Confessions of a Matchmaker is an A&E reality series focusing on Patti Novak, a matchmaker working out of Buffalo, New York. According to the series' intro, Patti is a matchmaker who helps her clients with blunt advice about their problems, we see flashes of her telling clients that they're not very sexy, that they need to get laid or that they've got to toughen up.
Patti's first challenge is John, a 41-year-old virgin. When asked how he could be a virgin so late in life, he offers a number of excuses including a desire to make the experience special (the expected excuse), the economy and a worry over faked orgasms. Despite his good looks, Patti tells us John was a loner as a child, suffering from low self-esteem after his parents divorced.
Patti sets John up with Lisa, a woman with a tendency to be attracted to jerks and who has a strong sex drive (so, apparently, Patti sets up dates meant to challenge her clients limits). The date is a disaster with John dwelling on his past relationships: "He was really hung up on the details," Lisa interviews. That totally makes sense if you're viewing him from the audience's point-of-view — after all, someone who's only been in a few relationships can't help but look at each one in detail since there's no big picture to study. John confesses he didn't go to his prom: "Girls never approach me," he explains and refers to himself as "the brother type"…
This is where the show is winning me over. It would be easy to cut up John's words so that he comes off as a rambling idiot, but instead he comes off as somebody you could have a good conversation with — as long as you stayed away from the wrong topics. The scene is really nicely edited, the scene almost feels like a sitcom with the way the dialog moves and John's lively expressions. Finally, Lisa asks, "I'm just kinda curious why you haven't had any long-term relationships… are you gay?" He denies it but the expression on his face is half-hearted.
Hearing about the date, Patti decides she needs to have a talk with John. She doesn't take long to bring up Lisa's suspicion that he might be gay. John acknowledges her suspicion, but doesn't respond until pushed for one. When Patti suggests she set up a date with a guy, John pauses. He's got the look of someone who's very ambivalent on the outside but leaping at the opportunity on the inside. After a long pause he sheepishly nods, "I'm up for it."
Patti then arranges a dinner for John with David, who's been out since his teens. In some ways, John's date with David is the opposite of his date with Lisa. This time the date starts awkwardly, getting worse when John starts talking about his relationship history but then turns to lively banter. It's all very cute. It even stays cute when the conversation turns to coming out issues and John hits that noncommittal wall.
The episode ends with Patti debriefing John about the date. He still looks like he doesn't know how to react when she talks about setting him up with guys, but Patti feels she's gotten him to make a major step. Overall, Confessions of a Matchmaker strikes a sweet tone with its story of a 41-year-old virgin. The show could have easily made him out to be a loser, but it went for a subtler take, making him someone who's smart and interesting, while having a poor sense of reading others.