Michael Slezak
June 13, 2006 AT 06:04 PM EDT

Watching last night’s series premiere of How to Get the Guy, I couldn’t shake the thought: How come ABC can’t find women this appealing when it comes to casting The Bachelor? Indeed, in HTGTG‘s central participants — (from left to right) Alissa, Michelle, Kris, and Anne — the network has found four surprisingly strong, complex, and funny singletons, none of whom appear desperate enough to fall blindly for any dull-but-chiseled doctor or lawyer the producers throw their way. Better still, the women’s conversational repertoire extends beyond Bachelor-esque discussions of ”journeys,” ”feelings,” and male dreaminess. (Heck, one of Alissa’s dates included a dialogue about the didjeridoo!)

Given this fact, though, don’t HTGTG‘s ladies deserve better than having to endure preposterous dating exercises designed by ”love coaches” JD Roberto and Teresa Strasser (at right)? Case in point: Watching Anne go into an emotional coma while forced to play ”Drop the Hanky” (which sounds disturbingly like some sort of unsavory euphemism from a South Park episode) at a magazine shop and a sporting-goods store. The rules? Find a guy, make uncomfortably long eye contact with him, smile lots, and invade his personal space. The inevitable conclusion to the game, Anne’s stony-faced plea to her coaches — ”I don’t want to stand next to people to make them talk to me” — was equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious.

On the flip side, though, I rather enjoyed watching the speed-dating portion of the episode, despite the somewhat sitcom-y selection of men; the look of silent disgust from massage therapist Alissa in response to that skeevy guy’s inappropriate question (”You ever get some big, fat dude laying on the table and you have to give him a happy ending?”) made the whole hour worth while. And the sweetness of Anne’s end-of-episode dinner (and kiss!) with Dennis completely caught me off guard.

Now if the show would just can the gimmicks and focus completely on the real struggles of these four fabulous women, HTGTG could become appointment television, a kind of Sex and the City for reality TV addicts.

What did you think?

addCredit(“How to Get the Guy: Craig Sjodin/ABC”)

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