VH1 is keeping a firm grip on “celebreality” with the addition of a new dating show to its schedule. My Antonio (try not to get it confused with the classic Willa Cather novel My Ántonia), premiering Aug. 16 on the former music channel, expects us to believe that another rich, sexy guy needs help finding the woman of his dreams. In this case, it’s Antonio Sabato Jr., star of General Hospital: Night Shift and one-time Calvin Klein underwear model. Of course, the premise that he can’t find a date without the help of a TV show is probably easier to accept than many of his soap opera plotlines.
Drama does follow Sabato from his daytime work into the “real” world of this new series, as well. Not only is he in Hawaii choosing from 13 lovely ladies vying for his attention, but a woman from his past shows up to complicate things — his ex-wife, who wants the hunk back at any cost. And this woman is not the only one causing trouble. In a plot twist for some reason taken from the Ryan Seacrest-produced bomb Momma’s Boys, Sabato’s mother is also on hand to help her little boy make his big decision. But is any woman good enough for her precious darling?
“I’ve been with some of the most amazing women in the world,” says the 37-year-old stud, “and … I’m finally ready to settle down. I really hope to meet that special someone. For me this is not a game. This is real. This is my life.” Until Season 2? It all sounds noble, but I can’t help but feel that comment could have been cut and paste from the similar press releases for Rock of Love, Flavor of Love, The Bachelor, etc. These shows are pretty much at the point of self-parody, and maybe producers realize it. Why else would they begin the series with something as silly as Sabato’s “sexy swim ashore” to meet his harem?
We are assured that within the first few moments, perhaps before he even has time to towel off and throw on a shirt, Sabato makes a shocking elimination. This “[leads] the women to realize that anything can happen when Antonio is in charge.” Until his mom says otherwise, at least.