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October 4, 2015

Please restart Starting Over - VIDEO

by Eliot Glazer, posted Dec 22nd 2008 11:22AM
starting overRare is the episode of reality television that ends without a character seen having shed tears, made a vigilant declaration, or used pop psychological jargon lifted straight from the self-help section (see "I'm a very sexual person," "We share an energy," and "There's more to me than people might think").

For me, that phony vernacular of new age buzzwords that culminate in testimonials of poorly-worded self-expression are simultaneously the best and worst elements of a reality show. Naturally, that's what made Starting Over one of the few reality shows I could not only tolerate, but adore.

Starting OverSet in a spacious house occupied by a rotating cast of a half dozen women looking to fix real-life problems with the assistance of "life coaches," Starting Over was a daily affirmation that proved profiled women as emotional train wrecks. If The Amazing Race is reality television's go-to destination for an adrenaline rush, Starting Over was its highly potent estrogen supplement. The show essentially painted "real women" to all appear as histrionic crybabies at the mercy of warm pastels, cozy blankets, and humiliating exercises designed by unlicensed psychologists.

In order to "graduate" from the Starting Over house, the women had to perform tasks designed to help them defeat their respective obstacles, such as:

  • being "made over" to look physically abused
  • making arts and crafts with a "healing artist"
  • furiously splashing paint on a wall while crying
  • dancing in the wind with bedsheets
  • cleaning the bathroom at the command of a drill sergeant
  • getting fenced in by cardboard bricks labeled with suppressive feelings
  • meeting with a "dream expert"
  • allowing strange men to paint one's body (more paint!)
  • receiving an up-do
  • resisting a cupcake at a mass gorging
  • playing baseball

Virtually everything discussed on the show was intangible and symbolic, which wouldn't necessarily sound like the proper groundwork for a television show (or, more over, one that aired five times a week). But with vacant piano riffs, perpetual cuts to images of flowers and birdbaths, and constant sobfest pow-wows, Starting Over made for an endlessly entertaining, unbelievably insulting show that catapulted new age spirituality (or, arguably, hogwash) to brand new heights.

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I really do miss Starting Over. It was overly maudlin, but the cast of characters (the women in the house) made it interesting and the often-bizarre tasks the lifecoaches assigned the women were regularly amusing. It was horribly sappy and overdone, but I liked it. It's my favorite daytime show and I was incredibly disappointed when it was canceled. I'd pay money out of my own pocket to see it come back on the air. Sometimes everything horrible about television can combine into something kind of weirdly awesome.

December 24 2008 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That is a great point, Anita. Although I consider a lot of the show humiliating for its subjects, the exercises were of good intentions.

December 22 2008 at 6:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


After your complaint, I did, in fact, change the wording. You were right - saying "proved" sounded too facetious.

However, if you read the rest of my article, you'll see that the entire piece comments on the absurd mischaracterization Starting Over takes to its subjects.

I was not calling women "emotional trainwrecks." In fact, was referencing the shape in which the show's producers display their cast members as such. The article defends women against degradation, not the other way around.

December 22 2008 at 6:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, I have to disagree. I used to watch 'Starting Over' and it was the only reality TV show I could really stomach. Unlike 'Charm School,' it actually focused on helping the women achieve their goals. I don't remember an episode focusing on makeovers, but I liked that it helped people with achieving their career goals i.e. 'comedian,' 'country western singer,' getting over divorce or finishing grad school without insane humiliating tasks. It insisted that the comedian go to stand up each week and get a coach in the business. For the woman who wanted to just 'record' country western & become famous, they insisted she start small i.e. getting voice lessons, singing in small places and placing the music first. Plus, the life coaches actually interacted with the housemates to help them in achieving their goals as opposed to the fly-by 'coaching' of today's shows i.e. the Duffster on 'Legally Blonde.'

Plus, it sent the housemates through steps where they didn't leave the house until they achieved their goals. In today's overdone celebreality, it was refreshing not seeing women dress up like slutty bachelorettes. I also liked the positivity over today's negativity. Sure there was 'drama' but not slap your mama drama. I hope they bring back 'Starting Over,' which shows women focusing on careers as opposed to serving as the latest receptacle of whatever post-80s-90s pop star/farmer/momma's boy.

December 22 2008 at 3:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watched the first few seasons of this show, and I admit, it steamed me. All the silly 'exercises' were such a waste. They had one good shrink, so got rid of her, and got a total pain instead. I don't think they really helped anyone. Pretty quick fixes just don't work. Makeovers? Your life is in the toilet, so they give you a makeover? I don't think so.

December 22 2008 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Starting Over was a daily affirmation that proved women are emotional train wrecks."

Go fuck yourself Mr. Glazer.

December 22 2008 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Tracey's comment
Joel Keller

Tracey, I didn't see Eliot's statement as making fun of women; I saw it as Eliot making fun of how the show portrays women.

December 22 2008 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

He changed the sentence. "Proved" and "profiled" have completely different meanings.

December 22 2008 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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