It's been a surreal year for Ari Goldman. Three months after being transformed from an average (albeit very wealthy) New York businessman into Israel's most eligible bachelor, he can still hardly believe his luck. At 34, Goldman has become something of an icon for Israel's HOT cable network, whose producers selected him to star in their flagship dating show, Mikol Habanot B'olam (Of All the Girls in the World). His task: to find Jewish marriage material from their hand-chosen pool of 18 women.
When not dating before the cameras over the past few months, Goldman was appearing in HOT's promotional bits, handing out statuettes at HOT-sponsored award shows, and being whisked around town to every "see and be seen" event the producers could plant him in. One wonders how he's even had the time to date the girls he was meant to fall for.
Yet if the show remotely reflects "reality," it seems Goldman somehow managed to find time for them, and in last night's season finale, he finally settled on one.
The audience knew Goldman had a penchant for blondes (a fact which he openly admitted, adding "I'm finding Jessica Simpson pretty cute lately"). So it was no great surprise when his choice came down to Neta, a natural blonde who grew up on a moshav in the north, and Marie (Miriam) Anbar, a Canadian with chemically-enhanced blonde highlights and no trace of an accent.
The two "girls" (as he calls them) are "yehudiot ksherot", or kosher Jews, unlike the recently booted Bulgarian beauty Maria, who was known mostly for her questionable Jewish roots. With that small obstacle out of the way, Ari was free to choose whoever he liked.
According to the show's Internet poll, Neta was the popular favorite for Ari. As a "real Israeli," most of those interviewed seemed to think Ari could meet a Canadian like Marie back in New York; Neta was the real deal. And for anyone who had seen the show, Goldman seemed to connect most with this earthy beauty. But as he explained in the finale, he couldn't overcome certain reservations. Neta wanted to live in Israel and raise her children here. He, however, was deeply connected to his family and business in New York.
Marie, on the other hand, had no such attachment to the land. She came to be known as the show's "princess" because an ex-boyfriend referred to her as a 'JAP'. Goldman himself labeled her a princess, but insisted he was looking for just that.
Goldman's problem with Marie: she's only 21. What if she isn't ready for a serious relationship? Most importantly, what if she outgrows him?
In the end, Goldman disappointingly chose the princess. The ostensible reasoning being that geographical differences with Neta were too great to surmount; which begs the obvious question: Why bring an American guy over to Israel to date Israeli women if he has no intention of living here in the first place? What fantasy was this show attempting to portray? Is the idea that 18 Israeli women would naturally fight to win over a rich American and live the "good life" in New York?
The great fault of this show was not Goldman himself, but rather the HOT producers who assumed the worst of Israeli women. Given Goldman's logic, Marie wasn't the natural choice; she was the only choice. It was only fitting that the most pathetic display of fake fireworks ever aired on television ended this ultimately illusory fairy tale.