There's Something About Miriam

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There's Something About Miriam is a reality television show filmed in 2003, created by British TV producer Remy Blumenfeld and originally aired in the United Kingdom on Sky1 in February 2004. Hosted by Tim Vincent, it featured six men wooing 21-year-old Mexican model Miriam without revealing that she was a pre-operative trans woman until the final episode.

Production and filming[edit]

The show was produced by the Brighter Pictures subsidiary of Endemol and was originally titled Find Me A Man.[1] Recruitment ads for contestants promised "the adventure of a lifetime" with a £10,000 prize to men aged 20 to 35 who "want it all" and are "fit and up for everything."[2] The contestants on the show were:

  • Mark Dimino, 24, Optician
  • Toby Green, 23, Student
  • Aron Lane, 22, Chef
  • Tom Rooke, 23, lifeguard and ex-ski instructor
  • Scott Gibson, 22, Martial arts expert
  • Dominic Conway, 28, Royal Marine[3]

Brighter Pictures managing director Gavin Hay said "they had made a point of never referring to Miriam as a woman when getting the men to take part."[4]

Miriam said, "Several of them wondered about me in the first few days. But as the series unfolded, I really thought that we got to like and know each other as friends and had a lot of fun."[5] In response to allegations that she revealed her big secret by lifting up her skirt[6] she was quoted as saying "I want to say that I would never lift my skirt up on national TV. My mother brought me up very well." On the version that aired, Miriam chose Rooke as the winner and then said in front of the assembled contestants:

I tried to be honest with all of you, not just some of you. Yes, I am from Mexico, I am a model, and I'm 21. But Tom, I really love spending time with you and kissing you. You see, I love men, and I love being a woman. But... shh, quiet everybody, please, quiet. But you see, Tom... I am not a woman. I was born as a man.[7]

Rooke initially accepted the prize money and the trip with Miriam on camera. Rooke later rejected the prize prior to airing and joined the other contestants in a lawsuit.

Litigation and release[edit]

Following the completion of the show, it was scheduled to air in November 2003, but the lawsuit by the contestants delayed the airing.[8][9] They alleged conspiracy to commit sexual assault, defamation, breach of contract, and personal injury in the form of psychological and emotional damage.[10]

After the men settled for an undisclosed amount, the show premiered 22 February,[11] and the sixth and final episode aired 24 March 2004.[12]

The show was aired in Australia by Network Ten in May 2004, in Poland by TVN in January 2005, and in Argentina in 2005 on America TV. The show was picked up by Fox Reality for airing in the United States in April 2006, and was aired in October 2007.[13][14]

Response[edit]

Responses from critics were generally unfavorable, calling it "the cruellest reality show idea yet"[15] and part of a trend in shows that exploit unwitting contestants.[16] A British reviewer noted, "The whole premise of There’s Something About Miriam was not a celebration of transgendered life. It was designed to elicit horror from the winning contestant discovering that his dream date had a penis." [17] The show was also criticized by transgender groups, who feared a backlash of public opinion.[18] When the show aired in Australia, reviews were critical of both the premise and Miriam:

These guys were duped in more ways than one - while Miriam has a few unexpected bits in her package, she's notably deficient in others. It has become clear Miriam requires a personality implant. It must've been a challenge to find a transsexual pretty enough, mean enough and sufficiently attention-seeking to play this tawdry game, but what these producers found in Miriam is a sultry-looking dill prone to the cheesiest of clichés.[19]

Other British commentators contrasted Miriam with the positive response to Nadia Almada, a Portuguese transsexual woman who won Big Brother UK a few months later.[20] That show was also produced by Endemol.

However, the show garnered high ratings in the final episode (970,000 viewers - large viewership for Sky One),[21] and Miriam went on to become a guest on Big Brother Australia 2004.[22][23]

There's Something About Miriam was featured on the 2005 clip show "40 Greatest Pranks" on VH1 and was ranked #11 on the 20 to 1 episode Hoaxes, Cheats and Liars.

When the show aired in the United States on the 2007 Transgender Day of Remembrance, trans author Julia Serano noted, "Programs like 'There's Something About Miriam' not only reinforce the stereotype that trans people's birth sex is 'real' and our identified/lived sex is 'fake,' but they perpetuate the myth of deception and thus enable violence against us."[24]

Video artist Phil Collins featured contestant Mark Dimino in an installation on "people who believe their lives have been ruined by appearing on reality TV."[25][26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Davies, Catriona (30 October 2003). TV suitors shocked as dream girl turns out to be a man.[dead link] The Daily Telegraph[dead link]
  2. ^ Reuters (30 October 2003). Transsexual Surprise holds up TV Show.
  3. ^ Smith, Emily (13 February 2004). Miriam's secret.[dead link] The Sun[dead link]
  4. ^ Deans, Jason (31 October 2003). Reality show men sue Sky over transsexual 'trick.' The Guardian
  5. ^ Staff report (5 November 2003). Men 'suspected' TV transsexual. BBC News,
  6. ^ Smith, Emily (31 October 2003).Would You?[dead link] The Sun[dead link]
  7. ^ Miriam (24 March 2004). There's Something about Miriam. via Brighter Pictures/Sky One
  8. ^ Higham, Nick (4 November 2003). Has reality TV gone too far? BBC
  9. ^ Paulsen, Wade (4 November 2003). UK reality show with 'Crying Game' twist elicits lawsuit threat from duped men. Reality TV World
  10. ^ Newton Dunn, Tom (1 November 2003). She Ain't Arf Odd, Mum! Hero Tricked into TV Snog with Bloke.[dead link] The Daily Mirror[dead link]
  11. ^ Rogers, Steve (22 February 2004) Lawsuit settled, 'Crying Game'-like 'There's Something About Miriam' premieres in UK. Reality TV World
  12. ^ Jennifer Sym (28 March 2004). Transsexual Miriam Rejected by Reality Show Winner. The Scotsman
  13. ^ Rocchio, Christopher (25 July 2007). Fox Reality to debut UK's 'There's Something About Miriam' 31 October Reality TV World
  14. ^ Wilkes, Neil (3 April 2006). Fox Reality picks up 'Miriam', 'Dragon's Den.' Digital Spy
  15. ^ Mohan, Dominic (1 November 2003). Miriam is a reality TV too far.[dead link] The Sun[dead link]
  16. ^ Lane, Megan (9 December 2005). The joke's on you. BBC News
  17. ^ Boynton, Petra (7 August 2004). Real Life: My Mum Is My Dad.[dead link] BMJ[dead link]
  18. ^ Staff report (23 February 2004). Reality TV transsexual speaks out against complaints. gaylifeuk.com
  19. ^ Enker, Debi (20 May 2004). Reality reaches new low. The Age
  20. ^ Smith, Dave, and Anushka Asthana (8 August 2004). Sexual healing. The Observer
  21. ^ Bye Bye Miriam. via Sky One website
  22. ^ Buttner, Claire (3 June 2004). Miriam the BB Intruder.
  23. ^ Buttner, Claire (14 June 2004). Merlin's silent protest. The Sydney Morning Herald
  24. ^ Serano, Julia )19 November 2007). There's Something About "Deception."[dead link] Femisiting[dead link]
  25. ^ Singh, Anita (23 November 2006). TV 'victims' in Turner exhibit; Film-maker reveals how small screen ruined their lives. Liverpool Daily Post
  26. ^ Odone, Cristina (30 September 2007). It takes art, not TV, to show us reality. The Guardian

External links[edit]