Virgin Territory: Newest MTV show seeks to literally go where no one has gone before
Either MTV – a.k.a. ground zero for today’s crop of exploitative and over-sexualized reality TV shows – has finally hit rock bottom and kept on digging, or it decided that all the relentless promiscuity featured on its programs was getting a bit monotonous. In any case, its newest reality program, debuting on the network Wednesday night, is called “Virgin Territory” and it’s exactly what it sounds like – a show about virgins.
If the teasers for the show are any indication, the show will somehow simultaneously feature less actual sexual activity, but also more sex obsession than the network’s similar offerings – shows like “Teen Mom,” “16 and Pregnant,” “Jersey Shore,” and “Catfish.” A sneak peek of the pilot features a young man named Kyle walking home from a party with some friends, who are ribbing him for not “making a move” on a girl who had “the hottest body” they’ve ever seen. They tell him he should have brought her home from the party to have sex.
“I can’t make a move,” Kyle explains. When his friends question him, he makes his big confession: “There’s something you don’t know about me,” he says. “It’s like, bad. … I’m still a virgin.” His friends react with utter disbelief, and then start laughing at him. “You’re halfway to ‘40-Year-Old-Virgin,’” one of them quips.
This is MTV, so it’s probably unrealistic to expect a portrayal of virginity as a positive lifestyle choice for young unmarried people, as opposed to a shameful condition from which they should seek to be cured at the first opportunity. But the promos do feature a couple of girls and at least one boy who say they intend to remain virgins until they get married. One girl, who is incongruously shown holding up a sexy red lace bra, informs the camera that she’s decided to remain a virgin until her wedding night. Another, sitting on a bed, tosses her head back and forth, points to her ring finger and giggles in a sing-song voice, “No ring-y, no ding-y.” A boy named Luke explains, “It’s just a promise I made a long time ago to my future wife.”
On the other hand, there are plenty of other young people telling the camera that they want to have sex – the sooner the better. One girl on a skateboard says she is “actively looking for someone to lose my virginity to.” A boy says, “I want to be good at it. Is there like, a class you can take?” Another boy wrinkles up his nose and says, “I’ve only kissed my mom.” And a girl says that when she does eventually get married, she wants to already know how to be “freaky between the sheets.”
The show’s promos say that out of all the virgins in the show’s first season, some will “lose it” and some will “keep it.” And indeed, a young couple – both looking suspiciously underage – are shown sitting on a bed together as the girl, trying awkwardly to look seductive, tells the boy, “I want to have sex.”
That scene actually illustrates the biggest concern I have about this show: Unless these kids are all really young-looking 18-year-olds, I’m extremely skeeved out by the idea of a camera crew following a bunch of children around waiting for them to have sex. Of course, I’m sure they’ll cut away at the critical moment, but this all seems dangerously close to kiddie porn – which is highly illegal for very good reasons.
So, I’m not sure what to think. On the one hand, youthful promiscuity has become so normalized by Hollywood that the idea of a show aimed at teens that actually acknowledges the existence of older virgins-by-choice is intriguing. But the promos definitely seem to lean toward treating those who consciously choose to be chaste as a mere curiosity, while portraying those who’ve been unlucky in lust so far and are looking for their chance to get laid as the more relatable bunch.