The Millionaire Matchmaker  delivers
By SHARON STEEL  |  February 25, 2008

WACKADOO: Stanger mother-hens the millionaires before returning to the office to flatter and flay her assistants.

Patti Stanger, a “third-generation matchmaker,” describes her work as a service to God. “No matter how you cut it, I’m getting credits in Heaven,” she intones during one of her solo narrative confessionals. These are woven throughout The Millionaire Matchmaker (Bravo, Tuesdays at 11 pm) in a manner that keeps reminding you Stanger is kind of a wackadoo. That, by the way, is one of her terms for the drama queens some of the men she tries to fix up like the most. Idiots! Stanger makes sure they understand this by the end of each episode — she’s the matchmaker, she’s the one who can “read auras,” and she knows best when it comes to turning strangers into monogamous life partners. Even if she isn’t operating with the help of a higher power, watching her run and conduct her business is almost as creepily entertaining as scrolling through the Casual Encounters section on Craig’s List on a Monday morning.

Everything about Stanger is a contradiction, from the way she criticizes her gauche millionaires for wanting “perfect 10s” when they themselves are, uh, not to the merciless way she judges the wait-listed women — too plain! — who are screened for her service. As the founder and CEO of the Millionaire’s Club, Stanger gets paid the big bucks to hook a few wealthy men up with hot women (golddiggers need not apply) and then showcase their awkward dates for everyone to see. A sparkly silver heart hovering above her cleavage, Patti huffs her way from mansion to mansion, mother-henning the millionaires and then returning to flatter and flay her assistants back at the office. I’ve long been a rabid connoisseur of relationship reality TV, from the antiquated elimiDATE to the adorable #1 Single to the catastrophic Who Wants To Marry My Dad? Rest assured that The Millionaire Matchmaker upholds its status as steaming, gold-standard disaster.

“It’s a psychic feeling,” “You have an energy of readiness,” and “You’re 46 and single and I’m not!” are among the many gems Stanger has delivered four episodes into The Millionaire Matchmaker. With the help of her on-camera staff, she guides clueless extroverts through the wilderness of her own high-class meat market and makes it clear that it’s her life’s mission to whip them into shape. If the men are socially inept, she’ll tell them why and order them to change. If they dress badly, she’ll get them a stylist. She’ll castrate them — with words — until they comply.

Sometimes, of course, she’s right. Take Tai and German, two wealthy roommates who ask Stanger to set them up with girls they can date together. They spend so much time clinging to each other that Stanger is prompted to separate them like small children. Then there’s insecure Xander — he asks Stanger to fix him up with an amazingly gorgeous woman. Unable to come up with a casual conversation topic, he tells the woman she’s beautiful. About 17 times in a row. Robbed of a second date as well as his dignity, he’s rallied by Stanger for another round — she assures him that the right girl is hidden somewhere among the thousands of professionally photographed women listed on her Web site.

Still, as much as Stanger fancies herself a fierce and fabulous entrepreneurial phenom, she reminds me more of Mrs. Bennet — Pride and Prejudice’s uncouth, gossipy Momager — than anyone else. Stanger has made a career of scheming and manipulating on other people’s behalf, and as any Jane Austin devotee will tell you, that betrays only her own unhappy heart.

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