One of my biggest pet peeves is television shows (usually game shows) that use female models for no purpose other than serving as a pretty backdrop to the show's action. Typically clad in skimpy clothes and high heels, with big breasts and even bigger hair, these women flash glowing smiles and show off the "fabulous prizes" with enthusiastic arm motions, serving as one half of the magic game show formula of cash+sex appeal=ratings.
The worst offender when it comes to treating women as wallpaper is "Deal or No Deal," a show that features a wall of what are essentially Maxim models come to life, who collectively pout when a contestant loses the $1,000,000 prize or smile wider than what seems humanly possible when he wins big. Every girl has essentially the same body and wears the same black minidress, only distinguishable by their number (each girl has a number and keeps it throughout the show). Throughout the show, host Howie Mandel gives fun facts on the models ("Did you know that Leyla was featured in a recent Budweiser commercial?") and peppers them with trivial questions about their lives reminiscent of the Q&A's of sexed up C-list celebrities in men's magazines. He'll refer to "the gorgeous Anya" or "our beautiful Jenelle" and this flirtatious banter gets picked up by the male contestants who beg the models (they know them by name) to "give them a good number" so that their chances of winning are increased.
NBC plays up the model aspect of the show by heavily promoting the girls on the show's website, which features bios and a photo gallery of each girl, posing with PG-rated flirtatiousness. Here's a sample portion of one model's bio "Her down-to-earth nature and sexy, sassy appeal have led her to grace the covers of many internationally renowned calendars, catalogues, and magazines. The highlight was scoring the 2006 Maxim calendar cover.
Lisa is highly ambitious and extremely passionate about life and loves the challenges of the entertainment business and what it brings! Life is a journey and there is no stopping this talented blonde beauty." Even the girls who had college degrees were discussed in this dismissive manner, and I couldn't help but wonder why anyone whose ambitions were higher than wanting to be an FHM cover girl would be willing to be reduced to a glorified mannequin on this show.
When it comes down to it, I really just don't understand how something like this is completely acceptable and enjoyed in 2007. It would be one thing if they were going to objectify men and women (about half of the contestants and I'm sure a similar percentage of the audience are women), but the idea that a wall of hot but identity-less girls somehow enhances the show is beyond me. At what point will our society decide that treating women as objects is no longer okay?