“It really seems like a natural extension, because I was doing my radio show five days a week for a really long time, so I’m used to putting myself out there,” says San Francisco-based “Sex With Emily” radio show host Emily Morse of her costarring role in Miss Advised, Bravo’s new docuseries that profiles the roller-coaster love lives of Morse and two other comely young relationship gurus, New York matchmaker Amy Laurent and former Internet It-Girl Julia Allison.
Still, Morse concedes, after enjoying the relative privacy that a radio studio affords, putting her own romantic adventures out there for all the world — especially the audience that tunes in to listen to her wildly popular podcasts and CBS radio show — to see is daunting. At least professionally.
“I receive thousands of emails from listeners asking for advice,” Morse explains, “so as an expert, it’s scary to think, ‘Well, what if I go on camera and show that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing?’ But no one’s perfect and we all learn from each other and I just decided that I was going to be myself.”
Told in intertwining vignettes, Miss Advised — the first show from actress Ashley Tisdale’s Blondie Girl productions — follows Morse, Laurent and Allison as they continue to amass professional successes advising others on love and sex, all the while ignoring their own wisdom. And if the premiere episode, which airs tonight at 10/9CT, is any indication, it’s going to be a wild ride.
Laurent, the 34-year-old founder of Amy Laurent International matchmaking agency — which boasts offices in five major cities and an 85 percent success rate — has a killer wardrobe and high-profile pals like former Bachelor Prince Lorenzo Borghese. She also has a lingering crush on her former flame, AB, who reduces her from ice-queen socialite to stammering schoolgirl in the high-school hallway when the two reunite over dinner.
Thirty-year-old Chicago native Allison (a younger Kristen Johnston lookalike) is a print, online and television media veteran who recently broke off a long-term relationship with former presidential candidate John McCain’s son Jack and decides a move to Los Angeles is in order. Prim on the outside (she adores pink and owns 21 tutus), with the mouth of a lady-sailor, Allison believes that “there is no such thing as a bad date — there are only good dates, and good brunch stories.”
Suffice it to say that a rendezvous with a former potential landlord qualifies as the latter — but not before she gets some good box-lugging labor out of the guy. She also has some memorable advice on what makes for a good first-date dress. Trust me. If you only tune in for one thing, tune in for that.
And the freewheeling Morse, a Michigan native who resembles Connie Sellecca in her poster-girl heyday, opines that monogamy is an “epidemic” and tells her mother everything. Like, everything.
I spoke with Morse about making the transition from radio to television, her family, advising her costars … and the Menace that lurks in her studio.
Channel Guide Magazine: When you were all cast and filming began, was there a distinct outcome in mind — i.e., to affirm the devoutly single girls out there or to give hope to devoutly searching girls — or did they just turn on the cameras and see what happened?
Emily Morse: Cameras were turned on and whatever happened, happened! From my point of view, the reason that I do my show, and my purpose on the planet, is to help people have better sex and better relationships, so this is just a different take on it. If, from watching the three of us date, people learn what they want and what they don’t want, that’s great.
CGM: Several women in this office watched the premiere episode, and it was interesting to see how our personal takes on the show were so grounded in our own relationships and experiences. Do you think Miss Advised will be something different to every woman who tunes in?
EM: That’s why I think why the show is so great! I’ve only seen the first episode as well — but I think that Amy, Julia and I are so different in our views and our philosophies that there’s really something for everyone in the three of us. I feel like it’s a great way for people to learn about themselves and what they want in relationships or what they don’t want to do in relationships.
CGM: Had you met the other two women on the show previously — and do we ever see the three of you interact?
EM: Only on the Today show, and that was very early on — we don’t interact on the show.
CGM: Then did you find yourself in the viewers’ shoes, wanting to dispense advice to the advisors?
EM: Yes. Yes. I just wrote my first blog for Bravo — and I did want to give advice! I was like, “Amy don’t date a guy you met at the gym! That should be your first sign!” And “Julia! You don’t even like this guy … but you got him to move your boxes, so I guess that’s good.”
So yes, I watched it and I did want to have a chat with them.
CGM: In the premiere, we already see you struggling with the notion of men who might only be interested in hooking up with you because of what you do for a living — and that was before you were on national television. Are things about to get that much more difficult?
EM: Oh my God! It’s going to be exponentially more difficult now, because I already have a difficult time. I’ll go to the bars here with my friends and we’ll meet a guy and I’ll whisper, “Don’t tell him what I do for a living!” I always say I’m a producer. And now the entire world is going to know what I do.
I hadn’t really thought about that! I haven’t gone there, because the show hasn’t aired yet, but I’m sure it’s going to be even more difficult. Or maybe it will weed out the people who can’t handle it. I’m pretty good at figuring guys’ intentions at this point and knowing if it’s real and it’s about me, or if they just want to have sex with me because I’m a sex expert. I think I can figure that out, now.
But I’m so proud of what I do — it’s what I’m most proud of and most passionate about and what I spend all my time on — so it’s kind of hard to separate me from “Sex With Emily.” I just might have to do a lot more weeding. But I’m not too worried about it!
CGM: Are you also happy to give other grown-up women who don’t feel that monogamy is necessarily the ultimate prize a real-life role model on television?
EM: Yes. I just want people to know that there are other options. Just looking at Julia and I — the first time I met her, she said, “I can’t believe I’m not married yet!” And she’s only 30! I’ve never been a goal-oriented dater — that’s just never been my thing — so I hope that other people who feel pressure or like something’s wrong with them or that monogamy is the only option, we’ll open their eyes that there are other ways to go about dating, and there are other ways to have a relationship.
CGM: There is something kind of tragic about putting an expiration date on one’s value as a desirable, datable person …
EM: I know. And I never did that. I don’t think in those terms. And I don’t know if it’s just my family, that I wasn’t raised that way? My mom never said, “When are you getting married? What are you doing with your life?” And I think I was always much more about finding my life purpose and how I could change the world. I was always one of those people. I wasn’t really focused on relationships.
I would love to find someone — I think that would be great — but that’s not “top of the list” and then everything else falls by the wayside. It’s just part of everything that I’m doing.
CGM: In the premiere, we do see you lamenting to your brother about the ramifications of your mom’s advice to put a successful career before a successful relationship. Mom-advice or not, do you think a lot of women feel that way these days — because, at least to a degree, the satisfaction we get from our jobs is something we can control more so than the success of a romantic relationship?
EM: Absolutely! And I hope that a lot of people can relate to my story in that it’s a changing world. People aren’t getting married as quickly, and women are working and have serious careers. And it’s OK to be into your career and not focused on a relationship!
I’m hoping that my story will be insightful. For me, it’s been about supporting myself and having a stable career before I can commit to someone. I felt like I needed to get my baby, which is “Sex With Emily,” up and running and to make a good living doing it — because my mom did tell me that advice to never rely on anyone else to take care of you. You’ve got to take care of yourself.
And I unfortunately picked a career where it’s challenging to make a living! It’s challenging to make a living in entertainment! It’s really, really hard! But I’ve been doing my show for seven years and I love doing my show — it’s my favorite thing in the world — and if I can make a living doing it and feel good about it then I feel like I can make time for a guy.
There’s probably some validity to what my brother says in that scene, where he says it’s healthy codependence, and I do hear what he is saying. And some people might say that it’s an excuse so I don’t have to focus on other things, but I do make time for dating. So I don’t think it’s an excuse.
CGM: And I don’t think there is really any shame in being as proud of your professional accomplishments as you are of your personal relationships.
EM: I don’t know if that’s just the way I’m wired, but all the way back in college I was already thinking, “I want to do something that’s going to make a difference in people’s lives and change the world!” I used to work in politics for a long time and I’ve done a lot of different things trying to figure it out, and the first day that I did my show, I thought, “This is it! I’ve figured it out! This is my life’s purpose!”
To me, it’s akin to what somebody must feel like when they feel like they’ve found “the one.” I felt like I found my career. And ever since, it’s just been all-consuming.
CGM: What did you think you were going to do for a living when you were in high school?
EM: I thought I was going to be a lawyer, because my father was a lawyer and my brother was a lawyer and I really thought that was going to be my only option. I thought, “I’m going to be like my dad!” And then I got to college, I studied psychology and I took the LSATs and then realized that I didn’t want to be a lawyer. But if you told me in high school or college that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, I would have been surprised!
CGM: Returning to the subject of your mom, you’re from the Midwest and I’m from the Midwest, and there is no way on earth I could tell my mother what you tell yours …
EM: Like how I went out with a bisexual last night? [laughs]
My mom is amazing and you’ll actually see her in upcoming episodes because we actually go to Michigan. She’s very open and supportive. My mom raised me to be a very independent woman, because my parents got divorced when we were very young and she supported us. She just always has watched my career and said, “I just want you to be happy. I just want you to find something that you love and be happy.” She’s just cool! My mom is the mom that my friends used to call for advice when we were in college. She’s always been just really … cool! I lucked out.
And I think I got a lot of those good traits from her. We’re not a very judgmental family — maybe my brother is a little — but my mom and I are not very judgmental people and that really gave me the freedom to pursue my dreams.
CGM: Your brother comes off as protective and brotherly — like if you invest in the things he invests in emotionally he can be sure that you are safe and taken care of.
EM: Our dad died when we were young — I don’t think I say that in the first episode — so I always say that my brother is the man in my life. My dad died when I was 19, so he sort of stepped in and has always given me good advice. He’s smart!
CGM: Speaking of protective men in your life, how did you acquire your hilariously curmudgeonly “Sex With Emily” cohort, Menace?
I’ve been doing my show for seven years — I started as a podcast and then I got a live show on CBS Radio about five years ago, and Menace was assigned to me as my line producer. He didn’t talk for the first three or four years that we did the show. And in the last two or three years, he started commenting and talking and we had really good chemistry. I got really good feedback from my listeners. They liked him and they liked us together and so that’s where we got Menace!
It’s so funny because he still doesn’t know about sex and it still isn’t really his thing, but I think we’re a good point/counterpoint to each other and a good balance — and he loves doing the show. He works full time at CBS Radio and he comes and does the show with me every day in the middle of the day. I’m glad you like him.
CGM: Looking forward to seeing how that kiss you guys share in the teaser reel plays out …
EM: Oh my God! Oh my God! I don’t even know what happened there. Yeah, that’s going to be funny for people to watch.
CGM: So, considering what Amy does for a living and now that she’s your costar, have you ever used — or would you consider using — a matchmaker to find a man?
EM: I’ve never considered using a matchmaker because, to be honest, I meet plenty of men. I wouldn’t rule it out — and if I ever moved to New York, I probably would call Amy and have her set me up with some guys just for fun. But I’ve never thought about turning to a matchmaker before, no. I’ve never dated online, either!
CGM: Do you ever advise other people to do either of those things?
EM: I advise people to do that all the time! But I never have. I’m telling you, I meet a lot of guys. I meet a lot of men in my life.
CGM: You’ve been doing your podcast for a while now — are you still surprised at the gamut of sex and relationship questions that people have, or does nothing surprise you any longer?
EM: Nothing surprises me. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it all — OK, there are probably things I haven’t heard — but nothing really surprises me. Because there are really maybe 3 to 5 topics that everything can be categorized under. I’ve been doing it for seven years now, I’ve done 500 shows and I get thousands of emails from listeners every day and I read all of them. So I feel like there is nothing that has really shocked me in a while.
CGM: I won’t ask you to reveal any specific spoilers, but will viewers be shocked and amazed at what happens to you over the course of the season?
EM: Yeah, I think so. I think they’re going to surprised and amazed. I have some good laughs on some of the dates that I went out on. They will definitely see me evolve and change … and have some very, very strange dating experiences! Some very, very bizarre things happen to me along the way.
CGM: With that in mind, if the show takes off, would you consider transitioning to television full time, or are you onboard with “Sex With Emily” for as long as it’s a success?
EM: Whatever form “Sex With Emily” takes, I will enjoy the ride. For sure. I think television is really, really fun, but there is something about the anonymity of being on the radio that’s also kind of nice.
I just want my brand to represent safe sex and improving people’s sex lives. If you listen to my show, your sex life will improve — and I don’t care if it’s on television or if it’s on the radio or if it’s through my blog posts or my book or my iPhone apps. It’s more about that. And wherever that takes me, I’ll go along for the ride.
Miss Advised airs Monday nights at 10/9 CT on Bravo.
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