Is it possible to find love without taking yourself too seriously? That's part of the premise behind E's new parody show "Burning Love," which proved to be successful when it aired on the internet. The show is now getting its shot on cable to give it a chance to find new viewers. The humor is present, but some of the jokes were a little uncomfortable than hilarious.
"Burning Love" followed Mark Orlando (Ken Marino) who was a fireman on his quest for love with the female contestants on a reality dating show where everyone went to extremes to come out on top. Mark seemed to embrace his new opportunity, but he wasn't aware that the contestants were going to fight over him like he was a piece of meat. The show's host Chris Harrison (Michael Ian Black) warned him that his life wasn't going to be the same after the show ended. Mark was either going to go home with a wife or his fifteen minutes fame completely over. It's hard to tell if any of the contestants' motives were pure, especially Willow (Malin Akerman) who might be angling for a place to stay because she was homeless. There was also the emotionally damaged Julie (June Diane Raphael) and the unstable lawyer Lexie (Beth Dover) who was really eager to get married no matter who the groom was. Mark might have some potential in the innocent Annie (Abigail Spencer) and the beauty conscious Tamara (Deanna Russo). Will Mark be able to find Ms. Right or Ms. Right Now for the cameras?
In terms of questions, the show has asked a lot of the same questions that "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" have already posed for years. Both shows had been on the air for so long that there were very few surprises left. At least with "Burning Love," the humor could be just what the doctor ordered to help make light of the somewhat cliche dating show genre. Unfortunately, the show also lacked a hint of originality as well because it's main goal was to poke holes in other television shows without telling its own story. "Burning Love" showed some promise but it needed to put a different spin of a familiar tale to keep viewers invested. The celebrity cameos helped to liven things up, but the funniest one was Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor playing contestants from a previous season as they made light of the proposal part of the finale. The real life couple allowed their genuine rapport to help deliver the most comfortable laughs. Marino gave viewers some early laughs as his clueless Bachelor was oblivious to what was going on around him. He succeeded in delivering the most laughs when he responded to whatever the female contestants dished out for him. Let's hope that the show continued to test Marino's comedic skills for the better and not allow him to embrace too many show stereotypes.
As for the show's most memorable plots, there were a few that stood out the most, while a few should've been overlooked. The series premiere took a lot of "The Bachelor" staples, such as the limo entrance that introduced all of the female contestants who brought their own brand of bizarre behavior when they met Marino's clueless bachelor. The ones that stood out the most in the premiere were the contestants that would never have been on the ABC counterparts in a million years. Jennifer Aniston made an unexpected cameo as Dana the Bear who didn't reveal her true identity until she was given the boot. She gave viewers something to laugh about as she failed to get the limo driver to turn around. Kristen Bell also played a contestant who also embraced a few stereotypes as the show's resident conservative. Sadly, she was mostly a background player for the time being. Future episodes should give her more to do, or at the very least allow her to go out with a bang. Only time will tell if the show will be able to last beyond this season, but there was some potential to be had if the writers played their cards right.
"Burning Love" premiered on February 25th and airs Mondays at 10:00 PM on E.
Verdict: A parody of "The Bachelor" that had some funny moments and a few awkward ones as well.
TV Score: 2 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)