Hot on the heels of vampires and cronuts, our nation's next big fixation appears to be VIRGINS (i.e. just regular people who haven't done a couple of very narrowly defined things with their genitals). MTV's new virgin-focused reality show, Virgin Territory, premieres tonight, profiling non-humping young Americans of all stripes—the willing, the righteous, the desperate, the mortified.
A few advance reviews are out, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the day-to-day lives of virgins don't sound like they make for particularly compelling TV. Because, again, VIRGINS ARE JUST REGULAR PEOPLE. Some of them are interesting, some of them are boring.
Here's Willa Paskin at Slate:
Virgin Territory tries to get into psychological explanations for all of this unwanted virginity, because like the participants' friends, MTV thinks it's weird.
...Watching these three fret about their sexual status, I was reminded of the stress of being a pubescent girl who gets her period late: Until it arrives, you are embarrassed that you don't have it. And then one day it arrives, and all that worrying was for naught. The ocean is really big. If you're trying, it's hard not to fall into it eventually. And the loss of your virginity, symbolically and emotionally resonant as it is, is just the first step. The morning after Lisa's wedding night, she seems extremely underwhelmed about what happened the night before. "It wasn't breathtaking," she says. She may no longer be virgin, but what happens next would make a great subject for a reality show.
And Jon Caramanica at the Times:
All of them associate sex with real consequences, as if they'd at least been watching "16 and Pregnant." (Undoubtedly, there was a development meeting for this show at which calling it "18 and Celibate" was proposed.)
But "Virgin Territory" would have been even more timely five or six years ago, at the peak of promise rings and Disney pop, when mass media had its squeakiest-clean moment since the sock hop era.
...Mostly, though, the conversations surrounding sex verge on the noxious, showing the burden of societal sexual pressure from both sides. On the one hand, there's the banter of Kyle's friends, with their casual sexism and understanding of women as prizes. Contrast that with the resigned conversation of Mikaela's friends, who talk about physically coercive men. In one scene, one of them has to repel a handsy man on the dance floor, screaming, "That guy just grabbed my vagina!"
Again, doing or not doing this one particular kind of genital-touching does not in and of itself a compelling character make—though I'll admit that the bizarro cult of piety and pressure that we've constructed around virginity (evidenced, for one, by this television show) is fascinating and warrants some pointed critique. I'm just not sure Virgin Territory—with its focus on marriage and implicit stance that virginity is "weird"—will be the one to give it to us. But I haven't seen it yet. So I guess I'll find out tonight.
If you REALLY can't get enough virgins, you can also stream Therese Schecter's documentary How to Lose Your Virginity on Vimeo right now.
And virgins, listen to me. Everything is fine. You are not weird. Do what you want with your junk. It's yours.