'Tough Love': Are you just not that into Drew Barrymore's new VH1 show?

Toughlovevh1cast_lHere’s where Tough Love (which premiered Sunday on VH1) went wrong: the house. If the point is to help women conquer their individual problems finding love, then treat them as individuals. By herding them into the standard reality show trope — a tacky McMansion designed to be a catfight cageTough Love says it’s clearly more interested in drama than in progress.

Not exactly what you’d expect from Drew Barrymore, is it? The He’s Just Not That Into You star is an executive producer of the series in which matchmaker Steven Ward delivers hard truths to eight women, ostensibly to help them find love. Much like the best-selling book on which Barrymore’s movie is based, Steve’s advice is just the re-warmed common sense your grandmother tried to teach you. Unfortunately, nobody listens to Granny anymore — at least not these ladies. Jacklyn advertises that she wants to be married by 25. Taylor needs a storage unit to hold all her insecurities. And Abiola — oh, this is rich — is a journalist who offers relationship advice. If they can learn a few things from Ward, great.

The problem is the whole break-‘em-down-to-build-‘em-up approach. Telling a woman she should button up her blouse so that men take her more seriously is a frank kindness. Having her strut out of a house, parade before a panel of three strange guys whose job is apparently to ogle, then forcing her to overhear their painful snap judgments is cruel and unnecessary. There’s just a better way to deliver that kind of information.

And again, there’s that house. Inevitably (and judging by previews), there will be fights, which will make the women look childish, erratic, and emotionally unstable. How that helps them find happy, stable relationships I just don’t know. That, unfortunately, is why I dinged Drew B. in the first place. She clearly seems interested in helping women boost their self-confidence, and we could all use an honest voice to tell us how. It would just be nice if Tough Love didn’t look and feel quite so much like Rock of Love.


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  • eyesopenedwide

    I appreciate the fact that the clueless women have to face what men really say about them and stop being in denial. Clearly when they walk into a room and spend the evening talking with various men, they have a totally different take on how they came across. Until they see it played back to them via video, they don’t believe it. That’s why it’s called TOUGH LOVE.
    I love love love Steve Ward, he can go tough on me anytime…purr…

  • diggity

    See, I think you can tell a girl to button up and stop acting like a ho, but it really does hit harder when it comes from the horses mouth. I kind of liked the show.

  • April

    These poor women seem so sad. I’m not sure that humiliating them on national TV is the way to solve their problems.



  • Cam

    I see what you’re saying. The thing is, some people are so delusional they just don’t get it without actually being hit over the head. I think that’s the point here – that the gentle approach has been tried with these women and failed.

  • Smart Pink

    I am disappointed in the comments above about the show Tough Love. I don’t see any comparison to Rock of Love where women are encouraged to degrade themselves for a man who only wants to stoke his own ego. When you go to the army do you go by yourself where someone holds your hand through and it’s all easy from there on out? NO! Tough Love IS a boot camp. So what they are in a house together. There should be a house like that in every major city. Maybe more women would not be so quick to compromise themselves it they know what a guy really thought of them instead of believing the BS they tell you. I love the show. I am a fan already and believe this is one reality show that may help people other than the contestants. TOUGH LOVE ROCKS!!

  • AlexandraX

    Let me perfuse I understand it is a show the women serve as composites of many women seeking love. I think Steve is brutally honest. My qualm even if a woman has a healthy sense of self and open to love there are still barriers. This show like the media in all of its manifestations tells us that women must be perfect to be LOVED. I am not perfect. I am a healthy size 4/6. I cannot be a zero. I have maintained a beauty and healthy lifestyle regime that makes me look younger than most women who are 35. Yet I get criticize if I have a small zit that time of the month? It seems that all men want us to be perfect…I want someone to love me as I get older, if I have cancer, if I lose my business or all my money. I want someone to me love me
    unconditionally. Let me go before I depress myself further.
    Lonely Korean-American woman in Atlanta who is attracted to Asian men

  • julie

    with perhaps some logistical flaws, i think the series is fabulous. I am over 50 and wathed it with my teen aged daughter. we both learned a LOT.
    You point out that no one listens to grandma… I agree. That is what makes THIS approach so powerful, the fact that the feedback comes “from the source” so to speak. Frankly, as a single woman in my 50’s I would LOVE that kind of feedback because I, like everyone, am clueless about my blind spots. The sooner I see and understand them, the faster I can reach my goals.
    As to whether tough love works by concept, well I think that an abundance of research suggests at the right time with the right person its incredibly powerful. Its not for everyone. Still I don’t think the show is that far off. The TL coach seems to use a good balance of compassion, humor and honesty to move the women forward in a sensitive but no nonsense way.
    I experience your review as overly harsh, almost seeming as if you have some kind of proverbial axe to grind

  • Isabel

    Are you people insane? Are their gaydars completely off? Steven Ward, the host of the show, is obviously a closeted guy, not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, trust me, my best friends are gay, but I don’t think a confused closeted gay guy is the right coach for these women considering that he doesn’t REALLY know what men want out of women, he’s only coming from a perspective of what he THINKS men want out of women, through his closeted warped experiences with women. Trust me, google “women married to gay men” and you’ll see the outcome and the things gay men who are in self-denial who convince themselves they are straight, the warped type of experiences they have with women and what happens to those women. Not to mention that he’s really rude.

  • Liane

    I like the show. It is brutally honest, and just watching it I learned a lot, and have a better idea where I can improve. I wish I had the opportunity to have Steven give me feedback like that. It may hurt, but somethings need to be said honestly.
    Single in SLC

  • azgirl

    What I think saves this show is that no one gets “voted off”. It’s as close as VH1 probably can get (in this post-Tiffany “New York” world) to a show that might actually help some people. I’m sad that they clearly cast some straight-up crazies for the sake of good TV, but that’s life now, I guess.
    Am I wrong about people not getting voted off?

  • Dawn

    Where did VH1 find this cast of characters? Has anyone checked into the credentials of Steve Ward? He is dishing out common sense in a very demeaning way…to women who should know better! As for Steve Ward…has he ever had a meaningful relationship with anyone besides hisself? Steve and his Mom are all about swindling people into joining their Master Matchmaker service. They do not provide dating advice..they demand you go out on dates with people they set you up with even if they are married or don’t meet your base credentials. It’s not because they think this person will be a match for you..it is because they don’t have enough clients in their service!

  • TW

    I really enjoy the show. It’s unfair to be upset at the show for casting people that make you want to watch it. That’s the point! Also, there is no point in the show where Steve says they have to be perfect. He is the honest, male perspective that women say they want, myself included, and it’s TOUGH. There is no problem with someone asking you and trying to help you be the best version of yourself that you can.
    People need to be realistic. These women are not that uncommon. I’m sure casting crazy women wasn’t hard to do and you wouldn’t watch a show full of completely comfortable and self-actualized women looking for love.

  • Meghan

    Other than that first parading exercise, I think all of teh exercises have been very productive. I love the show because it’s not the same AWing of most reality shows. Women get called out for being AWs here. I don’t think this review is fare. Give the show more of a chance. I want more!

  • Ms. D

    Am I the only one that realize that he’s forcing the older woman to hook up with the rude dude with bad hair who said explicitly that he’s not interested in a second date with her?! But time and time again even after making her cry Steve says to them both…. “are you willing to go on another date”. This show is so stupid! If I wasn’t addicted to reality shows I wouldn’t watch again. LOL

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