- There's Something About Miriam
"There's Something About Miriam" is a
reality televisionshow filmed in 2003 and originally aired in the United Kingdomon Sky1in February 2004. Hosted by Tim Vincent, it featured six men wooing 21-year-old Mexican model Miriam without revealing that she was a transwomanuntil the final episode.
Production and filming
The show was produced by the Brighter Pictures subsidiary of
Endemoland was originally titled "Find Me A Man".Davies, Catriona (October 30, 2003). [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/10/31/nsky31.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/10/31/ixhome.html TV suitors shocked as dream girl turns out to be a man.] " The Daily Telegraph"] 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."Reuters (October 30, 2003). Transsexual Surprise holds up TV Show.] 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 MarineSmith, Emily (February 13, 2004). [http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,5-2004071068,00.html Miriam's secret.] "The Sun"]
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."Deans, Jason (31 October 2003). [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1074689,00.html Reality show men sue Sky over transsexual 'trick.'] "
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."Staff report (5 November, 2003). [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/3242715.stm Men 'suspected' TV transsexual.]
BBC News,] In response to allegations that she revealed her big secret by lifting up her skirtSmith, Emily (October 31, 2003). [http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2003502072,00.html Would You?] "The Sun"] 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.Miriam (March 24, 2004). "There's Something about Miriam". via Brighter Pictures/Sky One]
Rooke initially accepted the prize money and the trip with Miriam on camera, then rejected the prize prior to airing and joined the other contestants in a lawsuit.
Litigation and release
Following the completion of the show, it was scheduled to air in November 2003, but the lawsuit by the contestants delayed the airing.Higham, Nick (4 November, 2003). [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/3237797.stm Has reality TV gone too far?] "
BBC"] Paulsen, Wade (November 4, 2003). [http://www.realitytvworld.com/index/articles/story.php?s=1942 UK reality show with 'Crying Game' twist elicits lawsuit threat from duped men.] "Reality TV World"] They alleged conspiracy to commit sexual assault, defamation, breach of contractand personal injuryin the form of psychological and emotional damage.Newton Dunn, Tom (Nove,ber 1, 2003). [http://www.mirror.co.uk/catchall/tm_method=full%26objectid=13579305%26siteid=89520-name_page.html She Ain't Arf Odd, Mum! Hero Tricked into TV Snog with Bloke.] " The Daily Mirror"]
After the men settled for an undisclosed amount, the show premiered February 22.Rogers, Steve (
February 22, 2004) [http://www.realitytvworld.com/index/articles/story.php?s=2296 Lawsuit settled, 'Crying Game'-like 'There's Something About Miriam' premieres in UK.] "Reality TV World"] , and the sixth and final episode aired March 24, 2004.Jennifer Sym ( March 28, 2004). Transsexual Miriam Rejected by Reality Show Winner. " The Scotsman"]
The show was aired in
Australiaby Network Tenin May 2004, in Polandby TVN in January 2005, and in Argentina in 2005 on America TV. The show was picked up by Fox Realityfor airing in the United Statesin April 2006, and was aired in October 2007,Rocchio, Christopher ( July 25, 2007). [http://www.realitytvworld.com/news/fox-reality-debut-uk-there-something-about-miriam-october-31-5566.php Fox Reality to debut UK's 'There's Something About Miriam' October 31] " Reality TV World"] Wilkes, Neil ( April 3, 2006). [http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/realitytv/a31214/fox-reality-picks-up-miriam-dragons-den.html Fox Reality picks up 'Miriam', 'Dragon's Den.'] " Digital Spy"]
Responses from critics were generally unfavorable, calling it "the cruellest reality show idea yet"Mohan, Dominic (
November 01, 2003). [http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2003210000-2003502753,00.html Miriam is a reality TV too far.] "The Sun] "] and part of a trend in shows that exploit unwitting contestants.Lane, Megan ( 9 December, 2005). [http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:6TNU6A75XysJ:news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4509946.stm The joke's on you.] " BBC News"] 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." Boynton, Petra ( August 7, 2004). [http://www.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/329/7461/355.pdf Real Life: My Mum Is My Dad.] "BMJ"] The show was also criticized by transsexual groups, who feared a backlash of public opinion.Staff report ( 23 February, 2004). [http://www.gaylifeuk.com/news/viewnews.php?newsid=1077579094,31641, Reality TV transsexual speaks out against complaints.] gaylifeuk.com] 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.Enker, Debi (
May 20, 2004). [http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/05/19/1084917637363.html Reality reaches new low.] ;; The Age"]
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.Smith, Dave, and Anushka Asthana ( August 8, 2004). [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/focus/story/0,6903,1278857,00.html Sexual healing.] " The Observer"] 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), [http://web.archive.org/web/20040609052342/www.skyone.co.uk/programmes/features.asp?fID=Miraimfinalepisode&prog=21&title=miriam Bye Bye Miriam.] via Sky One website] and Miriam went on to become a guest on "
Big Brother Australia 2004".Buttner, Claire ( June 3, 2004). [http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/06/03/1086203546602.html?from=storyrhs Miriam the BB Intruder.] ] Buttner, Claire ( June 14, 2004). [http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/06/14/1087065042010.html Merlin's silent protest.] " The Sydney Morning Herald"]
"There's Something About Miriam" was featured on the 2005
clip show"40 Greatest Pranks" on VH1and was ranked #9 on the 20 to 1episode "Hoaxes, Cheats and Liars".
When the show aired in the United States on the 2007
Transgender Day of Remembrance, trans author Julia Seranonoted, "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."Serano, Julia )November 19, 2007). [http://www.feministing.com/archives/008112.html There's Something About "Deception."] "Femisiting"]
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."Singh, Anita (November 23, 2006). TV 'victims' in Turner exhibit; Film-maker reveals how small screen ruined their lives. "
Liverpool Daily Post"] Odone, Cristina (September 30, 2007). [http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2180333,00.html It takes art, not TV, to show us reality.] " The Guardian"]
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