A new MTV reality show sheds light on an endangered animal: the human virgin.
The network that gave us such cultural gems as Jersey Shore and The Real World can finally add a second television show to its incredibly short list of worthwhile entertainment. (The first is the documentary series, True Life.) MTV’s new show, Virgin Territory, follows young adults in their late teens and early twenties who have not had sex, willingly or unwillingly. Although Variety says the show “explores a serious topic… in an un-serious way,” Virgin Territory has its benefits.
The show follows a similar format to True Life. It relies heavily on “confessionals” or young adults talking directly to the camera. Each participant has a loose story that involves the quest either to lose his or her virginity or to remain a virgin. Mikaela and Kyle become nervous around the opposite sex, so much so that they are in their early twenties and have never had relations. Luke and Dominique are virgins by choice and are attempting to refrain from sex until they are married.
Virgin Territory has its faults. The show could really benefit from, say, a thirty-year-old virgin. But it is refreshing that, for once, boys and girls who aren’t participating in the hook-up culture are shown as actually being human. The virgins are not a stereotype. It is surprising that beautiful, tattooed, party-girl Mikaela and handsome cowboy Luke, who admits to having done everything other than sex, could be virgins. Luke, a Christian who has Bible verses tattooed on his body, admits to having run away from situations where sex was imminent because his faith tells him to remain a virgin until marriage.
The most interesting participant is Dominique. She is adamant on remaining a virgin until she is married. “No ring-y, no ding-y,” she says in the show’s trailer. Although she doesn’t specifically mention any kind of faith as her motivation to remain chaste, she tells the audience, after having a conversation with a cousin who had her first child at eighteen, “I will not put myself in that predicament.” She talks about being the product of an unhappy marriage. Her mother became pregnant young and, because her parents were religious, were married before they were ready. She explains that her grandmother also had her mother at sixteen. “I am tired of everyone in my family getting pregnant at a young age,” Dominique tells the camera. Although it isn’t clear why she can’t “end the cycle” by just practicing safe sex, it is a relief to see a twenty-something rebel by not having sex. Unlike some of the other participants, Dominique doesn’t shy away from her virginity. She sees it as a logical solution to a problem and she is confident about herself and her solution.
Most of MTV’s shows are fueled by sex: Jersey Shore, Teen Wolf, 16 & Pregnant, Teen Mom and many of the episodes of True Life. So it is a breathe of fresh air for the network to air a reality show where at least some of the participants are not fueled by sex. After the unbridled success of 16 & Pregnant and its spin-off, Teen Mom, MTV has pretended to care about teen pregnancy by airing brief interstitial PSAs for safe sex during its pregnancy shows. Virgin Territory breaks the mold by saying that some people are virgins late in life. And that’s okay.
— Christine Sisto is an editorial associate at National Review Online.