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TELEVISION REVIEW

'Get the Guy' flirts with reality, but comes off as fake

There's something creepy about the two ``love coaches" on ABC's new reality series ``How to Get the Guy." JD Roberto is just a little too happy, and Teresa Strasser is just a little too arch, as they coax the show's four lovely ladies into dating. I'm not saying they're pimps or anything, OK, but as I watched them push their glammed-up charges into love connections in order to create lively TV, I was spinning the metaphor while I was twiddling my thumbs.

``How to Get the Guy," tonight at 10 on Channel 5, falls into the more plasticized categories of the reality show genre. Produced by David Collins and David Metzler of ``Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," it's thoroughly artificial and proud of it. The four women are a little too attractive, their comments and voiceovers feel a little too semi-scripted, and everyone is a little too willing to ignore the camera crew on the dates. The women --``Party Girl" Kris, ``Career Girl" Michelle, ``Dreamer" Alissa, and ``Girl Next Door" Anne -- fit into their show-given pigeonholes a little too conveniently.

With the postcard-perfect settings of San Francisco as the backdrop, ``How to Get the Guy" is as documentary as a hair-color commercial.

To be fair, the series isn't trying to be real so much as instructive, thus its practical title. The segments are about learning to invade a man's personal space in a bookstore; learning to hold eye contact for at least four seconds; learning to smile while flirting. They're about taking a scientific approach to finding the one, not ``a guy," as the show tells us, but ``the guy." Giving up control to submit to the winds of romance is not an option ; ``How to Get the Guy" exists solely to provide the four women and viewers with pick-up tricks.

Last summer's more documentary-like ``Hooking Up" focused on the stresses of dating and the duplicities of men in New York. And it was a lot more interesting than this prefab and relentlessly positive guide to acquiring Mr. Right. The love coaches of ``How to Get the Guy" might be more tolerable if they were teaching women the art of guerrilla shopping.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com.

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