Skip to main content

How to Make the Concept Behind the Dating Show Disaster ‘Farmer Wants a Wife’ Better (MUCH Better)

Homer tries (and fails) a hand at farming.

Dating shows are an absolute mess. Even amongst fans of the genre, this is accepted as fact. And this is especially true in America, where archaic “American values” muddy literally everything and only serve to heighten regressive stereotypes that don’t even make people happy.

So, you know, when we’re presented with a show like Farmer Wants a Wife, most of us are going to cover our eyes and peep through the cracks between our fingers, because what in the car crash:

Initially, my reaction was horror. All these women who think they need to find love through any means possible, even if it means via national television, being herded like cattle (literally!) to these isolated ranches for guys who very likely laugh at Facebook pronoun memes … what in tarnation?

Where I took pause was in realizing, as an advocate for farmers against Big Agriculture, that there’s actually so much potential for some kind of high-profile show about farmers. I know a prominent “liberal” viewpoint is to scoff at farmers for largely having Republican-heavy reputations, but having grown up in farm-heavy districts and reading more about the realities of the modern ag business, I gotta say, this is a case where willful ignorance needs to cease.

The ag industry is one of the seediest, most parasite-ridden functions of capitalism in our country. Land is constantly being bought out by tyrants who bully smaller family-owned operations into selling, and then this land is repeatedly deadened by the need to mass-produce whatever cash crop is in season. And if machines aren’t harvesting these crops, then migrant workers are, who are often denied fair contracts, humane living conditions, and tenable pay.

Therefore, it’s bewildering to me that Farmer Wants a Wife is, you know, a thing. Who even buys that “wholesome ‘murican” shit anymore? I guess, since it’s airing on Fox, I’ve already answered my own question. But that’s why I think a counter-show is so necessary: we need to bridge the gap of misunderstanding between us as consumers, and the farmers and workers who are providing our food! There are so many different kinds of farmers in this country, and the ones who haven’t shilled out to Big Ag are especially worthy of having their voices heard!

Here’s my pitch: farming meets Life Swap. We have some urbanites and suburbanites go live on a variety of farms, primarily farms we don’t often represent—like, for example, the longstanding Japanese-owned orchards of the Pacific coast. It would be an informative show, entertaining on the basis that it’s providing a look into a lifestyle that so many people IDEALIZE, but truly have no goddamn clue about.

Ironically, what inspired this idea was the video that introduced me to Farmer Wants a Wife in the first place:

The Button is its own misogynistic mess that I don’t even want to get into, but this video really piqued my curiosity. The gist of the show is that it’s speed-dating, but with an elimination element. This edition had city folks paired with farmers and farmhands, and the results were awfully telling. On the one hand, the farmers featured were a fairly diverse group of people, both in background and in profession. On the other, the city dwellers truly proved themselves to be so far removed from a place of understanding when it came to their food! One girl eliminated her partner for slaughtering pigs. Granted, her reason was that she ate chickens and couldn’t imagine dating someone who killed animals for a living. Understandable. And yet, all the same, that’s just a fact of the business that most of us are never exposed to, myself included.

I think more scenarios like these would be so enlightening for the general public! There is so much to learn and grow from (literally and figuratively), on BOTH sides, and the socialist in me is just thrilled for any opportunity to close all the wide gaps between peoples in this country. Of course, this also means intentional editing, so it doesn’t fall into two kinds of traps: the trap of, “Look at these dumb city-dwellers they don’t get us etc. etc.,” and the trap of, “Look at these ignorant rural folks wow we’re so lucky to be away from them.” Careful planning is key here. Not just, you know, throwing a bunch of women at four guys who just wanna get married.

Any farmers out there (I know there are a few, I read the comments sometimes), feel free to share your own perspectives!

(Featured Image: 21st Century Fox, via FXX)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Madeline (she/her) is a writer, dog mom, and casual insomniac. Her prior experiences with media have taken her down many different roads, from local history podcasts to music coverage & production. Niche interests include folk music, elves/wizards, and why horses are cool actually.