, did it touch your inner romantic a little more or did it turn it off?
JM: No. It turned it on. Everyone was talking about hooking up and I'm going, 'I'm hooking up with mosquitoes, that's it.' So it absolutely did make me leave there having learned a lot, watching the kids go through what they went through. I got to watch fourteen relationships, thirteen blow-up or you know what I mean? So l took a lot of notes. In that time, though, being in the Dominican Republic, I wasn't able to date because I was working. It really helped me out in terms of finally being okay being on my own, because I had to be on my own. So it was good for me. I spiritually grew up on that island.
JH: Do you have a favorite reality show outside of 'Love in the Wild,' of course, that you just have to watch? There are so many out there.
JM: I do enjoy 'Jersey Shore,' but what else? 'Mob Wives.'
JH: There's so many ways to meet people whether it's the Internet, bars, clubs, TV shows. Why is it still so hard?
JM: I think it's always been this hard but I think we have more of permission to move on if something's not working. So back in the heyday our parents got married at such a young age and they stuck together for the children. Today we're moving on quick. We're seeing the red flags quicker and moving on and going I deserve betters, I deserve better. So we need more platforms to find people.
"Love in the Wild" kicks off with a two-hour premiere tonight at 9:00/8:00c on NBC.